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.