A Sinking Feeling

"How long before help comes?" Andrei asked.

The two of us were sitting on a sodden mattress that was semi-submerged under the water. It wasn't exactly a life raft, but it was buoyant enough to keep us somewhat dry. Without the mattress, we'd be in the water up to our necks. With it, the water was only up to our ribs.

The Thomson Curse

I drop my case of beers on my great-grandfather’s headstone, leaning my shovel beside it, and get to loading my 12-gauge shotgun. It’s a newer Winchester semi-automatic. When your target moves as fast as a turkey at most, it does the job just fine.

It’s a cold day. It always is, April 1st, the start of the cruellest month. The only good thing about having to come here every damn year is not getting sucked into pranks or juvenile delinquency. But this year is different. I nearly didn’t come.

The Birch

You do not recognize the bodies in the forest.

I implore you to listen to me, just listen.

No one knows when the bodies started appearing, hanging from the gnarled branches of Cog Hollow. Little Janine says she sees the body of her grandmother hanging like a broken chicken wing at the edge of the school. Postman Milton swears he sees the checkered house dress of his sister flapping in the wind like laundry out to dry. They say there is a rule of threes for examples, but I think you get it.

You do not recognize the bodies in the forest.

Correspondence Log

Hello B—, 

I’ve forwarded your email re: the growing hole oozing in the corner of the open floor space plan to maintenance. It may take them a few days to get to it, because as you know, since J— disappeared (no call, no notice! Who does that?) they're a bit understaffed. 

In the meantime, would you mind taking your computer back to the desk where you normally sit? I know there are technically “no assigned seats,” but it’s throwing off our feng shui to have you sitting where A— normally sits. She’s hinted at it, and I’d like to nip this problem in the bud. 

Song of the Deep Wood

The rushing current and the birds’ cries rose to a boisterous chatter. Yhvie wrapped her fly line in a loose knot to the pole as Freda bounded past, flinging mud. The cabin sat visible up the long hill but with a grueling hike to get to it, one that had grown hard on her knees over these past eighteen months.

In the bucket lay three trout, their mouths gasping last breaths and looking insane, eyes bulging wildly as their world shrank down. Yhvie stared with some empathy, hard baked into her from the years of readying the dying for their ends.

A Lesson in Evolution

The man’s gums chomped unceasingly as he undid the apron around his waist. The apron read “World’s Worst Grandad,” and was smeared with sauce and flakes of barbeque gristle. He licked his fingers. There was something strange about his eyes, Keith thought.

“A sack of the corn, some of that deer scent, and those beef sticks,” Keith said, pointing around the store with his hook.

Whisky & Sours

I lean against the outer wall of the checkpoint hut and stare past the tops of towering hemlocks and cedars to the snow-frosted Cariboo mountains beyond. The view would be perfect, but for the smoke from the pit and Willie Harper sitting astride his piebald horse, rifle slung across his shoulder.

He rides patrol back and forth across my line of sight. Surely, it’s deliberate. I hate him and he knows it. If only I could spend the day gazing the other way, ignoring his existence, but my job demands otherwise.

Mozart is Not a Vampire

It was shortly after his peer's passing, that Kapellmeister Salieri began hearing the wind differently. Through the oaks it moaned like bassoons. Through slender beech limbs it whined like oboes. The gusts shaking the trees reminded him of the choral blast of the Requiem. And when it rained, the drops tinkled like the Per la ricuperata salute di Ofelia, which Mozart and he composed jointly for piano. Always after sunset, and always from the direction of St. Marx cemetery.

This must be my way of remembering him, he thought, going about his business as Court Composer.

Cut-Rate Couples Weekend at the Witch House Inne and Tavern (9 reviews)

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Drums of the Trireme

Everything in this place keeps time with the tattoo of the drum. The groan of the oars, the rattling of chains, the crack of the lash, all of it in the same cadence. I even find my climb to the deck above matching the tempo of the rhythmic pounding.

No one knows where the metronomic sound comes from. I have long grown familiar with the shape of my prison over the decades of my captivity; combed over every inch, memorized the grain of every wooden plank. There is no drum here, no unoccupied space within which it might be concealed. But the beat impels us all the same.