The King asked, “Will it work?”
“Majesty,” said the sorcerer, “once they roll it inside the walls, I will speak the words from this book, and the Worm will spring to life, as real as you or I.”
“But what will it do? Will it attack?”
“Majesty, we carved out a large stomach, and left it empty: the first thing it feels will be hunger. It will attack.”
Red hair, pale skin, perfect breasts: a vision. I laughed, perversely entertained by this creation of my degrading mind. When she disappeared, I fell unconscious. I awoke to find she had brought me fish to eat and, from where I could not guess, fresh water to drink. She kept me fed, slaked my thirst until rescue came.
You may doubt me, but it is only thus that I live.
I am in your head, human. I am in your head and I’m never coming out. You invaded my place, my water, my world, and now I’m invading yours. Everything you know I now know. I remember what you had for dinner and I remember your childhood cat’s name and I remember fucking your wife. I even know all the things about you you don’t even admit to yourself. And what’s more, I can take control anytime I want. And I will. But you won’t know when. Maybe it will be while you’re waiting to cross against traffic. Maybe then.
“How much for this?” It was a cheap romance novel. In French, which I don’t speak, but it was from Earth.
“Not for sale.”
“What? Why not?”
The alien shopkeeper looked at me for a moment, and then said pityingly, “Look, I know you’re human. I sympathize. I can’t imagine what it must be like to know your planet is gone… but if my wealthy collector found I had sold an Earth artifact to someone else, he might take his business elsewhere!” He moved off.
At least he didn’t throw me out. I stood there holding it for a while.
I had talked to lawyers, I don’t know, maybe twice. They advised patience and couples counseling. I think maybe if we had more money they’d have been more interested in taking me on as a client. But with that prenup, and the kids being his from a previous marriage…
At first I didn’t go home. I went to my sister’s, got her and the dog. When it was clear the police were pulling out, we went with them. I never bothered going home. Don always thought he knew best; let’s see him get those brats through this without my help.
I found her where she always is just after midnight on a Saturday; at the club. Club Baby Seal. And yes, the owner is exactly as big an asshole as the name suggests. She was puking in the bathroom, and she didn’t understand why. She claimed she’d only had two drinks after a big dinner. That was probably a lie, but the five or six drinks she probably did have weren’t what was making her puke.
I took her home. If she’s still alive in the morning, I’ll take her with me into the country.
Men had never been in these caves, but with the dragon gone…
The deeper they went, the darker it seemed. That was an illusion, of course.They had found no treasure, so far, but it had to be here somewhere; the dragon couldn’t have taken it with him when he flew away. Possibly, the hoard could have been hidden with magic, but their sorcerer would detect that.
The deeper they went, though, the greater the danger. There were things in the dark that would run from a dragon but not a man. And some were probably looking for the treasure themselves.
He used to travel on foot, singing for his supper, when the King’s Road was still patrolled by the King’s Men. Now that the King has grown old and feeble the Realm is mostly lawless, and travel is dangerous.
The woman who runs the Cliffside Tavern lets him entertain her guests for hot meals and tips. It doesn’t sound like much of a living, but: there is magic in some songs if sung correctly, and he is very good. He can spellbind them, pick their pockets, and finish his song with a flourish, and they never know what hit them.
“Fine, fine.” The dig was going well, but the Doctor tired of the dust and the hours. The truth was, he enjoyed work in the lab far more than in the field.
Duncan’s enthusiasm, however, remained high. “The density clearly suggests poured stone. We should begin digging at the North corner, work our way over.”
“I’ll give the orders to the work robots. Do you really think this is a… what did they call it?”
“What? Oh: it’s called a ‘driveway’.”
“Sure… I mean, yes sir.” She fumbled in her purse. “Here they are.”
“Thank you. Ma’am, these papers are for up to level two clearance only. This is a level three area.”
“Oh, I have a work permit. House cleaning. You can see the temporary clearance upgrade listed right there…” she pointed to a few lines near the bottom.
“Yes, ma’am, but this expired yesterday.”
“Oh, I know. You understand, we weren’t able to make it out here because of the rain—”
“I’m afraid you’re going to have to come with us, ma’am.”
“Please step this way, ma’am.”
She stood up and announced, “I can’t take it anymore.”
“Sandra, shh, be quiet.”
“I will not be quiet. I’m going crazy down here! We’ve been in this basement a week!”
“Sandra you have to be quiet. Listen—”
She was almost screaming now. “I will not be quiet! I will not—”
“Lady,” The man from 12G had his pistol out, and spoke as if correcting a small child, “make noise like that and the zombies will know we’re down here.”
Roy held out his hand, said: “I’ll take care of it.”
“See that you do. Otherwise, I’ll put her down.”
Some days you just get lucky: there was a Ferrari - door open, keys in the ignition - sitting behind the hotel. No bones or messy remains inside, it was clean: whoever had been in it must have run, or died and turned with the door open.
He tossed his bag and the gun in the passenger’s side and slid behind the wheel. It started up right away, had almost three quarters of a tank. From his pocket he fished a notepad. Under "R.R. Phantom” and “Fire Chief” he wrote “F430 Spider.”
The only question was: top down or up?