“Read Shift” by Sharon D. King
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Old Father Hubbard finished the last of his in-room coffee — which was cold — and set his mug down on the little round table. He dabbed at his forehead with a washrag, glanced down at his Himbeery, and sighed. Already too late to get to work when he’d wanted to, ahead of schedule, but he’d still make it on time if he got a move on. He stood up, groaning a little from another night on the hard cheap bed.
At that moment his Himbeery blew him a wet one. Hubbard pressed its lips shut and peered down, scrunching his eyes to see without his oculatics on. Of course. Who else at this hour?
He released the lips and wiped his fingers on a towel. “Yes?” He sounded dour even to himself.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” a woman’s voice said softly, plaintively. “But you’d better get over here quick.”
He gritted his teeth. “No can do, love. Like I told you, it was me or — ”
“No,” she said quickly, and he heard the rising panic now, catching at her throat. “No, I threw him out night before last, he got into the beer keg in the cellar again and peed all over the house. He’s out on a bender, far as I know. I’ve been meaning to call you but–” Her words trailed off into sniffling.
“Yes, well,” Hubbard said gruffly, his stomach churning. Served her right. “What do you want from me?”
“It’s the cupboard,” she said tremulously. “I’m — I’m afraid of it.”
“What do you mean, afraid of it?”
“It’s…unstable,” she said hesitantly, and then added, very quietly, “I don’t feel safe talking about it. You need to see for yourself. Can you come over, please? Right now?”
What a man won’t do for his wife, Father Hubbard thought glumly as he urged his goat-cart forward through the busy streets of his town. The slowness of his billy goat Elsinore, constantly distracted by hanging shirttails and passing pant legs — and strangely, of late, every billboard in sight — maddened him. But he’d paid good money for the creature the year before, and he was determined to get some use out of him. Hurriedly he tied Elsinore to a post outside his yellow clapboard house, throwing him a beaten-up copy of Plato’s Republic that was missing most of the answers to the questions in the dialogues. That should keep the fellow occupied for a while, Hubbard thought. Though it was a bit dry.
His wife, still in her nightdress and frilly cap, met him at the door. Her face was hollow, her eyes sunken; she looked as if she hadn’t slept in days.
“Thank goodness.” She wrapped her arms around him tightly, and for a long moment he was very glad to be home.
“Follow me,” she whispered, and moved quietly across the floor to the kitchen. The smell of dog piss lingered in the air, chased along by a rather pleasant floral scent. His wife had been busy, if not altogether thorough.
Right now, however, she was all business. She stood before the heavy oak double-doored cupboard of their kitchen, with its pretty ornate coppery handles, and pointed, with a hint of a flourish.
Hubbard felt his ears turn hot. “What’s the problem?” he asked, sott’olio voce. He hated it when she was overly dramatic. Her preoccupation with Oedipaws Rex had been the last straw, really, and now she seemed to be starting up again. “What’s wrong with it?”
“Oh for pity’s sake,” she hissed, and yanked open the cupboard doors. He stood stock-still, waiting, but all he saw was the usual assortment of plates and dishes, cups and saucers, jam pots and spice containers. On the middle shelf sat a cookie-jar and breadbox which, to his famished gaze, looked like the gates to the Promised Land. His stomach growled as if on cue.
They remained there a moment longer, waiting for something out of the ordinary to show itself. Anything at all. They went unrewarded. The clock on top of the icebox meowed; it was just nine. Capital, Father Hubbard grummitched to himself. Late for work again. He turned to his wife, who stood as if turned into a pillar of sal-ammoniac.
“A fine ploy, my dear.” He wasn’t all that annoyed to be home again, especially if he could coax some breakfast out of her. “But I have to go to work. Might I get a cup of tea before I set off? Oh, and Elsinore could use some hay. He’s probably finished Plato.”
She hesitated, then turned to him, shaking her head. “I don’t understand it. Just this morning, it — ” She broke off and smiled ruefully. “Sit down. I’ll fix you a bite.”
While Father Hubbard tucked into a steaming plate of fried eglets and turnip tots, his wife sat down across from him and sipped her tea. “I tell you, as I’m sitting here, the cups were dancing with the saucers, kind of a do-si-do, really. The plates were keeping time. I can’t imagine why none of them are chipped. You don’t want to know what the pepper-mill was up to — ” Mother Hubbard blushed into her cap.
