Ana and Rico walked on the very edge of the road where the pavement slumped and crumbled. They were on their way to buy sodas, and there were no sidewalks. They made it as far as the spot where the old meat-packing factory had burned down when Deputy Chad drove up and coasted his car alongside at a walking pace. Ana was just tall enough to see the deputy through his car window and the empty space of the passenger seat.
For the next few weeks Delia wrestled with hope. She walked the Island talking with Rainbow, who always lashed the tube to her back and stuffed cornbread in one pocket and a peach in another. Delia didn’t show Rainbow the hidden valley, just the inhospitable perimeter. An occasional ship passed in the distance. Nothing got close to the Island.
Miz Delia’s Island was protected by deadly reefs on the Georgia/Florida side and nine hundred feet of jagged cliffs on the other. Indians called it Thunder Rock, a place where the wind and sea played rough and tumble. Spaniards named it Ghost Reef because of whirlpools, deadly fog, and wailing drowned folk who wouldn’t rest. English sailors claimed that Delia was a vengeful slave haint, howling demon talk and luring men to a bloody death.
Detective Inspector Chen brushed aside the chaos on his desk and carefully lit a single stick of crimson incense. Smoke spiralled up into the air, contributing to the brown smear that marked the ceiling like a bloodstain immediately above Chen’s desk. Chen bent his head in a brief prayer, then picked up the photograph and held it over the stream of smoke. The girl’s face appeared by degrees, manifesting out of a dark background.
The moment Erm Kaslo’s flesh touched the substance of the entity, he understood everything — but only for that moment. Then it turned out that everything was far, far too much for a human brain to take in all at once. He felt as if his skull was straining not to burst its seams, and as if the mind it housed was a thimble into which someone had crammed a barrel’s worth of knowledge. Just sorting all the information into gross categories would be the work of several lifetimes; subdividing it into manageable portions would take millennia.
There’s this legend your father tells you. It’s about a girl who sleeps in the center of a sphere. She floats in the air, tossed above the waves, destined to remain fast asleep until awakened by a kiss. You laugh when your father tells this story. You’ve heard all the stories before. Most of these stories involve handsome princes on white chargers. You’re not a prince, and you don’t have a white charger.
When Ann was only five years old, she took her brother’s mouth. He’d been sleeping, or crying, it’s hard for Ann to remember now, but she remembers the way her hand stung as it came full against his cheek, and the rattle his teeth made as his mouth flew off his face and hit the side of his crib. She thought about putting it back, but he was quiet again (yes, he must have been crying, why else would she have slapped him?) and so she picked up his once-familiar mouth with the sleeve of her nightgown and stuck it in her jewelry box.
I shot the sparrow because I was starving. Though truthfully, I was aiming at a pheasant; the silver snow and the silver birches played tricks with the light, and as if by magic, pheasant turned into sparrow. When I saw what my arrow had done, I cried with empty eyes, too dry to make tears.
Mornings were queues and cigarettes. Queues for the underground turnstiles and queues for the train, queues for stale bagels and queues for lukewarm coffee at the kiosk outside the station. By the time he queued up at the west gate of the pit, Alexander Gerst — tall and grizzled at forty-five, slope-shouldered and running slowly to fat — was lucky if he wasn’t already halfway through his daily ration of tobacco.
February 11, 1907 By the time we arrived in the Manchu settlement of Tanbian, the Russian expedition had already left a day earlier. For the last five days, we have been moving through deep snow and dense primeval forest in the Changbai Mountains, trying to catch up. The superiority of the mechanical horse is becoming […]