Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 73

ing dignity. While I’m steaming under the cheap tin lid of decency and manners, Sam spills. Seems Sacculina is a well-known witch in his parts. Bad news from the ground up, she went slinking up to his Dad and he sent her off like bad fish tarted up by an unscrupulous monger. Pow, his mom comes up with lady bit disease. Only his Dad’s got it on the ball and calls in a good witch and surprise, it’s a curse on his mom. Sacculina hits the road and fast before she’s invited to a rope around the neck swing party, and where did she go? Yeah. Even my fucking Mother, Sacculina?! Paybacks are a bitch. # Sacculina thinks I’m dead, but she thought I was before and was wrong. I think she’s so vain of her powers that she’s going to believe I’m a worm feast. Sam wants me to keep in mind that she might have some room in that steel trap mind of hers for doubt. Good man, Sam. I know the lug’s just hanging around hoping for a shot at that love’s first kiss crap, but he’s got the info I need, he’s got the grounding I need, and he’s damn easy on the eyes. My men did good by me. Ain’t sending you in to liberate the oppressed peoples of this sick dynastic kingdom without some artillery that packs a punch, old Rawls says. They’re going to be sad little miners when they realize I’m putting my own oppressive royal ass back on that throne. The castle is in my reach now, black and broken as a dead black widow, hourglass to the sky. It’s changed a lot in the past four or five years. I’ve changed a lot. I gave my guys the signal, and they lit up their finest creation since me. Thing is huge, a roaring, steaming, fireball lobbing mechanical dragon. I named it Fluffy. Drobo, Fenner, Gyp, and Nono control it. It went crashing into the main gates like hell unchained, and focussed the entire palace guard on it. With that taken care of, I headed around for the secret way in. A lovely little skip through the thorns and vines and fucking giant bugs. I plugged a few just to warm up and down into the cavern I went. It was filthy and dank, like walking up the rectum of a zombie giant. Succulina hadn’t been neglecting her dark arts and evil while whooping it up as the skankiest queen on a stolen throne on record. You’d think they have yearly awards or something the way Succulina keeps up with it. Oh she had it down, the evil queen bit. This dame was a real piece of work. Black hangings, black irons, black rugs, accented in fresh blood red. I walked right into her chamber of horrors and suddenly saw myself. My dear Mom wouldn’t ever recognize me. I put the black leathers Sam brought me to some good use, that stuff wasn’t ever so happy on the cow as it was over my ass. Then I realized, it was the stoolie magic mirror I was looking at. It told that bitch I was alive before. Meaning Sam was probably right, she’d found out I was back in the game again. The mirror started blabbing as I came closer, insisting it hadn’t said a word about me this time and it’s got a parlour mirror and five little hand mirrors at home and I shot that squealing plate of glass right between my own eyes. It felt good to watch the glass crash to the ground. One less stool pigeon in the world. The racket brought my Dad out. Oh God. It hurt to look at him. He’d been a solid, comfortable guy, pudgy and balding with the endearing adorability of a sweet stuffy bear. Now he was a walking ghoul. Skin hung pallid off of his bones, his eyes were huge and hollow, saliva threaded from his lower lip. He stared at me and didn’t know me. I said, “It’s me, Dad. Snow White.” He laughed. “She’s dead,” he croaked at me. I’m an apparition. A ghost of his madness. The remnants of what he was when he was a man. I stared, watching as he went howling into that night that never ends right PAGE 73