That notorious ship that sailed to the wretched isle known as Neverland under the leadership of one James, self-styled Jas., Cook, called the Jolly Roger, has most naturally been a subject of intense study among historians. Yet even the most meticulous of these scholars have often failed to note that among that dreadful crew sailed at least one woman, Gerta, or, as she named herself, the Great Gerta, or, as she was named by others, Gerta the Girthy.
The land around Marish was full of the green stalks of sunflowers: tall as men, with bold yellow faces. Their broad leaves were stained black with blood. The rustling came again, and Marish squatted down on aching legs to watch. A hedgehog pushed its nose through the stalks. It sniffed in both directions. Hunger dug at Marish’s stomach like the point of a stick. He hadn’t eaten for three days, not since returning to the crushed and blackened ruins of his house.
It doesn’t take long. She has few earthly possessions and her travel options are limited. There is a train that runs west through the Swamp Forest to the coast, but everyone knows and fears the old witch here, and on moving trains, she can cause quite a commotion. “Do not eat my children, Baba Yaga!” people cry when she steps onto the dining car. “Oh, please, have mercy! Do not use your pestle to grind up my bones!” She sits quietly in a booth, minding her own business.
The ray of light came over the eastern horizon like a sunrise, like the door to a dank jail cell cracking open, like the sweeping fiery sword before an angel of judgment. It elongated into a thin, bright, yellow wedge that washed out the stars and revealed the shining parallel tracks before it, dividing the vast, dark continent into halves, leaving behind the endless vegetal sea of the Great Plains and plunging heedlessly toward the craggy, ancient, impassive peaks of the Rockies.
Dear Mr. Quilas: This morning, I began to read your new collection of essays, Forgotten Lives. I’ve enjoyed a number of your books previously, but this collection held a particular interest for me. Aned Heast, the subject of your third essay, “A Refuge in Juar,” held a personal interest and I looked forward to reading your piece about him. Sadly, I was disappointed. Your essay was riddled with misinformation and errors. I’m sure you do not wish to be told that. Few writers want to be told they are wrong.
She notices him primarily as a new scent in the antiseptic air of the Tower: a rich man’s perfume of milk and fig, myrrh and pistachio. You might expect that the Tower itself would stink of brass, so much of it heaped together beneath the Argive sun, but the metal has no scent of its own. What you smell is only the oil and sweat on your skin, broken down by the copper, wafted to your nostrils and triggering some mammalian predilection for the stink of blood. And she never touches the Tower.
My mother used to tell me we came from the matriarchal vampiric line that had been traced farther back than Queen Elizabeth. She only told me these things after a seizure. Many people with epilepsy talk about how, after a seizure, strange memories pop up—small but suddenly vibrant details; my mother would recall the small vibrant details of our collective vampiric past. What kind of mother would do this? Mine. And, when I was little, I loved her for it.
Your guidebook writers are—alas—very familiar with booking tickets in search of love. How many of us haven’t packed our bags for the new continent with this foolish goal in mind? We’ve stumbled through our travels, searching cities and villages for romance. In cafés, opera houses, and hotel rooms, we felt acutely alone. Why, even the most exquisite restaurants were dulled by the empty chair across from us.
Everyone knows the story of the little girl who fell down the rabbit hole and of the children who walked through the wardrobe and of the little girl who was scooped up by the tornado and of the little boy who found the book that never ended and of the little girl who said the right words on the other side of the mirror and of the little girl who unlocked the bricked-up door in the cellar and of the little boy who had such wonderful dreams night after night. But those are the children who came back.
Her skin was sore and feverish under her fingers, as it always was a few days after she came back from the dead. Candice unwrapped the bandages around her head and peeled off the itchy scabs behind her ears. She shuddered at the memory of her regeneration: the charred bones snapping back into place, the raw skin stretching over exposed nerves, the first pump of blood searing like hot acid through her reborn body.