The muses are beautiful, but dangerous.
They are kept in silk lined stalls.
They have a very short life expectancy. Two days from the time the first stitch is placed, because without food and water the skin dries up and shrivels, hanging too loose on the body to properly ink.
They are all silent, in honor of the very first mute muse, the first muse to become a book. The thing is, no one even remembers the poems or title. They only know the legend of the mute muse.
The Box arrives on his fiftieth birthday.
It is sitting on the desk in his office, wrapped in shiny black paper, adorned with a scarlet bow. It is square, the kind of box that might contain a paperweight, or a large book, or a box of chocolates.
Really, it could be anything.
The App description said that the Umbrella Man’s “got what you need.” Brian Fuld downloaded the App and launched it while relaxing in bed and settling in for the night.
Brian scrolled through the typical legal jargon and tapped the “I accept” button. The grey silhouette of a man holding an umbrella appeared on the screen. Brian touched the image and the words “I have what you need” appeared. Nothing else happened. $1.99 down the drain. Brian put his phone down and gave in to sleep.
The clouds were moving. If Harvey closed one eye, he could see them as they drifted above him. He didn’t know when dental offices began putting relaxing pictures in their light fixtures, but he was damned grateful for it. It could have been the numbing stuff they jammed into his gums or that he had been in this chair for an hour and was starting to hallucinate, but those clouds were definitely moving.
“It was a hay loft, sweetheart,” her mother said. “The old lady who used to live here kept hay up there to feed her cows.”
“But it’s empty now,” the child said. “And I hear things.”
“It used to be a hay loft,” her mother said patiently, “so there were lots of small animals lived in it.” She smiled encouragingly. “Dormice, you know, like in Alice in Wonderland.”
I bought a Dracula painting at the Thrift store yesterday. The clerk looked at me with contemptuous eyes as she scanned the price ticket. I thought I heard her whisper “That gothic child just wasted his money” as I walked towards the door.
Eastern B.C.; nestled in the heart of the thick-treed Kootenays; a small, mountain town; winters cause hands to callous, to bleed.
Twenty minutes from town there is a small log home. A child and a lycanthrope live there. She is small, ashen, could disappear into the snow if it weren’t for her dark hair. They once lived with a woman, too. The woman didn’t know what the little girl knows, that the man they lived with turned into something uglier and beastlier when the white moon grew fat.