Fools Hand: Part I

Boy follows strange glow

BURKE BISCHOFF

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His journey began with a prick from a rose.

Baethan, ten years old, was lying in the grassy field in front of his home, following the streaks of purple and orange in the sky and focusing on the few lone stars that had appeared. He breathed evenly as a calming wind brushed through his ginger hair, taking in the scent of magnolia trees that were scattered around the open field.

He was continually opening and closing a necklace designed to look like a playing card, revealing the family photo inside to no one in particular. He considered falling asleep.

“I probably shouldn’t,” Baethan thought to himself. “Papa will be mad if I stay out too long by myself.”

Baethan sat up, stretched and pushed his wire-rimmed glasses up his freckled nose. He looked around the acres of land that his parents claimed as their home, and then at the family’s simple little wood cabin. Through the one window in the front of the cabin, he saw his parents curled together on the living room couch. They both looked up to smile and wave at Baethan.

He smiled and waved back, then turned around and laid his sight upon the forest ahead of him.

“The forest is kind of like an ocean,” Baethan thought. “It’s so big and mysterious.”

He could barely see into the forest, which seemed to house nothing but darkness. He then noticed something very faint through the trees, something that appeared to be glowing. He squinted his eyes and tilted his head, causing his glasses to become askew.

“What could be giving off such a light?” Baethan thought.

He stood up and wandered into the forest.

He passed many gigantic live oaks as he moved toward the center of the forest. He did not notice the light of the sun fading away as the distant glowing became stronger. He slowed to a stop when he finally reached his destination. There, in the center of a clear patch surrounded by a circle of wisteria vines, was a rose that seemed to be radiating pure gold. Baethan was transfixed by the rose’s beauty as he walked toward it. He knelt down, longing to cradle the flower in his hands –

But just as he touched the rose, black veins began to spread along its petals and its brilliant light started to diminish. Scared and confused, Baethan quickly pulled his hands away from the rose and stood up. As he did this, he saw something that made him halt in place.

There, in the outer darkness, a pair of red glowing eyes was staring at him. Baethan tried to turn around and run, but he saw more crimson eyes surrounding him on all sides. As the rose continued to turn black and sickly, the glow faded more and more, and the surrounding eyes began to advance toward him.

With nothing else he could do, Baethan huddled on the ground and sobbed as the light from the rose gave out. He saw nothing but the red eyes that were descending upon him and felt nothing but immense pain as he was crushed. He soon felt nothing at all.

His body was abandoned, but his mind traveled on into the hands of an observant conjurer.

Burke Bischoff can be reached at [email protected]

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