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    Things to Run Away From Really Fast

    #217. The King of the Forest

    by , 09-14-2015 at 01:23 AM (597 Views)
    Waking up after a dream that your husband was kidnapped? Quite a relief.

    Having to tell him that we might have been inducted as part-time members of the Wild Hunt? Maybe not so awesome.


    ***

    Cernunnos (KER noo nohss): the Celtic Horned God.

    Ravana (rah-vuh-nuh): antagonist in the Hindu epic Ramayana, follower of Shiva, king of Lanka, and depicted as having ten heads.


    ***

    I'm standing at a window, looking out into the forest. It's midday, and sunlight streams down onto the meadow that leads from the trees to the house.

    Movement. A deer appears, walking confidently from the forest. He has ten heads, all of them focused down the road beyond the house.

    I'm kneeling at the window as the deer goes by, close enough to touch. He's almost gone past. I hesitate, then tap on the glass.

    All ten heads swivel towards me, ten pairs of eyes focused on me, just beyond a thin pane of glass. I flinch at the idea that I'm getting the attention of this king of the forest the same way that disrespectful children get the attention of animals at the zoo.

    I'm sorry to bother you, I tell him. I saw you, and I know I'm not supposed to. I thought you should know.

    He stares for a moment. Then, a few of his heads dipping to look back down the road, he tells me:

    Come with me.

    ***

    We're at a bar. In the interim, I've learned more about our world's masquerade, been inducted into a secret society, and given my husband the necessary introductions.

    "At one point," my husband tells me, "Four of his heads swivelled around to look at me." His implication, it was creepy, remains unsaid. This is a supernatural bar, after all, and the king of the forest is never too far away.

    "He gave you half his attention," I say, tapping on my glass. "Imagine having one hundred per cent of it on you."

    I shiver at the memory of ten pairs of eyes looking into my soul.

    ***

    Not even 24 hours, I think to myself. Not even long enough for the police to get involved.

    And yet here I am, asking for a god's audience—to demand help to find my missing husband. Because I know that they've taken him.

    The king holds his court under the stars. He stands in the centre of the dais in anthropomorphic form, wearing dark maroon robes. I can feel the weight of his many eyes on me... but it feels like a weight has been lifted off of my chest. The decision has already been made. I can breathe.

    I need access to the network of cameras along the highway, I tell the god. They may be a long way from here by now, but even they would need to stop for gas.

    The heads that are looking my way nod in recognition, and the god raises a hand on his left side, a soft movement gesturing at the man behind him.

    I'm standing at the railing, the scrutiny of the court no longer resting with me (but watching, always watching). The man in the suit (the god's left hand) looks down his nose at me, a faint sneer on his face. New favourites of the god already asking for favours, I can practically hear him think.

    I'm calm, going through the motions with the mechanized precision of a person in mid-crisis. (Fight or flight or solve the goddamn problem.)

    "Thank you for seeing me," I tell him, even though we both know he had no choice in the matter. And then I change gears. "I'll need one of your techs to go through the footage with me. I can't do it myself this time—"

    this time, because that's the world we're now a part of

    "—but next time this happens to one of our people, I'll be able to help."

    A flash of emotion across his face, too quick to identify, and his eyes warm somewhat. "I'm {error

    "-Anderson," he says, catching my hand in a firm handshake. "Welcome to �����."

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