the smuggler’s bible


The barn stall is splintered and collapsing into the freezing mess of churned mud and yellow-brown hay. Hiro paces through the wreckage, stops and kneels to examine something that he pulls from the muck—a carrot stump, smeared red.

“Thought a treat might calm him. He took it on the run along with three of the boy’s fingers. After that there was,” the man falters, breathes, “a lot of screaming.”

Hiro looks up at gathering clouds. “It’ll go north,” he says. “Call your neighbors. Tell them to stay inside and to hide, if they can, when they hear sleigh bells.”