Posts tagged ‘Short Fiction’

January 6, 2011

Southern Nights

by nkwilczy

This one probably isn’t going anywhere, I’d say it’s a safe candidate for the blog.

Southern Nights

     The Spanish Moss always looks so sad to Toby, dangling from branches.

     “Where’d he go?!” he can hear from the shadows where he ponders   the moss. Toby knows that the whites of his eyes can give him away, or the flash of his teeth. He keeps his mouth shut and he squints.

      They have torches, there are torches all over the town casting away the shadows and exposing anything that might deserve their rage.

     Toby isn’t even so sure why they’re so angry. He can’t help who he is, he was born this way.

     “We’ll burn him alive!” they shout out in the square. Toby should not be close enough to hear that, he shudders a bit from behind the shed in the shadows where he hides.

     To be fair, well, to be more than fair, Toby knows he isn’t a particularly good slave. Though he doesn’t feel too bad about it, and it certainly doesn’t seem to warrant this sort of reaction to him. He just doesn’t like the sun, he sews long robes to keep the sun off of him, he hides indoors whenever he can. He is crafty and wily and stays out of it. So they call him lazy, they hit him with whips, they take his clothes.

     And now this.

     He has heard stories at night that somewhere in the North a man might be free, but Toby has also heard stories of witches burned at stakes, of Cherokee and Sioux marched afield. Toby is not an optimistic man he doesn’t even believe in a better life, but he is crafty and he is wily and he has stayed alive.

     At night Toby can do anything though. At night Toby collects stories from the other slaves. Sometimes he will talk to the same man a dozen times, just to make him say it. Just to force his mind away from the plantation to some other fantasy realm. A northern or western land where people can be free, back in some parent or grandparent’s half remembered fantasy of Angola or Mali, wherever they wished to go but would not venture to alone, even from leaky overcrowded shacks.

     At night Toby is everywhere on the plantation, at night he knows the quality of meat that the plantation owner has fed to his dogs, the various squabbles of indoor slaves. At night Toby has been known to charm stories even out of the whip-crackers.

     Toby does not tell stories, he speaks in questions. To get anything out of the whip-crackers is a simple matter of flattering them, they are fools for themselves and to those who will listen they will pour out the heart and soul of their people in their stories.

     But any friendliness evaporates the next day when the owner is riding his horse about the fields insisting that Toby is just being lazy and needs a damn good whipping. And what the hell was with his robes, the only, Toby would not repeat the owner’s word, he had ever seen who was scared of the sun.

     At night, when Toby feels invincible, when he can convince anyone to divulge anything in him with his patient, attentive nature and soothing voice, Toby has not even considered escaping.

     Perhaps that overstates it, Toby has considered escaping. Taking wing into the night and fleeing as far as he could, but he always knows that when the sun comes up he would be no better off. So he collects stories, he sneaks into the woods and captures small game when the whip-crackers are placated and sleeping, he offers it up in exchange for stories back in the slave camp.

     At night Toby is fast and quiet and can stand nearly astride a deer for minutes without alerting it. His movements are all imperceptible and sudden.

     He hopes it is enough to save his life tonight.

     Because they will burn him, right in the square with everyone watching. Because they don’t understand, because they’re scared. Toby understands, he is scared too. He forgives them.

     There is a torch coming closer to where Toby is hiding, he can see the light around the corner and he shudders. It is all or nothing now.

     The fire meanders around the other side of the building before pushing the door open. Toby rotates around to the back and peeks around the side to see if anyone else is coming.

     There is only the one torch, the others light up down the street and through the square.

     Toby takes a deep breath, if he wants to be out of the sun tomorrow, and if they are looking for him he’d best be, then he will have to leave soon to find a place to hide.

     The torch bobs as the man steps out of the shack. Toby exhales.

     A sharp wind suddenly gusts through the street, torches everywhere are dropped, in front of the shack it simply extinguishes with a quick muffled flapping. Up the street there is panic and screaming as torches clatter down the road as though they had a mind of their own.

     Toby reaches his arm around the corner quick and grabs the man, yanking him suddenly behind the shed. The man opens his mouth to protest.

     And all that comes out is a slight gasp and blood as Toby digs his long canines deep into his neck. The vampire watches the hair on the back of the other man’s neck bristle up in terror before slowly just fading back down. The body slumps down behind the shack.

     “I am sorry,” Toby says. He does not blame them, they were born the way they are the same way he was born the way he is. The other man says nothing in response, only tilts and slowly falls to the side.

     And a bat takes wing into the night, hoping to find a place to hide by daybreak.

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September 15, 2010

Something Cheery

by nkwilczy

To break this up.

It was very sunny and the weather was delightful in my state today. I got a lot accomplished.

There you are. I didn’t want to keep with the 9/11 top. I wanted to review the last issue of Fear of Monkeys, but since it’s all short stories and poems maybe you should just investigate yourself. There is a nifty little poem there and I think you should read more than just Exceptionalism.

But Exceptionalism is now up on that site.

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