“Don’t you think it’s a little weird?” Claire asked. “I mean, he keeps a picture of the guy on his desk.”

I shrugged and picked a carrot out of my salad.

“I can’t even look at it.” Claire shuddered. “It’s just too creepy. I mean the guy is bleeding from his eyeballs. How can you worship a guy who’s bleeding from his eyeballs?”

“He’s also standing in a field of flowers. Maybe it’s supposed to make some kind of statement.”

Claire pursed her lips and toyed with her necklace. She’d barely touched her chicken.

“Look,” I said, “I’m not saying it’s not weird, but he’s still a good boss, right? I mean, we’re better off than Accounting. They have to ask permission to go to the bathroom.”

Claire didn’t look convinced. “Yeah, but at least they don’t have to listen to their boss chant every morning. It’s always the same thing every day. Doesn’t it creep you out?”

I shrugged again. “None of my business. He could be dancing around naked in there for all I care.”

“Ew.” Claire wrinkled her nose, then huffed and picked up her fork. “Well, someone needs to put a stop to it. It’s just plain unprofessional. I can’t believe they let him drag that nonsense into the office.”

“He doesn’t really bother anyone.”

“I just wish he wouldn’t do it.” Claire looked thoughtful for a second, then beamed at me and picked up her fork. “I’ll pray for him at church tonight. That’s the Christian thing to do.”

“Yeah,” I said. “I guess it is.”

“This is just ridiculous,” says Mom, shifting her considerable weight from one foot to the other. “I don’t understand why we’re still waiting. We never have to wait like this in New York.”

Christopher isn’t listening. He’s got his head bent over his iPhone, and he’s scrolling through his Facebook notifications. “Neil posted on my wall,” he says. “Do you think I should say something back?”

Mom doesn’t answer. Her bright pink shrug is slipping off her shoulder, and she tugs it up with a grunt. It never gets cold in California, not like it does in New York, but she had to wear the shrug. It matches her floor-length gown.

“I posted on his wall,” says Christopher. “I asked if he was coming.”

“Tell him to bring some coffee. You could have gotten us some coffee. I could have used the bathroom. I can’t believe how long we’ve been standing here.”

Christopher puts his phone away. A group of women pass, and Christopher says, “Hey there’s the actress from that show.”

“What show?” asks Mom. She cranes her head and looks behind her, but all she can see is the line, people in jeans and t-shirts. It’s disgraceful. No one in New York would show up looking sloppy.

That show, Ma. You know, the one I pitched to?”

Mom huffs and shakes her head. “I’ll bet you she won’t have to wait.”

Christopher takes his phone out.

“We wouldn’t have to wait if someone liked your script. You must not be pitching it enough.”

Christopher scratches his ear.

“You know, in New York, if you have a ticket, they just let you inside. I don’t understand what the problem is, Christopher. We’ve been waiting out here for ages.”

Christopher tucks his phone back into his pocket. “Neil wrote back,” he says. “He might not come after all.”

So, some of you have heard me talk about my first time (my first time being published, you perverts), and here it is. This was my contribution to ‘Spellbinding: Tales from the Magic University’!

Chimera
by Rian Darcy

‘I had withdrawn in forest, and my song
Was swallowed up in the leaves that blew away;
And to the forest edge you came one day
(This was my dream) and looked and pondered long,
But did not enter though the wish was strong.’

“A Dream Pang” by Robert Frost

*

Frost was running, chased by a nameless darkness that threatened to close in around him and suffocate the light he carried cradled to his chest. There was a figure in white standing up ahead and Frost called out to them, trying to warn them of the approaching shadows, but his voice was swallowed up by the howling wind. Still he pressed on, pursued by the unrelenting darkness, until he was close enough to reach out and…

*

Quilian Bell wasn’t pretty. That isn’t to say he wasn’t attractive, because he was, albeit in the same way the Swiss Alps are alluring in their sharp-edged majesty. Pretty, however, was a word better suited for teen idols and effeminate bookworms– in other words, the sort of men Frost was usually drawn to. But magic clung to Bell’s body the way a chill clings to a man who’s just come in from the snow, and that made him irresistible, so when that low thrum of energy went missing, Frost noticed.

“Are you staring at me for any particular reason, Mister Frost?”

Frost hurriedly looked away and asked, “Is this because of the rings, or is it because you haven’t taken any blood lately?”

“I assure you, there’s no reason to worry yourself on my behalf.” Bell’s tone was as icy as ever, but his scowl looked pained and he paused at the bottom of the steps of Peyntree Hall with his hand on the railing. For the first time Frost could remember, Bell looked his age. More »