Unpublished etymologist Warren Nicholas thinks he’s finally made a discovery that will at last advance his career, but it may be more than he can handle… or survive. Happy birthday, Warren!

This is a rare appearance of the Daxin’Kirpa, my moth women. Though I’ve only written them twice so far, I have big plans down the road…

Oh, and if you’re wondering what the hell the title means, check here! 😉


  • About 3,000 words long
  • 99 cents on Amazon
  • Available on Amazon June 9, 2015

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Read a sample of the story below. (The “try a sample” function on Amazon other platforms cuts off before the story actually starts due to length and formatting for some titles. Plus, the samples here at Barrow City are carefully selected, not necessarily always the beginning of the story–and they’re usually longer, too!)



a Barrow City story

Dear Mr. Nicholas,

     Thank you for submitting your article Hindwing Size and Evolutionary Age in Lepidoptera Imagines. We have given the piece very careful consideration, but have regretfully decided that there is not a place for it in our journal at this time. We wish you the best of luck in submitting elsewhere, and remind you that we are open to reviewing additional work from you in the future.

“Happy fucking birthday to me,” Warren said, crumpling the letter and hurling it in the general direction of the trash can by his desk. He’d received the letter with the mail early that afternoon, but had waited until everyone else had gone before opening it, expecting just what he’d gotten. He didn’t feel like sharing with his colleagues the fact that he’d received yet another rejection on the article, let alone on his birthday.

Warren Nicholas was a twenty-nine year old lepidopterist, a specialist in insects such as butterflies and moths. Twenty-nine and counting. If he didn’t make his mark by the time he was thirty, he knew it was unlikely that he ever would. Science could appear, from the outside, to be a field dominated by old men, but what few people understood was that in order to become one of those old men, a scientist had to gain his notoriety while he was young. Publish or Perish was the refrain of academia.

“Screw it,” he said, still talking to the empty room. He’d been planning to work late, despite it being his birthday, but now he was too disappointed. Strange, he figured, considering he hadn’t thought he’d been that appointed in the first place. He’d taken off the brown cotton zookeeper’s shirt he wore for work during the day, leaving just the They Might Be Giants t-shirt he’d been wearing underneath. He grabbed the discarded shirt and crammed it into his messenger bag along with the balled-up letter retrieved from the floor by the wastebasket. He slung the bag over his shoulder and headed out, locking the back door of the insect house behind him.

The park was dark and quiet, having closed hours before. A few of the nocturnal animals would let out a howl or a cry every now and then, but for the most part all was still. There was an orange full moon hanging low overhead, its eerie glow turning the half-lit, empty zoo, so very familiar an environment in the daylight, into an alien landscape. Warren looked up at the moon, wondering how old the astronauts were when they first set foot on it. Just as he was about to turn and head for his car, something moved on the insect house roof.

He stood still and blinked, sure it was just a bird. Sure he’d imagined the size of whatever it was. There was a protuberance that he didn’t think was part of the architecture, but in the dark, who knew? It wasn’t as if he’d memorized every rooftop in the zoo. The thing up there could have been anything.

It moved again. Whatever it was, there was no longer any question whether or not it was alive. And it was not a bird. It was enormous, though he’d not made out enough of the shape of it to know what sort of dimensions he should be thinking in: Height? Length?