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  Table of contents Issue Twenty-one LOVER



t was obvious the driver was in no mood to do it, but after telling the girls for a third time to turn off their tape player, he had no choice but to kick them off the bus. Their cassette of novelty Halloween music, played at full volume, was upsetting the other passengers. It was the middle of July, for one thing. Besides, it was stated right there in the rules: Radios may be used with headphones only.

The bus wheezed to a stop along the shoulder of Route 136. To the right was a tiny plaza housing a pizza shop and a craft store. Through the window, Birdy had a view of the empty parking lot, asphalt shimmering and quivering in the afternoon heat like the wing of an injured crow.

The driver took his time getting to the back. He was huge and dark and moved with the deliberate grace of a lifelong fat man. Birdy was used to situations like these. Kayla had a talent for inviting them. Today, though, it was just so hard to move. It felt as if every bone in her body had been, if not broken, at the very least beaten. Kicked and punched and stomped on. And she was exhausted. She could vaguely sense the blood between her legs, saturating the pad. She would need to find somewhere to change it. If their situations were reversed, Kayla would have no problem doing such a thing in public. She’d even change it in the back of the bus, discarding the soiled, wadded sanitary napkin on the floor.

“You know you two can’t stay on this bus,” the driver said. His voice was lighter and higher-pitched than his build suggested. Birdy nearly laughed when she heard it, but his face was grave, almost sad, and besides, she felt so sick. The whites of the man’s eyes were the color of fried egg, and his salt and pepper goatee looked like a glued-on part of a costume.

“Can’t stay on? According to who?” said Kayla. She hugged the boom box to her chest with both arms. Screaming Lord Sutch and the Savages blasted from the speakers:

She’s fallen in love with a monster man

She’s fallen in love with a monster man

Now don’t think I’m mean or wanna complain

But this guy’s too ugly and hasn’t got a brain

With long yellow fangs going down to his chin

Why you just wouldn’t go where this guy has been…

“According to who?” the driver said in disbelief. “I don’t know what you two been smoking, but there’s rules on this bus. You don’t want to follow `em, that’s on you. You can take that Heel-Toe Express.” He stood patiently in the aisle, beckoning with the fingers of one hand as if directing someone into a parking space.

Kayla didn’t move. Birdy held her breath, waiting for her friend to make a racial remark. She thought of the time in World History class, now legendary, when they were shown a documentary about Hitler. The video came to a part about the 1936 Olympics, and when the narrator mentioned the Fuehrer’s refusal to shake hands with Jesse Owens, there were hisses and boos from the class. Then Kayla muttered from the back, "So the dude didn’t want to shake hands with an orangutan. Is that a crime or something all of a sudden?" That comment and the chaos that followed resulted in a two-week suspension, followed by school-mandated counseling. A few of the other girls even threatened to beat her up, but nothing ever came of it. Rumors about Kayla were rampant and novel, everything from her having AIDS to the whispered belief that she could and would put curses on her enemies. However much the other kids disliked her, no one was eager to lay a hand on her.

“We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” the driver said. “Either you girls get off your own selves, or I call the police, and they can take you off.”

“The poe-lice?” said Kayla. “Are they anything like the puh-lice?”

The driver just sighed, slowly shaking his head.

“Why don’t you listen to the man and get off the bus?” came a voice from the front. It was an old woman in one of the handicapped seats. “We’ve been putting up with your racket for half an hour now. Enough is enough!”

“Enough is enough!” Kayla parroted mockingly. “Yeah, enough meddling from busy bodied old twats!”

It was then that the driver grabbed her. His speed was shocking, given his size and the way he had moved until now. He was just suddenly upon her, any consideration of a lawsuit be damned, and with one hand pulled her lithe frame out of the seat like a puppeteer yanking a marionette. The force was enough to knock the tape player loose, and it went smashing to the floor. The bag of tapes, too, was sent flying, and cassettes scattered in every direction. Spine-tingling Sounds for Spooky Nights; Wagner’s Parsifal; Opening Doors to the Majickal Multiversim; Current 93’s; Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre. The driver was halfway to the front of the bus now, hoisting Kayla by the back of her shirt while she kicked and screamed with tremendous violence for someone so small. The commotion was familiar to Birdy by now, though it still scared her a little. Kayla’s back was almost entirely exposed, skin the color of bleached bone, punctuated by black runes tattooed along her spine. She shrieked a banshee's shriek, and swung her head in the driver’s direction, alternately trying to head-butt him and snapping like a mad dog. He held her far enough away that she managed to land nothing aside from a few stray kicks.

