We Hunt them for their Flesh

We hunt them for their bodies, their flesh, their sinew, their bone, their blood, or the fluid they have instead of blood. We don't know why they fall — winged shapes big as buildings, mangled and broken by their descent — only that they do. We set upon them, we the hunters though in truth we are much more like scavengers, as they struggle to stand or crawl in craters filling with their pooling not-blood. We pierce them with harpoons and throw weighted nets over them to bind their trashing limbs and the wings that even cracked and dull can still sweep us aside like dust if we're not careful; and we crawl over them like ants, hacking and piercing, peeling away the layers of their bodies whether metallic, crystalline, or fleshy, and cutting out things it's not quite right to call organs. Many things can be accomplished with the things that are not organs, wondrous, impossible things. Their secretions can heal any disease or injury, make people and animals larger and stronger, or transform them in unaccountable ways. The thing we have decided to call a heart, even though sometimes it is in the head, sometimes outside the body, and sometimes seems to be missing altogether, can heat a city or, cracked, destroy it in a flash of bright light. Their bones, glass-like sharp things that seem to sit unconnected to each other, are too tough to be worked by any tool, but the sinew — or perhaps it's a disease, a kind of mould — silver thread found in and around every organ between the skin and the bone, can be spooled and woven to make things lighter and more durable than anything. And if sometimes, for touching the wrong thing or standing at the wrong place or for no discernible reason at all, a person is turned to a mass of dull white dust, or if people who spend too much time among the things that are not the viscera of the beings that fall from the stars turn strange and monstrous, or grow swollen and hungry like our elders whom we keep locked in their cysts deep underground have — is that not a small price to pay? We make our nets from their silver thread, our harpoons from their feathers, and our fiery lances from their eyes. Some say we invite punishment, that one day the fall will stop and the reckoning will come. If it does, we will meet it armed.

This vignette has previously appeared in Earthly Delights Ogdo volume 2B.