There once lived a girl who knew she was destined for great things, but great things were always taking too long to appear on her horizon. She bided her time with her husband, a street magician, and her best friend, whose main line of work was being an artist’s mistress. Greatness teased the girl, slyly peeking around the corner up ahead and disappearing again, laughing with other people at parties.
One autumn day, when the skies were clear but the air already smelled like snow, the girl was walking home from her job, when a long, black car pulled up next to her in the street. There was a man in the back seat of the car and he rolled his window down. The man’s eyes were shiny and rich and dead, like drops of oil. “I’ve been looking for you,” said the man, and opened the car door, inviting her in. The girl got in, congratulating herself on her bravery as she did so. Greatness required bravery. Continue reading “The Girl Who Went For a Ride: a tale of horror (maybe)”
“It smells like an old crypt,” Noor said as the central heating system sluggishly started up for the first time that autumn. Stray leaves whispered in the ducts.
“Smelled a crypt before?” Khaldoun asked his new wife. Continue reading “The American House”
In the place I used to be from, they have an old legend about a band of warriors – horses, sabers, embarrassingly well-fitted leather chaps, etc. The legend goes that the warriors were brave and noble and fought on the right side of history. Most retired in peace and died nonviolent deaths.
Except for the one warrior that kept on living, that is. He kept on living and living. Last anyone’s heard of him, he was 700 years old and counting.
Impossible, you say. Imagine the paper trail someone like that would generate over time, you say. A warrior wouldn’t be a warrior if he listened to the objections of people on the internet, though. And anyway, there was a lot for him to do. War never goes out of style.
The legend goes that a few hundred years into his deathless existence, the warrior – let’s say his name was Nik, it’s a good name – was riding along through some dusty little town where chickens roam the main square. It was hot and he was thirsty, and he found a tavern and bought some beer. Some things in existence you don’t get sick of, not even after centuries.
A beer wench brought Nik his beverage, and leaned down conspicuously, as beer wenches are supposed to do, but before he got a good look at her tits, he noticed her eyes. And her tits stopped mattering then, and Nik felt uncomfortable. And the beer wench felt uncomfortable. And the joy drained out of the day. Continue reading “A half-hearted Apocalypse of sorts”
“Who was it who had the bright idea to use sunlight hares in the attack?” The General asked impatiently.
“Hares, sir?” The adjutant hid his amusement. Although the General was only beginning to gray about the temples and the nose hairs, dementia was surely not far off.
“There was a figure on a hill. Outflanking the poor bastards in the ravine. The figure was holding a mirror, reflecting light onto their faces. It wasn’t remotely clever it was… ridiculous, that’s what it was.”
The adjutant’s ruddy complexion momentarily turned white with fear. The General did not notice. He was not in the habit of noticing things that were of no tactical importance. Continue reading “The Blunt Mirror”
There once was a man who left his home after trying, and failing, to win the love of a married woman. He travelled for weeks, sometimes on foot, sometimes hitching a ride here and there. Sometimes his body ached with weariness, and sometimes the nights of the waning summer got cold, but he pressed on.
One autumn evening, just as it began to grow dark where the lonely road yielded no inns or fellow travelers, the man saw a winking light on a hill in the distance. The light looked just like the light in the married woman’s house late at night, or so he recalled.
When he came closer, he realized that the light was emanating from the entrance to a cave. Though this struck him as strange, he pressed on and saw a deep cavern, dimly lit by a small fire. A girl in rags, no more than thirteen by the looks of her, sat by the fire and stirred something in a copper pot with a long white spoon. She was humming a tune he couldn’t place, except for the fact that it may have been sung by his mother to him.
The girl jumped when she saw him, but he reassured her with calm words and what he hoped was a warm smile. She told him that she had been banished from her village on suspicion of dark magic.
“And are you?” He asked.
“And am I what?”
“An evil witch.”
“No,” she smiled back at him. “I am a good one.” Continue reading “Blood on the Snow”