The Little Girl.
The little girl strolls along the street, stopping before windows, cupping her hands around her eyes and leaning against the glass storefronts. Occasionally, she checks the small pink watch on her wrist, and she smiles. A woman passing her, in a bright sunny dress, all expanded skirt and tight crenellated waist, puffed sleeves and high collar, smiles at the little girl, and pauses.
“Where are your parents, Dear?” the woman asks, pleasantly.
“Oh, you know, Dada is Dada,” the little girl says, giggling.
The woman smiles at her, and then tilts her head slightly, beginning to frown. She is about to say something else when the little girl skips away, trailing a white-gloved hand along the buildings, her fingers slipping in and out over the red bricks and green-blue grout. The woman follows the charming little girl, but only with her gaze, and her frown upends into a smile, as she shakes her head and continues the other way, the little girl slipping from her mind, a playful foal. The woman smiles at a very handsome man, who tips his fedora hat and grins. The woman turns to follow the man with a wistful glance, and she touches the large mound of curls at her head, wishing she had spritzed herself with Fer de Lance instead of Moonglow before leaving her cottage.
The little girl skips across the sidewalk rectangles, always careful to miss the cracks between the slabs of concrete, to the corner lift and waits for the blue doors to rise and then slide apart. She puts her head far back, watching for the lift, and sees it very high above, a dark smudge in the sky. Her very blonde hair dangles prettily down her back, in cascades of golden curls. She checks her pink watch and smiles. Glancing down the street, she notices a big Irish cop strolling in his crisp navy blue greatcoat, brass buttons glinting in the sunlight, swinging his nightstick from a sausage-thick finger. The beefy red-faced man is whistling merrily, and the girl catches the tune, Buffalo Girls.
“Aaaaaaand,” the little girl sings along, “daaaaance by the light of the moooooon!”
“Wonderful singing voice,” the very handsome man says, approaching and stopping near the little girl. He lifts his dark blue fedora to the little girl, nodding courtly, and then places his hands into the pockets of baggy suit pants.
“Thank you,” the little girl says, and smiles up at the very handsome man.
“Hey,” he says, “would you like to play a game?”
“Sure,” the little girl replies, grinning, because she adores games.
“Why don’t we pretend that I’m your daddy?” the very handsome man says, eyes twinkling. He rocks back and forth on his dark two-tone shoes. The little girl notices how tightly the shoes are laced, and wonders how the very handsome man is able to pull the thick black laces so tightly.
“This fine policeman strolling toward us is a very good friend of mine,” the very handsome man says, nodding in the direction of the whistling officer. “Let’s tell him that I’m taking you on an adventure, and that I’m going to buy you real ice cream on the platform above.”
“Oh, I have money,” the little girl says, showing the man the little clasp purse on her wrist. She is very proud of the pink leather purse, and inside the purse she has two whole dollars, one a folded green bill, and the remainder in a variety of coins; two dimes, three nickels, five pennies, and two quarters.
“Your money is no good here,” the very handsome man laughs, “in this fine establishment, everything is on the house, for a princess like you. You pick whatever you like from the menu, and I’m buying. Nothing is too good for my little girl.”
“Oh, I’m not a princess,” the little girl giggles. “I like to pretend sometimes, but I know I’m not. The Shaannii assures me that I had best focus on the facts; with the Shaannii, it is always the facts, nothing but the facts.”
“Well, to me,” the very handsome man chuckles, “your proud Daddy, you are the most wonderful princess to ever don glass slippers!”
The little girl frowns. She does not think that glass slippers sound very comfortable, but she understands his reference. Cinderella lost a slipper running down the steps at midnight. She glances down at her own pink sandals, and wishes for heels, but she is still too young to be wearing heels, at least that is what the Shaannii says. But the very handsome man using the phrase don glass slippers—such an old-fashioned expression—perhaps this friendly man should not be trusted, not quite completely, despite being so very handsome. Handsome is as handsome does. The little girl often imagines having a father, and she enjoys imagining him looking much like this very handsome man. For now, she will continue his little game. But she is watching him.
A low beeping tone sounds, and the blue walls of the lift cube rise from the concrete, and the lift drops like a rock from the sky, producing a loud whistling noise.
“Top of the mornin’,” says the Irish policeman, nearing the lift cube, pushing his nightstick into the broad belt at his waist. “And how is our young lady, my pretty little Buffalo gal?”
