When I came to, some time later, it was to the tune of horse hooves on stone, and my throbbing head bumping against wood, and the giddy whispers of children. My eyelids were glued shut so when I pried them apart, half my lashes ripped out. I lay on my side, rocking, woven baskets stacked in high, leaning towers all around me.
I sat up and leaned into the columns of hampers. The purple welts and bruises all down my arms were not lost on me. A quick scan downward confirmed more of the same on my legs. But the kicker: one foot wrapped in textile, soaked in blood and – I drew it up, painfully, to confirm – missing the big toe. Just gone.
So. Old Jabal must’ve really worked me over. Shame I was unconscious for all that.
Toe aside, the immediate concern was my current predicament. Shedding the initial shock of post-waking panic, I recognized that I was in a horse-drawn cart. Headed back toward the innards of Nod, judging by the sun’s position and by common sense. (Carts full of product don’t leave Nod.) I plunged a scraped-up hand into one of the baskets and rummaged, coming up with a handful of sun-shriveled dates. I sniffed one, took a bite. Realized I was missing a tooth or two. And I thought, Wait a minute. Dates. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Three”
Nod was and always will be a cesspool. Dingy, humid, smelly. And that’s just the citizens. A few bad apples, kids and grandkids and so forth of Mom and Dad’s, got it in their heads they’d relocate to Nod a long, long time ago. All these years later and the apples only got more rotten and more numerous. Blink in Nod and they’ll rob you blind. Fall asleep there and you might wake up one kidney, tongue, or ball short.
And these monsters are family, mind you.
But all that was secondary to number one on the Reasons to Steer Clear of Nod list: Sephura moved out there about a year ago. Sephura’s my sister.
We had a thing for a while. It ended badly. Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part Two”
The Good-Bye Garden (Part One)
Ryan Everett Felton
Five weeks after I swore an oath I’d never go back, I jumped a wild ass and kicked it in the haunches until it pointed its dripping snout toward home. I cursed and spat and told the beast it was a stupid, stubborn thing, but that from here on out – between the pair of us – I’d be the stupider, stubborner one. It brayed and kept moving, which I took to mean that the beast agreed to do the walking from here on out. That suited me fine. I might’ve grown up in the desert, but I never really took to it, nor it to me.
Slung across my back were my only possessions: a pair of sandals; a cloth to wrap around my head in the day and curl up under at night; and three waterskins – one full of water, the other two brimming with wine. One of the wine ones I grabbed now and took a pull. Fine, just fine. My cousin’s wife smashed the grapes with her own two feet and I never took a sip of the stuff without imagining those perfect little toes of hers, fleshy flawless grapes themselves. What a pretty thing she is.
“Damn it, Dashel,” I said to myself. “Don’t think, just drink.” Continue reading “The Good-Bye Garden: Part One”
Her Perplexed Words
Ryan Everett Felton
After a long day at the library, sweet old Ms. Goodson was somewhat dismayed to find her front door obstructed by a stray sphinx, curled up and napping on her welcome mat.
“Oh, wonderful,” she said. Hitching her purse up her shoulder, she lifted a dainty foot and prodded at the creature’s feline torso. “Go on, now,” she said. “Shoo, shoo!”
The sleeping beast purred and rolled over, using one feathered wing to cover its humanoid face. With a wide padded paw it batted at Ms. Goodson’s loafer half-heartedly.
“Go on, get,” said the librarian. There was a bottle of wine and a Frasier DVD box set waiting for her inside. Continue reading “Her Perplexed Words”