“The White Rider” by M. B. Weston
Realms of Imagination
An urban fantasy anthology by Dark Oak Press & Media edited by Kimberly Richardson
ISBN: Hardcover: 978-1-941754-04-7, Trade: 978-1-941754-03-0, eBook: 978-1-941754-05-4
Lose yourself in fourteen stories of urban fantasy where make believe and myth collide with the modern world. The magical creatures of old didn’t disappear. They now live hidden among us. All we have to do is pay attention to the signs and beware their mirth and mischief!
“The White Rider” by M. B. Weston is a short story that takes place within the Elysian Chronicles world between Out of the Shadows and Book III. It reveals a new group of enemies most Elysian Chronicles readers will not expect and foreshadows some of the twists and turns that will make Tom’s task in Book III next to impossible.
Meet Peter O’Reilly: a narcissist intent on climbing the corporate ladder. He keeps his life well under control, starting with his OCD morning routine:
I showered and shaved by 6:15. I added some gel to my dark-brown hair and ran a brush through it. I put on a pair of grey dress pants and a starched, white shirt. (The starch helped stiffen the shirt, camouflaging my slender frame.) I searched through my tie collection. I had an important meeting this morning, and I wanted to convey power. I chose a red one. I added gold cuff links, a present to myself for graduating from Princeton University, as a final touch. I believed in dressing for the position you wanted, and I was sure the President of the United States wore cuff links. …
Peter has his own moral code:
“Preparedness is a virtue,” [I said]. I had no use for patience.
One thing is for sure, Peter doesn’t need any help from others. He’s going to succeed on his own:
Angel statues in general annoyed me. I felt as though they were watching me no matter where I stood. Others might find that comforting, but not me. I hated it when people searched for help from some outside, spiritual source instead of solving their own problems. Live for yourself was my motto. Take control of your own life and quit waiting on some power to help you out.
All that changes Peter gets inducted into a secret society of powerful, wealthy individuals. He thinks it’s his ticket to success. In actuality, the society is a front for evil he never believed was possible. Now Peter must choose between good and evil, and he comes to the realization that he can’t get out alive without help.
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A preview of “The White Rider:”
I shoved a piece of bread speckled with mold into my mouth. I convulsed as I chewed and forced myself to swallow. I had not eaten in a week, and moldy bread was better than no bread. You’ve swallowed worse, I reminded myself. I shook the crumbs off my matted beard. Don’t start getting prissy again.
I crouched behind the dumpster near a restaurant door’s inviting glow. The patrons’ voices and the soft clinking of silverware comforted me. Part of me cautioned myself to keep my distance, but I yearned for human interaction that I had not enjoyed in months.
You’re safe, another part of me said. No one will venture near this dumpster, and if they do, they’ll run away from your stench. I had not bathed in weeks, and my tattered clothes—once a dress-shirt and pants—reeked of perspiration and filth.
I flexed my fingers, trying to keep circulation flowing. Though it was only late afternoon, the December air hovered near freezing. I leaned against the dumpster and listened, wishing I spoke Romanian.
Glass shattered at the end of the alley. I crouched behind a few stacked boxes and peeked out. My heart started to pound.
I inhaled for five seconds, counting each beat—the quickest way I knew to calm my fear.
They lost your trail in Italy, I reminded myself.
I exhaled for five seconds, again counting each beat.
Another part of me chimed in. They might have picked your trail up again.
Inhale. One, two, three, four, five. I focused on the alley, searching the trash, scraps of metal, and shadows for movement. My fingers combed the ground for a potential weapon. I found a metal pipe and pulled it to my chest in silence. Only my breath turning to fog betrayed my existence behind the dumpster.
A shadow leapt across the walls twenty feet away.
My body tingled with adrenaline. I laced my fingers around the pipe and crouched, ready to spring once whatever it was showed itself.
A tomcat emerged from the darkness and hobbled toward me. I released the pipe. My heart rate slowed as the old thing wound around my leg.
I offered it the last of my bread. After a few sniffs, the cat took the morsel and sat next to me as it ate. I ran my hand down its fur, ignoring the fleas and dirt. It curled up next to me and purred. I had to admit it was nice to have a temporary companion—especially a warm one.
I twirled my Princeton class ring around my finger, and again contemplated pawning it. I had already sold my prized gold cuff links. Keep the ring, I told myself. I needed something to remind me of my former life. The ring would also identify my body if I died, and my brother would finally know what happened to me. Though I had not seen him for six months, thoughts of Dean still made me grin.
The street lights flickered. Night was approaching. I hid my thoughts of Dean away and grabbed the pipe. I needed all my senses alert to outsmart those who pursued me. Please understand, of all those who have been hunting me, I fear the humans the least.
…To be continued in “The White Rider.”