My Teacher, My Enemy by Kelsey Ann Barrett

Published: June 2012 in Lightspeed Magazine that you can read online

Genre: post-apocalyptic fiction

Length: 10 pages

Setting: a future world, in the woods somewhere

Interest: It was included in the 2014 annual Campbellian Anthology.

Summary: The narrator lives in a world where power is gained by killing, skinning, and wearing the skins of other people. The better job you do skinning your kill, the more power you gain from that person. The story starts with the narrator’s first kill, as she is remembering the lessons her teacher provided on killing and skinning another individual. We see some details of a few other kills. In the last scene, we see the narrator facing off against someone with a massive number of skins on her back. Turns out, that individual is her teacher who’s become almost feral. The narrator loses the fight, but chooses to ruin the skins she’s carrying and her own so the teacher cannot have them.

Final thoughts: This story was a bit gruesome, with lots of details on how to properly skin someone to get the best result, and not mar the skin with blood or any tears. If it were an EscapePod epidose, I think it would be rated R for death and dismemberment. It makes you wonder what happened to society to make skinning someone be a good thing. I also wonder how their society could survive for very long, if the goal is to catch other people and kill them. Maybe the hunters were just a small part of society, but even so. Definitely touches on a taboo subject.

Title comes from: The narrator learned all she (I think it was a she) could about hunting from her teacher, but ends up dying at the hands of her teacher.

Reading challenges fulfilled: none since this was a short story


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