by Krystal Claxton
Krystal Claxton is a computer technician who is also into words, fiction, and publishing. Her fiction has appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Fireside Magazine, and Plasma Frequency. She enjoys getting distracted by Dragon Con and The Submission Grinder, and frequently disobeys (Robert J Sawyer’s version of) Heinlein’s Rules for Writing. Learn more at http://www.krystalclaxton.com.
I should leave the man in the dark, face-down on the dirt path where I found him. Entangling myself in the affairs of a Shebeast is high on my list of things to avoid. But the chance that he still lives draws me in. Grunting, I roll his limp form to rest on his back, my breath turning to puffs of fog in the chill air.
His heartstrings splay from the wound in his chest like delicate red ribbons. Drained of heat and color, his face is lifeless — handsome with amber hair and strong brow, but empty nonetheless. She left him here for dead.
The sounds of unseen things prowling in the night pull my attention to the surrounding woods. I give him one last glance, intent on finding my way to safety, and catch a wisp of vapor escape his lips. He stirs and coughs. Alive, if by the tiniest margin.
Morning dawns as I drag him to my cabin, though he does not stir again. It’s cold inside, but a fire lights easily in the hearth, filling the single room with a smoky-sweet aroma. I lay him on my cot, wondering if She will know Her discarded man is in another’s bed.
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