I’m hosting an excerpt today from Aphanasian Stories, a fantasy short story collection. My excerpt comes from “Lost and Found”, the second story in the collection.
Long after her slow, even breathing told him Colby slept, Xavier sat, gazing silently into the flames but not really seeing them. The fire crackled and danced across the logs, causing the shadows of everything, from Colby to the boulders that peppered the floor, to move and twist at its whim. All save one.
His own shadow stood fast, resisting the shifting light. Often when he moved to watch his slumbering companion, it hesitated before following suit. After some time his shadow stood and began to pace the small cave, though he himself remained seated by the fire.
“They’re out there ye know,” the shadow hissed.
Xavier let his head fall into his hands and sighed. “I know. I hadn’t noticed earlier, but the silence betrays them. No insects chirp and no night birds call. I know they’re there.”
“She don’t,” the shadow stated flatly, jerking its head in Colby’s direction.
“I told ye ta kill the guard. Least it woulda given ya a head start ‘fore they knew ye were missin’.”
“I’m not a murderer.”
“Bah, ye don’t know what ye is,” the shadow mocked, waving his tentacles derisively.
The shadow’s dry laughter sounded like a desiccated corn husk being tugged off the cob. It sent shivers down Xavier’s spine. He gritted his teeth and flexed the muscles of his tentacles, trying to blot out the sound and looked back into the flames, thinking. Even his tentacles stopped swaying and rested peacefully at his side.
The shadow continued to pace. Its tentacles flailed violently around it, and occasionally one pounded angrily into the palm of its hand.
“They’re jus’ waitin’ till their backup gets here.”
“That’s what I thought too. You suppose they’ll attack at dawn?”
“I s’pose it depends on how long they bin waitin’.”
“I don’t think they were there when I woke up, but I don’t know. They could have been there the whole time I slept, just waiting for a sign that Colby wasn’t alone.”
“If they’ve ‘eard ye talkin’ I ‘spect they know she’s not alone an’ they won’t waste time.”
“Yeah, I expect they do.” Xavier sighed. Standing slowly, he moved closer to the mouth of the cave and peered out. The sky hadn’t begun to lighten yet, but the stars had grown faint.
“Kill ’em,” his shadow whispered, but Xavier shook his head.
“I’m not a murderer.”
The shadow threw up its arms and tentacles, in exasperation. “Fine, be a martyr, but don’t ferget the main thing ’bout martyrs.”
“What’s that?” Xavier whispered.
“They’re all dead.”
Author: Rhonda Parrish
Genre: Fantasy Short Story Collection
Three of Rhonda Parrish’s beloved Aphanasian stories brought together in one collection for the first time!
A Love Story: Z’thandra, a swamp elf living with the Reptar, discovers a human near the village. When she falls in love with him, she faces the most difficult choice of her life, a decision that will affect the Reptar for generations.
Lost and Found: Xavier, the escaped subject of a madman’s experiments, and Colby, a young lady on a mission to save her brother, must combine their efforts to elude capture and recover the magical artifact that will save Colby’s brother before it’s too late.
Sister Margaret: A vampire hunter and a half-incubus swordsman are hired by a priestess to kill the undead pimp that is extorting, torturing and murdering vulnerable girls.
When she isn’t procrastinating or gaming Rhonda writes fantasy, YA and horror. She also maintains a blog at http://www.rhondaparrish.com and loves sushi.