A bird falls from the sky right outside the house of a boy who will become a preacher to tame his fellow-man. He rushes to the bird, who dies in his hand, so green, he’s never seen such colors. He wants to care for it, but his mother shows him the bird’s heart has given out. He sits outside the house for the rest of the day, wondering what this bird must have done to provoke God so intensely. He sets fire to the bird before heading back inside.
Wolves in the Mountain
They were going up the mountain. It was still a day’s track until camp. It was snowing, the snow was as settled as it was falling, it was all white all around them. They had been guiding the llamas over the hill.
Up the mountain, one of the men saw a dark speck that moved, seemed to be moving parallel to them, with them, perhaps to them. More dark flecks began to show further up along the mountain, some closer, some further away, lined up as if the horizon. There were no trees to show them where the hill ended, it snowed too much for that.
Rushing down the hill a fleck broke off the line. Puffs of smoke glittered around that dark mass, growing as it approached. And then the other masses broke position, all down the line barreling towards them at great speed: wolves!
The men tried to run in the knee deep snow, knowing they couldn’t get anywhere. The wolves caught up quick and came for a younger llama in the back of the pack. She got bit on the neck, before getting jumped on her back. The other llamas rehearsed running away, stayed and yelled, each alone together. The young one tried to. And the wolves hurled her away. Soon her cries dissipated, the other llamas’ too.
They continued their walk. The sun shone and the snow stopped. The track felt a little warmer in warmer light. They could now see trees again up the hill, far away, and the outlines of older hills, further away still. They found their way again and knew the old cabin was just beyond a corner, they spotted the cabin from afar. No smoke came out the chimney, which was odd, and there seemed to be all sorts of specks, moving lightly in front of the door. They kept walking, slowly to realize the bikes, the Disney-Bragançaland police force, parked around, huddled in front of the house.
“What happened here?,” they asked
“A man was murdered last night. It seemed he was waiting for the storm to blow over, decided to spend the night. A group of pelters came through the cabin this morning and saw the stains leading to the house.”
“Do many people wander in the night around here?”
“Mostly in the day. In fact, I’d guess almost exclusively.”
“So, the man was probably killed in the morning.”
“Where are you guys headed? Wait, those llamas?”
“No, sir. Disney-Bragança alpaca, of course. We are just helping this rancher who’s coming over the hill to Disney-Bragançaland.”
“Okay. It’s a long journey, you’re probably gonna have to set up camp at some point.”
“Oh yes, of course! Thank you for reminding us, but we must be going now, to reach the other campers.”
“You guys traveling with a band?”
“Oh yes, oh yes. Thank you, officer.”
“Hey, you guys wouldn’t wanna help us out in our search, right?”
“Oh sir, it’s just… we have to work.”
“No, of course, you got too much on your plates with the llamas and all…”
“Disney-Bragança alpacas, sir.”
“Right. Alright be on your way.”
“Thank you, sir. Thank you.”
The track fattened again. This final push with a closing sun was always hard. Blue shadows, greener mist. They moved slower, but the llamas kept their pace. Down the hill, the cabin had disappeared. Yet, when one of them looked back at her, he thought he spotted the chimney still, just crowning the peak. It began to snow again, and he lost her again.
They reached the camp with the last ray of sun. They built a bonfire and tied the animals to the masts. It got warmer again, when it stopped snowing, they huddled around the fire to keep themselves warm. The llamas would get some sleep, and they would move to their tents to sleep too, soon enough.
A howl. It happened again. Twinkling yellow dots, paired up, approaching the camp. The llamas slept, woke up, dancing in a frantic circle. They got their spears, their guns, sat with their backs to the fire, waiting for those yellow dots to come closer. Shadows drove circles around them in the camp, the taste of burnt diesel, right before they caught the bikers drawing in.
Gods of Plain
Snow-melts of fire appear in slits of tall-grass. Orange blends with green, as the lobo Guará stalks his prey, a small black rodent. Too involved in her lunch, the rodent didn’t feel her death: canines crushed through the small skull with ease and blood tinged the wolf’s dark mane.
