Certain lines can’t be uncrossed,
Certain maps will get you lost,
Once you’ve past the border then you’ll have to play the game.
Roll the dice but count the cards,
Break the glass but keep the shards.
The world is out of order. It’s been broken since you came.
The broken doors are hidden in the blood and in the bone.
My darling child, be careful now, and don’t go out alone.
This is an odd one because the work itself doesn’t exist.
What I’m quoting is a fragment of Don’t Go Out Alone, a children’s book that exists in-universe in Mira Grant’s Parasite, but is not confirmed to be fully transcribed. (Mira Grant is a pen name used by Seanan McGuire, so we’ve got an author who created an author who created an author… it’s turtles all the way down. Well, turtles with scalpels.)
Parasite is a lovely book; compelling characters, good pacing, a mounting sense of dread. The lines from Don’t Go Out Alone just chime through it and accentuate it. Absolutely worth reading.
The proof is this: they are here, the Goster County dogs.
This is one of those moments where you really need to read the story in order to appreciate the line, which on the one hand I kind of tend to avoid–but on the other hand after four years of wanting a copy of Bob Leman’s collection Feesters in the Lake, I am looking like I will actually get a copy of Feesters in the Lake, and I am celebrating.
I’ve spoken about Bob Leman before. His writing, from what I’ve seen, is elegant and restrained. I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call it understated, but his horror whispers, it does not shout.
You can read “Loob” in full at Weird Fiction Review.
Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, gaunt soldier,
With weapons beyond any reach of my mind,
With weapons so deadly the world must grow older
And die in its tracks, if it does not turn kind?
Stephen Vincent Benét isn’t very well-known for his science fiction, as far as I can tell; he wrote “By the Waters of Babylon“, and the story is known, but since he was better known for other work and came to science fiction late in a relatively short life, his name doesn’t bubble to the top very easily in genre discussions.
I ran across the poem while looking up The War Game (1965, BBC, an “and you though Threads was upsetting” kind of mockumentary), which uses it as an epigram. About once every eight months I run across it again, and then I spend three days humming it to a tune that’s something like “The Streets of Laredo”.
This time, I thought I’d share; the text in its entirety is here.