Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Storm Maker by Erin O'Quinn

He buried his face in his hands, and I fell to my knees. “Please, please,” I prayed before the altar of our humble church. “Let Liam be safe.” I was not sure who I was praying to, for I had always thought that the Lord had better things to do than hear my juvenile pleading. The last time I prayed, I had directed my words to Father Patrick, for he would know how to ask the Lord on my behalf. “Please, Father Patrick, tell the Lord that his new son is missing and to keep him safe.”
I got to my feet. “Brother,” I said. “Do not blame yourself. You had no way of knowing. I am on my way now. I promise you—I will find him, and I will bring him home.”
I ran from the church and leapt astride Macha, turning her toward home. First I would gather my weapons, and then I would seek Jay Feather. I did not have the same confidence inside as I had expressed to the monk, for I had no idea who had taken Liam or what direction they had gone.
When I arrived at my teach, I stood inside the door trying to control my ragged breath. I was almost paralyzed with a fear that crept from my stomach to my arms and legs, and I could hardly stand on my own. I walked toward my little bunch of weapons leaning against the wall, and my hand went to Liam’s shillelagh, glowing darkly next to my own.
I would use my own magic to talk with Liam. 
I knelt, holding the burnished, knobby piece of blackthorn, almost feeling Liam’s warm hand on the swollen hand grip. I lowered my head and willed my heaving chest to slow its breathing, slow, slower, until a calmness descended from my mind to my heart and deep into my stomach. 
I let the moment itself dissipate like water spreading itself on a flat rock, until the very flatness caused it to turn into vapor and disappear into the air. This moment was no time, and this house was no place. My breath was nonexistent. But my hand on the shillelagh was Liam’s own hand, and I saw it clenched. And then I saw his arms. They were bound with harsh ropes, and his muscles were straining against the tarred cord, twisting and bunching in pain.
His legs—my own legs—were bent and bound behind me. My mind felt numbed, as if drugged with an opiate, and I could barely see my opponent. But I heard his voice, coming closer and closer. It was cold and harsh, crisp and articulate. “I will have my revenge. And I am in no hurry at all.”
And then the body itself rose before me—really half a body. I saw the dark, sleek hair and hollow, pale face of Owen Sweeney. I saw his huge arms and chest, but the rest of his body was a twisted lump beneath a dark blanket. And he was rolling closer and closer, using his massive, bulging arms on the wheels to roll his invalid’s chair over Liam’s still body again and again and again.
I heard a high, anguished scream that seemed to hang in the air for long moments, and then I heard it again. It took me a long time to realize that the voice was my own.

Storm Maker, coming April 17, can be pre-ordered at a discount @

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