Skye Wilde was not cynical enough

By Frampton Jones

Longstanding residents of the island know that it pays to be a bit heartless sometimes. You only get to be a longstanding resident if you can protect yourself in this way. It is a sorry truth, and certainly it does not make us the best people imaginable, but we get to continue as people.

As a fairly recent arrival, Skye had not acquired the levels of deliberate apathy most islanders cultivate in self defence. However, there are no doubt others who can and will learn from this, and whose lives may be spared as a consequence. Perhaps this would provide the deceased with some consolation.

I grant you, it did sound very much like a small child. It sounded like a small child in great distress, crying and howling on the far side of the bridge over the River Gaunt. At twilight. I heard it myself on the previous evening, and hurried in the opposite direction.

Onlookers who had taken bottles to the bridge report that they had a brief conversation with Skye about what they were doing. When the wailing began, they reacted like sensible people turning their backs, intent on making a swift getaway. Skye, unused to such things, was understandably horrified. The longstanding islanders (who of course wish to remain anonymous, for there is little glory in this tale) did not want to hang around trying to explain why one does not hang around, much less offer assistance in such circumstances.

And so it was that Skye Wilde crossed the bridge and entered into the ruins of Gaunt Town, in search of a crying child.

We all know there was no crying child. There never was. Those wiser people who had left her to her fate report hearing a brief scream, after which there was no further note of youthful distress, and no further sign of Skye as the lengthening shadows consumed the landscape, and everything in it.

There will be no funeral, for there will be no body to retrieve. As Skye had no family on the island, I have made it my business to add a bottle at the bridge, as an offering, a warning, a small act of defiance.

One thought on “Skye Wilde was not cynical enough”

  1. Poor Skye!

    “It is said (the Alzabo) can speak, and that it comes by night to a house where a child has died, and cries to be let in.” – Gene Wolfe

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