“Uh-huh.” Father Hubbard said, swallowing the last morsel of toast with his wife’s exquisite mawmaw preserves. He didn’t want to be harsh; it was the best meal he’d had in nearly a week. “Well, we’ll keep an eye on it.” He kissed her and went whistling off to the local mortuary. Nothing worse than having to inscribe tombstones on an empty stomach, he thought. Though having to explain his reason for tardiness — his wife’s shameless if artful tale–was admittedly not much better.
The haggis was only passable that evening. A good number of the blobby bangers, their gray color eerily similar to that of the fog creeping through the streets, were passed round to that evening’s denizens of the Maiden’s Head, to vigorous disapprobation. Some patrons vowed to throw them at the cook, who cowered behind his stewpans; others preferred targeting their rivals across the room, which did the décor no small mischief. Eventually a general consensus was reached: to hurl masses of the bulbous puddings, now cold and congealed, at the head of any stranger who entered the pub. This tended to consolidate the damage at the doorway, which heartened the innkeeper, and provided agreeable sport for a brace of hours, until most of the habitués were more boiled than the haggises they wielded.
The pub’s red-and-gilt door was of the Dutch variety, partitioned into upper and lower segments. The crowd’s attention was affixed on the upper portion, so when the lower door burst open and a bedraggled creature slunk in, scarcely anyone noticed for a moment. Then all bedlam broke loose. One of the haggises hit the poor fellow squarely upon his waistcoat, already somewhat the worse for wear; another left its telltale mark upon his left leg, covered with torn hose, and the top of his rosetted shoe. One splatted his right foreleg, clad in a tattered chemise once brave with tatted lace; still another sullied his wide linen collar. Two others missed their mark entirely, but a final haggis sent his beplumed hat sailing off behind him, as if beating a hasty-puddinged retreat.
The poor creature stood unsteadily on his legs. “Gentlemen, please, have mercy!”
“An it’s mercy yer askin’ for,” a man in a stained leather vest sneered over his ale mug, “you’d best say the word. Say it then!”
The creature hesitated at first, then put his head down. A whimper escaped him.
“Speak up! Speak!” called out another at the back of the room, a tousle-haired man with red pimply cheeks. “Speak or be damned!”
The bespotted creature looked up, shook himself — sending flecks of haggis flying–and placed his forelimbs together in a universally recognized fashion. “There. I’m begging you. See?”
“Speak properly, blast you!” growled the first man, and the chorus went round the room, as more haggises were readied. The creature sighed, went down on all fours, lifted his leg and aimed a swift yellow stream at the trousers of the inebriate nearest him, sitting passed out with his head on the table. The crowd roared its approval.
“Your servant, sir!” called out the bartender, now in on the game.
The creature bowed deeply, then raised his jowly head high. “Bow-wow,” he said, resoundingly. “Bow, bow-wooow-wow.” And the room rang with cheers.
When Father Hubbard got home that evening, his wife was sitting on the doorstep, wrapped in her shawl, knitting a pearl-colored scarf. She glanced up and smiled as he approached.
“Be sure to duck down,” she said, nodding toward the door while deftly executing a left twist with her needles. Hubbard stared at her for a moment, wordless, then shrugged. He opened the door, took two steps inside —
— and felt something whoosh past his head. It crashed into the wall near the door, a piece of it striking his left arm.
“I told you to duck, dear,” put in his wife from the steps. “It seems to be aiming high.”
“What the — ?” Father Hubbard said, now crouching on the floor and gazing at the pitiful remains of what had once been a brave little coaster.
“The cupboard,” she said mildly. “It’s gotten much worse this afternoon. Try passing through the sitting room and coming at it from the side. That appears to confuse it.”
Cockroach-like, he crawled to the kitchen and paused, half-hidden, in the doorway. Pieces of crockery were flying out of the cupboard and into the air at an oddly even pace, like clay pigeons at a shooting match. He winced when he saw the pretty flowered gravy boat that had been his mother’s. It was hurled — or hurled itself, it was hard to tell — right at the Oracular Station on the far side of the room. It missed its presumed target, but rendered itself well beyond repair.
