The Watch

When old King Groff drew his sword and pointed it at the enemy we all expected death: glorious, song-worthy death, but death nonetheless.

When the enemy fled, routed, His Majesty was the only one among us not to seem surprised. When the enemy reformed, regrouped on the plains below, the King understood: fear of him was the only thing keeping them at bay.

He called the witches, and they came, and the King was turned to stone. We moved him, the statue of him, up to the bluffs overlooking the enemy, and there he stands.

Ten years, they’ve stayed away.

Maybe This Won’t Last Very Long

I took the pill, okay? She gave me the pill, and I put it in my pocket instead of taking it right then, but when I got home and felt safe I put it on my tongue and chased it with skim milk because that’s all I have in the fridge.

I mean, there’s leftover sweet-and-sour chicken too, but that’s not a drink.

I thought it was a dud, because it didn’t do anything for the longest time. Hey, remember that Billy Joel song? My mom used to sing that in the kitchen. But eventually it kicked in and now I don’t even know where I am.

Ever played chess? There’s this enormous chessboard in a forest here, but the forest is upside down and I really think that would make it hard to play? Especially since I’m under the board. Or, above the board? Fuck I am so high…

The Pitch

“What have you got for me, Bernie?”

“Okay. So we take twenty teenagers, put them ashore on an island, only food enough for half of them, plus weapons. We hide a boat on the far side. All the survi— all the winner has to do is get the boat to the three-mile limit. Real drama.”

“Not real teenagers of course,” Arch cautioned.

“No, of course not.” Bernie grinned. “The latest in AI-controlled CGI characters. And the programmers tell me they’ve worked really hard on the death screams.”

Arch thought about it and shook his head. “Eh, Bernie. It’s been done.”


“You are here for a reading.” Her voice was genteel, and firm, and it wasn’t a question.

The cards were already laid out, regular playing cards in a configuration I’d never seen before. I sat down opposite her. “Aren’t these the wrong sort of cards?”

“Only if one is a charlatan relieving housewives of their mad money. Pick.”

I slid one out of the pile and then hesitated. “Do I look? Do I show it to you?”

Her lip curled every-so-slightly into a hint of a wry smile, and she took the card from my hand. “It couldn’t possibly matter less if you look at it, and I can only read it if I look at it.” She glanced at the card, and set it down on the table: a King of spades.

“You will survive the war. You—”

“War? What do you mean?”

“Pay attention, this is very important.”