“You fat sack of shit!” Kayla screamed. ¨You have no idea the things I could do to you! I will send this bus into the fucking bay!¨

The old woman in front stared with wide-eyed disbelief. The handful of other passengers, too, sat in stunned silence.

Birdy pulled herself slowly to her feet, making sure the blanket was wrapped snug around the bundle she held to her chest. Everything seemed in place. She followed the commotion to the front of the bus. The driver was marching Kayla down the stairs like a headmaster. With each following step, Birdy felt a rush of weakness. Black spots flecked along her field of vision like defects on an old film reel. By the time she got to the door at the front, she was feeling altogether woozy. She watched the driver deposit Kayla on the curb. He did so with surprising gentleness.

“I need a new field hand on my plantation!” Kayla screamed. “But you’re just too goddamn fat for the job!” The driver merely swiped his hands up and down, palms grazing each other in the universal gesture of good riddance.

Gingerly, Birdy made her way down the rubber treads, right hand grasping the gleaming aluminum support rail while the left gripped the tangle of cloth tightly to her belly. Inside, practically burning at her flesh through the thin cotton of her t-shirt, was the heat of it. It was like a tiny furnace, and Birdy could feel the hummingbird pulse of its heart on top of her own. The baby. Her baby. Their baby.


Just before the bus continued on its way, the rear door opened and someone threw the cassette player and a handful of tapes onto the sliver of grass abutting the plaza. Birdy couldn’t tell which passenger it was through her haze of pain and confusion.

“Well whoop-de-fucking-do,” said Kayla. “Thank God for small favors.” She inserted finger-quotes around the word God and then raised a middle finger on each hand at the departing bus.

“What are we supposed to do now?” said Birdy, instantly recognizing the grating whine in her voice. If there was one thing Kayla couldn’t stand, it was a whiner.

“Well, Your Highness,” Kayla said, glaring with squinted cat eyes, the actual color barely discernible through the layers of black make-up, “believe it or not, I don’t have the answer to every problem in the history of the Universe.” She knelt on the grass, gathering the cassettes and blowing dirt from their holes with little puffs of breath. She looked like a participant in a sad Easter Egg hunt - one for adopted children, maybe, or blind ones.

“I’m not criticizing you,” Birdy said, on the verge of tears. “It’s just that it’s not easy traveling this way. I’m light-headed. I can barely walk. All I want to do is just lie down.” She half-smiled for a moment. “I’d kill for a cigarette.”

The slap was quick. It wasn’t too hard, as far as those things went, but it stung nevertheless. Kayla’s hand retreated as fast as it had come. “Don’t let me hear you say anything like that ever again.”

Birdy could feel hot tears at the back of her eyes. This was all too much to take. She started blubbering. As she did, so did the baby. Its cries came out in short, angry bursts.

Under normal circumstances, outward displays of emotion disgusted Kayla. She softened a bit now, though. “Hey,” she said. “You don’t need to do that. Come on. I’m looking out for you and the kid.”

“That’s some way of looking out,” said Birdy. She wiped at her eyes with one sleeve of her hoodie.

“Smoking is the number one cause of crib death. You know that? Far as I’m concerned, you can do whatever you want to your own body, but when it comes to the baby that’s where I put my foot down.”

It was funny hearing Kayla talk like this, considering she had been a smoker since age eleven. It was she who got Birdy hooked back in the seventh grade. The two of them had smoked butts together every chance they got for four years. That stopped suddenly when she found out Birdy was pregnant. Almost instantly, Kayla seemed to go cold turkey, though Birdy could still smell it on her clothes and noticed the way her friend disappeared every couple of hours when they were together.

Another thing Birdy hadn’t gotten used to yet was hearing Kayla speak kindly about babies. She used to hate them, and even went up to mothers in the park and, with feigned horror, asked what birth defect had befallen what in reality were perfectly healthy, normal infants. This stunt always guaranteed a reaction, ranging from looks of shock to angry threats and even tears. One latte-sipping yoga bitch in spandex came close to calling the cops.

