‘More tales from the Arabian nights’ based on the translation from the Arabic by Edward William Lane, selected, edited and arranged for young people by Frances Jenkins Olcott; illustrations and decorations by Willy Pogany. Published 1915 by Henry Holt and Company, New York.
See the complete book here.
The garage lights came on automatically. It was spacious but solid, a dark concrete cave that held no less than ten vehicles. One black unassuming SUV for Rob, one streamline motorcycle for Al, and nine sleek sports cars for Ivan. Al made a bee line for his bike.
“Aladdin, stop,” Rob followed closely on his heels and caught up to him beside the motorcycle. He took a fistful of Al’s jacket and turned him around. “Where are you going?”
“To find Peter.”
“And what do you plan to do with him?”
Aladdin searched Rob’s concerned expression. Then he let out a harsh laugh. “I’m not going to torture the kid if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Rob looked away with the smallest bit of shame, but quickly flicked his gaze back. “I know. But if he’s part of all this, if he’s working with Nottingham, then I want to know.”
“The SUV will hold the both of us, and has decent trunk space for the little wanker.” Rob flicked his light hair, a motion Al learned meant playfulness.
Al grinned and shook his head. They went over to Rob’s car in silence, tension still humming between them.
“I shouldn’t have jumped to that conclusion,” Rob said before unlocking the car.
“What conclusion is that?”
He sighed. Al was going to make him admit his fault completely. No half assed apologies.
“I shouldn’t have assumed Goldie took it. I will admit that I don’t know her as well as you do, and I was wrong.” His jaw was tight, as if the very words were difficult to form. “But in my defense, she is just…”
“A huge pain in the ass?”
Al chuckled. “None of us are easy to deal with.”
“Except for Moon. She’s rather lovely.”
“She is. Marion isn’t difficult either.”
“Thank you for saying so but we both know that isn’t true.”
“Don’t let her hear that.”
“Oh, she knows.”
The two men laughed, climbing into the car, forgetting for a brief moment that once again they weren’t as safe and protected in their home as they thought. When the moment passed, and reality came rushing back to them, Al knew he needed to tell Rob about the apartment in the Meat Packing District. He needed to tell him that this wasn’t some temporary getaway place for Al to go to whenever he needed to be alone. Al wanted a life outside of Rob’s influence. It wasn’t the right time to mention it, but better now than never.
“Rob, there’s something…”
“What’s that?” Rob nodded toward the wooden door leading to the backyard from the garage. A shadow slithered along its bottom, reaching out with fluid tendrils.
Al shook his head. He had no idea. Both he and Rob climbed out of the car. Rob’s hand ran along his back, under his coat and revealed his semi-automatic pistol tucked against his sacrum. Al walked a few paces and lifted a crow bar from the workbench. Together they approached the door, which rattled when they drew closer. Faintly they heard a sound like nails against the wood planks. Scratching, scratching, scratching.
A shuffle. A growl.
The two men glanced at one another.
And then the door exploded toward them. Black smoke hurdled at them, passed Rob, and swarmed over Al. It threw him to the ground, it’s claws and teeth digging into him. Within the black smoke, three dogs tore at Al, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. These were the tinderbox dogs, but they were not the happy, loping creatures from before. They were thin and snarling, like starving strays.
Al struggled against them but they only sank their teeth in deeper, shaking the heads viciously, ripping at his joints. One dog that had latched onto his shoulder was yanked away and Al saw Rob’s face, ivory against the dark smoke. His eyes were vibrantly blue. Al reached for his arm and gripped his bicep while Rob struggled with the second dog. He’d nearly unlatched its mouth from Al’s thigh when the first dog returned, flashing it’s teeth against Rob’s face. Al felt blood spray across his face, and dark red streamed over Rob’s eye and cheek.
Even in the chaos, with the pain of the bites shooting through his body, he knew that no true harm had been done to him. Robin, however, was being torn apart. He released his friend’s arm and the black smoke separated them completely.
Distantly, he heard Rob calling his name. Briefly he felt his friend’s hand on his wrist, the palm slick and warm. He slipped from Rob’s grasp easily. The smoke compressed tighter, filling his mouth and nostrils. He coughed, choking from the acrid bitterness of the smoke. His vision went dark. His ears rang. One single high-pitch wailing note.
And then dark oblivion.
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