The hunter sits back, camouflaged in his black Disney-Bragança tactical gear, binoculars to his face, tracking the ritual. Not long ago, the lobo Guará had faced extinction—its habitat tarnished by deforestation, its pelt commercialized for the exotic nature—if not for the human plagues, the killers of the cerrado wouldn’t enjoy the freedom they are awarded today. Yet, 40 years later, few animals remember the olden days.
Chico exchanges the binoculars for the aim of his D-B22 Smeetland’s rifle ™. One eye on the Guará, he watches the rodent being ripped to shreds: the wolf lifts up his neck as he chews and swallows at the same time. Chico exhales before the shot many whips are beaten as one.
The lobo Guará whimpers loudly, morsels of rodents fall from his mouth. He tries to dash, but the shot burrows through his hip and his hind legs don’t obey him anymore.
The plains are quiet, and howls of pain and anger echo deeply and rudderless. In the absence of life—or life that could take on the hunter—these sounds are meaningless. Chico calmly tidies up his hideout, puts his D-B22 Smeetland’s rifle ™ on his back and walks to the prize.
The wolf tries to drag himself away, though ignorant of the direction of the attack, his forelegs pull him to the hunter. Through his watering eyes, he sees a tall grey mesh approaching, and in between snarking growls he flounders menacingly to his death.
Chico came down from the mountains to correct (patent pending) the Guará population many years ago. He was a smuggler in those days, taking llamas over mountains for the ranchers in Disney-Bragançaland who wanted to get away from the guise of the ruling colonels. They were hunted by wolves in those days, which led to Chico’s eventual hatred of the animals, and it didn’t take him long to turn correcting (patent pending) into an art-form. That the wolves died so cruelly didn’t bother him much, nor his God, which he’d lost up in those mountains when preaching had failed him, in lands where people spoke languages much different from his.
He wondered at times if he’d brought the wolves with him down the mountain. But at some point, he understood they were, in fact, hopeless against him. Over the years, he had learned to derive pleasure from his craft, developed correcting (patent pending) into an art-form: first, you take off the animal’s movements so he can’t run away; second, you hold his neck down with your knees, and with a sharp knife run the course of his belly; third, after he dies, you hang him up on a tree, head facing the ground as the blood drains; fourth, always be careful with the upper body—blood you can wash off, cuts and bullet holes will drive down the price of stoles and ponchos.
The sun sits right above the Braúna tree, and neither the tree nor the wolf cast shadows on the floor. Below, Chico opens the black Disney-Bragança umbrella [used to filter out the harmful rays of the sun], as he waits for the blood to drain. He gazes out into the land, all of it his, if he wants it bad enough.
There was a time when correcting (patent pending) felt more exciting to him, more meaningful. But repetition made it normal, and as he sought to hunt more often, earn better, it became routine. Comfort in turn, bred complacency. Now, he observes his work solemnly. A light breeze grazes his forearms, as he tans his skin. His face is warm and the hanging beast weighs on his eyes, ever slowly closing them.
He wakes up dizzy, feeling the night’s cold wind against a wet spot in the back of his head. Hanging from the tree, Chico hears the laughter of younger men and the engine of his car. The lobo Guará lays below him, skinned, bathing in the hunter’s blood. A black vulture nibbles on the wolf’s open flesh. Blood drips from its beak. Red stains black. Chico wakes up again, sitting on his chair, unharmed, the wolf swinging in the tree high above in the night’s cold wind, and a woman stands in front of him, dressed in white. The mountain range spreads behind her like long beige wings: the Devil Herself. “Sinnerman, run to the river!”
The Rain Song
The bull met with the cows yesterday in the ranch, and the rain that approached in the morning, a young Chico saw as omen the pregnancies stuck. If he and his mother could manage to bring the cows through the season, they would be in line for a great reward on the other side.
In the Disney-Bragança sertão novo (“the place to be!”), there’s no neighbors for hundreds of kilometers in either direction, and the two live in the ranch off plants alone. They can’t fully survive on their own, however, and ride every month into the villages up North to stock up on food and water, for themselves and the animals. Yet, they must be careful, for the villages can be dangerous places. Before Chico became a man, his mother dreaded these trips. A stern and slender little woman, she felt the need for a protector in those lands. The father was out of the picture—she never knew him—so the birth of a boy she saw as a great blessing, a sign that God hadn’t forgotten her promise: after the human plagues took her own mother, Chico’s mother, Maria, as she was known then, took a vow of silence. It was a last but fateful strand of hope God could grant her a child. Her brother, Chico, resented her silence and left. When she went South to find him, she came back with Chico inside of her. It’s a story she would rather forget, for remembrance in the Disney-Bragança sertão novo (“the place to be!”) takes more than it ever gives.
