Saturday, February 6, 2010


Little Dana
By Tara K. Stein

“There are things that lurk in these caves which are better left undisturbed.” Jonas said, shivering even as he pulled the torch a little closer to his chest. Dana looked on quietly, uncertain, blinking in the flickering torchlight.

“Things, like men with appetites like beasts?” A voice asked suddenly, deep and haunting in quality. Jonas’ breath caught in his throat as he spun to face the voice, held the torch out at arm’s length. At the edge of the light, a pale-skinned man with thick, glowing red veins tracing their way through his flesh stared back, grinning from the throne of bones he was perched on. Jonas swallowed. Dana blinked, suddenly curious.

“How lucky,” The stranger continued, unfolding from his rotting throne like a long, wooden snake. “How lucky you are to have found the worst of them first, wouldn’t you say?” He grinned again, and in the flickering light, his teeth were like vicious razors, long and straight, narrow and brutal.

“Dana.” Jonas hissed, panting in fear. “Get behind me.” Dana looked up silently, shook her head. “Go, Dana!”

“Oh, but she isn’t afraid of me, are you, little Dana?” The man asked, veins pulsing. Dana stared back blankly, watching him even as he looked up, met Jonas’ eyes again. “Its been so very long since I’ve had guests. Please, stay for dinner.” Jonas repressed a shiver at the twinkle in his eye.

“We can’t.” He bumbled, taking a step backward. “We promised my mother, you see, that- -“

“Oh, I’m sure that your mother wouldn’t mind if you stayed for dinner.” He licked his lips, took a step toward Dana, held out his hand, grinned wider as the little girl simply looked at it. “Look, little Dana isn’t afraid of me. Would you like to stay for dinner, little Dana?”

“Don’t, please.” Jonas reached out, pulled back suddenly as the stranger hissed at him. “Dana, don’t look into his eyes.”

But Dana did look into his eyes, and as the spindly man-creature reached out for her, she reached back in turn, running a single hand along his waxen, weathered cheek. The stranger hesitated, and then the entire cave was filled with blinding light, a cascade of brilliance that blasted the stranger into oblivion, left only Jonas, staring on in wide-eyed shock, and Dana, grinning, patting her belly to signify that she was full.

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Tara is a business woman who lives in upper New Hampshire with her boyfriend Max, her dog Butch and her three cats, Harry, Carrie and Mary.


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