The Gnik

2 Feb

The lamb pulled at its leash, leading her past a stand of trees and into a clearing. Once past, the lamb pulled harder; it wanted to run, but she wouldn’t let it. She knew this meadow, and it was dangerous for a lamb to be without a leash here: this was the realm of the gnik, a stealthy monster which would steal unattended herding animals.

She asked herself why the gnik had to exist in the first place. As though she would get an answer. Why does the wolf exist? Why does the lemming? Every creature on this earth has a purpose and a role, and who was she to question the role of a creature whose sole purpose was to abduct the livestock which had been left alone in this one singular meadow?

Some didn’t believe in the gnik’s existence, thought that it was the invention of particularly fanciful and particularly irresponsible shepherds, each of whom would build on the legend that the previous had established: first the gnik just stole one lamb, then it stole sheep at will, then any animal that entered its territory. First it was a spirit, then a shadow, then a beast.

Why had she come to this meadow? What drew her here, if she knew that she was putting her animal at risk just by entering? Her lamb pulled at the leash again, harder this time. It pulled her to the center of the meadow. Had the lamb lead her here today? It pulled her farther still, leading to a specific point, a specific tree which was directly across from where she had entered.

“I apologize,” came a low voice from somewhere beyond the tree.

“What for?” She asked.

“I need to ask you to leave your animal with me.” A man stepped out from behind the tree, a bit tall but otherwise very normal.

“Why should I leave him with you? This is a very dangerous area for livestock, and I hardly have reason to trust you in any case.”

“Your animal is sick. That is why he sought me out. He has not long in this world, but I can ease his transition. That is why all of the animals seek me out.”

She took a step backwards, pulling her lamb with her. “You’re the gnik.” It was a statement.

“I am,” he said, “and as I said, I apologize.” The man stared into her eyes for several moments before taking a firm step, and then another, and then he had one hand around the leather strap at the lamb’s neck and another around a knife to slice it.

In the next moment, there was no longer a man, nor a lamb in the clearing. Just a girl with most of a leash.

Ethan Zarinsky

7 Jan

The boy came out of nowhere and latched onto the older man’s arm.

“Ha!  Now I have you!  Your name is mine and my name is yours.  We are switched!”  the child cried in glee, letting go of the arm and jumping backwards.

“What are you talking about?” the older man asked.

“Tell me your name, if you can.”  The boy added a chuckle to his speech.

“My name,” the man said with annoyance, “is Ethan.”

The boy grinned broadly.  “I’ll bet you were expecting to say that your name was–” he cut himself off as the grin dissolved into apparent confusion.  “Your name was Ethan?”

“Yes.”

“Oh no!” The boy’s arms flew to the sky in the most dramatic of fashions.  “I am undone!  My one weakness: Someone who already has that very name which I have at the time that I try to take theirs in exchange for mine!”

The older Ethan watched patiently as the younger one seemed to re-enact every movie villain death scene he had ever watched in grand displays of over-acting, and then fled.

Ethan closed his eyes, took a breath, and continued on his day.

Dionne Gallo

6 Jan

Moving out on my own was a relief, more so than for most people.  I mean, yeah it was important that I feel independent and have my own space, and all those other things that most people feel when they’re finally able to support themselves, but I was more relieved about getting away from Curly than anything else.

You see, Curly, my neighbor’s doberman, didn’t like me.  And Curly, unlike any other dog I’d ever met, was able to communicate this dislike to me in words, through thought.  We had a lab named Dakota, and she didn’t talk to me.  None of the dogs I’d passed on the street or played with at friends homes talked to me.  Just the dog that lived next door.

A part of me kind of thought that maybe it was Curly that was augmented, and not me, but I don’t think animals can have augmentations.

Any illusion I had was shattered completely when the guy from the next apartment over came by to introduce himself, and his pug, Muffin, let it be known that he wanted to eat my shoes.

Carlos Del Norte

5 Jan

The sun was setting as Carlos and Emily ate their burritos in the Taco Bell by the Sawgrass Mills Mall.

Carlos looked out the window nervously as he slipped the movie tickets off the table and put them in his jacket pocket.  “There’s something I should tell you before nightfall.”

“What is it?”

“Okay, so, we’ve been going out for almost a month, and, well, there’s something that hasn’t really come up until tonight.”

Carlos waited for Emily to react.  She didn’t.  He took a deep breath.

