Sunday, March 1, 2009


SOmetimes I like to write something... different: From FATE FANTASTIC, Edited by Martin H Greenberg, and Daniel M. Hoyt 2007


Dave Freer

Now you see me...
Now you don't.
But I'm out there, oh yes. You all just keep looking for me, my little darlings. Peer out into the dark. There are always things that skitter in the night. Twigs that crack in the silence. A hint of movement, where all should be grave-still. Ha. As if a grave is ever really still. I've spent enough time in one to know that. You haven't. Yet.
A muffled shriek at midnight. It could be an owl.
Or it could be me.
Tch. Keep looking out, silly ones. Stare hard into the shadows under the wind-gnarled trees. It's very black over there.
Now you see me...
Now you don't.
Which is all really very odd... because I'm in here, in the circle of firelight, with you. I DO so like it when you look for me out there. Stopping myself from giggling is the hardest part. And it is nice and warm here by your fire. The things people will believe. As if that would keep me away. Your cold iron could kill me, but that is a chance I must take.
Grey dawn is a fair way off, still and before then my mischief and damage must be done. I'll have to slip off and to go to earth then, before the sunlight comes. It is such a lovely foxy way of putting it, 'to go to earth'. Appropriate too, for me, even I can't say that it is too accurate. But it has a better ring to it than 'to go to the mound'. A pity, that. My kind are rather obsessed with accuracy.
Magic requires it.
She huddled into her hooded cloak and leaned against him for security. The child was shivering slightly. Well, they all were, probably, and not from the cold. Terrible tales were told of Gnita Heath. Of the dragon, of the ring of old misshapen rocks which were strangely bare of the lichen that grew on the other stones out here. Of the doom that overtook those who wandered too far onto it.
Or... in other words... about Jack.
"It'll be all right. We're ready for anything. We'll see him coming," said Hrolf, trying to keep even the hint of a quaver out of his voice. "And there are lots of us."
She smiled at him. There was a quick flash of white teeth in the shadows of the hood anyway. "You're so brave."
In his heart of hearts, Hrolf Ragnarsson did not feel it. He had come here to die, seeking the death that had been foretold when he was barely three months old. The wise women, the chanter of galdr, and mistress of seid had spoken with with his fylgjur -- his fetch. He would die on Gnita Heath. A part of him wanted that death... and yet, not now. Not at the hands of night-monster. Not overtaking the others with him. "We warriors are not afraid of anything," he said with all the stoutness he could muster. The poor mite was so frail. What did the king think he was doing, sending a waif of a girl out here?
"Not even a ghost that drinks blood and sends men mad?" she asked.
Her teeth were very even and very white.
Did she have to mention that story? That was almost worse than Jack.
I suppose it is rather nasty, enjoying watching him shake. But some things need to be kept from humans. Some things are holy, and fragile. Anyway, I like doing my job.
Jack o' lantern...
Jack o' shadows...
Jack o' bedlam.
The redcap of the heath. It's quite a job. Quite a responsibility.
I do wonder why the humans think I'm male. My kind never are.

1 comment:

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Very atmospheric with a touch of wicked humour!