Yurik’s old limp shifts loose stones from the surface of the dry ground as he moves towards the hut. The garden is a wasteland of dismantled machines: bikes, drills, winches. Piles of swarf and wood-dust sit beneath a workbench. Dissected water bottles are makeshift funnels for old engine oil. A deep well is covered by meshing and a brick-weighted tarpaulin. Yurik is tall. His laboured gait only adds grit to his obvious immovability. Sunken eyes. Ashen face.
He stoops inside the circular hut. The earth to the walls of the hut have been cut down two feet. The earth to the centre of the hut is uncut and forms a raised plinth which has been compacted and smoothed to a solid table. It’s dark. Yurik flips his head torch and looks up. He beats the thatched roof intently with the outside of his fist.
The shiny black and red millipedes that live in the thatch are three inches long and a third of an inch thick. Maravattai. Two fall to the table from the roof. Their hard outer shells knock on the table as they land. One quickly flips itself over and its strong body winds towards the edge of the table and escapes into the dark.
The other maravattai is more docile. Stunned. Its body contorts slowly with fluid waves of black legs flailing in rhythm. The bulbous head, eyes and antenna weave in an attempt to force its writhing body back to its feet.
Yurik’s head torch glares down onto the shining exoskeleton. He draws his knife and rests it trapping the body down with the flat side of the blade. Reaching into the top pocket of his shirt he draws a small roll of cloth which he places on the table ritually. No expression. He unrolls the cloth to reveal a number of long steel pins, a thick straw and a set of tweezers.
He draws a pin. Between the pin and the blade edge he stretches the millipede to its full length over the table. The tail crunches as he pins it. Another pin. This time meticulously between the convex black shining eyes. Antennae rigid. Crunch. The legs cripple inwards like a deathly venus fly trap. The antennae spasm.
Yurik carefully positions two more pins and takes the tweezers. Beginning with the sternite above the tail, he clamps the body segment and pulls. As it cracks loose, the fleshy, wet, beige innards protrude in the torch light. A putrid, alien stench fills the hut. No pause. Concentration. Each sternite is separated from the flesh like thick, septic scabs which he wipes on the cloth. The grotesque anthropod is now masterfully butchered. Open.
Returning the tweezers to the cloth, Yurik takes the straw. Leaning forward over the bug he exhales and places the straw between his lips. From the tail he sucks the muculent, fetid flesh through the straw and swallows.