Tristen led the young man to the mountaintop. That morning he had made the dark-haired beauty his wife, and she understood she must bring him to this exact spot before she could give herself to him. “Thomas, this is where my mother used to take me when I was a little girl.”
“It’s very beautiful,” he answered, shielding his eyes from the sun as he took in the panorama. “You can see the entire valley from this peak. I’ve always lived right there . . . do you see that tiny spot of green to the west? Amazing that I never knew of this place.”
“This is a very secret spot,” Tristen confided. “Never have I brought another man here.” She leaned closer. “May I tell you a story?”
Thomas smiled. “I doubt I could stop you.” He kissed her forehead and sat alongside her.
“Every day when my mother brought me here at sunrise she sat me upon this same rock where we now sit. It was always very dark, and Mother would turn to me and say, ‘Tristen, just wait for a moment and I will share with you the most wonderful secret in the world.’”
Tristen jumped to her feet and stepped to the edge. For one terrible moment Thomas considered reaching for her to make certain his new bride did not fall to her death. But Tristen gave no indication she felt uncomfortable where she stood.
“Then my mother raised her hands to the sky – like this! – her silken garments blowing in every direction in the morning breeze. ‘Wait! Wait!’ she would explain, ‘I have to concentrate very hard to do this right . . .’
“‘Novus Ordo Aurora Aurea . . . Novus Ordo Aurora Aurea . . .'”
“Suddenly she would shout, ‘Abide by the law of Thelema . . . Abide now!’ and like magic the red sun appeared in the horizon at that exact instant. Within moments the sky become a breathtaking spectrum of colors no artist could hope to capture. It seemed that each day was different and more beautiful than the one before. And I would always clap my hands at Mother’s wonderful handiwork, and she would bow to me graciously, a deep and full bow from the waist, like this . . .”
Tristen turned toward the young man and bowed to him as a prima ballerina might. During that moment Thomas beheld the young girl who must have stood in complete astonishment of her mother’s awesome powers during the many warm mornings of her childhood. He stepped forward and took her into his arms.
“Tristen, I have never loved you more than I do this very moment,” he told her. They shared a deep and long kiss. Only after their embrace ended did Thomas remember where they stood. Moving away from the precipice, each laughed.
Tristen turned suddenly serious.
“Do you understand why I wanted to tell you this story on our wedding day?” she asked.
Thomas smiled. “Of course. Your mother must have been a wonderful woman to make you believe so strongly in her.”
Tristen’s eyes caught her young bridegroom’s. They appeared troubled.
“No, Thomas. That isn’t what I have been trying to tell you at all.”
She stepped back to the edge of the rock and waved her hands angrily at a sky that appeared as blue as a robin’s egg.
“Have to concentrate . . . have to concentrate . . .” the young man heard her mutter, but he could not make out any of the other words she said. In the next moment the sky turned to ink and the two stood in complete darkness.
The woman approached him again, although now Thomas could see only a murky shadow of her while a sudden wind tore through her hair. She held her husband’s face in her hands until his cheeks pinched, and the young bridegroom almost cried out in pain. Before he could do so, Tristen placed a finger to his lips.
“The point of my story, Thomas, is quite simple, now that we are wed…”
She leaned closer and locked her eyes with his.
“Don’t ever fuck with me.”
* * *
Ken Goldman is an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association. His stories appear in over 545 independent press publications in the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Australia with over twenty due for publication in 2010. His tales have received seven honorable mentions in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror. His book of short stories, You Had Me At ARRGH!! (Sam’s Dot Publishers) is an all-time top ten best seller at The Genre Mall, and his novella, Desiree, is available in eBook downloadable format on the Damnation Books web site and on Amazon.com in Kindle and print format.