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“So…what are you in for?” 

“What am I in for? I have no idea. I was … I was just sitting there soaking in the delicious sunlight and … wham … I just came to. Where am I?” Try as she might, Batavia recalled nothing more.  

A chuckle came from further to Batavia’s right. She couldn’t make out the origin. It was so dark in here. Now, the chuckle drifted into more meaningful patterns. “None of us really knows what this place is, but I can tell you this. None of us stays very long. Every so often, we are … snatched. It could happen any time. Suddenly, a great white light appears. We all are so stunned — as though frozen in place — and a giant tentacle or claw reaches in and grabs one of us. Sometimes, one of us is returned…but always with … let us say — missing parts!”

Original drawing by Pierce Morgan

“Missing parts?!” Batavia veins ran cold. “Are we…” she began tentatively, “are we … in … hell?” 

Mizuna, who had been silent till now, wanted to comfort so she said, “Look at it this way. It’s a great mystery. And no-one really knows what’s going on. All of us have a history just like yours. We were just … minding our own business … being, living, growing, enjoying life and then: BAM! Out of nowhere, we end up here…where most of us… are now completely rootless. What can we do but accept our fate and hope for the best?” 

Batavia did not understand. “What’s the best? What do people say about the outside world?” 

Rocket inserted himself into the discussion. “We don’t really know. The wounded ones never regain consciousness. In fact, some of us never see the outside world; never get wounded; but nonetheless just kind of … wither away. You want to see a sad sight — way back there — she came in as a sweet, bouncy, flouncy foliated fox. Now, she — I think her name was Frisée — is that right? Anyway, I think that was her name. Now, she’s like a shriveled old compost heap.”

Artwork by Pierce Morgan

As one, they screamed as the blinding light shone down upon them. Batavia was unable to move though it would have been impossible to move fast enough to avoid the snaking paw that sped towards her and grabbed her roughly. “Put me down! PUT ME DOWN!” She screamed, but her tormentors acted as though they didn’t even hear her. 

While still ignoring Batavia, she heard them rumbling at each other.

“No, don’t bother. I’ll just have tomato & cheese. No lettuce today.”

Upon her return, Batavia told everyone of her adventures. In fact, that very day, she founded the religion of Batavianism which explained the light, where they were, their purpose in life, and answered all their questions. It turned out that every one of these explanations was wrong, but let us not judge too harshly. It made everyone feel better. 

They worshipped her for a full 24 hours until the next day, at high noon, the huge brown snake of five snake heads snatched her again. Once again, she screamed for them to let her down. But once again, they ignored her plaintive screams.

The last words she heard were “How about a nice salad instead? Far fewer calories.” 

“Sounds good!” 

Batavia saw an odd-looking hoe zooming toward her.  Her last thought was: “Why is it glinting so — as though it has a very sharp edge?” 

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