Stories from the ‘Fantasy’ Collection

He drew unnaturally even circles in the coarse, wet sand at midnight as the moon shone full and white-as-silver down on both he and the death-silent river that slept nearby, its ancient shores blanketed by reeds and rushes.

It was dangerous to be here at night alone, not just because of the lurking crocodiles that hunted from the dark foliage, who thought less-than-nothing of snacking upon a man’s flesh, but because of the need for solitary seclusion to do the work he was about, lest it fail utterly…worse than fail.

A set of careful sidelong glances up-and-down the lunar-limned shadows of the shoreline, as far as eyes could see in the moon’s pale light, revealed nothing and no one to interrupt or view the black-and-secret rites of his need–rites first performed by antediluvian man to leering shadows stretching across cavern walls.

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Fishy Weather

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I hate it when it rains fish.

July comes around, it rains fish. Guaranteed. Every year. So you get used to the fish storms in July. Or you’re supposed to… That’s what some people say anyways.

But I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t grumble and complain about getting fish in your boots, or smacked in the forehead with a mackerel, or glancing up and getting a trout in the eye. I just pull my hood over my head and stomp home, or to school, or wherever I’m going, since you can’t take the bus during fish season.

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The Faint Prince

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Arumya was a warrior-prince of the great city of Davish, whose fighting legions were known for their discipline and virtue. When he rose to become king, he would lead the armies of Davish as his father led them now.

There was but one problem. Prince Arumya fainted at the sight of blood.

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Misha’s Rest

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The dust had been swirling all day in small cyclones that lifted off the barren path outside her hovel, spiraling into the air and adding to the haze cloaking the distant purple mountains. Had the local priest of the shrine been visiting, he would have thought it a bad omen and said the desert spirits were agitated. Misha simply frowned and kept her passing superstitions to herself; she had enough to worry about.

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From worlds far across the desert sands they met, the dark girl with pale skin burying something in the ground, burning feathers and sticks that held a stench about them like that of carrion baking under the hot sun, and sooty, gray-white smoke rising up from their ashes to swirl in the breeze like tiny, angry spirits with terrible, fanged faces.

Perched above her in the branches of a strong desert tree — his graying once-red feathers hidden amid the patchwork green leaves, a tattered ghost of age and all the conflicts visited upon him during his time beneath the olive sky and black sun — the bird-man watched quietly. Much more quietly than the noisy girl below kneeling in the white sand, chanting and breaking, cursing and burning and pleading like a child sacrificing to the long-dead spirits of the desert wastes.

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Waking the Dead

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“We have a problem.” It was the kid.

“What’s that?”

“Ossun’s gone missing.”

I lifted my head slightly to look out at the span of orange-twilight sky beyond the tent flap, and squinted at the painful light. I was spending too much time sleeping in the tent. It was the damn savanna heat. “What do you mean? Eaten by a lion? What?”

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Cellular Drift

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Grabbing the cell phone was a last second decision. He almost walked out the door without it. He had his wallet, shoes, jacket, keys. Just a quick run to the store to pick up some condiments they needed.

He never made it home for dinner.

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Bone-singer

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Sing, poor Elvasa, sing like the wind across the dunes, sing to the bones of your father, and carry him with you all your life, until your children bear up your own bones unto the winds…

The song died away, drifting slowly away across the red evening darkness towards the blue edging upon the horizon and becoming lost in eternity. The gathered tribe drifted away, the ritual completed as Elvasa admired the shining ivory blade he now held, turning the thin crescent over to admire each side of the weapon…and to remember…

“Your father is with you now forever,” the old bone-singer’s voice broke into his reverie, and Elvasa looked up from the new blade into his milk-white eyes. The voice trembled with age, but there was still strength and tenor in it, subtle shadings of skill that remained eternally young lurking beyond the aged flesh. He wondered how the old man knew where to look without eyesight.

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The Seven Suns

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It happened that long ago the people of Lim Xhe would labor in their bountiful fields beneath the brilliant light of seven suns that soared through the heavens each day, for the gods had created the world with seven suns in the sky that there would be light everywhere. But the people complained for the fields were too hot, as each of the seven suns shone with light and heat upon the bare backs of the men.

But what could they do? For the gods had made seven suns in the sky, and it was not their place to change it. Even if they knew how.

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Ghalek stared out across the red sands and broken orange-brown rocks at the thin white band set across the desert’s breast, and the shining spike rising up into the sky above it, the glittering hues of the god’s shields dancing in the empty, white sky above it. The bloated corpse of the black sun sagged on the rim of the world behind him, painted crimson by the dust hazing the air and throwing long, sharp shadows that stretched towards the distant city like grasping claws.

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