Story Sale: Bearskin



This morning I woke to find I’d sold “Bearskin” to Sean Wallace for the February 2015 issue of The Dark. This has a nice symmetry to it as I sold “By My Voice I Shall Be Know” to The Dark for their inaugural issue in October last year!

“Bearskin” is one of the stories from The Tallow-Wife and Other Tales.

A teaser, below.

Torben knows he has only one shot. The crossbow shakes in his grip. There is a single bolt and even if there were more he has not the strength to reload for the weapon belongs to Uther, the woodsman, who has left the boy to wait in the small, smelly blind set between the trunks of three ailing alders. The walls are of woven rushes and withy. The flimsy roof fell in who knows when and Torben feels the drip-drip-drip of snow-melt from above ? not that the weather’s warming up, but it seems the unhealthy branches won’t allow the ice to remain on their limbs much past daybreak.

            The boy is cold in his pale wolf furs, despite their thickness. He never had a taste for hunting though Edvard, his father, tried to teach him. Henry, his brother, took to it like a duck to water, but Torben refused to attend what Edvard patiently told him. He has never learned the knack of willing himself warm, of wiggling his fingers and toes to keep the blood moving. Uther does not bother to instruct, or even to try, he simply slaps the boy about the ears each and every time he fails at one rough task or another. Torben suspects the man rather enjoys it and encourages missteps whenever he can. Edvard was always kind and tolerant, going over the same lesson time upon time, never punishing his youngest child’s inattention. Perhaps that’s why the lad suffers so now.

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