The Weeping Blade, in Dark Harvest (anthology)
A whisper of butterflies’ wings promises a lonely old man his heart’s desire; mages draw upon music to work magic; and a fearful symmetry threatens an alien realm. Be it in our dreams or flights of fancy that take us into uncharted territory, our hopes and desires often birth twisted imaginings.
This selection of tales, some devious or whimsical, others downright eerie and unsettling, offer glimpses into other, darker realities.
Please note: following the closure of Dark Continents Publishing, DCP anthologies including Dark Harvest will be available in an imprint from Crossroad Press.
An Excerpt from:
THE WEEPING BLADE
© Anna Reith. All rights reserved.
HE IS OLDER THAN the stories they tell of him, though some say it was the tellings that fashioned him into being. Stories can work that way. They pull the world around them like a worn cloak, tugging at its weft until loose threads yield to bare patches, and a new embroidery can begin.
He is the dark thing that slips through the shadows, silently waiting in the cracks between dreams, because there he scents the dull weight of conscience. He knows it, and knows its call, and he comes to it like a dog to meat, slavering and rolling his thick, wet tongue. Where the small truths are hidden—the deeply buried ones, turned sallow by their years away from the light—he waits, and he swallows them down until his wide, red throat is full, and his belly groans with their weight.
Eater of sins, he has been called, and yet he knew a time before sin. It is not judgment that motivates him, after all, but the quiet, deep pull of a different master. He is the creature of maybes, the lie that murmurs upon the breeze, and they feed him their dreams. Oh, yes…dreams. It is dreams he eats, and not sins. Sin is nothing but a word. Dreams are life itself. They feed him until he grows fat and sluggish, and his deep, deep belly grumbles in its satisfaction, like the arrogant purr of a cat.
Where you gonna run to, little sinnerman? Who’s gonna reap your woes?
Nobody eats up the sins like he does. Nobody can suck the dreams up inside them like him. He swallows them whole, in great gluttonous gulps, pulling them down into his withered heart and his wild, bloated gut. He savours them, and he remembers each and every one.
He is in the echo of footsteps, and the remorse of the hopeless.
He comes when the thoughts—when the dreams, and the sharp-edged voids between them—weigh on the chests of sleepers like demons, suffocating and cloying in their inescapable prism. When the dream is crouching there like a woman wreathed in white, with hair spilling down her narrow back in a great dark curtain, her lies and her promises chafing as ragged rope across the dreamer’s skin, he slides through the night, arriving with his mouth full of teeth and sufferance.
He is too old for names. Languages change like the seasons, and words flit by without meaning.
All that exists is his hunger.