My son and I are on a hike. I’m tying my son’s shoes when a monster crawls out of the woods and devours us whole. We barely avoid the teeth on the way down its gullet, slipping painfully into the cavernous stomach. We wander around for hours until we hear a rumbling above. Throughout the next few days, the monster swallows another father and son followed by still more pairs of fathers and sons. Until we populate the bottom of the stomach and whisper greetings to each other, decide that, yes, this is our life now, and we better make the most of it. So we build a city in the stomach and listen for the soft rumbling here and there that means our population has grown. On my way to the grocery store, I befriend another father named Marcus, who affectionately changes my name every time I see him in the weeks to come. I never correct him. We share beer and watch our sons play together in the park. It suddenly occurs to us that we haven’t heard the rumbling since we met. We awkwardly part ways after a few looks upward toward the mammoth throat. The city goes quiet, all the traffic stops, and the slow silence sets in. Nobody talks for weeks after that, and everyone stays in their spacious, modern apartments, not venturing out except to go to the store, and even then, everything is done quietly, the only blips of sound ringing out of the cash registers. The quiet drags on, and eventually we all forget each other’s names. One day, we hear the rumbling above and cheer wildly.
Luke Wortley holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Butler University, where he served as fiction editor for Booth: A Journal. His fiction and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Inch, Hobart, Best Microfictions, The Lascaux Review, Unbroken Journal, and elsewhere. You can follow him on Twitter (@LukeWortley) or visit https://www.lukewortley.com/