The Call of Distant Shores by David Niall Wilson


By David Niall Wilson

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The trough stood right where it had been, but it was empty. There was a light misting of white powder on the ground, and there were heavy tire tracks, as if a truck had been backed down the alley and in on top of the ground when it was wet. The statues were gone. All of them. There was no sign that anything odd had happened. The hose lay on the ground like a dead snake, and no one was in sight. There was a large pile of canvas bags piled against the wall beside the back of Linda’s apartment. Small mounds of white powder had leaked from the torn corners of a few.

To present to the world the quality that inspired Byron to insist on the publication of a broken poem, as if it were a key. As if, beyond the inspiration of Coleridge himself, Byron alone could see. On the altar sat the fruits of years of labor. Belle believed that she knew more of the essence of Absinthe than any living being, and still she quaked at her ignorance. It was a gamble, each time, pouring the essence of each long-dead master's work into her bottles and vials, crashing into the walls of their failures and seeing, just beyond her grasp, the essence, the purity of form that would show her what he had seen, what he would have written.

Art felt a small shiver run up his spine, but still, he didn't turn. It was Sammy. She made little sound, even when she was in the room you had to concentrate to realize she wasn't part of one of the tapestries on the wall, or an oversized doll. Sammy was an afterthought to the world, so paper-thin, frail and pale she shimmered and sometimes, if you didn't look closely enough, she wasn't there at all. "It's like she's made of ice," Belle had said one day, watching Sammy flit about the room. " Art set the empty beer bottle beside the dried palette on the dresser and placed the candle in the top, dripping hot wax around the rim to hold it in place.

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