Those were all distant memories: Kayla’s pranks, sharing cigs, the way they did everything in tandem, like twins. They still spent most of their time in each other’s company, though even that had changed. Pregnancy had done things to Birdy: had filled out her face, made her hair shiny and healthy-looking for the first time in her life. Her waifish half-beauty had transmuted into something else. Birdy had never really bought the idea that pregnant women “glowed,” but that was just what she started to notice when glancing at her own reflection. She caught Kayla staring at her once as she looked into the mirror, and didn’t at all like the look that crossed Kayla’s face.

Since middle school, they had been confused for sisters, their petite bodies and straight, dark hair, their gaunt faces so similar that they could catch even their families off guard. Birdy had always been the prettier sister, though. There were her lips, for one. Full and vivid, they complemented her green eyes in a way that drew looks from men everywhere. Make-up was merely optional. Kayla, on the other hand, had a mean, pinched little mouth and eyes the color of pond water after a week’s rain. She smeared them with pitch-black mascara and eyeshadow until she looked like a dominatrix or an abused wife.

In the early months, Birdy was so sick that she hardly left her room. The girls had always spent a lot of time there - listening to music, making prank phone calls, conducting rituals - but now it became their whole world. The runes spread out on the floor and the incense permeating the air lent the cramped space the feel of a cathedral inverted. The dark, droning synthesizer pulse of Lustmord’s The Place Where the Black Stars Hang was their soundtrack, or else a vinyl LP of Celtic faerie music Kayla had stolen from the library. The wisteria incense always burning nearly covered the smell of puke, and they giggled and shared secrets, sprawled on the bed in a way they hadn’t since middle school. There was always the matter of him, though, and when he would return.


It was in the fall when they first summoned him. "October," said Kayla, rolling her eyes self-deprecatingly, "how original of us." Spells of summoning worked best when cast under a harvest moon. The one this year fell three weeks past the autumnal equinox. Besides, the girls were bored out of their minds, and there was nothing better to do.

Deep down Birdy didn’t believe it would actually work. Using a ritual to get Biology tests or the rope climb in Gym canceled were one thing. Materializing an actual man was something else altogether. Kayla insisted, though.

On the night of the full moon, Kayla slipped into the house, silent as always. She moved like a burglar in a caper film. Besides, Birdy’s grandmother kept the television so blaringly loud that someone could be hacked to death in the foyer without her noticing.

The girls stretched a black sheet the length of the bedroom floor, nailing it down at the corners with tiny nails and a tack hammer they’d bought at Dollar Den. With white paint lifted from the school wood shop, they painted an enormous pentagram across the dark fabric. The paint had been mixed with fetal material from a Planned Parenthood Haz-Mat dumpster Kayla forced Birdy to climb into head-first. Then in a sack, they combined the sacred materials. It was hard to be precise by the weak light of the beeswax candles, even with one burning at each point of the pentagram. Kayla was so short-tempered that Birdy was on edge, afraid to make a mistake. She managed finally to do it, though.

“Took you long enough,” Kayla said.

Birdy said nothing.

The first part of the spell completed, they took turns urinating in the sack, the contents of which were then spread across the sheet. The girls lay together in the center of the pentagram and held hands. It was then they began intoning the sacred words.

The spell called for the sheet to be folded and buried in fertile ground. The overgrown garden behind the house seemed just the place, but they had to wait for the grandmother to go to bed before completing this final step. The woman wasn’t old, not really, but years of mixing booze and prescription medication had made her seem so. Her eyes were indistinct blue blurs behind thick, unstylish glasses, and her face was lined like Lon Cheney’s in The Phantom of the Opera. Birdy found it impossible to believe that she might someday come to resemble this creature.

The girls knew she was on her way to bed when the din from the television, heard through the floor of the bedroom like static from a police scanner, finally ceased. There was the sound of the rear screen door being opened and closed to let in the cat. Next, there were slow, heavy footsteps on the stairs. Then the house was silent.

“Let’s give it fifteen minutes,” Kayla said. “Just to be sure the old bag’s really in bed.”

“We’ll hear her snoring,” Birdy said.

Sure enough, when the time had passed and they tip-toed into the hallway, they could hear the grandmother’s rhythmic, labored sleep through her bedroom door. Birdy delicately carried the sheet. They crept downstairs and into the backyard.

There were rusted garden tools strewn about the yard, and the grass grew almost to their waists. They found the raised bed where tomatoes had once been planted.

“This is it,” Kayla said. “This box thingy is what, six, seven feet long?”

“Something like that,” Birdy said.

“Just big enough for a man.”

