“No, my love. It is cleverly constructed.”
Rinidra’s ears went flat and her tail went stiff. The mottled blur moving toward her was fast, too fast. If she had heard it a fraction of a heartbeat later, she wouldn’t have even seen it.
Her heartbeat. It was hammering now. A surge of raw force filled her chest. In an instant, her body unfroze. Her legs sprung beneath her. They swept her to the side. The mottled blur zoomed past her. She felt its whiskers brush her side.
Legend says that the draugamunninn were once human. They were a practical but severe people who after suffering one terrible winter too many, and after failing to feed themselves with their own hands and their own labor, began to pray to their old gods for relief. But their prayer was not answered by a god.
It was answered by a demon.
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.