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September 1, 2012 / dgrushkin

Wound Up

The cheshire’s yowl again as Somchai watches. “I’ve killed thousands of them. Thousands. I’ve killed six men in my life and never regretted any of them, but I’ve killed thousands of cheshire’s and have never felt at ease.” He pauses, scratches behind his ear at a bloom of arrested fa’ gan fringe. “I sometimes wonder if my family’s cibiscosis was karmic retribution for all those cheshire’s.”

“It couldn’t be. They’re not natural.”

Somchai shrugs. “They breed. They eat. They live. They breathe.” He smiles slightly. “If you pet them, they will purr.”

Jaidee makes a face of disgust.

“It’s true. I have touched them. They are real. As much as you or I.”

“They’re just empty vessels. No soul fills them.”

Somchai shrugs. “Maybe even the worst monstrosities of the Japanese live in some way. I worry that Noi and Chart and Malee and Prem have been reborn in windup bodies. Not all of us are good enough to become Contraction phii. Mayve some of us become windups, in Japanese factories, working working working, you know? We’re so few in comparison to the past, where did all the souls go? Maybe the Japanese? Maybe into windups?”

Jaidee masks his uneasiness at the direction of Somchai’s words. “It’s impossible.”

Somchai shrugs again. “Still. I could not bear to hunt a cheshire again.” (173-174)


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