The Pit 

by Moss Quanci

There is, or so one must believe, a dark pit in the woods where animals go to die, their warm bodies tumbling into its depths. The rotting, diseased odor is intense, yet localized, warning away any healthy animals that come near if they stumble across its unseen presence. Perhaps that is why only animals on the brink of death, whether pursued by hunters holding guns, the starvation of dens destroyed, or the subtle presence of poison in their blood, arrive at such a place.

From time to time, stirred by the fears flickering in the hearts of people living in houses, an animal will shudder up from within the pit at night to stand on legs once more. Such animals are not the rabbits, deer, coyotes, foxes, possums, and so on that originally met their end there, but a little more and a little less. Though damaged, they seem called to take on a new hunt: their muscles, supplemented by the other denizens of the pit, strain powerfully in their limbs, even if those limbs do not move quite right, and their jaws are over-filled with the teeth of a dozen species. The innocent hunger of the carnivore has no place in such constructions.

They stagger forward, relentlessly crashing through the undergrowth towards their destination. This din is the only sound that meets such creatures, for even the most silent of living beings, moths, know to swoop away from their paths. Every time, they emerge from the forest onto peoples’ lawns just as day is about to break. Their feet step out onto the evenly cut dark green grass, coolly wet with dew, and pause. Oddly, their untamed forms seem perfectly suited to this carefully cultivated environment. In that moment before dawn, perhaps your eye would slide over them like garden statuary—before your own terror hits you. But they always pause there, and this marks their end, because at that very moment the first rays of the sun fall upon them, and they burst into fumes at the boundary of the yard.

Yet, one after another, these beasts are continually being drawn into our pursuit, endlessly making their way to the border of human-tamed territory—they can go no further. But what if they can go further? Aren’t they almost in sight already? So, they are assured their presence at our fragile edges.

Aug 2020 - Jul 2023