by Iris Macor
Randal closed his eyes and breathed in the past, felt it alive in his lungs, his bloodstream, his heartbeat the pounding of cannon fire over a gray morning prairie. He concentrated, eyes squeezed shut in some distant place, but here they searched for the one he desired. Battle cries thundered in his ears while the ground beneath his feet quivered, just another thing wrecked and ruined for the sake of conquest.
His target was near. The little man who rode a mule had all the height of a dwarf. The Corsican’s eyes glittered, he wore a dead man’s grin.
He wasn’t exactly what Randal had imagined he would be. He had bad teeth and spotty gums, things no text book ever mentioned. The Corsican’s grin widened, he tugged the mule’s reins until the beast reared back, front hooves flailing in the air before it came to a stop. The bottoms of his breeches were splattered with mud, his leggings solid brown. He had fever burn eyes that promised he was ready, always ready. Ready to pluck a ripe world and squeeze it just to lick the juice as it ran down his wrist.
Randal stepped up to the mule before he could falter or second guess himself. The Corsican leaned forward, hungry, expectant.
Randal closed his eyes and breathed the man’s fetid breath, drawing in and in until the Corsican disappeared completely.
Randal patted the mule’s nose, the taste of rot mouth lingered on his lips. His gums ached. He closed his eyes for a second, and he was gone.
The smell of gunpowder faded, the thud-thud-thud of heartthrob cannon-fire softened until he couldn’t hear it at all. The Corsican opened eyes that weren't his. He stood. An open book fell from his lap but he paid it no mind. The room was unfamiliar to him, but it didn’t matter. He snuffed out the candles arranged in a circle around him one by one. There was work to be done, even if he had to start from the bottom again. He was thirsty for the taste of a ripe world, and this time it would be his. All of it. It was good to be back.
Bio: Iris Macor lives in North Carolina where she mucks stalls by day and studies Shakespeare by night. She does neither well.