Plugs

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Basilisk Tracks

by Daniel Braum

At first I thought they were tire tracks, evidence of a child’s bike criss crossing the beach in all directions. But when Michaela said, no they must be basilisk tracks look at the way they stop right at the holes by the boardwalk, I knew she was right.

I didn’t think there were basilisks here, not on this island, certainly not on the beach. Must be young ones I guessed. If it wasn’t such a misty, damp morning and if we hadn’t gone down right when we had to claim a spot for our chairs we would have missed them. Like wind passing through trees maybe this was as close as we could hope to come without turning to stone. It was too dangerous to try and see adult ones at the acropolis. It had been a blissful few weeks on the islands with Michaela and we’d seen Roc’s nests and winged horses and even the tail end of a hydra fleeing into the marsh.

“They should put signs up to be careful at night,” I said.

“Oh, Francois, that would ruin the charm, might as well put in a Starbucks then.”

“Just want to be careful,” I said.

“I want to see them,” Michaela said. “Sleep with me, here on the beach. Tonight. Without protective lenses. It will be so beautiful.”

Poor beautiful Michaela. Never careful. How could she be when everything was about the moment, about the beauty, nothing coming second to it feeling right. I could see us locked in a sweaty tangle, surrounded by young basilisks creeping in the dark as we made love. I bet to her the risk of having our moment of bliss frozen in time, locked in stone forever sounded romantic. It did, but would I turn to stone for her?

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

“Nothing.”

“I don’t believe you,” she said.

If she ever left me, I’d miss her sweet gentle voice the most, I think. Everything I see in her is in that sound- her kindness, her visionary eye, and her passion for beauty. I can hear her now telling me she wants to plant Barcelonan moonflowers in my garden. And to be there with me decades later when they bloomed.

I thought of us hand in hand watching the bats at the seaside caves at dusk, taking her son to see the tame hippogriffs at the zoo, our days hunting for phoenix nests on the wild shores. Beautiful days. Pure and true and full of love. I hoped they would be enough.

– END-

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