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Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep

Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep

4.0 1
by Michael Merriam

A new world is emerging years after war destroyed society. In a Minnesota lake, the last surviving loons, direct descendants of the legendary First Pair, await the one who can help heal the earth. Each year a human sacrifice is brought to them to be endowed with special gifts, but they come at a terrible price.

Even as the rest of the world rebuilds, Grace


A new world is emerging years after war destroyed society. In a Minnesota lake, the last surviving loons, direct descendants of the legendary First Pair, await the one who can help heal the earth. Each year a human sacrifice is brought to them to be endowed with special gifts, but they come at a terrible price.

Even as the rest of the world rebuilds, Grace Kriske's life is shattered. Unable to walk, she feels utterly dependent on her family and trapped in a community that disapproves of her rebellious ways. Grace's only solace is her lover, David Tvedt, a trader who wants to take her away with him—if she'd let him.

Yet something else calls to Grace—the loons. They haunt her dreams, lurking in her mind as if part of her deepest primal self. But when Grace is chosen as the new sacrifice, she's afraid. Will she risk everything to help the community that shuns her, or will she choose her own path?

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Carina Press
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Grace dreamed of them, found them lurking in her sleeping mind as if they were part of her deepest primal self. They peered at her with their red eyes, black heads cocked inquisitively, their soft, feathered bodies low in the water. She danced on the water with them, small, strong wings flapping while her body lifted up, her voice raised in a shrill call to match those around her. Other nights, she felt her broken body drifting, the sensation of sliding along on the glass-smooth surface of a living lake filling her dreams.

She had awoken from the dream again tonight and pulled herself into the wheelchair, moving to the lone window of her small room. Sometimes she could hear one call out in the night, mournful and sad, its voice echoing across the sprawling waters of the dead lake.

Grace sighed in the dark. The local elders—Reverend Coswell, Mayor Stuttgar, Sheriff Wilson and all the others—would…well she wasn't sure what they would do if they knew the loons, long fled or dead except for the last known pair living on Bay Lake, spoke to her at night, found new life in her dreams. She doubted they would actually harm her, even if they did not approve of her eccentric personality.

It was the approaching spring festival that was making her restless and brought the loons to her dreams this night. In the morning, her family would load up their wagon and, with the rest of the community, make the annual pilgrimage to Bay Lake and to the loons. She wondered who among the young men and women would be chosen to receive the gift—or curse—the loons would bestow when their lonely cry rose across the lake.

She smiled at the thought of the exasperation she would cause in the morning, having used the last of her blue hair coloring that night after her family had retired. It was such a little thing, but it gave her an illusion of control, allowed a tenuous connection to a better time in her life. Grace sighed and turned her wheelchair back to her narrow bed. She needed to rest before the wagon ride from the farm to the lake.

David will be there, she thought. Seeing the young trader would be the highlight of her trip.

Transferring from the chair into the bed, Grace drew the sheet and heavy quilt over her shoulders and turned to rest on her side, facing away from her door. When sleep claimed her, she did not dream, or at least did not remember dreaming.


They glided across the calm waters, moving slowly in the waning daylight. The female called out, soft and sad. Her mate dived, vanishing beneath the surface for several minutes before reappearing several feet ahead of the female. He waited while she swam up to him. The female called again, waiting in vain for an answer. The male gave a soft, chirping warble and rubbed his head against hers.

They were old, older than the waters they swam in, older than any of their species and most of their kind. They were not the First Pair, but could easily remember when the First Pair held sway, watching over all of their children while the new world settled, took form, began.

They would build the nest again, as they had every season since being entrusted with the essence. They would wait for the humans to come, study the one brought to them. If they found the spirit the First Pair promised, they would fill the nest. If not, they would try to entice the humans to return next season.

Meet the Author

Michael Merriam has sold science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction to several magazines and anthologies, including Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Bards and Sages Quarterly, Northern Lights: 20 MinnSpec Tales and Ruins: Terra. He received an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008 and is a two-time semifinalist in the Writers of the Future contest.

Like most writers, Michael has worked a variety of odd jobs over the years, including as a musician, short-order cook, freight logistics manager and the booking agent for a puppet troupe. In 2003, after being laid off and declared legally blind, Michael began writing again, rekindling a passion he had set aside nearly two decades earlier.

Michael reads slush for Fantasy Magazine and is a member of the Science Fiction Poetry Association and the Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers. He lives in Hopkins, Minnesota, with his wife and an ordained cat. Visit his homepage at michaelmerriam.net.

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Should We Drown in Feathered Sleep 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
KikiD870 More than 1 year ago
Grace Kiske is a prisoner of her own body in the post-war community that is all that is left of the world she once knew. Her rebellious ways are all she has left in her control, all she has that is still all hers, and those ways make her an outsider. She is overly conscious of how much she depends on her family to help her and she refuses to run away with her love, David, because she doesn't want to be a burden to him, as well. Her only freedom from the prison that is her body comes in her dreams, when the loons call to her and she swims with them. This novella was just released a week ago, and I snapped it up on that day. Honestly, it was the cover art that initially grabbed me, being an tattooed diva with pink hair myself! The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic America, society taken down to the basics of living of a time long since past. On top of which, Grace is limited physically by her injuries. Life as she once knew it was gone and being dependent on those she loves goes against everything the onc-rebellious Grace stands for. All of this could make for a very depressing story, but somehow the spirit of Grace shines through and there is hope among the despair. My only complaint was that it was far too short because I wanted more! I highly recommend this novella!