“Hola, Señor.” “Hello, cat.” “It is a lovely and glorious day today, is it not? The sun is shining, the birds are chirping…” “You’re not supposed to be on the table. What do you want?” “Well, speaking of birds – since you won’t let me outside to eat them, would you instead treat me to a bite of your pizza?” “No.” “No?” “No.” “I see. Well, these are tumultuous times that we live in.
To find your way to the Shadowlands, the twilight realm where the Night Things dwell, you must first pay homage to the Raven Queen. The customary offering is a bushel of dates, left under under an oak tree at midnight on the eve of the new moon. She is most hungry when the air is cool and there are more leaves on the ground than in the trees, but some have reported reported rare success when the world is still vibrant and green.
New to the series? Start with Part 1. “Why wouldn’t you want to be probed?” asked Jim. “How many other people can say they’ve been abducted by extraterrestrials and had their DNA extracted? That would be so amazing!” Scarlett thought for a moment, and struggled to find a response. Finally, she just shrugged. “I’m not sure how to answer that.” Scarlett had ventured out of the city to investigate a report of UFO crop circles at a local farm.
“What do we have here?” Scarlett wondered as she opened the package she’d found waiting on her front porch when she got home. She often received packages from the fans of her blog, Things That Go Bump in the Night, but she never knew quite what to expect. Sometimes they were interesting, sometimes creepy, occasionally disgusting – but they were never dull. She cut the packing tape, folded back the top, and brushed away a handful of packing peanuts.
Jim stomped on the brakes, but the car kept moving. He jerked the wheel to the right, just as Cheryl screamed, and the car flew off the side of the rain-slicked road, crashing through the guard rail with a deafening screech of metal on metal before careening down the embankment. The descent simultaneously took forever and an instant. They crashed through brush, bushes, branches; over rocks and dirt and gravel before slamming into the bottom of the ravine.
“Oh, no,” Maggie thought as she watched the wasp crawl out of her ear, “Not again.” She’d been in the middle of brushing her teeth when she caught the movement out of the corner of her eye, and she stopped and stared at her reflection in the mirror as the creature emerged. “No, no, no,” she thought as the wasp unfurled its wings. She didn’t want to startle it, so she held very still – her toothbrush in one hand and toothpaste in the other.
Running into the woman that paid to have you killed for your life insurance is enough to startle anyone. She strolled by, as the setting summer sun warmed the nape of my neck, wearing the cornflower dress that I bought her last summer and the black pumps that were two sizes too big – the ones that her heels popped out of with each step. I caught her distinctive gait out of the corner of my eye while I sopped up a plate of olive oil and sea salt with the remnants of a warm baguette.
John couldn’t think of a single good reason for a severed head to be in his bathtub. Not one. There was no blood to speak of – just a cleanly severed head lying in the center of the tub, staring up at the ceiling. He struggled with how to react. He thought about vomiting, but the lack of blood failed to create a visceral impact – and he’d never been particularly squeamish to begin with.
“John! John, I’ve just made an amazing discovery!” John paused the soccer game, set down his hamburger, and groaned. Whatever was about to come out of his roommate’s mouth was bound to give him a headache. “Really? What now, Lars?” “Cows!” he was waving a sheaf of notes over his head with such vigor that he was nearly out of breath. “Ok?” “Hyper-intelligent cows!” “Huh?” “Hyper-intelligent cows rule the world.” He thrust the sheaf of papers toward John’s face and waved them excitedly.