Five “Stars”

I was chintzy with the most recent piece of the Stars in Heaven material (although I canʼt post it all — sorry, Colleen — if I expect to attempt selling it someday). But hereʼs the rest of that current 1100-word section…

from Stars in Heaven

He had hated Daniel.

He had spent the long hours waiting for sleep, knowing Daniel lay beside him in the loft bed, long hours indeed, night after night, trying to estimate if his own breathing were regular—even enough to convince his nemesis that he slept—trying to guess if Daniel were truly asleep or not, endless hours it seemed most nights… in his own mind imagining Daniel’s demise. He could see it still: Daniel plunging suddenly from the wagon onto the road one day, stunned, and the big solid wheel rolling steelshod across Daniel’s skinny chest spraying bright blood red in the sunshine and road dust. Daniel falling onto a star spine and the bright crystal bloodsticky thrusting from his back and the dying boy screaming, wailing, choking on his own vomit, phlegm and blood.

Then Daniel had gone, last year, again on the trek to sell the stars’ harvest. And the boy and Aunt Sarai had lived alone together for the longest time. And when Daniel—finally it seemed—surprisingly returned, he was different. He had become distant. He was planning his Escape. Talking about the pilots, how they could go anywhere in the whole blessed universe, anywhere at all, wherever they wanted.

Daniel had looked right through the boy and neglected easy opportunities for harassment. Most obviously altered, though, was his attitude toward the one enemy they both shared. Home from the trek, Daniel was polite to Ghorf.

Not that he had been surly or objectionable before, not to his father’s face. Daniel was a wise villain and knew to reserve his sarcasm and bitterness for private. Or to transform such feelings to petty aggression, behaving very much just like his father…

But after the trek last year, it had all changed. Daniel accepted Ghorf’s rebukes and buffets without a murmur—even when the old man had gone, even at night in the loft. It seemed as though Ghorf’s abuse had become meaningless, insignificant. Perhaps for Daniel it had actually changed some way—now only a memory, an impetus, something to be overlooked now that the world had grown, now that Daniel was conceiving his Escape.

For a very long time the boy had not understood. He knew that Daniel had changed, and he felt relieved of the burden of Daniel’s deliberate cruelties, but now he felt oddly neglected. Some mornings he even half-yearned for a familiar cuff across the face. Now it seemed some days even more cruel to be so casually ignored.

That’s how it had been for a whole year. Daniel had become effectively an absence. That’s how it had been along the endless dusty journey these past weeks. The journey was absolutely nothing like he had imagined, and it was worse than he had ever dreaded once he understood it was not going to be in any way fun.

There you go, folks. Pretty brief again. I have really been enjoying finding the astronomical photos to use as illustrations (and the Horsehead Nebula in Orionʼs belt-dangle has always been a favorite).

I have more, but we will just have to see.

I have been at work on “Mantorville” again, but I got in a bind (for letting you all see some) by getting ahead of myself and not finishing what Frank Long had to tell Mr. Arkham about the big party at Snake Hollow. Instead I figured out an important development toward the climax of this section (meaning the psychiatric interviews). As I just said, weʼll just have to see. At least I have been writing again.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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