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A Place By The Sea

Magnificent! The glazing on this side of the mansion extended one hundred fifty feet, the full length of the building. Across the house, another glass wall faced the ocean. Montgomery Reap stood in front of the enormous window and gazed down at the city he ruled. He’d chosen the highest ground, the only place suitable. Away from the rabble and the filth. And the other thing. I’ve accomplished two things at once.

The old men at the gates babbled about the fable. Leviathan. Thresher of kingdoms. Removes the dross from the land. It always sought the ocean, crossing it and resting another thousand years. Why hadn’t it come? The signs had appeared. The debates raged amongst the elderly and feeble-minded.

Even if it exists, it will skirt my mountain. History will count me blessed, and not cursed. Unassailable. He let out a deep breath.

Montgomery ruminated over the favour he’d received, how worthy, to rise to this position, now reflected in a home approaching the glory of his name. The palace itself pales in comparison. They’ll be so envious when they visit! He smiled and puffed out his chest.

The workers walked away across his front yard, their wheelbarrows and equipment clattering. They’d finished the landscaping, their last task. Shoulders slumped, dragging their feet. The foreman cast a sidelong glance at him, met his eyes, and snapped his gaze towards the ground just ahead of him, like the others. Montgomery stared daggers into the man, daring him to look back. They should count their blessings. To have been selected to complete my home! 

The bedrock destroyed 3 diamond drills when they dug the footings on the crest of the hill. Unusual, even for granite. He’d determined to make up for the lost time and spent most days standing over their shoulders. Work proceeded either not fast enough or not precise enough, and he’d lost his voice.

“Hamish!” Montgomery coughed.

The servant brought him some water mixed with honey. Lines on Hamish’s forehead looked etched in stone. Beads of sweat covered his pallid face. His left eye squinted through a slit, engulfed by a purple welt.

Montgomery gulped down the liquid and waved him away without looking.

Hamish flinched, then bowed low. “My pleasure to serve under your abundant grace.” He backed away, eyes to the ground, turned and hurried to the door. Without glancing back at the house, he entered his car and fastened his seatbelt as he sped off.

Montgomery scowled. Is that all? Am I not worthy of more gratitude? Ingrates, all of them.

He jumped. A flurry of birds erupted from the trees. Montgomery cocked his head. They all departed simultaneously from different parts of the property. A moment later, several squirrels, a few badgers, and a small family of skunks scurried down the slope of his yard and vanished into distant meadows. Once, he’d observed a field cleared by a huge eagle landing in the centre. Perhaps one has perched on my roof.

The house consumed his thoughts again. A magnificent fountain would look splendid in front. He gazed at the inhabitants of the city a quarter mile away, shuffling along like the landscapers had. Some quick arithmetic, and he smiled. I’ll bump the taxes again next month. No, next week, all the sooner. He frowned. I’ll still not have it in time for the housewarming. Montgomery cursed and spun from the window. His words echoed off the walls in the cavernous room.

A low rumble. He felt it through the floor and into his feet. Some pictures rattled against the wall. It subsided. A few small rocks tumbled down the hill from the mansion.

The tremors started with the foundation work months ago. This one had been the first since. Montgomery resumed pacing, too deep in his machinations to notice the pictures rattling again.

The sound of glass shattering resounded throughout the room. Many of the pictures lay broken on the ceramic floor. Chunks of plaster crashed down from the ceiling. The chandelier swung to one side and hung at an odd angle. Montgomery lurched left and stumbled. Only then did he realize the floor had tilted. He rolled across the tiles into the wall.

A crack formed on the floor, spreading and widening towards him. The Persian rug swallowed up the couch, which tilted and slid into the gaping maw of the floor.

Out of the corner of his eye, the green landscape outside shrank. He turned. The ground fell away, and sky and distant mountains engulfed his view. The scene rotated, and the building wobbled rhythmically. A boom reverberated with each halting movement, a giant’s drum.

Montgomery pressed his face against the glass. Three enormous pillars stuck out horizontally below the window along the length of the house. They moved back and forth, rising and lowering like oars, but not in unison. Segmented, each pillar bent down. The bottoms ended in a spike which lifted, moved forward, and hit the ground with a boom hundreds of feet below.

Barely discernible, people in the city stood still. Looking up, they pointed to the mansion as the city vanished to the right of the window frame. The house ceased rotating after a quarter turn. It moved left now, over the forest. The tops of the trees resembled broccoli below him. A shadow covered half the forest, moving with the house, in the shape of a crab’s pincer.

Montgomery gasped. He forced himself up, knees quivering, and gulped air. The sound of his heart pounding in his ears drowned out the booming outside. He staggered across the swaying floor to the front door, held his breath, and threw it open. Montgomery’s cry of anguish echoed through the foyer as he collapsed onto the cracked marble.

The sharp ocean breeze blew over him. Leviathan’s antennae, twin redwoods, stood ahead of the crumbled porch. Past them, the shoreline approached, the ocean breakers clamoured eagerly, and the far shore remained unseen beyond the vast, abyssal sea. 

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The Beckoning by Daniel Lewczuk

Kidnapped children. A heinous monster. A mysterious power.

Uilliam has always relied on his own strength to win battles.

When marauders capture his wife and daughter, Uillam embarks on a quest to rescue his family. He discovers that a hideous reptilian monster holds his family captive, along with twenty-two other children.

Certain of victory, Uilliam fights the monster. And loses.

Wounded and defeated, Uilliam remembers an ancient creed he learned at the Training Academy. He uses a communication device in his helmet to send a desperate cry for help, unsure if anyone will respond.

Will Uilliam be able to rescue his family and the children before it’s too late? And should he risk his own life, and his family’s fate, to save the other children?

The Mandalorian meets Brave Heart in this award-winning sci-fi short story set in ancient Celtic Ireland.