SmokeLong Quarterly

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Caging the Thing

Story by Beth Thomas (Read author interview) September 15, 2007

There is a thing on the floor in the corner of the cabin. It walks lazy circles and sometimes pops up in the air a few inches. The boys come back from their campfire supper and they surround the thing and capture it beneath a clear plastic cup and then take turns peering into its bulbous face. They tap the cup to get the thing’s attention. It hops and they cock their heads like attentive dogs. It turns its multi-faceted eyes in all directions and takes them in. The thing dishevels its wings and they catch the light and flash green-gray like aliens. The children squeal and the thing’s armored body shakes. It strolls a slow circle, then curls up in the middle of its space and goes to sleep.

The boys go outside and throw rocks at a bat folded up under the eaves, hoping the bat will wake and want to hunt the thing. The bat unfurls then flies away and they chase it for a while. They follow the stream back to camp, then sit and tell ghost stories in the dark. Tomorrow they will let the thing loose on the mountain. Tomorrow they will chase it off into the grass. Tomorrow they will wake and find that the thing has gone still.

About the Author

Beth Thomas is originally from New Mexico but currently lives in California due to military relocation. She works as a technical writer in the aerospace/defense industry—don’t ask what she writes about ’cause she can’t really tell you. She has a BA and an MA in writerly things from New Mexico universities. Her work has recently appeared in Pindeldyboz Online, SmokeLong Quarterly, Juked, Word Riot, and other places.

This story appeared in Issue Eighteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Eighteen

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