By Walter Jon Williams
One day Jamie went with his family to a new place, a place that had not existed before. The people who lived there were called Whirlikins, who were tall, thin people with pointed heads. They had long arms and made frantic gestures when they talked, and when they grew excited threw their arms out wide to either side and spun like tops until they got all blurry. They would whirr madly over the green grass beneath the pumpkin-orange sky of the Whirlikin Country, and sometimes they would bump into each other with an alarming clashing noise, but they were never hurt, only bounced off and spun away in another direction.
Sometimes one of them would spin so hard that he would dig himself right into the ground, and come to a sudden stop, buried to the shoulders, with an expression of alarmed dismay.
Jamie had never seen anything so funny. He laughed and laughed.
His little sister Becky laughed, too. Once she laughed so hard that she fell over onto her stomach, and Daddy picked her up and whirled her through the air, as if he were a Whirlikin himself, and they were both laughing all the while.
Afterwards, they heard the dinner bell, and Daddy said it was time to go home. After they waved goodbye to the Whirlikins, Becky and Jamie walked hand-in-hand with Momma as they walked over the grassy hills toward home, and the pumpkin-orange sky slowly turned to blue.
The way home ran past El Castillo. El Castillo looked like a fabulous place, a castle with towers and domes and minarets, all gleaming in the sun. Music floated down from El Castillo, the swift, intricate music of many guitars, and Jamie could hear the fast click of heels and the shouts and laughter of happy people.
But Jamie did not try to enter El Castillo. He had tried before, and discovered that El Castillo was guarded by La Duchesa, an angular, forbidding woman all in black, with a tall comb in her hair. When Jamie asked to come inside, La Duchesa had looked down at him and said, “I do not admit anyone who does not know Spanish irregular verbs!” It was all she ever said.
Jamie had asked Daddy what a Spanish irregular verb was—he had difficulty pronouncing the words—and Daddy had said, “Someday you’ll learn, and La Duchesa will let you into her castle. But right now you’re too young to learn Spanish.”
That was all right with Jamie. There were plenty of things to do without going into El Castillo. And new places, like the country where the Whirlikins lived, appeared sometimes out of nowhere, and were quite enough to explore.
The color of the sky faded from orange to blue. Fluffy white clouds coasted in the air above the two-story frame house. Mister Jeepers, who was sitting on the ridgepole, gave a cry of delight and soared toward them through the air.
“Jamie’s home!” he sang happily. “Jamie’s home, and he’s brought his beautiful sister!”
Mister Jeepers was diamond-shaped, like a kite, with his head at the topmost corner, hands on either sides, and little bowlegged comical legs attached on the bottom. He was bright red. Like a kite, he could fly, and he swooped through in a series of aerial cartwheels as he sailed toward Jamie and his party.
Becky looked up at Mister Jeepers and laughed from pure joy. “Jamie,” she said, “you live in the best place in the world!”
At night, when Jamie lay in bed with his stuffed giraffe, Selena would ride a beam of pale light from the Moon to the Earth and sit by Jamie’s side. She was a pale woman, slightly translucent, with a silver crescent on her brow. She would stroke Jamie’s forehead with a cool hand, and she would sing to him until his eyes grew heavy and slumber stole upon him.
The birds have tucked their heads
The night is dark and deep
All is quiet, all is safe,
And little Jamie goes to sleep.
Whenever Jamie woke during the night, Selena was there to comfort him. He was glad that Selena always watched out for him, because sometimes he still had nightmares about being in the hospital. When the nightmares came, she was always there to comfort him, stroke him, sing him back to sleep.
Before long the nightmares began to fade.
Are you starting to get nervous about Jamie? I sure am! You’ll have to acquire The Story Collection Storybundle and read this Nebula Award winning story to find out.
For more about Walter, his books and stories, and his expert advice and opinions about writing, visit him at http://www.walterjonwilliams.net. Visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/walter.j.williams.54.
So there you have it, my friends. I told you we were lucky! The Story Collection Storybundle is live! You the reader name your price—whatever you feel the books are worth. You may even designate a portion to go to a charity. Savor traditionally published, multi-award-winning stories from diverse and varied publications which the authors have collected for you.
The Bundle includes What I Didn’t See (a World Fantasy Award Winner) by Karen Joy Fowler (the New York Times bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club), Collected Stories by Lewis Shiner, Errantry by Elizabeth Hand, The Green Leopard Plague by Walter Jon Williams, Women Up to No Good by Pat Murphy, Strange Ladies: 7 Stories by Lisa Mason, Wild Things by C. C. Finlay, and 6 Stories by Kathe Koja.
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