They had to wait an entire day for something to happen. School dragged by even slower than usual. Kayla carved pentagrams and swastikas into every desk she sat in to pass the time, while Birdy drew pictures of faeries and dark-winged angels in her notebook. They cut eighth period and made a beeline back to Birdy’s. There was no sign of anything out of the ordinary when they got there. The grandmother was parked in front of the television, drinking something from a coffee mug, though there was no chance in hell it was coffee. The TV was turned up loud enough to wake the dead.

They spent the rest of the afternoon and evening in the bedroom, smoking bowls and watching movies they had seen millions of times before. Every few minutes one of them would slide off the bed and part the blackout curtain for a view into the yard, only to plop back down in disappointment. There was nothing.

Night came, and they continued their vigil, though with waning faith. They had smoked the last of the weed and watched Evilspeak twice back-to-back, and were starving and bored almost to tears. Again, the sounds of the previous night repeated themselves: the television stopped dead, the screen door’s hinges whined. Medicated footsteps trudged up the stairs.

“I don’t think it worked,” Birdy said.

“Well if your attitude sucks this much then maybe it didn’t,” Kayla said. “Spells of conjuring are not for the weak.”

Kayla turned away and curled up in a pout on one side of the bed. Birdy checked the time on her phone. 11:13. Maybe she would just close her eyes for a few minutes...

Some time later - Minutes? Hours? - A sound of scratching awakened her. It was like the cat when he wanted in, only louder. She opened her eyes to see Kayla sitting bolt upright; eyes fixed on the door.

“What do you think it is?” Birdy whispered. “Mr. Whiskers?”

“Don’t be an idiot,” Kayla said. “It’s not Mr. fucking Whiskers. It’s him.”

“Him?” Birdy felt her stomach drop like a cartoon elevator with its cables cut. “What do you think he wants?”

“He wants us to let him in.”

The creature in the doorway was unlike anything Birdy had imagined. It had the form of a man but distinctly was not. It was massive, bald, and hunched against the door jamb as if sick or injured. The thing shuddered and shielded its face from the light of the bedroom with one gnarled, enormous hand. Birdy noticed that it had no ears, just tiny cavities like whorls inside a conch shell. She felt nauseous.

“Holy shit,” Kayla said. “It worked. Just like I told you.”

“Kayla, what are we going to --”

“Shut up and help me get him in the room.” She jumped off the bed and went to the trembling thing. Birdy followed. The creature recoiled at Kayla’s touch like a dog accustomed to being kicked.

“We’re not going to hurt you,” Birdy said. “This is a safe place.”

“That’s right,” Kayla said, “we’re the ones who brought you here.” Turning to Birdy, she winked theatrically and, leading the creature toward the bed, added, “Lover.”

The thing slept for almost twenty-four hours straight. It first appeared to the girls at a little past three in the morning and, once they maneuvered it to the bed, collapsed in a heap and immediately sunk into slumber. Its body was caked with inky soil and stunk - not of decay, but of the earthy redolence of compost and newly tilled earth, of worm and root and loam.

They worked in shifts, Birdy minding the creature while Kayla went to school. Both girls would have both skipped class if not for the district’s Zero Tolerance Policy on truancy. The enforcement officer, a leering, oily person called Lund, made it his business to personally appear at the homes of absent students who couldn’t be vouched for with a phone call to a parent or guardian. Birdy had fewer absences on her record than Kayla, so they figured she was the safer bet. Kayla called the school office and impersonated the grandmother, saying Birdy had the flu and wouldn’t be in.

Sitting on the very edge of the bed, she watched the creature sleep. She noticed tiny, nearly imperceptible bits of fuzzy down on its head, like a duckling.

Returning to the house after school, Kayla exchanged a few uncharacteristic pleasantries with the grandmother in the TV room. The woman was absorbed in her show, but not too far gone on pills and vodka at that hour of the day to have a conversation.

“Oh yes, Mrs. DeSoto,” Kayla said, “I’m applying to a bunch of colleges. I might even go someplace far away. There just aren’t enough cute guys here in Rhode Island!”

Upstairs, she found Birdy in the same place she had left her on the bed, flipping through a copy of SageWoman. The creature was in the same place it had been, too. The dirt covering its body had dried now and clung to its skin in crumbling swaths of brown, some of which had already fallen off and stained the sheets.

“No news?” Kayla asked.

“Just sleeping,” Birdy said.

