An IN THE AIR Excerpt: “Abra” by Lawrence Berry

Abra slips out a doorway webbed with shadows and walks down Ninth Street, kicking at rain-dimpled puddles of water, the air around him roaring with the steady cadence of the rainstorm. Street lamps gleam above the worn cement like demon’s eyes, seeming to bend and examine Abra’s soul.

Twilight is an hour away, but an early night fills the low, quick-moving clouds with avid tendrils, and the storm-rent sky is the color of dead skin. It is a day cut from hell, if hell held the drowned rather than those who burned.

Abra lifts his head, feeling more than seeing his destination, a handful of gathered diamonds falling from his hat in a gunmetal wave. The neon cactus of Barra de Tres Desiertos shows as a bleary emerald blob through the wind-whipped gray veils. A translation works through his brain: Three Desert Bar. In this part of Colorado, the locals believe there are three deserts. The one you see. The one you don’t. And the one that kills you.

About ninety-nine million years ago, he was a soldier, and he volunteered for an enhancement program because he already had the gift. The year he spent in the hospital made it strong, but it wasn’t something he could always turn off. Sometimes, when he really slept, he teleported in his dreams, went to the cafe he’d loved in Greeley, materialized in the San Juan River, scaring the hell out of the fish.

He felt the need to jump, whether it made sense to do it now or not.

Abra imagined he was inside the bar, long rider tails steaming, his pale eyes sliding around a full house of wet men, patrons loyal to Tres Diesiertos. It was the kind of tavern crowd that stopped being particular a reincarnation ago, one he knows well.

They take a long look at Abra because he didn’t seem to be standing by the wall a second ago, and go back to their poison, not sure. People and things appear and disappear all the time. Conspiracy should be the national religion.

Abra just wants to buy the parcel and get back out into the storm, squalling chaos the only place he feels at home. Fading back against the paint, he stands and breathes, needing a minute to think and prepare before he goes to work.

He’s one of those phantoms who will walk all night thinking thoughts that would shrivel the average Joe. Abra has accepted that he’s a weird fuck, and there’s no changing it now.

There are places he could go where nobody would know him, places past the end of the earth. Fiji, points further. His last woman told him their ocean is alive at night with glowing plankton, like the neon silhouette of rain seen in arc lights.

His woman made the same architecture of steps, wearing the same fated shoes as all the dead people he’d put down. He should have known he couldn’t save her from disappearing.

Maybe she was in Fiji.

Maybe she found out if the tiny fish connected circuits with the dreaming stars and eased the pain of memories.



48416177_2008938705839504_8094266344947580928_nLawrence Berry sold his first story to Cavalier Magazine and went on to have a ‘best of’ in that publication. Specializing in horror stories, in his work can be found in a number of new anthologies and podcasts. Lawrence specializes in horror fiction.


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