What have I done? I asked myself. And the question sparked excitement. And the question sparked fear.
Once upon a time, a town that sat nestled near the foot of a mountain, surrounded by forest evergreen, ran out of food and fuel in the midst of a deadly winter. They were not poor, the people of this town. They were not foolish with their provisions. The winter had just lasted far longer than any in the realm had expected. Every season of that year was winter. Many perished.
Cell phone cameras don’t work for many miles outside of the perimeter that the common lore has designated the “certain death zone” (or CDZ). Digital cameras don’t work. So I took pictures with my film camera, on the off chance that would work. And it did.
After death, some souls go to reward and some to punishment. Then there are the ones who just need to do some “community service” to atone for minor wrongs. The length and manner of service depends on the offense. The service is some task, usually tedious, that must be performed in the maintenance of the cosmos. Some service has nothing to do with the world of the living. Some service has everything to do with the world of the living.
“Your alibi checks out, Ms. Cavellero, so you’re free to go for now. Give us a call if you remember anything.”
“I will.” She caught her breath. She almost asked the detective to do the same if the police found anything further in the case, but of course that wasn’t the way it worked. She wasn’t family.
She hadn’t killed that poor young couple, but she felt responsible for their deaths. And she knew more people would die if she didn’t help the police. She hadn’t killed that young couple, and she didn’t know exactly who or what had.
But she knew where he lived.
Please don’t let us end up on some uncharted island. The only thing I know how to make with a coconut is a bowl. Please let there be coconuts if we do find an island. Coconuts and mangoes and big fat chickens.
Jane chewed on her ration of bread and gave a pitying smile to the naïve girl who had written those words only a week before. They were her words, written in her notebook. It was meant to have been her research notebook, but had become her journal after research gave way to a higher priority, survival.
“Have any of your heard of the Song of Stars sapphire? “
The question was posed—as such questions usually were—by Cecil. We were having drinks on the back patio after dinner and admittedly the conversation had grown somewhat dull. But Cecil was no storyteller. His mention of this exotic-sounding sapphire most likely had intentions beyond livening up a chat among friends.
I watched the road from my hiding place in the linden tree. I had an advantage over the other scribes in town when it came to finding news, for I had a friend who could travel faster than the fastest stallion, and who could stand unnoticed in the midst of a crowd. And she was flying towards me now, glowing dimly like a wilowisp. Juniper’s glow had a touch more green than yellow, however, for she was a sprite.
For the past fortnight, we two had been tracking the whereabouts of the mysterious rider who was said to guard the roads in and out of Thessa, a major town in the southern region. Rumors of this shadowy guardian had drawn me to the town. The rumors were becoming a local legend. Yet no one thus far had even verified that the rider existed. He wore a suit of dark armor, it was said, and sometimes he growled so thunderingly that the flesh did quiver and the bones did tremble.