Caladbolg: Free Fiction for Fyretober October 31, 2023

If you’ve missed any of the stories this month, you can catch up at Reflections of a Dangerous Season.

Wayne and Sean tore their eyes away from the scene before them. Wanda had recovered her composure to go try to care for Kevin; but once she got there, she just shook her head and looked at them.

Wayne looked at Sean. “So that’s it? The red devil gets away, and this all starts over again tomorrow? That’s what the legends say, right?”

But Sean’s eyes showed no despair. They were practically on fire. “Fuck the legends!” He stuck the fingers of his left hand in his mouth and blew a loud whistle that pierced the night for blocks. “Wubs!”

And with his right hand, from nowhere he drew the black-hilted sword. He waved it in a circle in the air, and it seemed to glow in many colors.

“What –”

But before Wayne could get the question out, Carol raced by on her big black charger, spurs buried in its side. She didn’t stop, she didn’t even slow. As she raced past, Sean ran alongside her. With one mighty leap, he tumbled through the air, and landed behind her on the horse’s broad back. He wrapped his left arm around her waist and shouted over the wind of their passage. “Let’s go, Wubs! We got us a horse to kill!

With Sean’s arm around her waist, Carol felt right. This was where she had to be, where he had to be. He had been right all along when he ignored her instructions and rushed to her side. This was something they would do together. Or not at all.

“Heeyah!” she shouted at the black horse as it seemed to falter in the chase. “Giddyup, God damn you! I’ve got the spurs, you listen to me!” She kicked with the spurs twice, and the black horse bucked, trying to throw them both off.

But they both clung with all the strength in their legs, and the black horse had to give up. The spurs were cutting through its flesh.

As if accepting its fate, the black horse started galloping. Faster than any horse Carol had ever written. Faster than many cars. As the lights flickered past, she thought, Faster than lightning.

But for the moment, the red horse was still faster. And trickier. It veered in and out, from one lane of traffic to another, then from one world to another. From Lanning’s World to the swamp to Emil’s street where Alice’s house still smoldered. Carol cursed the pucks anew for that: killing a kindly old lady just because she might learn about them. She spurred the black horse faster. “You do this for Alice!”

Then they were racing through Hell, through the ocean depths, through the hallways of the office building where she once worked as a parole officer. They galloped through space between Wotan-7 and Lanning’s World, then across the flickering existence of that world: alternately full of people, and full of Tombs. They ran through stranger places yet, places Carol had never seen and couldn’t identify.

But Sean seemed to recognize the gray, cloudy streets of the next city they entered…

Sean recognized the Belfast of his youth. The place he had learned to fight and steal to survive. The life that, thanks to Carol, he had left behind and hoped to never to see again. This wasn’t him anymore, and he hated the memory.

But as the black horse finally found his speed and they raced towards the red horse in an alley where Sean had once stabbed a man, he found himself grateful that even after all this time, he hadn’t forgotten how to kill. As they pulled even with the galloping red horse, Sean swung the great sword Caladbolg over his head, with a rainbow streak of light trailing behind it as he swung down and sunk it deep through bone and flesh, severing the head of the red stallion.

The good folks at Fyrecon have declared this to be Fyretober: a month of creative prompts, encouraging writers, poets, and artists to share their explorations. Today’s prompt (which I won’t even pretend to have followed): Precognizant cats.

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