Thursday, March 18, 2010

Turn Up This Crooked Way - James Enge

"So he sat down again and took off his shoes. After writing his name and a few other words on the heel of his left shoe, he trimmed a strip of leather from the sole and tied it around his bare left foot at the arch. He did the same with the other shoe (and foot). He muttered a few more words (familiar to those-who-know). Then he picked up the shoes, one in each hand, and tossed them onto the path. They landed, side by side, toes forward, about two paces distant.

He stood up and moved his feet experimentally. The empty shoes mimicked the motion of his feet. He stepped forward onto the path; the shoes politely maintained the two-pace distance, hopping ahead of him step by step. Morlock nodded, content. Then he strapped his backpack to his slightly crooked shoulders and walked, barefoot, into the deadly woods.

Morlock first became aware of the trap through a sensation of walking on air.

He stopped in his tracks and looked at his shoes. They stood on an ordinary stretch of path, dry earth speckled with small sharp stones. But just in front of his bare feet he saw a dark shoe-shaped patch of nothingness.

Morlock nodded and scraped his right foot on the path; the right shoe mimicked it, brushing away a paper-thin surface of earth suspended in the air, revealing the nothingness beneath.

“Well-made,” Morlock the Maker conceded. No doubt the pit beneath the path concealed some deadly thing - that was rather crude. But Morlock liked the sheet of earth hanging in the air, and would have liked to know how it was done."

4.5 out of 5

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