Friday, September 26, 2008

I Watched Something Die

I watched something die today, while I worked. It was a massive stink
bug, something on another day and in another place I would have
happily squashed without a sudden thought.

I was sampling a rail car, and I had just pulled up my zone sampler
full of tar, thick and heavy and drizzling all over the outside of the
tool, when this bug flew right at it. right into it. Its wings stuck
grotesquely in the tar and they became immobile on its back as it
struggled, falling down onto the funnel but not down into my jar. From
this moment it was dead. The tar would kill it, and anything that
might wash the tar off would kill it. It was dead, it just didn't know
it, yet. Crawling about on my bucket and on my sampler and funnel. Two
or three rail cars later, it tried to climb the rope, and as I worked,
it's oil weighted body fell... catching on the side of the hatch to
the car.. the oil keeping it from falling even as it kept it from
holding on... slipping.. sliding horribly downward, slowly losing as
its limbs moved slowly.. as though pushing through water even in the

It finally fell. Landing on the dense tar, a heart wrenchingly slow
submersion into the semi liquid. Flailing legs and squirming, coating
itself ever more thoroughly as it sunk. The black ichor swallowed it
whole, and swallowed it slowly. Forced to stand still while my work
slowly drizzled the vile substance into my collection jar, I watched.
Fascinated, sympathetically, filled with a sort of sickness. How
watching this thing die in such a way made me feel... for something
that I might have squashed without a second thought.

How it occurs to me that it is the way it died that tore at my soul. Slowly.

Nothing should ever die slowly. What worse thing is there for a good
person than to watch the suffering of another being? I ought to have
crushed it when first it landed in my work. Crushed it and forgot it.
Better to have killed it quickly than to watch it drown, never to

I wonder what the dinosaurs that fell into tar looked like.

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