“Bottleneck Effect” by Michael O’Neill


(originally published by Bottlecap Press 2016)

I’ve only recently come to understand the Bottleneck Effect, which occurs when a segment of a population is alienated from the rest of its pack and thus lives in seclusion, creating generations and generations of offspring that begin to differ from the rest of its original species. It’s often found in marine mammals due to the violent nature of hurricanes, as evidenced by the African elephant seal, which nearly went extinct. It can sometimes be seen in large groups of sloths, which are slow to adapt to their surroundings, the runts even more so. If you’re handy with a magnifying glass and are vigilant enough to brave the dangers of the rainforest, you will notice the many different pigmentations of insects that have devolved from their original beauty, ant-sized nonetheless. Or, if you ever make your way to Fairfield, Nebraska, you can come to 621 Henderson St, into the back room on the left with the door tightly locked and examine the human boy that lives there. Notice the stale wallpaper, the dust-ridden baseboards, and the stained carpet of his habitat. Brush your hand overtop his head, touch his cheek with your gentlest finger, feel how odd he is. How strange and different he seems. Please do this. Please.

Michael O’Neill is a fiction and poetry writer residing in Chicago. His work has appeared in Maudlin House, WhiskeyPaper, the Journal of Microliterature, Unbroken Journal and Great Lakes Review, among others.


twitter: @mt_oneill20

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