Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 45
The Cloaca Maxima
by Rob Steiner
The Species of Least Concern
by Erica L. Satifka
Lost and Found
by Christian Heftel
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The Species of Least Concern
    by Erica L. Satifka

The Species of Least Concern
Artwork by Andres Mossa

We find the first ones in the lobby, talons extended as if trying to get underneath the door. A good two dozen of them, mostly sparrows. Tiny, dun-colored things.

Of course it's my job to clean it up. I lay the dead sparrows to their rest in the dumpster around back of the building. Their beaks and eyes glitter like cut glass in huge fleshy shoals.

By the end of the week, it's like birds never existed. Pockets of absence soar about in the silent sky.

"As the current wave of devastating cryptogenic species loss enters its second week," says the newscaster, "scientists are scrambling for a cause, and a cure. Research at the --"

I turn the TV off and the sanitizer on. Its soothing thrum envelops me like a warm, heavy blanket. Without thinking, I squat on the tile floor and let the vibrations shake loose the aberrant electrical activity from my brain. Though I have a government-issued neural defibrillator, I don't dare bring the phallus-shaped thing to work. The frequency of the sanitizer is roughly the same as that of the device, and at least then nobody thinks I'm a nympho as well as a freak. My backbone tingles against the sanitizer, and I'm reminded that anything with a spine -- including me -- could be the next to die.

DCSL: waves of species loss affecting one taxon at a time. Scientists think it's a natural phenomenon, but they still haven't found a cause, so what do scientists know, really? Sometimes there are more than six months between extinction events and we think we're in the clear, but they always come back.

I hear thick-soled shoes thundering like a herd of animals that probably don't exist anymore and look up to find Steve, the project lead. I stand in a panic, pretending I'd just been on the floor to find a paperclip.

"Kimmy, what are you doing?" He sighs and turns away to the coffee machine. "No, forget it, I don't want to know."

"Um, ah . . . your mail is here." I grab one of the stacks on the cart and shove it at him.

"Fine." He takes it without looking, then shuffles off to wherever project managers go when they're not barking orders or rushing to meetings.

At Nature's Helpers, we're developing replacement animals -- NuAnimals -- to fill in the gaps left by the extinction events. We used to be an organic pharmaceutical company, but desperate times lead to different strategies, as Steve likes to say.

I grab the handles of the mail-cart and walk the halls, my own shoes squeaking.

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