Sheepshead Review Fall 2021 Issue

Page 54

J

acob was ordered to leave before nightfall. Nobody trusted him at night anymore. He finished eating at the farmhands’ table, wiped the paste of sweat and sawdust from his brow, and walked to the hitching post on the property’s edge, where the travelers’ tethered mounts nervously tapped their hooves on the threshold of a vast and stygian desert. The farmer, Garner, watched him suspiciously from the kitchen window. Jacob noticed this and moved with hateful slowness so that his exit would come annoyingly close to the advent of dark. Drenched in the residue of his work and warmed by the mild tinder of his payment-meal, he departed. Miles ahead, the sun descended behind the sierra-knuckled horizon. He glanced back. The farm radiated in the distance, an infernal globe that exuded the demonic smog of bonfires, flickered with the shadows of winged creatures and whispered with the presence of faint, insignificant human life. He kept riding, the plug of a half-full stomach eroding with every trot. The moon peered over the highest peak, outlining its lithic lodestar and precariously orienting him in the desert void. He floated past prickly bushes and splintered elbows of stone, narrowly missed near-invisible craters, and leapt at every primeval howl that hurled through the boundlessness like blindly fired arrows. His horse paused to sniff the carcass of a pronghorn, but the sight sickened Jacob and he kicked the horse onward. After several dread-filled hours, he stopped, removed his hat, and squinted through the dense night. A pale button of light was pinned to the mountain’s lapel. He rode to the base of the incline, located at a thin and snaky trail cut back and forth across the climbing rock, and cautiously steered a path toward the roosting glint. Partway up the mountain, the track levelled into a platform. It was a pleasant spot: elevated, remote, and gifted with a clear view of the desert plain. There was a domicile up ahead, its flaxen gleam stamped upon the backdrop of gnarled rock. A shrivelled mass of juniper trees engulfed the glow, like protective fingers shielding a candle’s flame, so he couldn’t ascertain the building’s exact contours. There was a shed behind the thicket, as well as a slumbering chicken coop and a garden whose well-kept produce shone like jellyfish in the moonlight. He dismounted, hitched his horse to a twist of igneous rock, and ducked

Honest Darkness 53

Owen Schalk


Articles inside

Soul of Mine article cover image

Soul of Mine

1min
page 113
Wolf Woman article cover image

Wolf Woman

14min
pages 99-104
Trapped article cover image

Trapped

7min
pages 94-96
Miasma article cover image

Miasma

4min
pages 97-98
Nonfiction Wax Baby article cover image

Nonfiction Wax Baby

5min
pages 92-93
Death’s Beauty article cover image

Death’s Beauty

1min
page 87
The Wicked Ones article cover image

The Wicked Ones

1min
page 88
Complete Collection article cover image

Complete Collection

2min
pages 83-85
Cry the Tempest Knight article cover image

Cry the Tempest Knight

1min
page 82
Deliverance article cover image

Deliverance

1min
page 81
Apology for a Ghost article cover image

Apology for a Ghost

1min
page 86
Ghost in the Graveyard article cover image

Ghost in the Graveyard

1min
page 80
Sestina for a Vampire article cover image

Sestina for a Vampire

1min
page 74
Ms. Scarlet in the Study article cover image

Ms. Scarlet in the Study

2min
pages 70-71
The Cailleach article cover image

The Cailleach

1min
page 79
Decomposing Reality article cover image

Decomposing Reality

1min
page 78
Six Feet article cover image

Six Feet

1min
page 73
Etiquette of the Séance article cover image

Etiquette of the Séance

1min
page 72
The Horror article cover image

The Horror

3min
pages 75-77
Regional Rail article cover image

Regional Rail

1min
page 69
Poetry in the case of an unattended death article cover image

Poetry in the case of an unattended death

1min
page 68
The Door article cover image

The Door

6min
pages 62-67
Perdition article cover image

Perdition

1min
page 42
Oracle article cover image

Oracle

1min
page 61
Even the Sun article cover image

Even the Sun

7min
pages 51-53
Within Sanity’s Stroll article cover image

Within Sanity’s Stroll

6min
pages 48-50
Honest Darkness article cover image

Honest Darkness

15min
pages 54-60
Song of Scylla article cover image

Song of Scylla

12min
pages 43-47
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