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The World is Our Widow

…from Chapter 1

A Child’s Price

There he was, abandoned by his nurse to the horrors of the big black bedroom. Then it arose from the shallows of the deeper darkness, the black phantom of his baby-fears. The darkness was within, for his eyes were closed and he did not look upon any physical manifestation.

An immense cone lay before his closed eyes, from the apex of which rose a huge grinning face, advancing toward him from the unfathomable inner distance. It came on gradually but unavoidably.

No, no, standoff you terror! Mister Gilchrist it is upon me—help!

But on it came, the disembodied head of some damned pagan magician, whose body had been consigned to the flames, but his head spared to haunt the still living. He struggled within his tiny child’s body—no, the withered body of a sick diseased man—to squirm away from the encroaching horror. But on it came.

Soon its monstrous subhuman features and deep penetrating eyes were so close that he could feel their negative energy with every poor and whisker that covered his own helpless immoveable face.

What to do? Shall this be my price for not fully believing in the God of Man’s own arrogant self-image? Is this my Hades glimpsed only when I near the Bank of the Styx?

Yes, there will be no Blessed Isles for me, nor a fading shade’s fate; but damnation in Tartarus surely. So this is after all Hades’ messenger come to take me; he who had simply lingered at the margin of my dreams from my very birth.

Then, abruptly, and without warning, as was always the case for this particular terror—except one supposes when the actual time for damnation is upon you, you Gypsy charlatan—the monstrous face started back to the apex of the cone, receding from his inner sight to a deeper quarter than it had emerged, until only the dark eyes were left bobbing in the abyss, waiting as always, to return and haunt him unless he pulled himself away from the black bedroom of boyhood…

…from Chapter 2

Mom’s Place

Randy Bracken rarely slept. He had no friends, so hence no one to confide in. He did however have associates; had always been involved with this group or that religion or some cult or company. He would inevitably be called to question about his avoidance of sleep, even when he had the opportunity to rest, which he usually allowed circumstances to deny him by way of purposeful over commitment. He would describe his ever-active life, to that hypothetical person who had not yet cared to inquire, as a compulsion to tinker and experiment; usually in customizing vehicles or firearms.

The fact was Randy could not sleep because he had a hard time living with himself. Instead of sleep he often eased most of his waking hours with the help of his good friends Eagle [marijuana] and Falcon [hashish]. He did not use pills or coffee—and absolutely avoided energy drinks at all costs. He had just finished customizing a Navy .36 and two Colt .45s, as well as building three derringers and pepperbox from scratch; all in five furious 24-hour days of non-stop work. He was exhausted and had to sleep—or start killing those many deserving people—so he knocked back a half pint of Bacardi 151 and passed out in the back of his van on his workbench among iron filings and…

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