The following is the opening section of a short story entitled, For No Reason. I hope to include this story in an anthology in several months. The main character, Dax, is stuck in a magical rut that’s not headed toward a good ending…
Constant shade draped the cabin built into the narrow hollow, even under the morning sun and clear skies. Birds never sang near his home but his mule cropped weeds along the shadow’s edge. The bearded resident hobbled from the porch into the dim recesses.
“Accursed sickness. Why’s it always dark in here?” His foot caught a stack of broken mirrors. They tipped onto the floor and jangled loose glass. “Blasted useless things.”
Dax brought his lamp to his rough-hewn dresser and twisted the flame higher. The gloom receded as he stood with fists clenched before his mirror. His comb snagged in his hair despite his delicate hand. “Should wash it all or cut it.” He picked through the matted bristles that dangled from his face onto his chest. This would do nothing. He couldn’t hide the sores and scars–the curse. Their curse. His curse. The taste of bile rose in his mouth as rotten stench billowed around him.
A desiccated hand in black lace reached past him. A finger touched the mirror. The glass rang with the hag’s voice. “Their sins lay upon one.”
His lips curled as he clenched his teeth at the shrill noise.
Cracks squealed across the mirror and ended with a snap. “Not even he shall look upon himself.”
Dax whirled to the emptiness of his one-room cabin. She lay dead ten years but her words haunted him.
The floorboards creaked. Her shoes clomped on the wood. “A disease of undying suffering changes to devouring beast.”
“Stop it.” His chest heaved. He growled and gnashed his teeth. “Not the beast. I must hold it back.”
The ruined mirror on the wall distorted Dax’s reflection. Now he needed a new one. The cracks hid nothing of the truth. This was pointless. He tossed the comb away. His nostrils flared. Dax shoved his arms into his coat sleeves, yanked them straight and then jerked hide gloves over his hands.
He winced and grunted as sores burst on his fingers.
“His hand is the touch of their corruption.”
Dax gritted his teeth and heat rose on his cheeks. “Leave me alone for once.” A growl rolled from his chest. Not the foretold beast! He fingered his throat.
He stumbled through heaped clothing and kicked a pan and cup from underfoot. Dax’s shoulders sagged. His eyes watered at the morning sun beyond the shadows. Songbirds twittered in distant trees. He inhaled pine scent and rubbed a weeping sore on his cheek. He’d clean when he got back.
“Here now, mule. Let’s get moving.” His nameless mule chewed weeds where it stood beyond the porch.
The wind sighed like her dying gasp. “They serve their wrongs foisted on him.” Tree limbs scrapped together overhead with her harsh tone. “With a tithe of their labor.”
He growled and clenched his fists. He would crouch in the night and gnaw sweet bones. Dax shivered with his head lowered as his stomach roiled. “Stop it, I’m going.” He gathered his panniers and readied his mule for the trip into the village. Their payment waits. Dax tugged the lead.
The mule whined and refused his coaxing so Dax wrenched his stubborn companion into action. Willing or not, it still needed doing. “Maybe you’ll work for a name.” The mule brayed but followed with dragging steps.
The end of this first post.
Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. The next part of the story will be posted on 2/24/2016. Sign up for my Archer’s Aim Digest mailing list to receive notification of these posts and those for other upcoming fiction projects to appear on Archer’s Aim as well as news about the upcoming release of An Arrow Against the Wind, the second novel of The Bow of Hart Saga due out later this year.
Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga: