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Feral
by Joe Kapitan

art by Brewbooks via the Creative Commons
art by Brewbooks via the Creative Commons
When the sun was above the treeline, and the hunter returned to the cabin, they were ready for him. The bear swung the cast iron fireplace poker, knocked him to his knees, then lunged forward and pinned the hunter to the pine floorboards, with the same force she remembered feeling from him, setting her teeth to his jugular. Stunned, incapacitated, the hunter managed only a whimper as the snake joined the attack, bit a hole in him, entered him, slithering in, feeling her way, the same way she remembered him doing.

When he stopped convulsing, the bear dragged his body to the old mattress in the corner. There, the hunter continued to bleed for a while, his new red stains covering the older browned ones of theirs.

The bear then took a razor blade to her fur, cutting anything that still held the scent of him, cutting until the brunette beneath was visible. The snake did the same, shedding her scaled skin back to blonde.

They doused everything with diesel from the generator outside – the pine floorboards, the fur, the scales, the mattress, their father – and set them afire.

The girls, lighter now, began to feather, and by the time they watched the flames reach the height of the treeline, they left the ground and caught the thermals rising from the blaze, spiraling upward, until they were sure they were beyond the radius of any animal’s memory.

All content in SmokeLong Quarterly copyright 2003-2014 by its authors.





Joe Kapitan is a full-time architect from Cleveland, Ohio, where the sun doesn't shine from November to April, giving him ample time to write pale and cranky short fiction.

Read the interview.

More photos by Brewbooks available on flickr


Issue Twenty-Nine (September 29, 2010): Bearded by Patrick Allen Carberry «» Hip by Kim Chinquee «» Our Littlest Brother by Dan Crawley «» LAX by Michael Czyzniejewski «» Bathroom Jesus by Kelli Ford «» Boy With Cherries by Adam Golaski «» Dancer by Peter Grandbois «» Aeroplane by Alex Haber «» Feral by Joe Kapitan «» Gorillas by Ben Loory «» Model #3 by Annam Manthiram «» Working Halloween for Christmas Money by John Minichillo «» Claire by Nick Ripatrazone «» Guard by James Robison «» Sixteen by Laura Tanenbaum «» These Three Things That Noah Doesn't by J.A. Tyler «» Snake Walk by Ajay Vishwanathan «» Dive by Dawn West «» Bedtime in Thorpe Village, Leicestershire, England by Sue Williams «» Thank You, I'm Sorry by Caroline Zilk «» Interviews: Patrick Allen Carberry «» Kim Chinquee «» Dan Crawley «» Michael Czyzniejewski «» Kelli Ford «» Adam Golaski «» Peter Grandbois «» Alex Haber «» Joe Kapitan «» Ben Loory «» Annam Manthiram «» John Minichillo «» Nick Ripatrazone «» James Robison «» Laura Tanenbaum «» J.A. Tyler «» Ajay Vishwanathan «» Dawn West «» Sue Williams «» Caroline Zilk «» Cover Art "Sara Serengeti" by Marty D. Ison «» Letter From the Editor
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