The Urchin and the Noman
by R. J. Frogvarian
Next came shadow, cold, hunger. The boys were roused from their sleep, though they desperately clung to the remnants of unconsciousness. They dared not move an inch. In the urchin’s eyes, thunder subsided, grey clouds sheepishly floating. In the noman’s eyes, a single fear: the cold of north.
Then, all was well.
The next visitor came in a storm. Lacre hailed around, temperatures demanded any cover they might find. Underneath a raggedy blanket, one of the boys had almost convinced himself his limbs were not giving out, when…
Warmth spread through the room. In an impromptu hearth flames danced high, and from behind them, a cloaked figure stared.
“There will be tragedy, you know,” it said, “It likes tragedies. There is much at stake for us. Can you feel the heat of the flames? How the Neath-snow noxiously melts? The worst storms come when end is near. Yes, soon the tears will subside. Soon, fires will burn stronger again. May they burn forever.”
It sat with them in solemn understanding for a while. When the storm had stopped, the fire had died out, the lovers now fast asleep, it was nowhere to be seen.
It was gone in a flesh. A shadow swooped onto the roof, glowing eyes peered inside. A low screech like distorted laughter sounded.
“Oh, but we will see,” it intoned, and then, it was gone.
Yet, the urchin and the noman sat in stiff silence. Their fingers no longer intertwined – not for lack of want, only for fear that the other will let go.
A letter was slipped through a slit in the wall. Gently it floated down, between the two sitting on the floor. Shaky white hands broke the seal, pale fingernails fished the paper out. In neat handwriting, the letter spoke. It spoke of many truths and secrets, heart-wrenching tales, warnings of stories. It expressed sorrow over the boy’s predicament.
Most of all, it gleamed with understanding.
Little could be done to stop the tears.
And tears never stopped before another hood appeared in the window. Soft fingers wiped the damp cheeks. A basket of food was placed on the floor.
“It does little to mourn early. Time is that which heals. Memories are what fuels us. These have not been easy days. Make the happiness last last forever.”
Laughter filled the room, soft and slow as if afraid to come out, but bold and brave in its presence. Smiles joined the tears, and just for a moment, thoughts swayed away from the inevitable.
The final day was marked by silent softness. The world moved as if through molasses; not even the birds and the wind dared break the calm. If one squinted in sleepy blissfulness, if looked almost as if sunlight spread through the windows and the holes of the humble rooftop hideout.
The urchin and the noman together as one. Smiles of regrettable truth and acceptance. With stormy eyes they looked at each other. No bliss can last forever.
Art of London
Sun-Filled Stories, Chapter Two
by Cassius Mortemer
The Author led the Introverted Devil to his own home. Even when they were well away from the Side-Streets and the worst of the crowd, he was still rather disoriented. It was only when the Devil was seated in the Author’s favourite reading chair, his handkerchief forcefully pulled away from his face to allow him fresh air, that the Devil managed to regain his senses. The Author brought him a glass of Amanita Sherry. The Devil hesitated.
“You’ll probably feel better,” the Author said. The Devil, still unsure, took the glass anyway. It’s not like the Author could drink it.
“I’m… more surprised that you’d have it, to be honest.”
“Friend of a friend,”
The conversation went stagnant. The Devil awkwardly drank the sherry. The Author fiddled with his sleeves. Itching to start up a conversation. They sigh in unison. Then they smiled.
“Well…” the Author started, “It wasn’t a boring day,”
“It’s only noon,”
They smiled at each other, partly out of politeness, partly out of fondness. Struggle brings people together, even in cases like theirs. The Devil put his empty glass on a nearby table and got up, wiping away his smile.
“I should go,” he said. The Author sprang up and grabbed his arm.
“Wait! Are you sure? You seemed just about ready to pass out a moment ago,”
“I was not!”
“Consider it repayment then. For the trouble I caused,” the Author snagged the open bottle of Amanita Sherry, smiling sheepishly.
“Of course, I will be indulging in cheap Greyfields,” he continued.
The Devil looked at the Author, then the cheap sherry, then glanced back at the door. He sighed.
“Alright, fine. But after this I’m leaving,”
Three hours and two bottles later, and the Devil was still there. He was draped languidly over his chair, legs dangling over an armrest and an empty glass balanced on his stomach.
“Why… am I still here?” he drawled. He was supposed to leave ages ago. But now he’s here. With the Author. In relatively close proximity.
“Because you’re my guest and that’s just good manners,” the Author said. He was lying on his stomach, peering at the devil from over the edge of the couch’s armrest. Not the most comfortable of positions, but he enjoyed the view.
“You’re blond,” the Author remarked. The Devil, with his hat and tinted glasses tossed carelessly onto a coffee table, raised an eyebrow. He didn’t comment. The Author kept on, already accustomed to his silence.
“Like sunshine,” the Author said, reaching out as if to touch it. The Devil sat upright, out of reach. The Author didn’t seem particularly bothered. The Devil was already wondering what would’ve happened if he didn’t flinch away.
There was a moment of dizzy silence as the Author checked for remaining wine, and the Devil quietly contemplated society norms. Disappointed, the Author slumped back onto the couch. Staring at the Devil.
“What are souls like?”
The Devil stiffened.
“Do they taste a particular way, for instance?”
“Don’t be silly. We don’t eat souls,”
The Author thought for a bit, sitting upright.
“What do they look like?”
An idea occurred to the Devil. An awful one, yet an excellent one. It could answer all his questions, the ones just barely buzzing to the surface. Every…
“Why don’t I show you?” he said. He joined the Author on the couch, elbows rubbing together. It may be rather ill-taught to do this on a living room couch, but the Devil doubted he’d get the Author all the way to his bedroom and still manage to be charming.
“Do you know how this works?” the Devil asked. The Author’s throat bobbed. Nervousness, but not reluctance.
“On the couch?” he asked. The Devil smiled at him.
“Don’t worry about it,”
The Devil took his hand and leaned close, remembering all those lessons, all those well practiced words… The Author seemed surprised. Was he expecting something else? The Author was swallowed up by his words in no time at all. Warm, golden light, swimming behind his eyelids…
And then the Devil was gone.
News of Art, Art of News
Red Lights Overhead – Citizens Report A “Christmas Miracle”
Christmas may be nearly behind us, but the festive mood still remains. With some, even a little more than usual.
For several days, there have been many reports of strange occurances within the main London area. Citizens claim seeing a large silhouette of some sort of hansom with many horses, lead by a strange bright red light. There have also been reports of hearing a deep yet calming laughter from the false skies.
All of these reports, some overlapping, also claim having found small gifts on their windowsills the following morning.
While none of these claims have been confirmed as true, we would advise any and every citizen to stay vigilant and not fall victim to viles of some shadowy gift-giver.
Nonetheless, it could also be a big beneficial jest, or better – a performance piece! That would, of course, delight us.
Nonetheless, London, we do hope your holidays had been marvelous, and that good things will come to you within the new year.
Ask Mother Goose
Dear Mother Goose,
Once again, I have failed. Perhaps it is time.
It, fortunately, may never be the time – unless, of course, it comes of its own accord.