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

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

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

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Matthias and the Sentinel

by Daniel Braum

Cornelius and Matthias sat at Flamingo Airport’s tiny departure gate with the flock of antsy tourists. Cornelius nervously ate crackers out of the box one after another, while watching a sun burnt family play a game of Yatzee in the uncomfortable molded plastic seats as if it were the World Cup. A green blur whizzed past the bar where the security guard was standing. Matthias gripped his case tighter and cursed the Buyer. But it was a false alarm- just two American kids throwing their stuffed toys around.

Sedated and wrapped in damp towels inside Matthias’s carry on bag were three baby yellow headed parrots. The endangered birds were worth a fortune, at least to his Buyer. He and Cornelius had come to Bonaire to track down the nests in the secluded North shore of the island. Only seven hundred remained on the planet. Exactly the sort of thing his buyer liked.

Cornelius was one of the best in trackers. Matthias had the knack for smuggling. Getting things through customs came naturally for him. All they had to worry about were those things… the Sentinels the Buyer called them. These days it seemed every animal they tried to move had one of those mystical protectors. Matthias wasn’t scared of ghosts. But Cornelius was frayed to his core. Matthias had considered passing on this job.  But the Buyer said he’d take care of the Sentinels and he had something big lined up for them after this. He couldn’t resist.

Pre-boarding for the flight began and Matthias thought they were home free. Then a green blur swooped across the terminal. As it glided toward them it took on the shape of a green parrot. He was glad Cornelius hadn’t seen it; he didn’t need him panicked.

The parrot hovered in front of his face. At least this Sentinel didn’t look so bad. He still had bad dreams about the snakes and spiders from past jobs. So much for the Buyer taking care of things. He braced himself for what came next. Nothing happened. The parrot-god, Sentinel thing was just hovering there. Like an image stuck on pause on a television screen.
“Something wrong?” Cornelius asked.

“Nope,” Matthias said.

He heard the wet rags inside his bag crackle and sizzle. So the concoction and magic words the Buyer had given him weren’t bogus. You came through after all, Matthias thought.

“I’m looking forward to what comes next,” Cornelius said.

Matthias liked the look of the parrot thing, frozen there. Powerless. Taken by surprise and unable to stop them.

“So am I,” Matthias said. “So am I.”


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2 Responses to “Matthias and the Sentinel”

  1. Bill Jones Says:

    November 8th, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    Are you guys aware your scheduling posts and several posts post-dated have been released on your feed? That must be Dan’s bad, since he was scheduled to post the stories for Nov. 1 through 5, or it might be Rudi’s bad since he was posting the Nov 8 – 12 stories.

  2. Luc Reid Says:

    November 8th, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the notice on that: there was a server crash that sent the clock spinning far into the future, making the computer think it was time to publish many secret and hidden things. We’ve got everything sorted out again now, but many apologies for the inadvertent dump to everyone reading on the feed!