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The Fog-Fiction by Kevin Eade
Claire's Close Call-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Fools for Love-Fiction by Cindy Rosmus
Texas Redux-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Bridge Game-Fiction by DV Bennett
Transitory Unease-Fiction by KJ Hannah Greenberg
Howie's Cell-Fiction by Chris McCartney
The Hit Woman's Hand Book-Fiction by J. Brooke
Stones Girl-Fiction by Don Stoll
One Day in the Suburbs-Fiction by Mitchel Montagna
The Bloody Whorehouse Detective Agency-Fiction by Michael D. Davis
Happenstance-Fiction by Michael Stewart
You Were Supposed to Be-Flash Fiction by Bill Baber
The Last Time I Almost Used-Flash Fiction by Jennifer Carr
Swimmer-Flash Fiction by Mark Cotton
Wordsmith-Poem by Meg Baird
Hey, Aunt Libby-Poem by Alex Salinas
Three Colors-Poem by Melissa Dobson
The Ladderites-Poem by David Spicer
My Kind-Poem by Brian Rihlmann
Night Colors-Poem by Luis Berriozabal
Doc's Death-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
Gopher-Poem by Daniel G. Snethen
A Hot Summer Night After Wine-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Conception-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Married Life-Poem by Michael Keshigian
Sea World-Poem by Robert Halleck
Early Morning at a Friend's House in 1972-Poem by Robert Halleck
Pelican Bay-Poem by Robert Halleck
Right Through the Heart-Poem by David Boski
Sky Burials-Poem by David Boski
Third Time's a Charm-Poem by David Boski
Cartoons by Cartwright
Hail, Tiger!
Angel of Manslaughter
The Gazing Ball
Strange Gardens
Gutter Balls
Calpurnia's Window
No Place Like Home
ALAT
Dark Tales from Gent's Pens

ym75transitoryunease.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg © 2019

Transitory Unease

 

KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

Sophie and Finn’s wedding will provide a distraction to my ongoing malaise, even if they remain unaware of the service their celebration will provide. My melancholy has increased so much that most nights I can’t fall asleep unless I first wander through our community.

When I roam, I neither look into shop windows nor admire the purple of closed mallows. Rather, I count shadows and wonder about their sources. Usually, after I’d tallied one or two hundred shades, I am sufficiently fatigued to attempt bed.

It’s the evening before the wedding. In a fairly main thoroughfare, my drifting is interrupted; I’ve walked into Callen. My childhood friend is carrying two white chickens by their feet. Those birds, albeit still alive, are quiet. I suppose that their blood rushing to their heads has silenced them.

“Beauties, no?”

“Indeed.”

“For the festivities.”

“Of course.”

“You mistook them for sacrifices? When did you last consort? The Masters are no longer interested in beasts.”

“Huh?”

“Surely, you haven’t forgotten.”

“Surely.”

“They came to me in a dream less than a fortnight ago.”

“?”

“I’m afraid. They’ve changed.”

“Did they harm you as a child?”

“No.”

“Did they harm me?”

Callen’s eyes widen and he turns away. Saying nothing more, he continues toward his father’s inn, where the birds will be slaughtered.

Shrugging, I resume my sauntering until I hear his screams.

Up ahead, I see the two barnyard birds taking wing.

I catch up with Callen. Something, possibly one of the hens, has raked his face. If those claws had touched his flesh any closer to his eyes, he would have been blinded.

I offer him my handkerchief. “Tell your father that a ferret attacked you and stole the chickens.”

He presses my linen against his face. “That’s a lie.”

“What would you say?”

Callen looks at me, shakes his head, throws my fabric square groundward and then presses his sleeve against his cheek. Quickly, that material becomes saturated.

“Then blame a robber.”

Callen begins to shake. “I’ll have to pay him for the hens.” Noticing his drenched sleeve, he applies his other arm to his cheeks.

“So what?  He loves you.”

I walk away. Some creatures, which I wished were squirrels or cats, trail me, skulking from tree branch to tree branch. The wind intensifies. Dust blows everywhere. I am filthy by the time that I returned home.

My wife scolds me and refuses to serve me supper. I rinse off in our barnyard’s trough and then help myself to hard bread and cheese from our root cellar.

The night becomes day becomes night. I join the townsfolks gathered to celebrate Sophie and Finn. As I had forecasted, Callen had not only been forgiven, but had additionally been nursed, by his father. Clean bandages wrap his face.

In his absence, Callen’s brother was dispatched to obtain more birds. No odd wayfarers had frightened those hens out of that sibling’s hands. In turn, those chickens were butchered and roasted.

Sophie is radiant in her pale blue gown and wreath of violets and cornflowers. Finn, too, glows as he stands beside his bride. Only Callen and I notice that beneath the tables something dreadful waits.

After the guests toss rice at the newlyweds, Sophie and Finn take their leave in a covered wagon festooned with yards of pastel-colored cloth and meadow flowers. The sound of hooves on the cobblestones is falsely reassuring.

Inside of the inn, the rest of us commence with merriments. The stew is delicious. The ale is plentiful. On the woman’s side of the room, many celebrants cry from happiness since Sophie was thirty. On the men’s side, only Callen and I drip tears; we had noticed that the sinister beings had following the farm cart.

Both Callen and I steal glance from the inn’s main door. The sky is star-speckled. The air is warm, but not hot. Too soon, a distant shriek repeatedly sounds although it’s hours before cock’s crow.

Around dawn, the few of us left tippling depart the inn. Callen disappears into the mists. I stumble and then fall, hitting my head on the setts.

The town’s streets transform. I find myself at a dry ditch surrounding a castle. Far away, someone at the stronghold’s gate lowers a bridge. I right myself and cross it.

“Welcome, was the bride not beautiful,” asks the gatekeeper as he walks away.

I follow. Gold ornaments and exotic tapestries adorn the château’s halls. What’s more, sconces illuminate every corner. The place is vibrant with finery and light.

A lord appears and gestures at one of the arrases. “As perfect as humanity,” he mutters.

“Blasphemy!” grunts a second regal, who has suddenly appeared.

The first man’s eyes assume a reddish hue. His shadow lengthens.

In response, the second noble begins waving and muttering.

 The first scrutinizes the second and somehow reduces him in actual stature. He seizes the second and then smashes him in his palm. “Insects, this time of year,” he shrugs while studying me.

I tremble.

Unexpectedly, two snowy chickens, akin to the ones Callen lost, fly to his feet. The man regards them, gestures them silent, and then presents them to me. “They’re burdensome.”

I become lightheaded.

Curiously. I awake across the street from the husk that had been the inn. Half-burned bodies lay where the hall had formerly stood.

Determined to return home, I get up and then walk.  Once more, creatures cloaked by high, green boughs follow me.

A few streets away from the ruined guesthouse, I find Callen. Fresh blood drips from his wounds. Upon seeing me, he covers himself with gesticulations.

“Did the bride have to die, too?”

“Death’s capricious.”

Callen unsheathes his dagger, but falls backwards, as though pushed.

“There’s plague enough to keep the uncommon agents busy. Don’t offer yourself.”

He rises with his blade pointed toward me.

Menacing hatchlings, watching from the branches, fall upon him. At least, his unease was momentary.

     Shrugging, I continue walking home.


KJ Hannah Greenberg captures the world in words and images. Her latest photography portfolio is 20/20: KJ Hannah Greenberg Eye on Israel. Her most recent poetry collection is Mothers Ought to Utter Only Niceties (Unbound CONTENT, 2017). Her most recent fiction collection is the omnibus, Concatenation (Bards & Sages Publishing, 2018).

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2019