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HeartFelt Promos
August 14th, 2006, 07:54 PM
Marjorie M. Liu

Dark Dreamers

Excerpt from A Dream of Stone & Shadow by Marjorie M. Liu

Charlie’s brothers were made of stone, so the conversation was rather limited within the confines of his prison. Still, he tried, because he remembered the life of before, the life of midnight runs and wild scents, the life of a bright moon floating halo-like in the sky, full and pregnant on the heavens. A good life, even if much of it had been hidden.



Shortly before being shot in the back with a tranquilizer dart and dumped half-dazed on a stretcher, right before being stolen from the hospital by silent men in white coats, Elena Baxter stood at the end of a dying child’s bed, her hand on a small bare foot, and attempted to perform a miracle.

She was good at miracles. She had been practicing them for her entire life, and at twenty-eight years of age, had become quite proficient at the art of doing Strange and Wonderful Things.

The child’s name was Olivia McCoy. Eight years old, with a large brain tumor swelling against her skull. Conventional treatments had only delayed the inevitable and likely worsened the quality of Olivia’s end, and yet, unable to let go, Mr. and Mrs. McCoy had brought their daughter to the Milwaukee Children’s Hospital for one last stand. The hospital had a good reputation for healing childhood cancer, and while the doctors frequently patted themselves on the back for their successes, their triumph was tainted by uneasiness. They did not know why all the children in their ward inevitably recovered. The statistics simply did not allow for such a confluence of miracle.

Elena, a simple unpaid volunteer inside the hospital, was not so surprised.

Good, however, was not the word Charlie would use to describe his current circumstances, though in all honesty, he thought it possible to feel a small amount of pride that he had done as well as he had. After all, he was not stone. The curse that had taken his siblings had not reached as far as his flesh – an accident of fate, as far as he was concerned – and though the witch had a taste for his flesh – in all manner and form – he had managed to plead some favors with the hag, as a matter of courtesy. The witch had some manners left to her. Not many, but enough.

For example, she cut out his heart whenever he asked her to. Which in recent days, was quite often. He did not think she minded; hearts were her favorite to consume: roasted with peppers, diced and fried with ginger, stewed with carrots and onions. All manner of preparation. Charlie could smell himself now, filling the air with a rich scent that did nothing for his appetite, but which most certainly had the witch’s stomach keening high for a tasting, perhaps with a dollop of rice.

There was nothing better than a gargoyle, when hungering for flesh. Or that’s what the witch liked to tell him. Charlie could not, in principle, agree – though he did acknowledge that as far as an endless food supply went, his kind were good to go. Gargoyles were not so very easy to kill.