Read by Cian MacMahon
Mel peered around Cook’s hip as the butler stepped out of the master bedroom and carefully shut the door. Pearse stood for a minute, one pale hand still on the glass knob, the other unconsciously stroking his neckcloth smooth. Mel thought the hallway seemed lighter, as if the butler had closed all the darkness in the house behind the heavy oak door. The entire staff of the House was there, lining the two long walls of the hall, even Ralph the gardener and Neff who turned the roast and would on any other occasion be beaten if found upstairs. Pearse looked up then, eyes worn to a pale sharpness under heavy white brows, and Mel leaned back into the cover of Cook’s wide flank, safety from the butler’s gaze, from the strangeness of the moment.
“Lord Dellus has passed,” Pearse said; the staff gasped and sighed, as if they had not known already from the cries that had haunted the house since evening last and had stopped so suddenly this morning. “Stopped without an echo,” Cook had said with heavy significance, and added, “That’s that, then,” as she did when a loaf went flat or a bird slipped from the spit to the ashes.
There had been no sighs then; the staff had exchanged weary nods and worried glances in the silence of a House without a head. And there had been a few curious glances toward Mel’s spot on the corner stool that had left Mel wondering what one was meant to feel, and if that dizzy burst of relief and fear was evident, was evil.
Rated R. Contains Disturbing Imagery, some of it sexual.
About the Author: Gregory Norman Bossert is an author, filmmaker, and musician, currently based just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.
He spent twenty years doing sound design and music at night, while his career in the software industry took him from his native Cambridge, MA to Minnesota, Manhattan, New Jersey, Silicon Valley, and Berlin.
A decade ago, his passions overwhelmed his day job. Since then, he’s done research, design, and layout for feature films including the Neil Gaiman/Roger Avary adaptation of Beowulf, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, and Luc Besson’s Lucy, built experimental musical instruments, and worked on creating visuals and sounds for independent films. He currently works as a layout artist for Industrial Light & Magic, wrangling spaceships and monsters.
Greg started writing in 2009, on a dare from film designer Iain McCaig. His first published story came out Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine in 2010, and he attended the legendary Clarion Writers’ Workshop that same year. Since then he has published a dozen stories, branched out to fantasy and horror, won the World Fantasy Award, and been a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Look for upcoming stories from Asimov’s, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and Kaleidotrope.
The chirurgeon’s knife severs my little finger from my palm, just above the mount of Mercury.
“You are permitted to look away,” the chirurgeon comments.
I shrug the shoulder that isn’t locked down, and keep watching. The knife, obsidian, joints me like I’m a bird.
Somewhere inside my forearm I feel the pull of my tendon loosed. Little blood, and no pain; the chirurgeon knows her work, and the numbness of the lockdown extends all the way to my breast. In five minutes the chirurgeon has stowed the finger in its cooler, joined flaps of skin over the hollow socket, and healed it over with a couple of passes of a graft-stick.
“You’ll have minor pain for a few weeks,” she says. “You don’t need to keep it covered. The scar will change colour; that’s normal. If you feel a loss of sensation or have any discharge, come back to me.”
She takes off the lockdown and feeling surges back through my breast, up over my trapezius, down my arm. I flex my hand. Sure enough, it hurts. Nothing I can’t bear.
She walks me to the front desk. The buyer waits there. An attendant comes out and hands him the tiny cooler tagged with my name.
Rated R. Contains violence, disturbing imagery, and sex. (The sex isn’t disturbing.)
You can support PG Holyfield’s GoFundMe account here. Please help his family.
Also, an excerpt! Yes, Dave reads an excerpt! You guys should totally campaign for him to read the audiobook!