The little girl giggles, understanding that the policeman is not calling her a girl from Buffalo, a city of Old New York, but is merely referring to the lyrics of the song he has been whistling. She is charmed by the red-faced man, who is smiling at her with twinkling blue eyes, and she returns his smile, and for some reason, she feels like taking his big hand, but it is her “play daddy” that takes her hand.
“My little lady requires ice cream in the sky, and what can a father do but give his only daughter exactly what she wants?” the very handsome man says, taking a step toward the blue lift cube.
“Oh and fine, and what’s your favorite flavor?” the policeman inquires of the little girl, crouching down, his elbow blocking the very handsome man. “Meself, I loves the Rocky Road.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had ice cream before,” the little girl says, “so I don’t have a favorite flavor, not yet, but honestly, Rocky Road doesn’t sound too pleasant, it sounds rather...earthy.”
The policeman guffaws loudly. “Oh, but it is not the sound, no, but the taste of Rocky Road; why you have marshmallows, and chunks of chocolate, and nuts, that’s the thing of it, it’s the taste,” the policeman says. “The chocolate will provide all the acne you could ever wish for! Well beyond puberty, that it will!”
The little girl, smiling at the policeman, really likes him, she likes his white hair, his crinkled blue eyes, and his big red nose, as well as his big and gruff voice, and she says, “Then it is Rocky Road for me. Marshmallows sound nice. And the chocolate, of course. But I don’t know about the acne.”
“Oh, you won’t have to worry about the acne, not for about seven or so years, I would think. And what about you, my good man? Is it Rocky Road for you, too, then?” the policeman says, pushing himself upright with a grunt, smiling at the very handsome man.
The little girl looks from the policeman to the very handsome man and back again, noticing that the policeman’s eyes are not crinkling even though he is still smiling.
“I’m more of a sherbet man, myself,” the very handsome man says.
“Sherbet!” the policeman snorts. “What is it then? Is it ice cream, or is it yogurt? Hard to trust a treat that can’t make up its own mind. A wee bit Frenchy, I think.”
The little girl adores the policeman’s lilting accent, and she giggles.
“Going on a wee adventure with your...Daddy, Darlin’?” the policeman says, not looking away from the very handsome man, and his smile seems to fade.
The little girl does not pretend to understand all the dynamics of the interchange, but she knows the lift will depart soon.
“Oh yes, my Daddy is taking me on an adventure, and he is going to buy me ice cream on the platform.”
“We have to hurry,” the very handsome man says, dodging about the policeman, “come along, Sweetheart.”
They enter the blue cube and the doors swish shut just behind them. Turning her head, the little girl catches a final glimpse of the big Irish policeman, and sees that he is talking into something in his hand.
“Wasn’t that fun?” the very handsome man says as the lift gives a tiny jolt, rocketing into the sky.
“Yes, it was lots of fun,” the little girl says, watching through the clear cube as the city grows tiny beneath their feet. “I enjoyed the whole interchange, oh so much. And I liked the Irish policeman, he was wonderful.” She imagines she can see the Irish policeman, strolling below them, twirling his baton, his white hair glimmering in the sunlight. She imagines she can see the smiling woman with the curly hair.
“Quite an adventure,” the very handsome man says.
“This gives me a very odd feeling,” the little girl says, “my tummy is funny.”
“Don’t be afraid,” the very handsome man says, giving her hand a comforting squeeze.
“Oh, no, but I’m not afraid, I understand how the lift works, but I’ve never ridden it before, and seeing the city get small makes me wonder if I’m getting big.”
“You are a very strange little girl,” the very handsome man says.
“I hope I’m not strange,” the little girl says. Looking up, she watches as the platform appears far above, seeming to grow larger and larger, looking like a steel island in the sky. She glances at her pink wristwatch. “Right on time!”
“Yes,” the very handsome man chuckles, “right on time!”
The lift fits perfectly into a cube shape at the bottom of the platform, and almost immediately the doors slide open. They walk into a busy food court where almost every kind of food is distributed by smiling attendants in a ring of clean outlets.
“What’s your name, Sweetheart?” the very handsome man says, leading the girl toward the ice cream parlor.
“My name is Manda. What is your name?” the little girl says.
“Amanda. Nice to meet you, Amanda. My name is...Charlie. But you call me Daddy, for the adventure, okay?”
