Stories on the edge of familiarity

The Lullaby (a Hunter and Prey excerpt)

In celebration of the first draft reaching 70,000 words, here’s an excerpt (everything is subject to change, as this is a first draft. Note that a small section has been removed because spoilers):

The man’s magic made straight for the dark place and the crack in the dark place, which it entered into before she could stop it. As it did, the man himself vanished again, which did not disguise his footsteps as he ran past Adren, off the bridge, off the road, Adren shivering in the air displaced in his wake.

She wanted to follow, but she was afraid. What was this spell going to do? A gift, he had said, but that could mean so many things depending on the heart of who said it.

The dark place remained quiet, the crack kept still.

Adren should have gone after him. Even if she sent a spell after him now, she wouldn’t be able to catch up—if he could be caught by the same spell a second time. Gods, why hadn’t she just run?

A sound rose from under the threshold of her awareness. It spilled as though a stream from an upturned cup through the crack. Gentle, enveloping, it did not force itself upon her. It sang, both in her mind and as though a phantom in the air around her. The lullaby.

Quiet as it was, she knew it, and quiet though it may be, she heard the shapes of words in it. The clarity of these shapes grew with the volume as the song continued, sung from the beginning again with a woman’s voice that Adren didn’t know, and yet her body shivered with recognition.

Sit with me
My child
Spill your tears
In the night

Hear the flow
All around
Hold me close
My light

An image emerged with the melody, slipping sweetly into her mind and out before her eyes. A woman, indeed, sitting in a chair, her eyes half-closed as she sang.

Adren shook, incomprehensible emotion a dust devil within her body. The last note hung, electric, in the air as the woman rose from her chair and, gently as it had begun, the song and her image faded away again, returned to memory. Adren gave an involuntary gasp as the woman disappeared, reaching out as though touch would make her real. But it didn’t, and soon she only existed in Adren’s mind.


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