The readers here voted in favor of a serialized story. They chose fantasy and literary for the genre – Swevenfall is that story. Catch up on past chapters here.
Listen to the growing Swevenfall soundtrack as you read. Each chapter corresponds to the same track number (track 06 – “Dream” by Husbandsnds – for chapter 006).
:: 006 ::
“Feed on the Volcano’s Arrow”
He woke up on the other side of the jam with the sort of stereotypical snort/jolt so frequently seen in movies about dreams and nappers and so seldom experienced in true waking.
And he said what was expected of him: “Where we at?”
“Five miles east of Kingdom City,” said the driver, old man Mac.
“Where’s Kingdom City?” Hillow asked.
“Five miles west of where we’re at.”
“Good God, come on.”
“Missouri, Hill, you’ve been here before. Remember the BBQ place?”
“Panheads, I think,” John said.
“Shut up, John, what do you know?”
“The name of the–“
Hillow grabbed his pillow and started beating John as he would if he still rode with the Outlaws MC. But it was a pillow.
“You hit like an old man,” John said.
“I am an old man, you–“ and then Hillow sang out a three-four time signature measured in monosyllabic curses.
By the time the old men finished their pillow fight, Mac had pulled the bus off the interstate and brought them around to go to the BBQ joint.
“Mac Mac Mac,” Hillow said. “Gotta get smokes.”
“You quit,” Mac said.
“Giving up’s the easiest thing in the world. Done it thousands of times. Smokes, man.”
He felt the phlegm at the back of his throat and refused to clear it. He didn’t want Mac getting on to him for the smoking again, so he held in the cough and tears came and instead of coughing he did this attention-nabbing throat moan.
“You alright?” Harvey asked.
“Peachy,” Hill managed.
They pulled over seconds later at the Phillips 66 and Hillow hobbled to the front and got out of the bus and then, when he thought he was out of earshot, he hacked over and over again, but once the coughing caught hold of him, it threw him into a fit that was much worse than what little resistance he might have encountered had he let a little bitty cough slip through. Bowed double, then, he hacked on until a nice-sized chunk of tar came up and onto the pavement. He growled at his own now-subdued cough, turned and found the four of them behind him, staring. “What?” he said and walked inside.
He bought a pack of Pall Malls, the same one’s he’d seen in the commercial as a kid: fine tobacco is its own best filter. He refused to pay any more than he already had, even though he had the money, so he grabbed hold of one of the expensive butane lighters on the counter, lit his cigarette right there inside the store and walked out having stolen their secret fire.
When he got his barbecued ribs at the joint, they weren’t that great but John’s catfish was wonderful so he ordered a second plate. He had the money and wanted to pay more than he already had. “Weirdest dream,” he said.
“Yeah?” John asked.
“I was flying. While I was napping, I was flying.”
“You had wings?” Harvey asked.
“No, Harve, I was flying. Listen: I played my guit fiddle and the notes made me fly.”
They laughed at him and John slapped his knotted old back.
“I’m serious,” Hillow said. “There was this girl screaming somewhere off.”
“Had one of those recently,” said John. “Doc says its because I’m scared of my daughter growing up too fast.”
“This wasn’t my daughter’s scream,” Hillow said. “This is a scream I didn’t know. Crying too.”
“Huh,” John said. “Mine was sobbing. What she sound like?”
Hillow thought, took another bite, then said through catfish bones, “Like someone had ahold of her and wouldn’t turn loose.”
John nodded. “Yeah… huh…” He looked out the window. “Yeah… weird what the subconscious does, right?”
Hillow said, “I don’t believe in that crap,” and bits of catfish fell out onto his wasted ribs.
“Well I do,” John said. “We just had a similar experience, that’s all.”
“If that’s all,” Hillow said, “explain the sirens.”
“You heard sirens too?” John said. “Well… so?”
Hillow snorted and took a drag from his cigarette. He then started back on the ribs and they tasted better the second time around, especially having been seasoned with bits of the cat. “I’m just saying,” he said again through food, and took a slurp from his rum and Pibb, “people can hallucinate – you know that.”
Harvey laughed. “Oh yeah they can…”
Hillow continued, “But they ain’t never gonna have the same hallucination, even tripping at the same time. Same with dreams, John. You got to know that at least. Explain the sirens.”
John thought, looked to Mac and Harvey and Rich for help and when he found none, he met Old Hill’s eyes again and said, “Can’t.”
001 :: Light Took and Made It Real – [CARDEA]
002 :: Against False Dreams – [JEREMIAH]
003 :: Echo Someone Else’s Music – [HILLOW]
004 :: Mistaken for a Mortal Wound – [TALON]
005 :: So Beautiful, Sometimes – [ABÛRBRÛATHA]
006 :: Feed on the Volcano’s Arrow – [HILLOW]
007 :: Oh Sleeper, Rise [CARDEA]