THE SCIENTIST OF EUROPA
Preview - The scientist awoke in a panic, as it always did. It was lying in the vast stretch of jaundiced ice that made up the surface of Europa. The smell of eggs washed over its nose and it gagged briefly. It hated moments like this, when the human on Earth disconnected from it in the middle of the field site. At least the human had laid itself on the ground before disconnecting. In the past, when the human was in a hurry, she would leave and the scientist would wake up just as it hit the ground. It had complained to her about this treatment of its body in one of its reports, and she had been more thoughtful when disconnecting. She still would leave it stranded in the middle of the icy desert, though, and it would be forced to trek the miles back to the hub on the brink of the ridge. Its joints hurt, but it would make the journey swiftly nonetheless.
Terrisa Blanca became a witch 33 hours after she was bit by one. No one can really blame Terrisa (or anyone else) for what happened. The witch who bit her had been disguised as a rat, and the change was too gradual for her, or anyone else, to notice. Perhaps, though, we can blame her (and everyone else) a little bit. The town was called Casabruja, for God’s sake. Terrisa had been raised on stories of witches and how to spot them. The Doctor would place her on his knee and tell her from his wrinkled lips stories of his hunts for the wicked creatures. The number one thing to look out for, he said, is unassuming animals. Everyone knew the animals in Casabruja were always assuming; except for, of course, the animals disguised as witches.
The full story has been published in the Slippery Elm Literary Journal 2021 Print Issue.