“Manda,” the little girl corrects him, “and your name is Charlie, but Daddy, for the adventure.”
“Fine, Amanda. Daddy. We got that straight. Let’s keep it straight, okay.”
She frowns and checks her pink wristwatch. She is still right on time.
Only one person is in line before them and the very handsome man waves his hand before the menu, causing the projected menu to scroll through hundreds of flavors.
“So, what is it, Rocky Road, as our flat-footed friend suggests, or something more...exotic?”
The little girl scans the flashing menu, oh so many delicious-sounding flavors.
“What about your sherbet?” the little girl says.
“We can eat from the same cone,” the very handsome man says, squeezing her hand.
She winces, as he has compressed her fingers, too hard.
“Unsanitary,” the little girl says. “Germs. No, I think I will go ahead and try Rocky Road, as planned.”
The very handsome man snorts. “As planned. Fine. Rocky Road, it is.”
The person in front of them departs, hefting a crystal glass of foamy beige something, and the smiling attendant turns to them and says: “Welcome to A Million Plus One Flavors, what can I get for you two happy people?”
The girl likes the blue glassiness of the attendant, and she likes how you can just see through the young man, who is obviously represented by a happy, nondescript avatar. She understands that the real worker is probably somewhere far below, wearing a headset while playing games at a home terminal, and probably looks completely different from this generic representation.
“Two scoops of Rocky Road, the real stuff, in a waffle cone, and one avocado sherbet, on a stick,” the very handsome says.
“Ten credits, please,” the attendant says, almost immediately.
“Ten credits for ice cream, the shame of it,” the very handsome man says, finally releasing the little girl’s hand to retrieve a bulging billfold from a pocket within his suit coat.
“Avocado? Isn’t that a strange flavor for sherbet?” the little girl wonders.
“There’s nothing strange about it,” the very handsome man snaps. Then he smiles. “Avocado is a fruit, you know, just like tomato, or mango, or strawberries.”
“Technically,” the little girl says, “strawberries are not berries.”
“Had to get the know-it-all,” the very handsome man mutters, not acknowledging the little girl.
The little girl watches as he flips through a variety of cards; as the cards flick by she registers the various names, James Thuggard, Ronald Beasley, Thomas Finches, until he comes to Charles Weingart, which he selects and waves over the blue disk on the counter, then promptly returns the card to his wallet and tucks it back into his jacket. The disk pings quietly and the door near the disk swooshes open, the order displayed on crystal pedestals.
The little girl giggles, because the cone with the bulging ice cream looks wonderful.
The very handsome man takes the order and bows courtly to the little girl, offering her the cone.
“Your Ladyship,” he says, bowing as if presenting a crown to a princess.
The little girl seizes the cone and immediately begins to lick the ice cream. Oh, but the policeman was correct, this Rocky Road is wonderful, chocolatey, and there are the marshmallows, jutting out of the ice cream, and chunks of chocolate.
“What, no thank you?” the handsome man says in mock outrage.
“Thank you, so much, it’s wonderful,” the little girl says.
“Shall we take our treats up to the observation deck, M’Lady Amanda?” the very handsome man says, taking her hand and leading her away from the food court. He leads her toward the small cube lift.
“Let’s take the crystal escalator,” the little girl says. “But you know, I have told you twice, my name is Manda, not Uh-manda.”
The man sighs but adjusts their course. He allows her to step onto the first crystal step, but does not release his hold on her hand. He steps up close behind her. The escalator lifts them, cutting through the floor of the food court. It is as if they are levitating, rising through the air.
They pass through three floors where people both get on and off the escalator, there are shopping booths, lounges, as well as departure platforms for various destinations, there is taxi traffic, and hotel rooms for rent, and soon they rise into a magnificent sky, for the moment free of clouds so that the land is visible, spread out like a patchwork quilt beneath them.
“Isn’t this lovely?” the very handsome man says, leading the little girl to the wall of the crystal cube.
In bad weather, or very windy conditions, the top of the crystal cube seals, making the observation deck a sort of terrarium in the sky, but on a nice day like this, the ten-foot walls end in open sky.
“Someone who fell from this height,” the very handsome man says, thoughtfully, “well, there just wouldn’t be much left, would there?”
“That’s why the walls are so high,” the little girl says, “to keep people from falling.”
“Or jumping,” the very handsome man says. “But people do find a way, don’t they?”
“They do?” the little girl says.
