Here is a brief excerpt from the first story of a serialized neo-fantasy from our very own Charlie Sullivan. Look at him go! Let’s hope no one else picks this series up so we can publish it in its entirety here at Stahr.
The Missing Moon Child
There was not much to tell apart Asa Samb from any other fifteen year old in the village Seaside, or all the White Isles for that matter, maybe the whole world even. At least, that’s how Asa saw it: he was his father’s son—a soldier’s boy—and until Asa’s feet grew enough to fit his old man’s secondary pair of combat boots, that’s all he’d ever be…a boy from Seaside.
Of course, there was more to Asa than he’d likely admit. He was a star pupil of Seaside’s Roselyn Academy, a credit Asa regularly shrugged off, where he specialized in Tactics and Navigation (Nibal Pateros, the Academy’s only other student, specialized in Exotic Zoology; what good there was in that sort of education, Asa could not imagine). He was an amateur mechanic too, had very nearly worked his grandfather’s Trike to saleable condition. Asa was also an employee of Hotel Zorba, busiest seaport lodging in one thousand miles.
These were not things to take pride in, though, not in Asa’s mind: there was no respect to be got of school work or mopping up after old, sea-worn captains…Asa dreamed of war, travel, distant places no Trike could take him—away from the White Isles and on to the continent Jinnah. Asa wanted to march and shoot alongside his father, to divine his enemy’s whereabouts from shapes in the sand, he wanted to sink this last—
“Three points. Game.”
“Three?” Talbot pointed to the ground. “You’re on the line!”
Asa looked down at the accused foot, filthy, protruding from bamboo sandals two sizes too small. He wiggled the toes innocently.
“Well…it’s not over the line now,” Talbot admitted. “It was though. I mean, I think that’s where the line would be….”
Asa grinned, snatching the ball from his brother. “Don’t be sore, Tal. I’m the quickest shot this side of Echo Bridge…so don’t fret, rather, learn as much as you can.”
Talbot frowned. “I bet Moses Eisley didn’t have much trouble with his ten year old brother either.”
“And what about Nibal? I played Nibal that time.”
Talbot looked aghast. “Nibal is a girl, and that was like three years ago, and anyway she beat you.”
Asa clucked his tongue in the meditative fashion of their father. “You’re memory is all amiss Tal, some witch must’ve spelled you.” Asa heaved the ball against the seashell-patterned backboard, playing the fish-wire net like wind chimes, a sound swept up at once in the dark concerto of buoy bells, wind catchers and foghorns wailing away the distance, further and further from home. The brothers played under the lights at Samb Park, a neglected square near the docks named for Asa’s grandfather, a legend of the Third War.
The park had recently fallen into disarray, as the men of the village had been called to Watterson and the coast (already half a year now) and the women contracted by House Leonidis to whet the teeth of a thousand harpoons, to sew the wings of as many gliders—leaving Seaside children to their own devises…the kids hadn’t exactly been psyched on securing the park against heavy rains, preferring to spend their time speculating on who Watterson was going to war with. Samb Park, now consumed with seaweeds and grout, served as battlefield for pretend-Watterson militia and pretend-Plateau people—the general consensus candidate for war (unless you were Asa’s grandfather, who held much graver predictions).
“Nibal’s got, what, ten pounds, couple inches…” Talbot speculated.
“Love to hear you say ten pounds to her face, Tal.”
“I would. I’m not afraid of her like you.”
Asa regarded his brother stealthily. “That’s what you think Tal, but the thing about that is—huzzah!” Asa lunged…he and his brother were a tangle of dust over the sea grass and fading white boundaries.
Talbot had been right. Asa was slight of build, and even without boys his own age to compare himself to, he knew he was small. He’d worked his arms and shoulders to admirable girths since his father’s departure, but his legs remained the width of knobby-kneed pins. He was a pale boy—a rarity in Seaside—but dirt, dust, sun and ash had dyed him forever the traditional fallow brown. The waitresses at Zorba’s all teased Asa about how handsome his father was, a quality Asa did not desire nor understand.
Talbot was the only one who could get away with making a joke like that, comparing Asa to a girl, and on an ordinary night maybe not even. But tonight Asa let it go. He wouldn’t be spending much more time in Seaside, in fact he might not see little Talbot again after tonight…and if he made any goodbye Tal would try and follow, and that just wouldn’t work.
See, there is another thing that tells apart Asa Samb from most other fifteen year olds—but it’s a secret, one that might change the world.