by Daryl Gregory
Two in the morning and he’s stumbling around in the attic, lost in horizontal archaeology: the further he goes, the older the artifacts become. The stuttering flashlight guides him past boxes of Christmas decorations and half-dead appliances, past garbage bags of old blankets and outgrown clothing stacked and bulging like black snowmen, over and around the twenty-year-old rubble of his son’s treasures: Tonka trucks and science fair projects, soccer trophies and summer camp pottery.
His shoulder brushes against the upright rail of a disassembled crib, sends it sliding, and somewhere in the dark a mirror or storm window smashes. The noise doesn’t matter. There’s no one in the house below him to disturb.
Twenty feet from the far wall his way is blocked by a heap of wicker lawn furniture. He pulls apart the barricade piece by piece to make a narrow passage and scrapes through, straws tugging at his shirt. On the other side he crawls up and onto the back of a tilting oak desk immovable as a ship run aground.
The territory ahead is littered with the remains of his youth, the evidence of his life before he brought his wife and son to this house. Stacks of hardcover books, boxes of dusty-framed elementary school pictures—and toys. So many toys. Once upon a time he was the boy who didn’t like to go outside, the boy who never wanted to leave his room. The Boy Who Always Said No.
About the Author
Daryl Gregory writes genre-mixing novels, stories, and comics. His novel Spoonbenders is out now from Knopf. Other recent work includes the young adult novel Harrison Squared and the novella We Are All Completely Fine, which won the World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards, and was a finalist for the Nebula, Sturgeon, and Locus awards. His novels include Afterparty, an NPR and Kirkus best fiction book of 2014; Raising Stony Mayhall; The Devil’s Alphabet; and the Crawford-Award-winning Pandemonium. Many of his short stories are collected in Unpossible and Other Stories.
About the Narrator
Peter Wood has been audio producer for PodCastle since the winter of 2009, with his first episode being PC 82, “The Twa Corbies” by Marie Brennan. In addition, he has hosted and narrated several stories over the years. In 2016 he received a Ph.D. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Pittsburgh and is currently on the academic job market. He also does design work, both web and print, under the moniker of PW Design. More information about him can be found at PeterCWood.com.