“Did he roll around or anything?”

“Nope. But I did notice something. See here?” Birdy pointed to the thing’s head. “Tiny little hairs are growing. They’re like three times longer than they were this morning. That’s not the craziest thing, though.”


“The ears,” Birdy whispered. “There was nothing when he first came. Now they’re...well, there.”

The thing’s ears, what little there were of them, looked like scorched remnants on the head of a fire survivor. They were shriveled and a violent red, but they existed.

It came awake around the time they were both close to sleep, thrashing like a drunken sailor roused by his captain’s boot, the whole thing so sudden and explosive that the girls clung to each other instinctively.

It raised itself in the bed and opened its eyes to reveal cloudy irises. It opened its mouth, too, but all that came out was a guttural, unformed noise that could not even be called a voice. It tried a second time, but the sound was low and weak and seemed to drain the creature of whatever limited energy it had. It collapsed back on the bed, enormously broad chest heaving with shallow breaths, bloated yellow tongue hanging from its mouth like a withered, used-up sponge.

Each day it slept a little less. By the third, it was able to sit up for minutes at a time and seemed to gain visual focus. The cloudiness faded, and deep, dark eyes showed themselves, like leathery objects glimpsed through the gauze of a cocoon. They fed it a broth distilled from bones Kayla bought at an old school Portuguese butcher shop. Its appetite increased with each day that passed.

After a week, it was able to climb off the bed and walk a few wobbly steps using both of the girls for support. It gained its voice, too: sepulchral utterances were transformed into basic words spoken in a deep baritone. The girls, afraid to clothe it in anything but extra-large boxer shorts gleaned from the underwear drawer of Kayla’s stepfather, couldn’t help but notice its phallus. The cock was enormous, and when it became hard -- something that happened with increasing frequency -- it was altogether shocking.

By the second week, it was speaking in complete, intelligible sentences. It had also grown whole ears, pink and fleshy. The down had become a full, dark head of silky hair, and the eyes were like any man’s, albeit an incredibly handsome one. Birdy found herself looking at it more and more with something more than mere fascination. She also began to think of it as he.

It was around the time he told Birdy he was ready to try venturing out into the sunlight that she realized he wanted her as much as she had grown to want him. It was a Saturday afternoon, and Kayla was off on one of her seemingly endless errands. They were sitting together on the bed, knees touching lightly, looking through one of the scrapbooks she kept hidden from Kayla for fear of mockery. The album had pictures of the girls together in middle school and even earlier, on field trips and holidays. A few were of them dressed up for various Halloweens. Kayla, of course, was always a witch.

“How does it feel,” he asked, taking her chin in his hand and turning her face to meet his, “to always be the most beautiful thing in any room?”

She felt her cheeks flush, as well as the soft flesh of her neck. Warmth seeped into other parts of her, too and, before she could respond, his large, rough hands were on her shoulders, and he was drawing her to him. His kisses were soft and endless, and Birdy felt her hand going to his muscled torso and then clasping one of his thighs. It burned like volcanic rock. She lay back on the bed, heart thudding, and let the magick take over.

She was never sure how Kayla found out. It may have been the mere smell of the act, thick and fetid in the tiny, cramped bedroom. Maybe it was the new look in both of their eyes. Either way, Kayla knew. She stopped coming around as much. Her habitual dark sarcasm deepened until it was black as a pit of tar.

It wasn’t long before she texted to say she was considering a ritual of banishment. Three days after that, Birdy woke to find him gone.

The morning sickness started a month later.


Route 136 was well-travelled, but no one stopped to offer them a ride. The dirt path worn by foot traffic along its grassy abutment had been traveled by many a cleaning lady and drunk, not to mention plenty of high schoolers. The average passer-by must have figured them for the latter.

“You want me to hold the kid?” Kayla said.

Birdy couldn’t tell whether or not it was meant as sarcasm. “No, thanks. I’ve got to have her near my tit. It’s the only thing that shuts her up.” She attempted a smile but was sure it looked like a grimace.

“Kids today,” Kayla said.

“Back when I was a kid...” Birdy said in a weak impersonation of the old lady from the bus, then trailing off.

“You know why we’re going to Colt State Park, right?” Kayla said.

“Something about blessing Aoife.”

“Well duh. I mean why there, though."

"Not exactly."

"There is more residual psychic power concentrated in that place than anywhere else in the state. It’s unbelievable.”

