So, I have ol’ Cernunnos, the Green Man, the Lord of the Wild Beasts, in this here Southern Arthuriana novel (which desperately needs a working title). The Horned God has gotten in on the drug trade–shaman and deity of Nature that he is, I figure he’s down with some shade-tree pharmacopeia. This snippet, though, finds him paranoid about a certain local sheriff named Luther Penderton. Plus, he owes the good shire-reeve for an encounter earlier in the novel–at least mentioned re: Art’s winding up in the Horned God’s company.
Here you go, folks:
. . . He summoned eld glamour from slough mud and stripped bark from various trees and coaxed rusted iron from off the odd machine here and there along with not a little blood of indiscriminate origin poured from a Mason jar.
“What’re you doing?” said Zeke.
“Not paying you to mind my business. Go check the lab,” said Ernest. He reached in a pocket and retrieved a folding knife, a handkerchief, and a lock of hair a mouse had brought him. He dug a hole on a little hilltop amid some cypresses and paused at one point to sip from stump water and eat a lizard brought him by an osprey. Knife, handkerchief, hair–Ernest imagined Luther’s hands on the first two, a comb running through the latter.
In a five gallon bucket went the mud and bark and metal. Then the other ingredients after lilting words of Middle English were spoken over them along with a few dashes of Welsh for good measure. He saved the Mason jar of blood for last–just dropped it in and crushed it with a shovel, then mixed.
“Don’t agree with this,” said Morgan. She bled out of the dappling of light and shadow among the cypresses. Frost melted on her, and Ernest briefly wondered where she had gone as she steamed a minute in the humidity.
“And I don’t rightly recall needing to explain myself to such as you,” said Ernest.
“This place has changed you.”
“Whole world’s changed, can’t you see that?”
“I have, and for ages, Cernunnos.”
“Love how you use my given name.”
Not dignifying him, Morgan glided past and vanished amid the swelter of shadows in the slough.
Ernest broke a twig from out the bramble thick in his beard and picked at its end until he had a passing suitable impromptu toothpick.
“Well, I ain’t exactly saying I disagree, neither,” said Zeke.
“You should have been gone by now.”
“Got my curiosity up.”
“Go check the lab like you were told. Also, go buy more Sudafed. Drive to Savannah. It’s been a while since you’ve bought from there.”
“Some where far away.”
“You’re a genius among men. Stay gone for a while.”
“Giving me a vacation?”
“Okay. Hey, Ernest.”
“You all right?”
“Been a long, long time since I created something. He tapped a grimy finger to his temple. “Still got the knowing of it.”
“It scared off Morgan.”
“And if you had a lick of sense, Zeke, you would be long gone,” said Ernest. “Lab. Out of town. Sudafed. Lots.”
“That bad, huh.”
“It will be some kind of hungry upon its birth,” said the Lord of the Wild Beasts. “And it will exact a toll from out this womb of hers.”
He set the five gallon bucket in the hole he’d dug and covered it all. As he spoke the glossolalia there in that slough, Zeke left. He’d never seen Ernest’s eyes go all white.
Or him flickering like an old broken television’s picture. . . .