written by Jason Sanders

A small black painted stage sits quietly at the center of a large open hall... A strange mockery of sunlight illuminates the room but not the stage. The hall is empty with no doors to be found and only a dirt floor.

The light shifts suddenly and the faux sun now embraces the stage alone and darkens the earthen floors around it. Behind her Bobbi can hear a noise, the soft jingle of little bells. She turns to look but there is only darkness. The Jingle-Jangle creeps slow and confident around her but no matter how hard she strains Bobbi can see nothing. It slinks toward the stage and Bobbi is helpless to do anything other than follow it... An insignificant chord is strummed on some insignificant intrument in time with the bells. Then another chord then another and another and another. The notes intertwine themselves like the braids of a lovely senorita and then fall silent along with the bells. All is black but the stage. The single column of light is no longer fake, this is no false sun, the real sun shines free and proud upon the stage and Bobbi feels apprehension.

The bells jingle in time with a step... Slow at first. The Steps come quicker, The jingle of the bells come so fast that they can no longer be matched to a step but more a stampede of steps. Then all is quiet for the shortest eternity. JINGLE! Silence.

It stands upon the stage brazen as the sun which shines upon it. It's clothes are a patchwork of wonder as if a mad tailor had stolen a swatch of every colored fabric and thrown them together like god on the first day. Bells hang from his sleeves and shoes. In his nimble hands is an absurd mockery of a guitar with a neck as long as any man and a string for every day of the year. Atop his head is a hat that flops to every side in the fashion of a Thanksgiving glutton's paunch. Beneath the hat where his face should be is a vibrant black mask. The mask of a sinner. For where a plain nose should protrude there is a juggernaut instead. It is thin but it's length is like that of a child's arm. Beneath the gargantuan nose-beast sits the only realistic thing this man has to offer the eye. A smile. It is soft and warm, freshly flecked with a soft fuzz. It would be perfect if not for the chipped tooth that glares mockingly at Bobbi.

His hands tickle the guitar strings and a frantic force pushes into Bobbi's soul. "Come here," He says in the cracking voice of a young man. Bobbi is powerless to resist, it is as if the boy has charmed her wits from her. She approaches the boy who waits in the middle of the stage, in the middle of the sun. Her hands stretch to reach him and, though the guitar still plays, his hand waits open, longingly for hers. Bobbi is so close to the sun that she can feel its alien warmth but she has no fear her beast sleeps in the melody.

The flesh of her hand sizzles and sloughs away as the sun touches it. The music stops and the boy looks to her with compassion in his eyes. Bobbi nurses the charred skeletal hand but is compelled to meet the boy's gaze as it sits hidden behind its mask. "My name is Arleccino, and I have something to teach you." Bobbi feels as though she should answerbut as soon as her mouth opens to speak, a great deluge of boiling salt water bursts from her mouth. She watches dumbly as the thing in the bay swallows the boy and his guitar whole then dissappears beneath the sea she has released.

Bobbi is left alone in her little hiding place she has claimed for a haven, the night is young and she should feed.

written by Jason Sanders

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