“Yeah? How so?” Birdy was sick of Kayla endlessly prattling on about various magickal principles she may or may not have known the first thing about. Still, she had no choice but to listen.

“First off, the Narragansett people had a summer encampment here. The natives used to hunt striped bass with bows and arrows. They’d chase deer off cliffs then drown 'em. Think about the trapped energy of all those things they killed.”

They were getting close to the park’s entrance. Birdy could see the iron gates in the distance, dancing like demons in visual waves of heat. She wasn’t sure how much longer she could walk. Her legs shook with pain and fatigue. She was only four days out of the hospital, and the doctor had said not to get out of bed for the first two weeks. She had to be dehydrated at the very least.

“The English killed a shit ton of Indians here in the late 1600’s, too," Kayla said. "King Philip's War. Chopped their heads off and stuck them on wooden sticks as a warning to the rest of the savages. How cool is that?”

Aoife let out a little bleat, like a veal calf being dragged out of its shed. Birdy stuck a swollen nipple in her mouth and made her quiet. She took another few steps forward and her vision momentarily blurred; she almost stepped off the curb into traffic.

“Whoa! Easy there, mama,” Kayla said, grabbing her arm as if to steady her. Her grip was vicious, thin fingers digging in like tendrils of a carnivorous plant.

“Thanks,” Birdy said flatly.

“Another cool thing about this park? The DeWolfs, the rich dickheads who used to own the land? They were big time slave owners, too. Turns out they had like a hundred jigs working for them. Now that is some serious power. You don’t have all that stuff happen in one place without some of it left behind.”

“Power…” Birdy said vaguely.

“Yeah, power,” Kayla said. “That’s what ritual is all about. It’s why we do what we do.”

They were in the park itself now. Narragansett Bay was spread out before them, blue-gray water riddled with little white caps stirred up by the wind. The expanse of grass between them and the water was maybe fifty yards in length and appeared empty.

"I'm really not interested in power at the moment," Birdy said.

"Spoken like the cat who's got the cream."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Birdy noticed her heart beating faster. Aoife disengaged from the nipple as if sensing something wrong.

"You know what I mean, you little bitch."

They were at the sea wall now. Gulls circled lazily overhead.

“I know you've been mad about something--"

"Save it, slut."

"Listen, Kayla--"

"You think you can steal my man and then be the pretty princess with her perfect baby?" Kayla reached into her bag and pulled out something that flashed in the sun.

"He's gone now, Kayla. That whole thing is over. All I want to do is just…" The words caught in her throat. The baby made a noise. "All I want is to fucking sleep!"

“And sleep you will,” Kayla snarled. She was upon Birdy now, slashing at her face with the utility knife. The blade grazed Birdy's cheek, and she could feel sea breeze rushing through the incision, viscerally sensed the salt against her teeth and gouging the wound.

With incredible deftness, Kayla freed the baby from its wrappings with a few more slashes of the knife, her hand guided by an impossible precision. Aoife in her arms, she gave Birdy a tremendous kick to the stomach with the steel toe of one Doc Marten.

The back of Birdy's head hit the first boulder with such force that she barely registered the head over heels tumble she took over rip-rap into the frothing water below. The jagged basalt edges of the rocks tore lacerations and broke bones as she flailed like the doll discarded by a petulant child. She nearly blacked out, only to have her senses reawakened by the cold rush of the sea.

As she broke the surface of the water and looked gasping to the shore, what she saw was not the vast aquamarine sky, or the treeline, or even the figure of her betrayer. She caught not even a glimpse of her child. What she saw instead was a set of great, mahogany wings blotting out the sun. They were the kind of grotesque appendage spied only in dreams, or in death, and they framed a tremendous body, like that of a man but infinitely more powerful. The creature's face was a mask at once familiar and impossibly strange, and it seemed to be smiling.

Aside from the ringing in her ears, she could make out the sounds of two people screaming. One was Kayla and, Birdy realized, the other was herself. There was another, softer sound, too. The sound of tiny Aoife, gently cooing.




Paul Tanner lives with his wife and two small children in Providence, RI, approximately a mile from both Lovecraft's grave and the library where a reluctantly sober Poe pursued his final, doomed love affair. He teaches elementary school by day while writing crime fiction under one top-secret name and horror under another at night. He enjoys the outdoors, cheap domestic beer, and violent sports. He can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/Paul-Tanner-831043180361741/

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