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Authors: Sarah A. Hoyt

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Something Magic This Way Comes

BOOK: Something Magic This Way Comes
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The Wild Hunt

Perhaps half the riders gathered on the trail were elves. They rode sleek horses and wore fanciful crystalline armor, but no helmets obscured beautiful, pitiless faces. Men and women alike had long hair flowing freely or elaborately dressed, but not one face showed anything but eager cruelty.

Then there were the . . . other things. Great black hounds with glowing red eyes and slavering jaws. Oneeyed giants holding massive stone clubs. Shriveled things that looked more like decaying corpses than living beings, clawed hands all the weapons they needed.

Megan snaked her right hand down to her fanny pack and her pistol. The
things
could not be special effects: No special effect included the smell of rot mingled with roses.

Her hand closed around the grip, eased it free.

Two of the red-eyed hounds stepped off the trail, a powreful animal musk wafting with them.

The pistol was cold in Megan’s hands. She aimed, steadying her right hand with her left.

The shot sounded like thunder in her ears. The howling of the dying hound seemed oddly distant as it thrashed, its claws scoring trees and dirt.

Again.

The second hound’s thrashing as it died sent it twisting back onto the path.

Megan held the pistol steady, waiting.

—from “Raining the Wild Hunt” by Kate Paulk

Also Available from DAW Books:

Fate Fantastic
, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Daniel M. Hoyt
Do we all have destinies we can’t avoid? Or is each of us able to determine our own future by our actions? Are there key moments in time that offer unique opportunities to change fate? These are just a few of the questions explored in sixteen original tales that follow the paths of fate. From a street vendor selling Fate dogs, to a gambler who turns to the Kabbalah to find a sure bet, to a man whose girlfriend is one of the three Fates, to the “true” story of King Arthur, here are tales of darkness and danger, stories with a humorous twist, and some gripping visions of the role fate can play in anyone’s life. With stories by Julie E. Czerneda, Mike Resnick & Barry N. Malzberg, Sarah A. Hoyt, Alan Dean Foster, Esther Friesner, Laura Resnick, Irene Radford, and others.

Wizards Inc,
edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Loren L. Coleman
“What do you do for a living?” is one of the most commonly asked questions when people first meet. Now fifteen of fantasy’s finest, such as Orson Scott Card, Steve Perry, Mike Resnick, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Laura Anne Gilman, Diane Duane, and Mike Stackpole have taken up the challenge of answering that question from the viewpoint of practitioners of magic. What career path would you take if you had the Talent? Would you manipulate the stock market? Hire out to ward against competitor’s spells? Conjure up confections to make people fall in or out of love, recapture treasured moments, or forget sad ones? Or would you cast your spells on the darker side?

Fellowship Fantastic
, edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Kerrie Hughes
The true strength of a story lies in its characters and in the ties that bind them together—and the events that drive them apart. Thirteen top tale-spinners here offer their own unique looks at fellowships from: a girl who finds her best friend in a portal to another world; to four special families linked by blood and magical talent; to two youths ripped away from all they know and faced with a terrifying fate they can only survive together, to a man who must pay the price for leaving his childhood companion to face death alone. With stories by Jody Lynn Nye, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Alan Dean Foster, Brenda Cooper, Fiona Patton, S. Andrew Swann, Alexander Potter, and others.

Copyright © 2008 by Tekno Books and Sarah A. Hoyt.

All Rights Reserved.

DAW Book Collectors No. 1436.

DAW Books is distributed by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

All characters in this book are fictitious.

Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.

The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal, and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

ISBN: 1-4362-2423-3

 

DAW TRADEMARK REGISTERED
U.S. PAT. AND TM. OFF. AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES
—MARCA REGISTRADA
HECHO EN U.S.A.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

“The Power of Magic” © 2008 by Sarah A. Hoyt

“More to Truth than Proof,” copyright © 2008 by Phyllis Irene Radford

“In a Dark Wood, Dreaming,” copyright © 2008 by Esther M. Friesner

“The Thing in the Woods,” copyright © 2008 by Harry Turtledove

“The Star Cats,” copyright © 2008 by Charles Edgar Quinn

“Lighthouse Surfer,” copyright © 2008 by Daniel M. Hoyt

“Something Virtual This Way Comes,” copyright © 2008 by Laura Resnick

“Tears of Gold,” copyright © 2008 by Paul Crilley

“Houdini’s Mirror,” copyright © 2008 by Russell Davis

“Angel in the Cabbages,” copyright © 2008 by Fran LaPlaca

“Raining the Wild Hunt,” copyright © 2008 by Kate Paulk

“Still Life, With Cats,” copyright © 2008 by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

