Digging After Lightning Strikes
We are lightning strike diggers. We get high off the arrivals of storms, rain, and wind. Burrow into the dirt struck by lightning.
The humans hide in the treehouse. They do not like the rain like us Moots. They don’t screech out happiness like we do when the lightning jolts into the dirt. They don’t know that we don’t need functional wings like other fliers for speed.
The humans want to find us. We wait in the bushes to begin the hunt. They wait for the lightning strikes. Then wait for us. Then watch us dig the dirt with our shovel bills.
We hear the whip across the sky, our eyes shooting to the atmosphere. Lightning ripples across the blackened clouds. One of the humans descends the tree house and stomps across the grass.
The lightning races from sky to the earth, and it strikes the ground near the human. The flash blinds him, and he is pushed to the cold dirt. Run to him, Moots.
Our bills plow through the damp dirt, shoveling around the human’s body. He smells of flesh and pumping blood. We are rhythmic in the way we circle his body and plow that earth.
Out comes the cadenced squawks. The boy falls into the earth; we watch him reach out to try and stop his fall. His head bangs on some rocks, dirt cascading into his mouth. Smell the blood.
We slide down the hole, the boy already gone. Our skinny legs push us through our tunnels as we search for him. I hear his breathing. We catch up and eye our prey from the shadows.
The boy climbs through our elaborate tunnel system. He encounters our nooks full of metal scraps to conduct the lightning, to poke at the curious human minds. To make them come down here so Moots may eat.
We jump out and run after him, flapping our useless wings to frighten him. The boy starts climbing fast, and we peck at his feet.
He reaches the surface; we can’t let him escape. I see his friends running over to help. I squawk at the others to attack. They lunge at the boy’s friends, jabbing their bodies and pecking their ripe eyes.
We drag three bodies into our caverns. They scream, grabbing at roots and clumps of dirt. We squeak a joyous lilt, ready for our fleshy fete. We revel the joy that lightning strikes bring.
Emily Walling’s visual and written work can be found in Apeiron Review, The Caribbean Writer, Cactus Heart, The MacGuffin, a nuclear impact poetry anthology from Shabda Press, and other journals. One of her short stories was nominated in 2016 for the Write Well Award (an award sponsored by the Silver Pen Writers Association). She writes about the physical, emotional, and psychological connections people have with the natural world. Emily is working on a master’s degree in rhetoric and writing at The University of Findlay. She’s also the prose editor of Slippery Elm Literary Journal.