DP FICTION #59B: “Beldame” by Nickolas Furr

I never had a driver’s license, you see. Instead I was born blessed with epilepsy. The doctors said it was bad form to put a two-ton vehicle into the hands of a young man who could seize at any time, medication be damned. Grand mal, tonic-clonic—whatever you wanted to call it, it was the big one, and I grew up afraid to be responsible for running off the road and killing someone because of it. I tell you this simply to explain that I was completely at the mercy of the bus line when we stopped at the small town in Kansas where all the houses faced west and I met the whispery old crone who sat at the intersection of two worlds.

At the time I was suffering through a crisis of identity and ennui. It was more than just the listless, relentless boredom of youth. The side effects of the Dilantin I popped to keep the seizures at bay made me irritable, anxious, and dark—sometimes at different times, sometimes all at once. I came from a good family in Kansas City, with two parents who loved me and supported me and a sister who put up with me. I was holding down a 3.88 grade point average at the University of Kansas, and I’d just met a guy.

James was from Pueblo, Colorado. We met at school and were looking into whether or not we wanted to pursue a relationship. He brought a beautiful pair of stark blue eyes, a lingering echo of the English R.P. accent he’d developed during the first 10 years of his life, and a tolerance for my nervous flutters. We weren’t exactly dating, but there was something between us. He wasn’t the first guy I fell for, or the first that I’d had sex with, but he was the first I really started to love. When you’re already pharmaceutically primed for nervousness, anxiety, and agitation, worrying about falling in love really adds to the stress.

DP FICTION #59A: “This Is What the Boogeyman Looks Like” by T.J. Berg

This is what the boogeyman looks like.

It has white eyes with no pupils and no irises. Just white all the way through. But it can see you. So I must not fall asleep as I wait outside this closet door in an empty room, in an empty house with a derelict For Sale sign in front of it, everything smaller than I remember, baseball bat gripped in my hands.

*

This is what the boogeyman sounds like.

Short, huffing breaths, almost snorts, like your boss calling you into his office for a chat, because you got yet another email by accident that was supposed go to the CEO, who shares your name. “And you understand,” huff huff huff, “that you obviously didn’t get the whole story with just that one email,” huff huff huff, “and the engineers are definitely going to address that problem before the product goes to market.” Huff. “We understand each other, right?” And you’re too scared of losing your job to do anything but understand.

DP FICTION #57B: “The Train to Wednesday” by Steven Fischer

Charlie Slawson sat alone in the transit station, watching a set of empty train tracks and wondering why the train was late. Truth be told, he hadn’t known until just then that temporal trains even could be late.  He looked around the underground station—its old, brick walls lined with gaudy digital displays, advertising exciting trips … Continue reading DP FICTION #57B: “The Train to Wednesday” by Steven Fischer

DP FICTION #57A: “Consider the Monsters” by Beth Cato

Jakayla crouched in front of her dark closet. She hadn’t turned on the light because that was an awfully rude thing to do when trying to talk to the monster hidden inside.

“You gotta listen to me,” she whispered. “The news is saying really bad things, like rocks are gonna fall out of the sky and a lot of people are gonna die. You can’t stay in my closet. You gotta go to the basement. There’s dark spaces down there for you to hide in. I won’t tell no one you gone there.”

“Jakayla!” She turned to find Grandma leaning into the bedroom. “I got to run to your auntie’s house. The phone network’s down.”

“The phones don’t work?” Jakayla gasped. “Why? I didn’t think anything had fallen yet?”

“Nothing has, yet. Everyone’s trying to talk to everyone on the phone, and the system can’t handle that. Listen, girl.” Grandma waddled forward to cup Jakayla’s face. “We’re going to be just fine, you hear me? Don’t you worry. Just stay here. We’ll have everyone here together in the basement tonight.”

STORY ANALYSIS: “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly

written by David Steffen I am trying out a new feature that I might run occasionally here, where I pick a story that I particularly liked, and pick it apart to try to figure out why it worked so well. For this first entry, I’ll be talking about “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by … Continue reading STORY ANALYSIS: “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections” by Tina Connolly

DP FICTION #55B: “Dear Parents, Your Child Is Not the Chosen One” by P.G. Galalis

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Goodblood,

Thank you for expressing your concerns about Rodney’s First Term grade. Please understand that the highest mark of “Chosen One” is exceedingly rare, even among our exceptional student body here at Avalon. Rodney’s grade of “Stalwart” is neither a mistake nor cause for concern, but a performance about which you and he can both be proud.

As I indicated in my written evaluation, Rodney is a bright young man, although he does have room for improvement in the areas of effort and behavior. I’m told by his Warrior, Wizard, and Rogue teachers that he shows equal aptitude in all three classes, so I’m confident that with support and encouragement, his skills will continue to improve.

Sincerely,

Madeleine Whimbley

Teacher of Intermediate Feats & Virtues

Avalon Preparatory Academy for Adventurers

BOOK REVIEW: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

written by David Steffen American Gods is a contemporary fantasy/mythology novel by Neil Gaiman, published in 2001. I’ve heard the book highly recommended by many readers, and in 2017 Starz started airing a TV series adaptation, so I decided I needed to find out what it was all about. The protagonist of the book, Shadow, is released from … Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: American Gods by Neil Gaiman

DP FICTION #52B: “Bootleg Jesus” by Tonya Liburd

Out where rock outcroppings yearn to become mountains, there was a town cursed with no magic.

In this town, there was a family.

In this family, there was a girl.

She was nine, almost ten, Mara. Childhood hadn’t completely lifted its veil. She had an older brother, Ivan, who was fourteen, and whose voice was changing. Elsewhere, puberty would have signaled all sorts of preparations – acceptance into a special group home as much for his safety as for the general public – while his Unique Gift manifested. Watchfulness. Guidance. Training. 

But not here.

MOVIE REVIEW: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a fantasy action/adventure movie tie-in to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe,  distributed by Warner Bros pictures in 2016.  It shares a title with one of Harry Potter’s textbooks in the Harry Potter series, written by Newt Scamander.  And it has also been published as a standalone book by J.K. Rowling in 2001.

DP FICTION #49B: “The Last Death” by Sahara Frost

I stare into the endless dark, watching, waiting. It’s like all those years ago, when I was a kid on Christmas Eve. Me, lying in bed, wide-eyed with anticipation, listening for the clatter of eight tiny reindeer landing overhead. Only this time, it’s not jolly old Saint Nick I’m expecting. Nor is it sugar plums that dance inside my head, keeping sleep at bay.

The silent night drags on, one moment melding seamlessly into the next until I think the world must have stopped. Only the stars show me different, each glance out my window revealing their gradual progress across the sky. Then, at long last, it’s over. The dull gleam of first light crests the horizon, and once more, the world begins to move.

“Well,” I say to myself, “Suppose I might as well get ready.”

Heart fluttering with a giddy tingle, I throw back the covers and sit up. Immediately, my poor old bones creak in protest, reminding me to slow down. “Easy, girl. Easy!” I chide, quelling the urge to spring from my bed like some youngster, “No sense in falling and breaking a hip. ‘Specially not today of all days.” I release my impatience with a huff and bob my head in a reluctant nod. Then I plant my feet firmly on the floor, reach for my cane, and carefully hoist myself up.