“Oh yes, all the time,” the very handsome man says. “Some people jump, because they are just not happy in this world. And others are thrown because they make people unhappy.”
“What’s up with people?” the little girl says, thoughtfully, staring at the world through the crystal walls.
“What’s down with people?” the very handsome man says, chuckling.
The little girl does not reply, but stares out at the great distances, enjoying her ice cream. She enjoys working the marshmallows and nuts with her teeth, slowly extracting the bits. Rocky Road is her favorite ice cream flavor, she decides.
“Let’s sit down over here,” the very handsome man says, drawing the girl to a corner bench made of crystal. “Looks like we have the whole deck to ourselves. Isn’t this cozy?”
“I think about people, all the time,” the little girl says. “I can’t really make up my mind about them. They should be happy, and yet most people are not happy.”
“We’re happy,” the very handsome man says, “you and I, me and you, we and us. That’s what matters. You like the ice cream, and I like you.”
“Where’s your sherbet?” the little girl says.
“Guess I wasn’t very hungry,” the very handsome man says, “for sherbet.”
“Well, you’re not getting any of my Rocky Road,” the little girl says, continuing to lick her ice cream.
“That’s not very nice of you,” the very handsome man says.
“I already explained about the germs,” the little girl says, lowering her eyebrows.
“The germs, yes,” the man says. “But you know, married people don’t worry so much about germs, married people, and families, fathers and daughters?”
“You realize we are not actually related,” the little girl says, “that was all for the adventure.”
“The adventure’s not over, is it?” the man says, placing an arm about the girl’s shoulders. “You are still my princess, and I am still your Daddy. Don’t you love your Daddy?”
The little girl glances at him. Then she really looks at him. Something has changed. His nostrils are twitching, and his pupils are very large, and one side of his mouth is twitching. He seems to be breathing much louder.
“Are you feeling well?” she says.
“Feel great,” he says, patting her shoulder, “I just so enjoy spending time with you, my daughter. Why don’t you sit on my lap?”
“That won’t be necessary,” she says, turning her gaze to her ice cream, but not licking it.
“Now come on,” he says, sweeping an arm beneath her thighs, lifting her, “you have your ice cream, you love it. There’s nothing wrong with a father enjoying a little girl on his lap.”
“But you’re not really my father,” she says, squirming to get off his lap.
She went still. He had a hand clamped on the back of her neck. It hurt.
“See those walls,” the man said, speaking quickly, “they’re not really that tall. A tall man, like me, can easily throw something over the top. Just sit still.”
He smoothed a hand over her skirt, straightening the pink folds.
“You are hurting my neck,” the little girl said.
“No, I’m not. You, moving, that’s what’s hurting your neck, little girl,” the man said. He placed his hat beside them on the bench. “Just sit still.”
“I think that perhaps you are not really a nice man,” the little girl said, sitting very still, but he did not relinquish the grip on the back of her neck.
“You have no idea,” he said, rubbing his cheek down alongside her face. “Don’t you know that little girls are not supposed to go out alone?”
He sounded like a character in a fairytale. The Big Bad Wolf.
“Yes, I know that,” the little girl said, tears filling her eyes. “I was being naughty. I snuck away.”
“And now they wonder where you could have gone,” the man whispered. “They will know. Soon enough. After.”
“You are a bad man,” she said.
“That’s what they say,” he answered, and he began to move a hand down her leg to the edge of her skirt.
“Stop,” she said, and he stopped. She climbed off his lap and looked at him. He sat frozen, one hand up as if gripping her neck, the other arm stretched out, the hand curled back, as if seeking.
“What’s happening?” the man said, but his speech was garbled, as if he could not fully move his lips and tongue.
“Please, do not speak,” the little girl said. She closed her eyes and they flicked about, moving beneath the lids, as if she were dreaming. “The Shaannii says there is no hope for someone like you. What you are doing, you have done, and will do again. You have done terrible things. And you will do terrible things.”
“Sorry,” the man whimpered, completely still, tears leaking out of his eyes.
“I am sorry,” the little girl said, opening her eyes. “What you have done to others, so let it be done to you, so let it be written, so let it be done.”
