Dangerous Playthings is one of those stories that rattled me out of bed in the middle of the night and insisted I must write it NOW. Do not pass sleep. Do not count sheep. Just do it.
It's been centuries since the Earth was struck by a comet known as Denizen. In the aftermath, an immortal named Merkinder has taken upon himself the task of teaching small groups of ragged children the arts of survival and civility in their new world. Willow LeBlanc is one of his apprentices - but as Merkinder is rapidly discovering, this wayward orphan may very well break his immortal heart.
Told is a poetic and literary voice, DANGEROUS PLAYTHINGS is a story that will haunt you for centuries to come.
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Eye Scry Publications
Eye Scry Publications
The cracks in Merkinder’s window fractured
silhouette, warping and bending it like a funhouse mirror. Just as he had
warped and bent her when he had plucked her from the savage shore along with four
others. What had it been? 10 years ago now? Willow
The others had all gone.
That was how he thought of his students, how he named them. Earth and Water were always girl-children. Earth he schooled in the arts of building and growth, while Water was the flow of knowledge who might go back to the humans as the new teacher. Fire and Air were the male children – Fire being the warrior and the hunter and the guardian of mathematics, Air the custodian of the arts – music-maker and mischief-maker, poet and priest of words.
And then there was the matter of Spirit, whose gender was determined by Fate with each new tribe – for he thought of them as his tribe while they were under his care, living under his earthen roof, tending the garden, practicing dance and the fighting arts, and polishing their knowledge until, eventually, the ravages of puberty called them back to the wild, and, one by one, they left his home, never to return.
It was no coincidence that
had been his Spirit – pointed out to him by fate. Most of the children, upon
being dragged to the shore and left by their parents to die, wept or wailed or
screamed until they lost the energy to protest, or created their own end by
calling down upon themselves the coyotes and the other predators who were never
far away in the ever-dusk, a quick bolt from the edge of the forest to the edge
of the sea. The shore was littered with rags and bones, child-ghosts, undefined
wraiths who never had the chance to grow up, never the opportunity to earn a
face. The blind ones. The ones who howled like banshees now-and-evermore in the
night that never ended. At times, Merkinder believed it would drive him even
madder than he already was. Willow
like the others. She didn’t cry. She didn’t scream. She wasn’t afraid. Willow
Instead, she sang. Not in a particularly beautiful voice, but with an undeniable connection to... something.
That something, Merkinder knew, was Spirit. And so she had completed his tribe – the fifth element of creation, the one who must carry the blessings and the burdens of metaphysical knowledge: the myths and the legends, the very soul of Rebirth and the bloody scythe of Death – for Spirit was the spark at the heart of all Creation. Without Spirit, the other elements might lay dormant for eternity.
The word rolled over in his mind, faithful companion and savage trickster. The yin and yang of his tumultuous essence.
He remembered the old world vaguely, though he had no idea how long it had been. Immortals told time by the rise and fall of mountains, the course of rivers, the path of comets. And, of course, Time had treated him strangely even before the coming of Denizen – when he would prowl the transient night and drink from the veins of the dark ones, the naughty ones who would otherwise prey on their own kind. It was his job, he had reckoned, the thing Nature had created him to do: exterminator of the wicked, prince of predators, king of the immortals... though he had no real idea why or even how he had become the thing he was back then, the thing he was still now, so many ochre centuries later. His maker had taught him nothing, and at times he wondered if that was why he had taken it upon himself to teach the sacrificial lambs – not out of any great sense of nobility, but because they deserved better than he himself had received...