He has a special need for little girls’ toes. Deep in his subterrene lair, he thinks of them all day long, waiting for the fall of night, or a total eclipse of the sun, or some other celestial event that will bring about the darkness necessary to his work. And when at last the darkness comes (as it always has, as it always will), he begins his upward climb, clawing his way through the miles of earth twixt where he lives and what he loves, where he sleeps and what he dreams, where he may and what he might.
The Passage of Comings and Goings is unknown to all but him, who knows it all too well. Up and down it he has gone for aeons beyond counting. Up and down, up and down, up and down, down, down, every day downer than the down the day before. Only the toes keep him going—going and coming, coming and going—the beautiful, delectable, little girls’ toes, each nail a lustrous fragment of his shattered, scattered Self.
Whether bare or shod, abroad or abed, curled up tight or splayed out wide, they call to him in the Tongue of Smells, which only his nose can hear—his broad, flat, porcine nose, ever glazed with the Rime of Need. He sniffs them out like truffles but chooses only the best. All it takes is a touch—a single, gentle, prayerful touch—and they fall from their burgled feet . . . plip-plip-plip . . . into his purple pouch, like ripe-to-bursting berries or drops of morning dew.
In their stead he leaves illusions, perfect imitations of the dainties he has filched, flawless derivations of the dactyls he has reaped. No one can tell the difference, not even the girls themselves, nagged though they are by a vague sense of loss that only increases with age.
Back in his grot from another night’s work, in the down down down that grows downer by the day, he places the toes upon the tiny stage of a tiny theater and bids them dance The Dance . . . for only thereby can he see and hear the hallowed sights and hallowed sounds of Never Was and Might Have Been. But the whirling marvel is woefully brief; it fades as it begins. One by one the digits falter, one by one they fall, one by one they cease to move and lose the Light of Truth. And when the last goes still and dark, with naught but naught to show or tell, he speaks aloud its secret name, then adds it to his own. . . .
Robin Spriggs is the author of Diary of a Gentleman Diabolist, Wondrous Strange: Tales of the Uncanny, The Dracula Poems, Capes & Cowls: Adventures in Wyrd City, and over 200 short stories and poems that have appeared in a wide variety of publications. His work has been nominated for a Bram Stoker Award, Pushcart Prize, and multiple Rhysling Awards. His next book, The Untold Tales of Ozman Droom, is slated for release in 2013.
As an actor, Spriggs recently appeared as Chris Amante in USA Network’s Necessary Roughness. His performance as affable sociopath Alfonse Duncan in the rural noir Sinkhole was lauded by both Variety and Film Threat Magazine and honored with a Best Actor nomination by the Wild Rose Independent Film Festival. He is currently attached to the romantic comedy The Genesis of Lincoln and the horror film The Ballad of Jimmy Hallows.
Official Web site: robinspriggs.com
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Story illustration by Nick Gucker.