This one should go before Rory Tells Bo About Being Hanged.
By Barbara Weitbrecht
"It's February, isn't it?" Bo rubbed his hands to warm them, his breath smoking in the chill air.
"You just now noticed?" asked Rory.
"To be honest, yes. Somehow I don't seem to be able to notice things right off here. It's almost as if the place is coming into focus. Developing like a Polaroid print. It's damned embarrassing, for a pretty good gumshoe."
Rory ignored the unfamiliar references. Most of Bo's references were unfamiliar, and he had grown tired of asking for explanations. Especially since the explanations usually included other concepts that required explaining.
They were walking through the woods north of Lawrencium. The land was still quite civilized, coerced into respectability by the presence of the keep and its men-at-arms. The peasants they passed seemed prosperous, the small houses snug against the fading winter. The road beneath their feet still had patches of Roman paving. The sky above the filigree of leafless branches was milky blue and cloudless, punctuated by a flock of rooks.
Bo warmed to his subject, gesturing with the blackthorn staff he carried. "It's like when I arrived. I met Shannon in that pub, The Blue Lady, and I didn't even notice that his eye was blackened and his lute was broken. So I gave him a blues lesson, and damned if the lute wasn't whole again when I played it. I didn't learn until later that Shan had broken it over the King's head that morning."
Rory looked sympathetic, but said nothing. Bo obviously wanted to talk.
"And another thing. My style of speech keeps changing. Sometimes I sound like myself. Others, I'm spouting Sam Spade rubbish or homeboy jivetalk. I can't figure it, Rory. What gives?"
"'Homeboy jive talk'?" Rory asked, despite his better judgement.
Bo seemed to slouch into a different person. "Yo, bro! What's shakin'? Gimme five!"
"That. Right. I had noticed. So that's normal where thou comest from?"
"For some cats, yes. Me, I was born and raised in Harlem, so I grew up with another style of speaking. But I can put on the local color if I need to blend in."
Rory pondered the best way to break the news. "Thou did'st know that this isn't *your* eighth century? The one that happened in thy world?"
"I'd heard something of the sort."
"And that in fact we don't belong to a real world at all. That we're walking through a creation of somebody's imagination."
Bo whistled. "Literally? Talk about Intelligent Design...."
"It gets worse. For some time now, I've been seeing signs that there is not only one Author. That we are, in fact, being imagined by a Council, and the members thereof do not always agree."
"That would explain a lot," Bo mused. They walked on for some time, passing bits of old snow and frozen puddles. A fox streaked scarlet across their path. Deep within the trees, there was a rustle that might have been a deer.
"So tell me, Rory," Bo said suddenly. "Everyone says you were hanged, and when I point out that you're still alive and kicking they just look up at the ceiling and whistle. What's the story with that, if you don't mind my asking?"
The world wobbled slightly, then stabilized again, as Rory turned to answer.
Next: Rory Tells Bo About Being Hanged
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Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com