A single star rises and pierces the darkness. Spider webs cocooning the great forest dissipate like smoke under the touch of the star’s illumination.
With the light comes a rider, bold and proud in his saddle, one hand holding a battle-worn stave, the other outstretched, palm open and turned up, a battered steel circlet around his head. The star rises in union with his nearing the forest, like a balloon tethered to his back by a very long string.
In the city in the forest, people pour out from their houses cheering, squinting in the light after 57 years of darkness. …
Read: Part 1
The boys expected to find the hospital in chaos, with nurses and doctors rushing frantically around Grady. Instead, they walked into sterile white indifference. Grady, pale but otherwise looking the same as always, smiled at them from his bed.
Grady’s mother was there too, her enormous girth swallowing the chair beneath her as she held her son’s hand. She turned to smile at the boys, tears glimmering in her eyes.
“I knew you’d be here,” she said. “Such good friends.”
The boys squirmed, awkwardly picking at their clothes or running hands through their hair. Compliments were foreign to them, so the rare praise that they received left them feeling like animals in a zoo. …
Day 7 of the Diary of Magnus Cray
Todd scared the hell out of the kid today. Then again, he scared the hell out of me, too. He is a daemon of the Second Layer, after all. Still, it was fun to see Lord Swagger Jack’s eyes bug out of his head at the sight of him.
We were at the shack, of course. Things were still in good condition considering I left it unattended for over a year. I had to deal with a cottonmouth that’d gotten inside and made the shack home, but that worked well because I was able to use its blood for the ritual rather than my own. …
Day 6 of the Diary of Magnus Cray
At dusk we left the smoking remnants of the Lord Swagger Jack’s trailer behind. The kid took it all pretty damn well — the loss of his childhood home and the death of his father. Tougher than he looks.
As we drove away he touched the crucifix dangling from his rearview mirror a few times and mouthed something.
“I didn’t realize Gnostics had prayers like that. Then again, I didn’t realize Gnostics still existed.”
“I’m not saying Gnostic prayers,” Jack said. “I’m saying the traditional stuff. My dad would appreciate that.”
It was the one and only time where he looked like he might cry. Just a moment, his lips got real tight and his eyes kind of scrunched up, and then it was gone, blasted away by the sound of Green Jelly’s “Three Little Pigs” cranked up to maximum volume. …
Lightning illuminates a magi picking through the rubble of a ruined tower with frail, spidery hands. His tattered robe snaps and cracks about him from the violent force of heavy winds. His eyes open wide with fear and hunger.
He unearths the faces of two corpses and collects his lantern from the ground to examine them. They are twins, one male and one female, bodies twisted together from the impact of their fall.
He pulls back their eyelids, hoping for signs of tomorrow in their eyes, seeing nothing but his own shadowy form reflected back at him.
Howls erupt from the surrounding landscape. …
The Stoner Boys got stoned in Stoner Woods, and that was all that anybody figured they would ever do — including the Stoner Boys.
Missy Churmblo would become a psychologist, Joe Maglietti would take over his father’s construction business, and the Stoner Boys would smoke dope in Stoner Woods. Maybe they’d get some poor girl knocked up, work menial jobs, and do a little jail time, just like all the other white trash kids from the Sunset Trailer Park. Not much else was likely to come of them, though.
No, the truth wasn’t pretty, but it was the natural progression of existence. Complaining about that fact was like gazelle complaining about lions: pointless. …
We are echoing screams inside a funhouse.
We are buckshot spraying through ocher skies.
We are hysterical pigeons nested inside invisible clocks.
We fight for every scrap of information even as we beg for the deluge of data to stop. We cling to hope with one hand, terror and outrage with the other.
The right hand knows damn well what the left one does, and the left hand knows damn well what the right one does, but they both have heavy suspicions of the others’ motivations.
Each of us nurses our own private conspiracy theories, all the while lambasting our enemies as conspiracy theorists. …