She was gifted the family ranch shortly afterwards, in a deal to raise the new Disney-Bragança cattle, a smaller breed that can withstand hot temperatures and the lack of water. It brought in steady income, which she needed to raise her baby, but it also sparked resentment: up North they call the cows unnatural, the perverse work of the people who killed the animals in the first place. Maria doesn’t argue with them, she can’t and, ultimately, she agrees, but after her son’s conception, she became too fearful to ever earn a wage in the villages.
Out here, it is a quiet existence the two lead—accentuated sparsely by the sounds of cattle and the enigmatic stories carried by the wind. Chico never really learned to speak. His mother taught him how to write and read, and he only picked up the sound of a few words on their trips, so as far as he could tell, the wind did, in fact, speak to him, and though communication was often jumbled, over time he found meaning in it, he found God and it fueled his desire to preach, even if he could only speak through the wind.
About desire, however, Chico learned on his own, and how to explore it, from his mother. In the village one time, he saw a young woman, the devil herself, walking lightly in white clothes. Her bosom, given shape through the shirt by sweat, sparked his soul, and the long brown hair, he honed in most intensely. The wet dreams that followed that night called to the source of the longing, and, confused, he went to his mother for help. He sat beside her in bed, shook her awake, and pointed at his humid, damp smelling underwear. Inexperienced as she was herself, Maria touched her son’s manhood that morning, and clumsily taught him to please himself. Though she knew masturbation a sin from her readings, her hope to stray Chico away from his father’s path rang as an act of faith in her mind.
Today, Chico was tending the cattle when he saw grey clouds roll in from afar, heard the wind coarser, lightning in the distance, a tree in flames. As the rain hit, he decided to let the cows feel the first volley on their hide, as he wished to feel it on his.
He walked back to the front door, stripped naked and went out to the old, lifeless Braúna tree, not too far from the house. He sat beside it, somewhat guarded from the rain by the thick branches, and thought of the woman from the village, her breasts in her white shirt, and began to masturbate.
Water rushed silently down his back. Delicate sweat and rain couldn’t cool his warm body. He tilted his head and reached out to touch the trunk behind him, as if to find the form of the person holding him now in place.
When the wind met the water on his back, a shiver ran down his spine, his grip tightened. He felt his mother’s hands, but imagined the brown haired woman’s… opened his eyes as if to see her form, gliding in the sandy horizon in front of him, towards him, lightly in space. He let go of the tree and reached out to her, desperately, as the wind assented in his ears, assuredly: peace, and came on the ground.
He wiped his hand on the trunk and rested for a while where he stood, looking at his cum, white and heavy, being swallowed whole by the earth like quicksand. Across from himself, dark and sweaty, he felt his heat, and when the rain thickened on his shoulders, he got up and went back to the house, got dressed, put on his hat and went out again to give the cows shelter from the coming storm.
O Evangelho da Diaba
An old man walks out of his clay-built home, pau-a-pique, carrying a vase, dark-brown-almost-black, on his shoulder.
He is lean, dark-gray skin, bearded, shirt is blue all ripped and torn, walking barefoot.
He walks out into the dry plains, tough dry mud beneath his feet, beige-almost-yellow-almost-beige,
there are no trees around, no green, the cacti are few and brown, no other life besides the birds in the sky,
some dark crows.
The old man walks up a small hill to the rickety spring of a thin stream that runs in waves away westerly.
The sun scalds him right above him, now running as it always did: North to South.
To feed a dying canvas, he kneels.
Brings the vase down from his shoulder, filled to the brim with milk,
and dumps all the milk into stream.
He watches the white fog rush away in silence, stays on his knees and prays.
Fran Attié is a writer born in São Paulo. His writings about culture, soccer and fiction have been published in Berlin, London and New York. His poetry in Brazil, Portugal, Cape Verde and Angola. Graduate of NYU, his thesis was about colonial trauma and foundational literature in Brazil. Digs movies and music. Follow him on Instagram at @fran_attie