“So by the light of the waning quarter moon–“

Emily’s face went sour.  “You turn into a freak?  Geez, why do I always end up with–“

“No!  Well, not entirely.”

Emily flared her nostrils and looked straight at the boy who was avoiding her gaze.  “Okay, so what happens by the light of the waning quarter moon?”

“I become Canadian.”

Emily laughed.  “Canadian?  What, like your passport changes?”

“No, it’s a little more than that.”  Carlos frowned as the sun dipped past the horizon.  He covered the scowl with his hand.

Emily noticed the gesture.  “Has your hand always been a lighter skin tone than your face?”

Carlos removed his hand, revealing a broad, toothy smile.  “What?”  He looked at his hand.  “No, I think my skin’s always been a bit pale, but I’m pale all over pretty equally.  Scandinavian heritage.”

“Scandinavian…” Emily trailed off, then regained herself.  “No, you’re half-Dominican, half-Cuban,” she reassured herself as his brown hair and eyes bleached to blond and blue.  “I’ve met your parents.  Your name is Carlos Del Norte.”

Carlos gave a friendly smirk.  “That’s a funny way to pronounce Karl Norrifran.”  He looked down at his burrito.  “You know what this needs?  Ketchup.”

Karl stood up, demonstrating a newly-acquired impeccable posture, and approached the ordering counter.  All Emily could do was stare.  He wore the same clothes, had almost the same face, but he had changed so dramatically.  Emily didn’t even know what to think.  She’d have almost had an easier time if Carlos did turn into a monster.  Could she really explain this to her friends?  Her parents?  Even the ones that were okay with auggies would balk at this monthly personality overhaul.

Carlos came back to the table with two hands full of ketchup packets.  “I really do wish they’d open up a Tim Hortons down here, but this place is nice, too.  The Wal-mart across the street doesn’t hold a candle to my old Zeller’s back home, though.”

“Back home?  You live in Jacaranda Lakes, five miles from here!”

“Well, I live there now.  But it’s not really home, doncha know.”  Karl opened two packets and emptied them onto his burrito.  “You ready for the Leafs game?”

“The what?”

Karl shook his head.  “You know the Maple Leafs are playing the Panthers tonight over in the BB&T Center.  No Canadian worth his salt is going to let his little lady miss out when the Leafs are in town.”

“You mean we’re not going to see Sherlock Holmes?”

“What?  Now where’d that idea come from?”  Karl removed two tickets from his jacket pocket, the BB&T logo printed clearly on both of them.

Emily exhaled.  “My boyfriend turns Canadian by the light of the waning quarter moon.”

“What’s that?” Karl asked.

Emily put on a smile.  “Nothing.  Nothing.  Let’s go to that hockey game.”

Bonnie Newsom

2 Jan

Elle Newsom didn’t understand what was happening to her ten year-old daughter.  She was eating well, she saw her eating well, but every day her color seemed to get worse and worse and her dizzy spells went from once a month to once a week to almost every day.  Tests revealed nothing wrong with her digestion, and all her family doctor could say was, “more vegetables.”  Bonnie was practically a vegetarian before Elle’s Uncle Norman suggested the unthinkable: maybe she had an augment.

One afternoon, Uncle Norman came to visit and sat down in the kitchen with Bonnie.  He asked her to take a bite of an apple and tell him what it tasted like.  Then a carrot.  A slice of cheese.  She said they all tasted the same.  Uncle Norman then gave her a slice of bread and told her to chew it up a little bit, and then spit it onto a plate.

What she spit out was a wad of chewed-up chocolate.  Uncle Norman smiled.  “I think I know whats wrong with you, Bonnie, and I think we can fix this.”

Andre Williams

1 Jan

I remember when TLC came out with “Waterfalls.”  It was all over the radio, everywhere.  I think it changed my life, like I heard the lyrics when I was young and impressionable and really took them to heart, and then I made sure I lived on the straight and narrow, lived with humility.  Y’know, stuck to the rivers and lakes that I was used to.

I kept my nose in books and out of trouble, never caused too much commotion, and eventually became the first kid on my block to get accepted to a decent college: full scholarship at University of Illinois Chicago.  I was doing good there, too, which is why I never wanted nobody to know.  But one day Mama saw me doing it: she caught me sharpening my pencil with my mind.  I didn’t have an explanation, and she wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

She kicked me out of the house after that, and I ain’t been able to go home since, even to visit.  So much for those rivers and lakes.

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