The man, not looking very handsome, slammed against the crystal wall of the observation deck, his legs sticking straight out, his eyes bulging in horror, as he slowly slid with his back against the crystal wall, up, up, and he began to scream, but he kept moving, as if lifted by an unseen escalator, up and up until he reached the top of the wall, and then he went over, and now screamed with all his being as he fell. She heard him screaming for a long time, until she could not hear the screams any longer. But the little girl was certain he would scream until the very end, in about ten seconds.
She looked sadly at the man’s dark blue fedora hat. It matched his suit so well. She turned and walked across the observation deck as people began appearing, rushing from lifts and stairwells and the escalator, rushing, rushing to see what might yet be seen, pressing their hands against the crystal walls. The little girl noticed that the ceiling had closed and now the observation deck was a sealed terrarium in the sky, and all the people were the little animals in the crystal box. Yes, the people were much more like animals than people.
The little girl walked around the circular restaurant to the far side of the observation deck, and walked directly to the lone woman who stood at the prow of the platform, looking out at the approaching clouds.
“Right on time,” the little girl said, checking her pink wristwatch.
“Hello,” the young woman said, turning from her view, smiling at the little girl, but wiping at her eyes. It seemed that she had been crying, just moments before.
“I’m Manda,” the little girl said.
The young woman paused, and then said, softly, “I’m Sandy,” and she ceremoniously shook the little girl’s proffered hand.
Wolf remained very still, staring up, holding his black fighting stick in both hands, parallel to the ground. The great serpent had just threatened to devour him.
The serpent’s great head drew very close. It came down slowly, until its nose was inches away from his face. Only moments after their life-and-death struggle, and now here it was, the great serpent threatened to go back on its word and eat him, after everything, after all their oaths of friendship.
“Do you think I’m joking?” the serpent hissed.
“You do have a strange sense of humor,” Wolf said.
“You should see your face,” the serpent hissed, and released a bellow of air in what must pass for laughter. “Come on, admit it, Wolf, you were worried.”
“Maybe...concerned,” Wolf said, allowing himself a grin. Still, his hands did not shift on the black shillelagh.
“Concerned,” the serpent hissed. “I’m surprised you did not soil yourself.”
“I actually might have done that earlier, during our wrestling match,” Wolf said.
“No, I do not think so,” the serpent hissed. “You are a stern man, strong and brave. I could not depart, not yet, because I wanted to give you one last gift.”
Wolf lifted his eyebrows.
The serpent opened its great jaws, producing its monstrous fangs, longer than his arms. On each fang was what appeared to be a ring of leather.
Wolf snapped his black stick up under his arm and reached for one of the leather strips. With a few tugs he was able to pull down one of the leather bands, and he carefully removed it without touching the tip of the fang, and without pause he did the same to the other band.
He glanced at the two bands. They were gloves, fingerless gloves. Wolf chuckled. The gloves appeared to be MMA gloves. He pulled them on over his fingers. They came down well below his wrists, fitting perfectly like gauntlets, and were made of the same scaly leather as the breeches and boots.
“I was not joking, however, about how delicious you appear to me,” the serpent hissed.
“Thank you,” Wolf said, choosing to interpret that as a compliment, flexing his fists in his new gloves. Big flexing horns covered all his knuckles. These gloves would not only protect his hands, but deliver devastating damage at any blow, and aside from all that, they just felt cool.
“Fare thee well, Pugilist Wolf,” the serpent hissed, and then it swung its hooded and horned head away and was off moving through the grasses, like a freight train seeming to take forever.
Wolf lifted his pack and opened the flap; he dug just a moment, extricating a bottle of wine.
“I could use a drink,” he said, prying the cork out of the bottle with his thumbs. He took a sip and nodded his head. Not bad, not bad at all. He took a longer swig, and then replaced the cork. He belched. He slipped the bottle back into the pack and snatched the hooded traveling cloak from the ground.
He set out walking downhill, and after a few moments, he noticed the growing chill. Evening seemed to be coming on. He slipped into his cloak and pulled the hood up over his head. In all the recent excitement, his cigar had gone out. He squeezed the tip and it once again burst into flame. He sucked the cigar until it billowed smoke, and then set out walking again, slipping the pack onto one shoulder, prodding the ground before him with his black walking stick. All in all, he didn’t feel bad. Truthfully, he felt rather excited. He chuckled. Ah come on, whom was he kidding, this was like being a kid again, on Christmas morning. He wanted to scream!
