Words By Dani Hedlund
Dear lovely reader,
Today, you’re on the hunt. First step, armor. Strap on those sturdy sneakers, your favorite jeans, and most comfortable t-shirt. Next, weapons: cell phone, credit card, some cool tunes to drown out the battle cries of your enemies.
Now for the plan: you’re going to walk into the unruly wilds of the bookstore, stalk the shiniest literary journal you can find—maybe that green one with all the pretty gold and silver glimmer?—and when that little book is least expecting it, you pounce!
Next, you drag the carcass of your prize over to that nice comfortable chair in the corner—you know the one, by the window so you can keep an eye on your urban jungle. Finally, it’s time to devour your kill.
Okay, okay. I get it. Thinking of our modern day lives as razor-edge trials for survival seems…well, silly. We’re no longer fighting enemy clans for access to the one watering hole in the jungle. We aren’t hunting and scavenging for food. For most of us, it’s a given that we have a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and no predators in sight.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t struggle to survive. When the old needs are met, our wrestle with survival changes.
For many of us in the 21st century, survival is no longer a physical battle. It’s an emotional, psychological, and political one. We’re facing new beasts—increasing corporatization, our decaying environment and institutions, the pressure to define ourselves when everyone around us has—or is at least pretending to have—it all figured out.
This journal explores all these weird new ways we struggle to survive. From a woman trying to repress her human angst by becoming an animal to a tale about the ultimate fight for humanity’s survival, this issue tells the stories of characters struggling against modern predators. We have cultures struggling to stay alive, illnesses drawing more blood than any beast, grief polluting the world around us. Because this is such an intimate fight, F(r)iction #14 has more creative nonfiction that ever before—exploring the fear of genetic mental illness, of cultural identity within warring nations, and of the simple struggle to find a space where we can feel valued.
Often, in today’s world, the biggest enemy of survival is ourselves. We are both the hunter and hunted, in a game of escalation that is veering dangerously toward mutually-assured destruction.
So, dear reader, we welcome you to settle into that comfortable chair and enjoy the spoils of the hunt. Hopefully, when you’re done devouring these stories and poems, you’ll think differently about your own survival, and how very complicated—and beautiful—it is.