“The Case of the Allergic Leprechaun,” copyright © 2008 by Alan L. Lickiss

“The Flood Was Fixed,” copyright © 2008 by Eric Flint

“Visitor’s Night at Joey Chicago’s,” copyright © 2008 by Mike Resnick

“A Midsummer Nightmare,” copyright © 2008 by Walt Boyes

“Winds of Change,” copyright © 2008 by Linda A. B. Davis

“Firebird and Shadow,” copyright © 2008 by Darwin A. Garrison

“Night of the Wolf,” copyright © 2008 by John Lambshead

“Opus No. 1,” copyright © 2008 by Barbara Nickless

“Regency Sprite,” copyright © 2008 by Dave Freer

CONTENTS

THE POWER OF MAGIC

Sarah A. Hoyt

MORE TO TRUTH THAN PROOF

Irene Radford

IN A DARK WOOD, DREAMING

Esther Friesner

THE THING IN THE WOODS

Harry Turtledove

THE STAR CATS

Charles Edgar Quinn

LIGHTHOUSE SURFER

Daniel M. Hoyt

SOMETHING VIRTUAL THIS WAY COMES

Laura Resnick

TEARS OF GOLD

Paul Crilley

HOUDINI’S MIRROR

Russell Davis

ANGEL IN THE CABBAGES

Fran LaPlaca

RAINING THE WILD HUNT

Kate Paulk

STILL LIFE, WITH CATS

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

THE CASE OF THE ALLERGIC LEPRECHAUN

Alan L. Lickiss

THE FLOOD WAS FIXED

Eric Flint

VISITOR’S NIGHT AT JOEY CHICAGO’S

Mike Resnick

A MIDSUMMER NIGHTMARE

Walt Boyes

WINDS OF CHANGE

Linda A. B. Davis

FIREBIRD AND SHADOW

Darwin A. Garrison

NIGHT OF THE WOLF

John Lambshead

OPUS NO. 1

Barbara Nickless

REGENCY SPRITE

Dave Freer

THE POWER OF MAGIC
Sarah A. Hoyt

O
NCE upon the time magic—defined as forces and events that could not be explained—ruled the world. The lightning bolt across the sky was as miraculous to our ancestors as was the return of daylight after the blackness of night.

Out of their minds they conjured one god’s thunderbolt and any number of carriages drawing the sun, any number of demons eating away daylight.

Then came enlightenment, and little by little the realm of magic got pushed aside, isolated, contained.

Science, seemingly, stood astride the world, illuminating all dark corners and showing the entire world that the darkness contained nothing more mysterious than the absence of light, easily explainable by the rotation of the Earth.

And yet . . . and yet, it’s not so easy. It never will be. Even for us, the people of the twenty-first century, the unexplained, the miraculous, those things that happen
who knows how?
will always exist.

Computers might be very good at itemizing and tagging reality, but how many of us haven’t looked at some inexplicable event within our units and said “gremlins” or “I swear this thing has a mind of its own”?

Our big cities, our hulking machines are full of and operated by humans. And in the human mind there will always be room for the fantastic explanation.

There will always be room for gods and demons and the unexplained miracles they produce. Perhaps to mask our ignorance. Or perhaps to explain those areas that science itself can’t illuminate.

There will always be room for things we swear couldn’t have been there, and yet we saw . . . didn’t we?

Friendly or dangerous, reflecting the confused observations of our ancestors or the hopes for our descendants, fairies and shapeshifters will walk among us; urban legends will be born of cataclysmic destruction; vampires will lurk at the edges of the night waiting for us; and ritual and belief will renew us and refresh us and make us perhaps not less rational but more human.

Here, now, or in the past or—if we ever get there— in the future stars, we shall take magic with us. Because inside, deep down inside, as we sit at our computers we are not so different and not so much more rational than our ancestors who sat gazing at the fire listening to the storytellers tell sagas of gods and demons and stories of woodland spirits.

And even deeper inside, we want to believe just as our ancestors did . . .

Welcome to
Something Magic This Way Comes
. Sit by the fireside. Listen to the stories. And feel free to indulge your imagination.

MORE TO TRUTH THAN PROOF
Irene Radford

“Y
OU see this line on your palm?” the old Gypsy woman rasped through a fog of incense in the shadowy carnival tent. She shook her head and closed her eyes. A pained expression crossed her weathered and lined face.

Gabrielle Whythe peered closer at her hand. Her arm ached from holding it stretched across the round table for so long. The light was so dim in the carnival tent that she could barely make out the damask pattern of moons and stars in the red tablecloth. Filmy curtains resembling brightly colored cobwebs draped about, adding to the light diffusion.

Outside she could hear her dormmates giggling.

They’d each taken a turn at having their fortune told at the Beltane Renaissance Fair that erupted on campus every May. Gabby hadn’t cared about the mixture of physiological profiling and mystic fakery. But the other three girls had dared her.

Whythes never passed up a dare. Or so Grumpy, her great-grandfather had informed her many times.

“What about my life line?” Gabby asked in reply to the old woman’s question.

“It is broken. Three times. Then it cuts short here.”

She drew a cracked fingernail the color of nicotine across the center of Gabby’s palm.

BOOK: Something Magic This Way Comes
13.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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