As I walk away, the dude with the beard pulls a cloth out of his coat pocket and spreads it on the table. I see that the cloth is white and black checked — big checks, about an inch and a half. The other guy, the one with the glasses, pulls a couple of bags out of his pockets. He hands one of the bags to the beard and then dumps his onto the cloth. Chess pieces.
I’m watching all this as I bring their coffee and dish up their pies. … I ask if I can watch the game.
They look at each other — kinda weird-like, and Glasses says, “If you want.”
So bright it was at midnight, when I dimmed the study lamp, I scorned my bedroom and went, instead, out into the dewy quietude, down to the inlet where my people came to catch fish for my dinner. The full moon’s reflection floated upon its mirror surface, almost too lambent to look upon.
As I neared the water, the brilliant disk wavered, though there was no wind. The white circle rippled and rose, and resolved into a woman standing upon the surface. Was she dressed in white linen, which clung to her shape with the weight of its liquidity, or was she bare, wearing only inhumanly featureless flesh?
Slowing her speed, her expert wings took her to a tall tower’s open window. Now safe in the palace, she hovered above the slight body of a sleeping girl. A moonbeam’s fairy-light fell across the small bed softly illuminating the girl’s jet-black hair.
The avian touched down upon the slumbering girl’s chest and called softly in her bird-voice and melded into the peaceful child.
Her black beady eyes gazed at the sleeping face before her. Sneaking in through the tall window, a quick silver moonbeam danced over the girl’s own jet-black hair. The moon’s fairy-light likewise sparkled over the black-winged avian as it called softly, melding into the peaceful child.
This is intolerable. Her splendid hide rippled as it was stroked, though there was little more to it now than the map of her excellent markings. Nera tightened her throat in a crimped growl no one could hear. Everything about this creature sickened her. Its voice pooled in the air, its touch was random, with no purpose. Why would it stroke the dead?
Nera was almost overwhelmed by the indignity of it all, her helplessness, her loss. The urge to attack heaved uselessly under the pink fingers’ touch. She could almost feel the rough terrain of her own territory under her paws, the huge range she had established as her own, the winds that blew across it, the grasses she hid in, the water, cool on her tongue. Her last mating had given her twins, that were now left on their own, defenseless, hungry, taken away from her in an instant by that sharp bolt. How cruel to endure the fawning perpetrated upon this dreamless self by this smelly creature with no markings.
T. Lee Harris
Where a few moments before, there had been a small, overgrown stand of trees, she now looked into the depths of a lush, primal forest. As she stepped farther in, the light changed from the pale of just-morning to the richer hue of a setting sun. She took a couple slow steps forward in confusion and wonderment. The sky, where it was visible through the dense canopy was stained purple and rose and the sun’s dying rays sent shadows across the mossy ground in the wrong direction. She whirled to look behind her. Trees stretched as far as she could see. It was as if the park were an almost forgotten memory. She reached out to touch the gnarled, central oak. At least she assumed it was the center of this wood as it formed the center of the small copse in her park. This seemed to be a version of the copse she was used to walking past, but somehow . . . older . . . .
A few nights later along the dark stretch of highway, the red Mustang was parked, again void of its orange sticker. Otis rubbed his eyes and quickly pulled his patrol car off to the side. What in the world was going on? Had his mind been on that black camisole and he hadn’t noticed the car those past couple of nights? Why on God’s green earth would anyone abandon such a beautiful car? He called in the license number, make and model. He felt foolish repeating this procedure, but it was required.
This time he examined the name of the owner: Wyatt E. Davis. Nothing unusual about that, but here’s something I hadn’t noticed before, Otis thought. The license plate hasn’t been updated from 1968. Well…that just has to be a mistake! It would have showed up previously when I called it in, wouldn’t it?
C. S. Lewis and Pleasure Riding
Janet Wolanin Alexander
Trail riding took on a whole new dimension after I read The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis last summer. The seven-book, pre-Harry Potter series, written in England between 1939 and 1956, records the adventures of several British children in a world populated by talking animals and mythological creatures.
How exactly was my horseback riding affected? My imagination was activated! My horse Highlander and I morphed into a Centaur and explored our magic kingdom, a state forest in southeastern Indiana.
By Glenda Mills
His mind began to race. Surely the Devil, Lucifer himself, wasn’t actually in his parish. Maybe the police had missed something. Maybe there was a serial killer in the town. The reference was surely a way of saying that evil things were happening, a way of confirming his earlier suspicions that something was wrong. Satan was at work in the lives of his parishioners. What he didn’t know yet was exactly how they were being attacked and who was doing the attacking.
“Father, you don’t look well. Is something wrong?” Clara, the church secretary, had walked into his office to bring him some checks to sign.
“Long day followed by a longer night.”
“I know what you mean. With all the horrible things that have been going on lately, I don’t think any of us are at ease these days….”
Demon Gun: Lock and Load
At 23, Joey was impatient with his prospects.
Tonight was going to change all that. Tonight, with the members of his old gang, all the preparations he’d made, the time spent secretly studying spells he’d finally get what the Hellboyz refused to give him: power. Real power. Power to take anything he wanted. The time for small spells was over; sure they were good for scamming a few bucks here and there, but tonight was going to be real magic.