It was a scar chart stacked into a skyline, it was shipwrecks of soot and shipwrecks of skin and shipwrecks of everything after. I called it a home, I called it the shadow of a scavenger’s daughter.
The entirety was risen to scale. A city of replaced components, perfect complements, a test of compressions to become.
If we knew each other at all, you knew it as a torture device too.
We crashed there in halves. Shallow-breathed and splinter-limbed and salvage remaining.
Underwater was what was left, most of us had sunk by then.
We tried to make an echo of who to remember or how.
Every face was a capsized float, swollen closed from the vocal cords on down. They followed as clouds of flesh, hungry ghosts, decomposing fish.
Today, the human food supply contains a plethora of fresh, farmed, cured and processed meats. But we’ve not always been the competent herdsman or capable hunter.
At dawn of the Pleistocene epoch, approximately 2.5 millions years ago, humans practiced confrontational scavenging, a from of kleptoparasitism in which one creature drives off or distracts another predator from its kill.
As humans developed a taste for the meat of fallen vertebrates, we also discovered the taste of our own flesh.
It is likely our ancestors turned to cannibalism due to lack of resources and competition at critical points in their ascension.
”My purpose is to tell of bodies which have been transformed into shapes of a different kind.”
– Ovid, Metamorphoses, 1st century AD.
Here is most of what I felt:
I was terrified. Completely.
Make a fraud of yourself long enough and the fault lines do what they want to you.
Often leaving you without an afterlife to fulfill.
The economy of cannibalism speaks for itself, which is why the practice is prevalent throughout the animal kingdom, including among human and non-human primates.
A widespread presence of genes protecting against prion disease suggest that human endocannibalism was common for thousands of years.
This practice may often take on supernatural and ritual dimensions.
They hid in small circles, with teeth behind teeth. True predators who knew the trauma well.
Born again by drowning wrong, they were becoming natives there.
Soon, you said, they would be hunting us on their own.
“A scavenger’s daughter does not age. A scavenger’s daughter survives by starving a corpse in its place.”
One crushed orbital bone. Or a couple overriding things to know.
You told me there was drowning and there was dissolving, stretching and compressing, the only difference was the distance to tell.
You told me even blind spots could be living things, and still, I wanted to believe you.
The towers of Scavenger’s Daughter were built of interlocking shipwrecks, which made the underwater city “earthquake-proof.“
Using reinforced skeletons, the hulls of hundred of vessels could be notched and stacked on top of each other to create structures of enormous height and complexity.
Together these structures form the city of Scavenger’s Daughter. A skyline of shipwrecks rising from the ocean floor.
There are times we all fail. We salvage ourselves just long enough to explore the wreckage of a warmer person. We dig out the hidden teeth in each other.
By the anniversary of our attack, I was back to six bones missing again. Two orbital, two nasal, and two made of hunger and need.
You told me there were ways to trust it would end, a scavenger may pray to surviving gods too.
Jillison, we should leave here. Now.
Jillison. We should leave here.
Now. Now. Now. Now.
The Scavenger’s Daughter worked by strapping the head of the victim to an A-frame shaped metal rack at the top point of A. The hands were then tied at the midpoint and the legs at the lower spread end of A.
The body was then compressed from both sides, pushing the knees up in a sitting position and the head in the opposite direction. This resulted in blood running from the nose and ears of the victim other than damage to muscles.
The Scavenger’s Daughter was among those torture devices that were rarely used and yet relatively easy to make.
Whether a shipwreck which is restored by replacing each and every one of its wooden parts is still the same shipwreck?
And yes, I said yes. Pick your shipwreck, any shipwreck. Pick your carcass, any carcass. Pick your angles, pick your shape. Pick your predators, pick your prey.
I survived as a scavenger’s daughter, I could only keep circling yes.
6 thoughts on “scavenger’s daughter”
“Society in shipwreck is comfort to all.”
“The malevolent have hidden teeth.”
― Publius Syrus, #144 / #458, The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus, 1st century BC.
“Oh, all right, I say,
I’ll save myself.”
― Anne Sexton, “Letter Written on a Ferry While Crossing Long Island Sound”, All My Pretty Ones, 1962.
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Scavenging” tends to include stealing as well, and Disaster Scavengers are ready and willing to steal anything that isn’t nailed down or on fire, even if it’s vital to beating the Big Bad or restoring the world. The result is that they end up making things worse by creating mistrust and animosity, hampering any efforts to rebuild their community and set the world right, dooming themselves and others to dying in droves.
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My most liked blog was “If I can’t eat you, I won’t eat anything at all.” That’s because “foodie” site bots had found it, and thought it was about food. So I wrote “Gaucomol Recipt” which of course nobody ever read, because it was deliberately misspelt.
reading is challenging because it just isnt a very good way of holding people’s attention. it asks so much from the audience. so much imagination and suspension of disbelief, so much decoding and deconstructing.
it completely surprises me writing as medium of entertainment lasted as long as it did. as soon as we found technological improvements, it didnt take long for us as humans to move on to find other more accessible and easier to intake forms of entertainment/time dilation.
most humans have very hard lives and asking them to read things is just for most, just adding more work to an already filled up day/week/month/year/life.
Scavenging is underrated, unlike humanity. I found a bed on a Paris street, and laboriously brought it up six flights of stairs, so my new wife and I would have something other than the floor to fuck on. The bike I rode to work on, out in the onion-field outskirts of Heidelberg, was found in the trash. The desert has given me so much….(See “Let May be May”).
scavenging i would argue is what MAKES us human. though I would write a polemic rather than prose if I wanted to prove it convincingly. i dont wish to change too many minds, it is just my own pet hypothesis.