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  Cover Issue 17 THE CHANGELING


Whilst ill and weary, I lie upon my bed;
a quilt on my lap and a pillow ‘neath my head.
A warm cup of tea rest by my side,
and lie there still,
whilst still ill
upon that bed I lied.

And while I lie but had not slept,
the shadows on the ceiling crept.
All the while ‘neath my bed
it wait alone.
With a deep tone
the voice called out and said:

“Sir, or madam, I do implore
‘tis quite cold upon your floor.
The algid air blows, and the flowers do wilt,
the birds have retired
and so I inquire:
if I might have your tea and quilt.”

With wide eyes and fear fixed upon my face:
“‘Tis probably the medicine,” I thought. “That must be the case,
but I will entertain the voice that lie beneath my bed
but I shall take great care
and be prepared.”
I turned my head and said:

“I know I should, I wish I could.” I said, “but I truly think
if I should give you all my tea, I’ll have nothing left to drink.”
As I said it I pondered. The voice did ponder too.
“The tea’s from Britain and I’ve been told
it could cure my simple cold.
I’d give it to you if I had more. I’m sorry but it’s true.”

“Well then,” said the voice. “I feel it might be right
to relinquish half your tea if you wish to be polite.”
“That’s true,” I said, not being rude. “I may try to get more.”
I downed half the cup
and sat up
and set the tea upon the floor.

I lied back down when I had heard
the sound of gentle sipping had occurred
“Sir, or madam,” said the voice. “That tea was in fact quite nice.
I’d repay you with a tale
but to no avail
for I am still as cold as ice.”

“A story?” I said, “what sort of tale
do you intend to regale?
A tale of knights? Or kings? Or queens?
Of ships and sailors?
Or elves and tailors?
Or of tradesmen and magic beans?”
“A story of ol’,” the voice did say. “A tale I’ve never told,
but I’d gladly rapture you with it, if I weren’t so cold.
I thought for a moment about this as neither of us made a sound.
“Very well,” I said quite frail.
“Please tell your tale.”
as I threw my quilt upon the ground.

The quilt dragged ‘neath my bed and vanished from my sight.
Though I was cold I much more cared if my guest was alright.
“Sir, or madam, I must say that this quilt is quite warm.
Though it’s torn its laces
in several places
it would weather any storm.”

“Thank you,” I told the voice. “But I must get to bed,
so tell your tale.” I told him. That’s when the voice had said.
“Sir, or madam, I must say: the night is still quite young.
So if you would be so kind
as to lend me your mind
and hear each word upon my tongue.

“The tale begins one brisk Autumn evening
the crowds were alive with their lanterns all gleaming.
I however, was not a fan of crowds.
So there I stood
At the edge of the woods
watching the crowds become loud.

When from the crowd a lady fair
had caught my eye and returned my stare.
She moved towards me at a quickening pace,
her eyes open wide,
a tremble in her stride.
Then she met me face to face.”

“What happened next?” I did pry.
As the midnight moonlight did shine where I lie.
“Well, sir or madam,” the voice said with a gloat.
“I held her up high
and looked her in the eye
and dragged my claws across her throat.

And as she lie bleeding on the mossy ground.
She coughed up blood and begged for air and screeched an awful sound.
So I reached my claw towards her. I felt her skin, so warm.
With bits of dirt and mud
I drank her blood
And I slowly stole her form."

I sat there stunned in silence, laying cold in frozen time.
"Sir, or madam, she told me something that will never leave my mind.
She sputtered for a moment and slowly turned her head.
She looked me in the eyes,
near to her demise:
‘You were the voice beneath my bed.’”

I sat up with a gasp of air and slowly turned my head
and saw the thin gray claw that reached out from ‘neath my bed.
I watched as my guest drew its arm several meters out
across the room
and I resumed
to shriek my non-existent shout.

It’s claws dug into the floor as a second arm arose.
It grabbed at my leg and I could feel the beads of sweat run off my nose.
Its body coiled like a snake and towered dire heights,
its skin like clay
a bland dulled gray
with eyes a bright white light.

It’s facial structure was human-like, it’s nose and lips in place,
it’s eyes and ears and brow all rested poignantly upon it’s face.
It’s grip on my leg tightened, cutting into the skin underneath
its eyes gazed in
and it smiled a grin
revealing its rows of jagged sharp teeth.

“Sir, or madam, I must say, I request one thing more.
I need to feast to look young, that’s what your blood is for.
Though you will die, I shall live, until I feast again.
I’ll live as you
and do the things that you do,”
as he cut my vein.

In the morning my mother stirred and knocked upon my door.
I was lifeless and I was stashed under the bed upon the floor.
“It’s time for breakfast,” she had said as she threw the door open wide
It jumped from my bed
“I’ll be right there” it said.
The thing ‘neath my bed had lied.




Cooper C. Wilms is an aspiring novelist and poet living in Minnesota. His inspirations are H. P. Lovecraft, Ernest Hemingway and Stephen King. He spends his time fishing, reading, and enjoying a cigar on his deck. You can reach him at his email: cooper.wilms@gmail.com.

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