The execution notice tacked to a wooden fencepost flapped in the wind as early morning light crept through the tree branches. Soraya tried not to slow her pace or even to glance at it. She already knew the details and her heart grieved for her only son. Pulling the faded cotton scarf tighter around her head, she walked in a hunched-over manner befitting her age, taking a circuitous path to make sure she was not being followed. The Janissaries had posted notices of the execution for today. They intended a very public message that rebellion and insurrection would not be tolerated. The Sultan of the Ottoman empire had spoken.Continue reading “One Last Act by Gail Boling”
Dread comes with darkness. Bar your doors and windows, and keep out the evil spirits. That’s what people say. I hide under my blankets, but Mama says they won’t keep me safe. I’m not even safe in her arms. That’s why the mare took baby Bert when he was sleeping, and the blacksmith’s wife. You never know when she might come, but Mama says no night is safe.
I had just sprayed some swastikas on my father’s shiny new headstone, and was two letters into a nice double-underlined “BURN IN HELL, NAZI” when I saw her.
Her flowing white dress fairly glowed in the full moon’s light. Her skin and hair were so dark, the way she walked so light and graceful, that my first thought was “ghost”. But disembodied spirits don’t usually carry duffel bags, or pause their spectral wanderings to shift the straps awkwardly. Having more to fear from the living than the dead, I swung behind dad’s elaborate (now slightly moreso) stone, and hid.
I burned a witch to death last night. She was a standard specimen: long nose, black hair, broomstick, pointy hat. I looked for a cat but couldn’t find one, which is not unusual. In my experience, few witches travel with their cats. Ditto for cauldrons, wands, crystal balls, and any other magical items you can think of: Witches travel light.
The Mooney woman taught him how to do it. She was forbidden to be on the premises, but she called Alfie over one day when he was playing near the fence that bordered the lane. The call was a high fluttering whistle, dancing like a mountain stream. He had been building a den from old branches and bracken when he heard, and though he knew from whence came the sound, he was drawn there as though to a trove of sweets.
“Goddam, son-of-a-bitch, get the hell away from me. Buzzin in my ears like a damn mosquito, trying to drop ticks and vermin down my collar or in my boots. Damn you, to hell.”
The earplugs are workin, but I need earmuffs too. I feel like a damn astronaut, duct tape around my pant legs and boots and gloves and coat sleeves, dust mask over my mouth and nose, muffler around my neck, goggles strapped to my face and this heavy jacket, two pairs of pants and my wool watch cap. I can barely walk. Continue reading “East Wind by Frederick K Foote”