Show Me, Baby:A Masters of the Shadowlands Novella

By: Cherise Sinclair

1001 Dark Nights




One Thousand and One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future…



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهریار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Chapter One



“He’s going to fire me,” Rainie Kuras muttered. The noise of hammering rain on the car roof drowned out her voice as she peered through her streaked windshield. The streets were filled with standing water in a special Florida trap for the unwary. She glanced up at the heavens where indubitably lived a whole slew of annoying gods. “Do you think I have extra time to waste? Really?”

Her grip on the steering wheel dented the faded blue padding. She mustn’t be late to her job at the towing company. Not now, thanks to dear Cory, the owner’s jerk of a son who’d taken over the business last week. What an excruciating beginning to the new year.

Since then, each day had been a misery. Rainie’s sigh sounded bitter, even to her own ears.

But she couldn’t afford to quit. Not after wiping out the last of her savings. She didn’t regret spending the money. Miss Lily had been as comfortable as possible before she’d “gone home”—as the fragile old woman termed death.

Rainie blinked back tears. Why did it seem as if it had been raining every day since her passing, as if the world itself mourned?

A horn blared behind the Civic, startling Rainie into the present. After a glance in the rearview mirror, she veered toward the curb to let the let-me-drive-up-your-ass BMW with Boston plates zip past. Cell phone in one hand, the driver used his other to hit the horn again.

“Idiotic, irritating ignoramus.” Rainie rolled her eyes. Better slow down, dude.

The speeding car reached the flooded intersection. Alas, no passage miraculously opened for Moses. As water sprayed outward, the vehicle hydroplaned, fishtailing violently.

“Foot off the gas, don’t panic,” Rainie whispered, cringing inwardly.

As the Boston car’s tires caught traction, the rear pendulumed to the other side. A high yelp sounded. A brown animal was flung to the curb. The BMW kept going.

Oh no, no, no. Rainie’s already clammy hands slid on the steering wheel. She didn’t know how to fix injuries, especially non-people ones. Move, dog. Move. The little body lay motionless.

God, please let the dog be okay. Carefully, she drove across the flooded intersection, turned on the hazard flashers, and jumped out. The heavy rain flattened her hair and soaked her suit.

Blinking through damp eyelashes, she saw the dog was breathing. “God, you poor thing.” With its fur matted down, the dog wasn’t much bigger than a cat. Terrified. Panting. Trembling.

“I’m so not good with animals.” How could she be? She’d lived in apartments. Never had a pet. She squatted awkwardly, trying to check for bleeding and broken bones.

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