He wouldn’t be going back to that job. He wouldn’t be worrying about his bills, or his credit debt. Forget GMOs, high fructose corn syrup, car insurance, diet sodas with zero calories, lying media, flu shots, and Wi-Fi hotspots. You can keep your traffic tickets, political ads, popup adware, and online pornography. No, this was a world of vivid colors, and giant serpents, and he was alive; he had survived the crashing Armageddon of one world, and he felt more than equipped to handle anything, and so he might as well push forward and discover what this new world had to offer.
The serpent had mentioned something about a human dwelling below, and that’s what he set off for, enjoying his fantasy Cuban cigar and the pleasant evening stroll. He noticed a moon peeking over the edge of the tall mountains on his left. It looked huge, perhaps twice the size of the normal moon he was used to seeing. As he strolled, puffing on his cigar, he twirled the black shillelagh, and man, but that felt good, something completely normal to his hand, as if it were part of him. It felt too light for such a strong piece of wood, and it felt alive.
No, at least for the time being, Stacey and his world and all his problems were gone. In this new place, for however long he should be alive, in the now he was Wolf. He picked up his pace into a loping jog, hefting his stick in his left hand, his right hand steadying the pack above his hip. He glanced at the moon again, which was almost free of the mountain range, and it was truly an awesome spectacle, bloated and glowing a dim blue. Something caught his eyes from over on the right side of the far valley where a more rugged set of peaks rose high in the air, and he blinked, for it appeared to be another moon, this one tinged with green, and perhaps a eighth the size of the blue moon (probably half or less the size of his moon, in that destroyed world), and it was moving in the opposite direction; he supposed, some time tonight the two moons would meet in the sky, and one would eclipse the other. Two moons? Wasn’t that pressing things a little too far? Still, he had to remember, there were worlds with more than one moon, why shouldn’t this be one?
He loped a little faster as full night came on. For now, it was enough to head downhill. But even with two moons in the sky, he doubted he would be able to find his way safely in the dark. He gave himself another half hour to find the human dwelling. If he didn’t find the place, he’d have to make camp out here, and hopefully there were sufficient supplies inside his pack, as he had not really explored its contents as yet.
A sound above the breeze brought him to an abrupt halt. There was no misinterpreting that song of the night, it was a very loud wolf howl, and it carried on long and loud, sounding like the wind singing. The howl began low and mournful, and then rose piercing and sad, yet very beautiful. Wolf had never actually heard a real wolf howl, in the real world (or what passed for it). He had only heard the song of the wild in movies. But out here, in the wild, the song brought gooseflesh to his neck and shoulders, and he actually felt his scalp rise up as if in terror. But he felt no fear, none whatsoever.
He threw back his own head and howled into the night, putting all of himself into that howl, ripping free every pain and worry of the last couple of days, and he howled with his soul, tears leaking from his eyes, offering up the torment of losing a world, offering up the terror of birth into a new world. Then, spent, he stood, listening, puffing on his cigar.
If he expected the wolf to answer him, he was disappointed, because all was silent, save for the chorus of crickets that came alive, first like a string quartet, and then like a full symphony. But Wolf’s disappointment was only short lived, because a great shape emerged through the trees and loped across the meadows. It was the largest dog-like beast he had ever hoped to see, far larger than a Great Dane or St. Bernard.
It was a wolf, a white wolf, perhaps the size of a pony. And it was loping directly toward him.
Wolf stood with his black shillelagh in his left hand, waiting, until the great wolf came and sat on its haunches, ten feet away.
“Don’t worry,” it said, in a deep, friendly voice. “I’m not another test. Boreallis sent me. I am to be your guide, and protector. And I hope, ultimately, to be your friend.”
“I am Wolf,” Wolf the man said.
“I know. I am Wolf, as well,” Wolf the wolf said. “I enjoyed your howl.”
“Thank you. I enjoyed your howl, as well,” Wolf the man said.
“Grab onto my ruff, and run alongside me, and I will guide your feet to safe places of treading,” Wolf the wolf said.
And they ran, into the night, into the wild, Wolf and Wolf.
© Copyright 2016 Douglas Christian Larsen. Vestigial Surreality. All Rights Reserved by the Author, Douglas Christian Larsen. No part of this serial fiction may be reproduced (except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews) or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the publisher, Wolftales UNlimited, but please feel free to share the story with anyone, only not for sale or resale. This work is a work of fiction. People, places, events, and situations are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or historical events, is purely coincidental (wink, wink).
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