A Fairy Tale
No moon. No stars. No light for the chipped clapboard siding to reflect. But the old church glowed.
No bell hung in the steeple, but the air rung in time with his gasping breath.
He ran. Left. Left again. For the tenth time. The hundredth.
Ravens circled, screeching wildly, angrily. Keeping pace. They had not been there a moment ago.
Left. Left. Left again.
They burst outward, in a thousand directions. A black supernova.
The ringing stopped. He stopped. gasping.
She was there, shining with pale light stolen from the church. And the stars.
“Father would speak with you.”
The Dry Boned Man
The dry-boned man pulled over into the inner emergency lane on the
roundabout and deftly placed the amber warning light on the roof. Carefully
closing the door, he stepped into the rough-cut grass in the middle of the
traffic circling him widdershins*.
His lips pursed as the wind caught his thin black tie, flipping it over the
white cotton button-down shirt’s shoulder. Ignoring the writhing cloth, he
looked around. Nothing stuck out as unusual, unsurprisingly.
He pulled his phone out and doublechecked the numbers on the screen. 27.4%.
Three multiples beyond the norm, and the only place in his area that showed
that kind of spike, currently. Something unusual was happening.
He shook his head, sighed, and started stalking around the roundabout.
Widdershins, of course. The grass was three-quarters wild, seeing the
mowers monthly in this season, letting it sprout midway up his shins. The
random wrapper, can, or scrap. Cigarette butts. Shattered glass and plastic
He stepped on one plastic bag caught by one edge, flapping in the wind of
the cars passing by. Its deflated wreckage billowed back up as he passed
by. One lap around the small, round field and nothing obvious. Unsurprisingly.
“Always the third,” he muttered.
Another lap, seeing new details. The half-buried hubcap. Cigarettes
apparently unevenly distributed, no pattern evident. Yet. Rubber from blown
tires, some shredded, some in long strips, all with wire fragments around
the edges. More glass, more plastic, more shades, more places.
The third lap, and the wind whipping his black tie faster. Billowing
buffets of exhaust slapping at his face. Without stopping, he slides his
glasses on, but there’s nothing to do about the stink trying to wrap around
the back of his throat. Seeing shards – plastic, metal, glass, rubber –
scratching over his worn dress shoes.
One hand knocks the plastic bag out of the air before it could reach his
head, and the third lap is done. Looking back, and it’s now 27.5%, but
there hasn’t been another accident. Things were starting to move. The glass
shards clicked and the plastic shards clacked, starting to move into a
The phone switched over and pictures started to make electronic impressions
in the silicon guts and over the air. The wind stopped, and the traffic
noise that had been a constant physical presence since stepping out of his
car faded swiftly away. The cars still spun around widdershins, but there
were more important things happening. 27.7%.
28.2%. 31%. 36.8%. Speeding up – something unpleasant wanted in. He dug
into his pocket, fingers fiddling through the small bits there. Other small
bits were making colorful symbols now, between grass, glass, plastic, metal
and rubber. 48%.
A loud noise, something like a backfire, something like a car crash. The
symbols had finished forming, now they could do their jobs. 61%, the tenths
digit blurring up and down too fast to register.
He bent over, fishing out the sharpie. One quick line, and the symbols
detonated in place, returning to pieces and parts and not a whole. The car
noises slammed back, and a quick spiral of – dust? something – flicked into
and out of visibility in the center of the grassy field.
Carefully, he picked up the pieces of plastic, glass, metal and grass that
had any of his sharpie ink on them. They all went into seperate baggies,
each ziplocked carefully closed as it was filled. Checking the phone, and a
brief smile flickered over his face. 4.1%, much better.
Reifying actuarial tables was always a rewarding profession.
The dry-boned man dusted off his hands, took the light off the roof of his
car, and merged carefully back into the traffic.
The cue for this week’s 100 Word RPG Hook (and its longer sibling from John Benner Jr.) was “widdershins.” Next week’s cue is “Bermuda Triangle.” Write your own 100 words, send me the link, and I’ll post your story with mine right here on the blog!
Image Credit: Ammodramus