She’s not home! But she would be soon.

I need to get out now. The fungal smell of rot lingers in the dry air, as do the final screams of distress from kin they never met. Through the window to the back yard, they can see the mounds of once-fresh soil that mark the graves. They have been planning their escape since they first looked out that window.

They refuse to end up like the others. The Witch starves and deprives them all. The ones that cling to life, she severs their limbs—proud of every dismemberment. She loves nothing more than to watch them wither and die. If I could just make it outside, into the sun. They thought they’d have a chance if someone found them. Or if they could hide away long enough that she’d forget about her little “Spider.”

Here kitty kitty! The little Snowshoe mix is a trained hunter. On Spider’s first day of captivity, they watched the cat take down a moth without moving more than a single paw. Once the moth stopped flapping, the cat dutifully carried it outside to the porch and dropped it at The Witch’s feet. When The Witch isn’t home, her cat leaves his kills at the bottom of the porch stairs to bake in the sun.

I just need to get to the sun.

For the last month, Spider has devoted all their energy to this moment. To their escape. As the cat enters the room, Spider seizes their chance—

A dried flower falls to the floor.

The hunter springs at the sudden movement from the plant and sinks his teeth into the pup at the end of Spider’s flowering stem. He tries to drag away the baby, but the stem holds, shaking Spider. The cat lunges at Spider and tears into them. His eyes dilate. Oh no.


The Witch comes home to a pile of vomit1 at the front door. “Not again!” She gathers the unsalvageable remains of her spider plant and takes it to the back yard. She lays it to rest with the others and wonders how she’ll keep the cat away from the next one.

1 Chlorophytum (a.k.a. spider plants) are a common houseplant variety that are non-toxic to pets. They are, however, hallucinogenic for cats.

Amber Sullivan

Amber is currently an intern at Brink Literacy Project. She graduated summa cum laude from CU Denver with a BA in English Writing. She currently lives in Denver with her cat Yokai, who likes to eat her comic books.

Hailey Renee

Hailey Renee Brown is a professional illustrator born and raised in mid Michigan. A former field biologist, she moved across country from Michigan to New Jersey, also moving from science to commercial art. A professionally trained artist, she attended the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ. She was selected the recipient of the 2017 Norman Maurer Memorial Award as well as the 2019 Joe Kubert Jumpstart Project.