PodCastle 278: Nor the Moonlight

by Andrew Penn Romine

Read by Cheyenne Wright

Originally published in Broken Time Blues: Fantastic Tales of the Roaring 20s, edited by Jaym Gates and Erika Holt

I sat on a stool at the Café de Lune that last night in Paris, gulping _marc_ and sewing my right arm back together below the elbow with a needle and some of the last of the _fil vitalitié_. The surgical thread glimmered like quicksilver in the dim electrics of the café, and the bloody flaps of muscle and flesh of my severed arm knitted together as the healing magic did its work. Sensation returned to the tips of my fingers like the buzzing of bees, and I flexed them into a fist.

The robber had burst into my café waving his knife, surprising me as I locked up for the night. But he’d made the error of assuming I was just another veteran of the Great War, wrapped in a fisherman’s net of scars. He didn’t know I’d already died once before, that I had been raised from the charnel fields of Compiègne gifted with the heart of a bull and the sinewy limbs of dead men.

His body cooled in the cellar as rain sheeted the cobblestones. I traced the ancient gouges on the wooden counter, rubbing feeling back into my right hand. Chill wind rattled under the door, and I regretted the killing. Most of the desperate men loitering along the Rue Daguerre in the dark hours were afraid of me. This man must have been a recent refugee from the war-poisoned countryside.

A shadow appeared at the door, and for a moment I feared police. Tatters of the Central Commune’s authority still held sway within the city, although the horrors of the Great War had shattered the power of France’s People’s Republic. So much for Lenin’s promises of aid. France languished, and Paris with it.

Rated R: Contains some Disturbing Imagery. It’s art!