John Gregory Hancock,
A Plague of Dreams
A Plague of Dreams
Length: 164 pages
A Plague of Dreams is an eclectic collection of short stories, a mixture of styles, genres and voices, all from the same author, John Gregory Hancock. What follows is some tantalizing excerpts from some of the ten short stories...
So, back to the leaning incident. Here’s how it happened: Manny leaned against what he thought was just a wall, but turns out it was a stone facade of an Egyptian burial chamber. Technically, it was a reproduced facsimile of a stone facade of an Egyptian burial chamber. But oddly, even fake facades cost a lot of non-fake money to produce. And they weigh a lot. Because it was hollow concrete instead of stone, it weighed less than actual stone, but concrete is still a pretty big deal if it falls on you. And this one fell on Manny. Manny was feeling the big deal of the concrete. It might as well have been stone, as far as Manny was concerned.
She awoke mid-flight. Her instincts kept her aloft. There was a drag, a weight on her shoulders as she flew. She turned her neck around and saw a tiny Elf secured in a leather harness. The Elven woman grinned back fiercely, her auburn hair streaming behind her in the wind.
“Onward, Fergillius! Speed thee safely! They are close behind!” She was shouting into the wind of their passage. Her bodice was of golden fabric with metal threads crisscrossing in a tight pattern. The setting sun with its pink light highlighted her tiny form.
Arianwen, or maybe Fergillius, heaved her mighty shoulders and allowed the membranes to trap huge gulps of the wind and swim faster in the fluid that other creatures merely breathed. The exhilaration was the adrenaline that pumped her heart even faster. When she turned back around, she finally saw what was chasing them.
Three huge black wind drakes were closing in. Atop each was a pale slug of a storm wizard. In this light, they looked translucent. Their segmented thoraxes shone with an internal glow: their organs were charging up.
My parents died on the imploding clods of Earth. I didn’t witness it, not exactly.
The ship managed to travel outside the escape zone. From that distance, when the planet collapsed in on itself, cities were tiny specks of light, winking out.
My imagination filled in the blanks. In my mind I saw them torn, crushed, and vaporized. But the implosion of an entire planet holds its own peculiar majesty. Transfixed, I watched the visual spectacle unfold. I probably should have been lamenting the massive loss of life. Instead my mind was obsessively calculating the far-flung mathematics of implosion physics on a planetary scale. Others on the ship wailed and wept for their dead. But as for me, I was quiet as graves.
He had more money than he’d ever dreamed of, if he’d been dreaming about money, which, let’s face it, we all do. He bought the place after it was put up for sale, which was ironically, or at least coincidentally the same day Jonah was reading in the paper about Balanchek’s funeral. He was clueless to any connection, and he had his own worries. He had to get an accountant to keep track of his money, and a lawyer to keep track of his accountant. Unfortunately there is no one that keeps track of lawyers, except other lawyers, and that’s like asking one rat to set a trap for his brother rat.
Jack suddenly launched out of bed, struggling for breath. It seemed as if he was clawing his way up through the soil of a fresh grave. His bedclothes twisted his legs, toppling him to the floor. His breath only came out in a painful wheeze. The content of his dream haunted him. He tried to will the details back. A couple of times he thought he could almost grab a thread of the dream, but it would evaporate from his mental grasp.
As Banyan pulled up, the only open spot, of course, was in front of his father’s house. Banyan’s Law: more things than you can think of will go wrong because you can’t anticipate every variable.
Vehicles of every description clotted the road and driveway of the house where Marisol Carranza had grown up. As a boy, he used to be able to see into her bedroom, across the tracks. The “other” side.
He shut off the car, and waited for the pinging to stop as the car cooled down. He felt glued to the seat. He’d come all this way, but still hesitated.
He grabbed the flowers off the passenger seat and stepped out of the car. He eyed his father’s house suspiciously, praying the bastard wasn’t looking out his window right then. He even flinched a little as he walked by. As if his father was capable of throwing an empty at his head from inside his house.
Copyright © 2013 by John Gregory Hancock