22. The Oldest Scars

Inglorion sits there, watching his son’s face. He feels weak from hunger, but choked with nausea. He’s sticky with sweat and dirt, but too tired to walk back and take a shower. His eyes burn with tears, but he cannot cry. Lucius’s face is sweet in repose. If they were gray elves, no one would […]

17. Isolation Suits Me

Inglorion watches as Tereus mixes the second batch of sangria with the deft touch and manifest enjoyment of a musician improvising. He whisks in the honey, tastes it, cocking his head thoughtfully, then gives a brisk nod. He pours in the final half-bottle of seltzer water. Just as he’s about to refill their glasses, he […]

14. Delighted with His Useless Gift

Lucius trots off, probably figuring its not the stupidest thing he’s been asked to do that evening. Inglorion perches on a nearby retaining wall. It’s a pleasant evening, and in a very few minutes he hears Lucius’s happy chatter, and Brutus’s soft replies. They come into view. Brutus is pulling a small, hand-drawn wagon. Inglorion […]

10. The Iron Owl

By mutual, tacit consent, Brutus and Inglorion settle into a casual master/apprentice arrangement. Inglorion knows little about farming and water harvesting in this climate; Brutus knows a lot. Though the older man rarely provides step-by-step lessons, or even explicit advice, he’s willing to let Inglorion shadow him as he tinkers with his cisterns and basins, […]

8. Policing the Neighborhood

Brutus has been breaking into the same tobacco warehouse for years, now that looters have stripped the pharmacies and convenience stores. It’s perched on a narrow strip of Native American land, along with a defunct casino: a two-story building painted to resemble a barn, but with a drive-through window. The choices have dwindled. Brutus eyes […]

7. The Knowledge Grows Slowly Within

It’s full night when Inglorion walks back. It’s a sweet, cloudless evening. Brick and stone have begun to cool; the moon is waning. Inglorion can see again: The hesitant, frozen forms of rabbits crouching in the weeds; a handful of bats, flying irregular trajectories. A stray cat drops and rolls in the dirt, and eyes […]

4. The Thousand Nights and One Night

Now that there are two mouths to feed, Lucius sends Inglorion to buy a half-dozen pullets, saying, “Lots of people sell them around here, but I’d recommend this fellow Brutus. He sells a few from his flock every now and then, and I think you’ll find him interesting.” And so Inglorion walks a few miles […]