We came to New Town as newlyweds. They let us in. Hugs made us feel welcome. They gave us our stations and we started our internships. Everyone helped us acclimate. Soon we felt integrated. Milandra took to having babies and nurturing them, while I took to giving archery lessons. I held them in the woods, beyond the wall. We shot at trees, then fish, mammals, and, finally, birds. The taxidermists did a nice job. We sold the creatures at a roadside stand. Instead of pint boxes of blueberries, we shelved animals in action poses. When it rained, the product moved faster. Maybe tourists pitied the turkeys’ wet feathers, the mountain lions’ wet fur. People in madras shorts and polo shirts wedged pumas lengthwise into their trunks, closed them, smiled, waved, and left us richer. If they asked me about New Town, I told them, “I’m new. Ask the Aged.” When they asked, “Where are they?” I told them, “Growing aged,” and we laughed, the tension broken.
One time, a journalist drove up, and from the van punctuated with satellite dishes, out popped an entire news crew. They held video cameras, lights, and microphones. The journalist approached, her pad and pen poised. “Margot French, Midwest News.” She stuck out her hand. I backed up, took an arrow from my quiver, notched it, drew back the bowstring (we are forbidden to use pulleys), and fired. The hunting arrow shaft ended in three razor-sharp blades. They punctured her heart. The rest of the news crew fled. Our professionals bled the journalist, skinned her, and stretched her epidermis over a crude stick figure. She never looked so good. We plucked her eyebrows and gave her a Mohawk. We changed her hair color to orange.
The news crew came back with people carrying guns on their hips. They took Margot. The news crew filmed the abduction. The police lifted her scarecrow stand onto an ambulance’s portable bed. She looked happy, radiant.
“There goes a week’s work,” I said to Babooshka, the third wife I had taken. She hugged me.
The law arrested me for causing Margot French’s death. Our Elder said we were within our rights. “The news crew trespassed and we felt threatened,” he explained on the news. Our lawyer argued on our behalf. The charges were dropped. A good lawyer can be deeper than a moat and stronger than a wall.
Many more people came to New Town. Some of our community said they came because they were afraid of what was happening beyond our wall. I think they came because they had seen our work. They emulated our talents. The woods filled with archers. “I can’t teach you to kill,” I told them. “Only you can find your way there.” New Town flourished. It elected me Supreme Aged. The world beyond our walls faded away. Or, rather, our walls stretched, then fell, and the world poured in. Eventually, nothing remained beyond New Town—except more New Town.
In spring, on my deathbed, countless wives came to comfort me. They brought bluebells, dandelions, and forget-me-nots. I breathed in the wives and their scents. “Let me relate my history,” I told them. They brought the wife of the former Supreme Aged. She remembered how to write. I talked, and she wrote down my remembrances. This is New Town, I began. Take it in your palm and make a fist. Keep it safe.