A Second Achilles – A Scuttle Bay Story

    The child would have powers. She had promised herself that when he had been born. This child would have powers one way or another. No matter what it took, she would not let her son be one of the few Normals of Scuttle Bay. Even if she was, even if her husband was. The question was how. It wasn’t in his blood, that much was clear. That left magic and science as her options. From the day he was born, she started in with everything she had. Vitamibe, spellwork, offerings left for Faeries and gods alike. None of it worked. Finally, she took her infant son to the coast. A pirate wreck lay deep under the water still and she could just barely see the shadow there. Holding the child by the ankle, she held him in the water. He would have powers. He would be a hero. He would make it in this place. Of that, she was convinced. The boy stopped moving. She pulled him out, a mad gleam in her eye. What great powers would he manifest? But his eyes were glassy and dull and he didn’t move

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Street Lights

There was just that one streetlight, the one on the middle of the street, which always seemed to glow an eerie shade of green. It was the sort of thing that the bigger kids teach the younger ones not to play under, never to venture near. Who knew what it could mean for their beacon of nighttime safety to be an unearthly shade of green rather than the bright clear white of all the others.
It was a pretty typical summer night, warm and sticky in its oppressiveness. Carter stood in his backyard, his cap drawn down over his eyes and bat in hand. Here’s the windup and the pitch. The ball came ever closer and then WHAM! It flew in a wild arc over the street and disappeared into the bushes on the other side…under the feared light. The boys stood and mourned the loss of the ball, for there was nothing that could get them to venture forth on a rescue mission. They had come to an unspoken accord that the ball was lost forever. As the one who had hit the doomed ball, Carter was in nearly as bad a state as the ball. For being so brazen as to send the ball into that other space, there was no greater crime in the mind of a nine-year-old in this neighborhood. They made their excuses, one by one, under the pretext of the game being over, the night falling and the oncoming darkness. Slowly, the street lights up and down the street flicked into life, like the eyes of a massive guardian opening for the night watch. But Carter just stood there, watching the eerie glow of the green one, the one that had cost him a ball and the rest of the game. Certainly, he could wait until morning, ask the almighty Dad to fetch the ball under the light of day. But that would be giving in to that infernal light again. How many times had he had to change the path of his bike to avoid the glow cast on the ground, lost toys because they had landed in those very bushes, how many children had been warned that they should never, never tread under its baleful gaze? He was moving before he had even realized it, across the street in a flash of red sneakers. Then came the true test. He froze inches outside the ring of light cast down from the horrible creature and looked. He could see it, the shiny new baseball just sitting there waiting for him. He took a step and paused again, almost waiting for doom to come crashing in. He could hear the unquiet crickets and the cars a few blocks over. The street he stood in was empty, devoid even of sounds beyond the crickets and those distant cars it seemed. He scooped up the ball in one hand and turned to make his way back to his house. One foot was still in the light when a sound broke the quiet of the night. The squeal of rubber on asphalt ripped through his soul for a mere instant before Carter knew nothing but the darkness.
The boys came back the next day, unknowing and ready for a new game. They gave their ancient enemy a wide berth but one noticed something new. Sitting in the gutter was a blood-spattered baseball, no longer shiny and new, and there was a smear of blood on the edge of their enemy’s territory. There would be no more playing with Carter. And never again would a child brave that green light, particularly not at night.