I’m sweeping a brush around the floors in food prep half-heartedly when Mike appears out of nowhere and pats me on the shoulder. I jump a mile.
“Sorry Fred, didn’t mean to scare you. Listen, if things don’t pick up soon, you can head off early today. There’s no sense in having more staff around the place than customers.” Continue reading
It takes a minute for me to register the pain between my legs, but once my body processes it, it’s like a small fire erupting through my groin and up my back. I cup my hands over myself as I crumple to the ground, making strange mewling sounds that leave everyone—myself included—uncomfortable. As I fall in a heap the rat thing—when did Ben adopt a rat thing?—smacks me hard over the head with the dull end of his spear. I try to cover my bits and my skull with my hands at the same time as the thing lifts his stick to smack me again. Continue reading
I reckon I make a pretty package, trussed up in spider webbing like a turkey for the table. Only my heavy boots are poking out the one end, and my long beet-red face out the other. Two-dozen quantlings and more are carrying me above their heads into the undergrowth, and I wouldn’t like that situation any day of the week, but these guys are the world’s worst mail couriers. By the time they’ve bounced me off a passing tree or dropped my corners into swampy puddles for the tenth time, I can honestly say I wouldn’t even hire them to do baggage handling at the airport. Continue reading
Normally there’s something beautiful about early mornings in the country. The quiet of the forest, the smell of the dew on the grass, and breathing in the crisp clean air while enjoying a hot cup of coffee. The idea of a warm drink out on the porch is especially appealing on such a cold-to-the-bone day, or it would be if I wasn’t still in boxers and a thin t-shirt from last night. There’s water on the porch from last night’s rainfall, and the wood is slippery under my bare feet as I walk to the edge of the top step. Continue reading
I ain’t one of those old men who’s afraid of new tech, and I’m proud to say that know my way around a smartphone with the best of them. But my phone is slippery in my hands with sweat and panic, and I’m swerving all over these country roads as I try to tap out Pierre’s number on the keypad. Not for the first time, I find myself lamenting the times when honest-to-goodness buttons were an actual thing. Continue reading
I lie back on the couch, slouching on the brown tweed upholstery, and put my feet up on the coffee table (something I’m sure has mom rolling over in her grave). I pick the remote off the cushion beside me and flick on the TV set, scrolling through the recorded episodes on the PVR. I cast a nervous glance around my living room, suddenly paranoid I’m not alone, before selecting an episode of The Bachelor and pressing play. Continue reading
I point my truck down Main Street, let her roll away under my feet and guide me through the town. I take a left at the lights by the hardware store and then a right in front of the water tower and not a minute later, I find myself rolling up into the parking lot. The hour isn’t too late, but it seems like it’s getting dark early again these days. There’s a cyclical nature to these things that breeds habits. Continue reading
I run my soapy hands under the cold water, watching as the bubbles swirl around the drain before disappearing from view. Once all the lavender scent has been rinsed from my palms I cup my hands, letting them fill with the icy water, and splash it on my face. The water spills onto the tiled floor and across the melamine vanity, and it soaks patches of my flannel long sleeve and white t-shirt underneath. It sends a shiver down my spine, but it feels nice after such an overwhelming day. I wipe my damp hands on my jeans and open the door of the nautical-themed bathroom. Continue reading
I take my time getting out of the truck, half-hoping that by the time I get round to Pierre’s side, he’ll have lifted his head off the dashboard and politely asked the young caribou girl to be on her way. Since he’s showing no inclination to do either of those things, I stroll around towards her. She smiles nervously at me and I nod back.
“I must say, this is an unexpected pleasure, Miss.”
She blushes, smiles at me and says nothing in that awkward way that teenagers do when they ring a doorbell and they’re faced with an unwanted conversation with a parent rather than the object of their affections. The girl looks right past me at Pierre, and her face softens as he sits upright. The freckled imprint of the dashboard remains on his face.
I stare at Ben and wait for him to say something. When he doesn’t, and instead calmly downs the last of the coffee from the paper cup, I can’t help myself from blowing up a bit.
“What the actual fuck?” I scream, scaring a few birds off their branches and into the air. “What the fuck is happening? Why are there centaurs in my backyard?”
“They’re not technically centaurs. Although I think they may have originated from—”
“I don’t care where they’re from, why are they here?” Continue reading