PC006: Hotel Astarte


By M. K. Hobson
Read by Paul Tevis of (Have Games, Will Travel).
Introduction by Ann Leckie.
First appeared in Realms of Fantasy (full text online here).

There is a loud knock on the door of the farmhouse.

The Queen of the Midwest glances at her husband; strangers at night may bode ill, foreshadowing assassination or traveling salesmen.

“Who could it be?”

The King lifts his rifle from above the fireplace; the look on his face indicates that the visit is expected, but is no more desired for being so.

The Queen tucks away her yarnwork and goes to sit close to her son. Her son does not stir, but continues to stare out the window.

“A dark man,” he murmurs to his mother, without looking at her. “A dark man from the east. Walking through the corn. He has been summoned.”

The Queen’s breath seizes. She cannot swallow. Her hands become ice. The palace shudders with her anxious dread; muffin tins and cream separators and sheaf binding machines rattle.

But when the King opens the door, there is no one there, only the miles and miles of fields all around.

“Come in,” the King speaks to the darkness, gruffly. “Come in, damn it. I have been waiting for you.”

Rated PG. Contains hotel rooms where lovers tryst and spells are cast.

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