Sue had two kids, one husband, a lovely home and a boring life. Sometimes, when the PTA meeting proved that a committee is a life form with many feet and no brain, or when her husband was even more inattentive than usual, or when the realization that the kitchen would never be clean for more than two hours at a time would hit her, she just wanted to escape. To get out of her incredibly mundane world, and live a little.
So she did.
And found that an active fantasy life can be a very dangerous thing--and very real...
Cover art by Tom Kidd.
Master Denis had spread himself thin upon the air---cautiously, and not too thin. He could travel more swiftly this way; but there was always the danger of losing his human shape altogether, forgetting his identity and the body that sat cloak-wrapped in the great chair far behind him.
His toes trailed along the warm surface of the Kendal, among lilies that tasted of honey and forgetfulness; gradually, gently, his feet unraveled and drifted behind him like pale ribbons. It was warm and close about him; in the Lightlands there would soon have been a thunderstorm. He tasted the shapes and surfaces of the riverbank, the ripples in the air, the pale and deeper shadows of the Darkness---ah! there beyond him, there something moved. He drew back in haste like a snail tasting salt.
He remembered his hands, his feet, the long thin back that ached after a long day's riding; and he slowed his flight and felt the air whistle silently around him.
There, and there, three shapes of the enemy, closing in. Silverbacks? Denis thought so: smaller than the shouf, swifter, and with a deadly cunning. He gathered himself for battle.
They struck like a fiery wind, tossing him tail-over-top into the clouds. He recovered himself, stooped like an eagle and plunged toward the river, passed within blinks of one of his attackers and stabbed out with a dart of pure light, a tiny lightning bolt. The silverback screamed, faint and high, and reeled backward. Denis pulled out of his dive just above the river's surface, and rose again like a falcon. The two remaining silverbacks swooped in upon him, one from the left and one from the right, and spun him like a top. He struck out, but had no way of telling whether or not his darts found their targets. The heat of the attack was suffocating. His senses dimmed. He began to think of the possibility of defeat, of bringing together his memories before it was too late to say farewell to them.
Then fron a great distance he seemed to hear a voice, a human voice, no, many voices. Hold on. We're coming. Hang on. Watch your flank. (Delma, your bolt; quickly, there overhead.) We're coming.
He drew his tattered knees to his chin and plunged like a meteorite. The silverbacks pursued him. He fell without a splash into the river, spread out and slipped between the layers of warm water; emerged man-shape onto the bank a dozen yards away. The silverbacks had seen him, maybe, but they were too busy to attend to him. High above him, they swirled and twisted, harried by smaller shapes with the slender bodies and merciless beaks of doves. They swooped and soared, cartwheeled, stabbed and stabbed again. Laughing, Denis bent his head to the ground, just to rest for a moment.