“It begins with the Tyrant,” the reader is told. When the war is over, and a new king is crowned, the people are secure. They overlook the gradual eroding of less consequential rights. People disappear in the night. In the country, among those who work the land, the memory that things were ever different fades.
But the stones remember. They whisper to a farm boy, who will eventually save the country. And they invade the dreams of the tyrant.
I thought as I read through this the first time that this was an abstract depiction of a police state, controlled, not by sociopathic humans (as is the usual case), but by stones who drink wine and blood. It never occurs to the people that their problems don’t stem from a bad king as much as the bad idea of kingship itself. It’s not the man in the castle, but the castle itself that’s the root of all evil. Make it a museum or a college.
Better yet, build a legislative building on the opposite side of town where not just one guy, but conceivably hundreds of men and women from the whole country can argue and gum up the governing of the country for years to come if you want to restore civil rights.
Seriously, this horror story hits close to home. No ghost or goblins. Maybe a jackbooted vampire, though.
According to her blurb, author Jenny Rae Rappaport’s work has been published in Lightspeed Magazine and Escape Pod among other magazines. She holds a BA in Creative Writing from Carnegie Mellon University. She lives in New Jersey. She can be found online at jennyrae.com and on Twitter at @jennyrae.
The story can be read here.
Title: “The Castle of Wine and Clouds”
Author: Jenny Rae Rappaport
First published: Daily Science Fiction, January 13, 2020