“I managed to save the spices and the cookie jar,” his wife called, creeping through the door and keeping her head low. “Though I’m not sure what’s become of the salt cellar. The breadbox is, well — problematic.”
Hubbard didn’t want to ask. He made his way back into the sitting room and sat down hard on an easy chair. “We’ll need to buy new dishes,” he said dully.
“Yes, well,” his wife said, as complacently as one could under the circumstances. “You did always hate that pattern.” She sat on the chesterfield next to his chair and resumed her knitting.
But not for long. Hubbard had just removed his tweet cap — and hung it on the hat tree to recharge it — when a sharp metallic thump-thump-thump echoed from the kitchen and a battered red tin breadbox came hopping through the doorway. It made a beeline for Father Hubbard and began snapping its hinged lid at his heels.
“Hey! Stop that!” He tried to swat it away.
The churlish breadbox paid him no heed. Rattling and clanking, it pursued him around the room, nipping like a ferret in heat and leaving a trail of fine breadcrumbs in its wake. Amidst the cries of his wife, who stabbed futilely at the incensed container with a knitting needle, Hubbard grabbed the broom and half-herded, half-lured the breadbox near the front door. In one smooth movement, he opened the door, batted the box down the steps onto the gravel path, and slammed the door shut. And bolted it.
His wife put her hand to her mouth. “I’m so sorry,” she said in a small voice. “I did try to tell…” Her voice trailed off. She dabbed at her cheeks with her knitting. “I — I’ll do more baking tomorrow. If I can find where the flour’s gone to.”
“It’s all right, my dear,” Father Hubbard said gently, glancing at the shard heaps near the front door and the near-empty cupboard, which seemed to glower at him from its place against the kitchen wall. “But I suspect we should dine at the inn this evening.” He held out his hand. “We’ll go out by the side door. Shall I fetch your bonnet?”
The merriment at the Maiden’s Head was in full swing. The fellow who answered to the name of Oedipaws Rex stood on top of the bar, where he could be plainly seen, even to those deepest in their cups, performing feat after feat to shouts of adulation and calls for drafts of beer for the showman. It is true that no trick was of Rex’s choosing. When he volunteered to demonstrate his lately acquired skill at dancing the Highland Fling, he was urged instead to sit up and shake hands with the barkeep, to his unspeakable dismay and the spectators’ delight. When Rex proffered his rendition of the Sneezing Song from Allergia! — the latest light opera from the celebrated Cirque de Molei — he was redirected to balance a digestive biscuit on his nose, toss up his head, and catch it in his muzzle. This brought on a frenzy of praise and a round of drinks from the local nobleman, the Url of Levonwurth, longtime a patron of the arts. The insults to Rex’s talents continued. Instead of playing on a reed flute, he was forced to play dead; in lieu of smoking a pipe, he was reduced to fetching a stick; and the rowdy mob quite insisted he roll over rather than show his newfound prowess at weaving on the inkle loom. He went at each retargeted action gamely, though he was so pie-eyed that he rolled right off the bar and onto the none-too-pristine tile flooring, which caused him to fall briefly into a swoon.
“Beg for it! Beg!” he heard someone clamor, which turned into a general chant. Growling to himself, Rex raised his head to see what the commotion was about. Then he closed his eyes. Dangling before him, taunting him, was a large rib bone. It was juicy yet firm, aromatic with seared fat, with just enough meat on it to make it a worthy conquest. At any other time — say, the week before — he would have snatched it from the hand of his tormentor and been out the door with nary a how-d’ye-do.
But not this day. He turned his head in disdain, as if the bone was the most unsavory sight in the world. After all, it was just such a bone — or rather, the lack thereof — which had started the whole wretched business at home, from which he had lately been exiled. Rex swallowed. There were just some things he could not do, some ways in which he would not debase himself. This was his line in the sand. He would not be broken.
The pub chant rose, then fell off. The madding crowd grew silent, waiting: watching the dog who would not deign to beg for a bone.
“Out with him then!” cried a sullen character, and a new cry arose: “Send him packing! Throw him out! Away with him and his godforsaken bone!”
Oedipaws found himself assisted outside into a rubbish-ridden alley on the hard-pointed end of a rundown boot. Moments later, his hat was pitched directly into a pile of rotted cabbage leaves. The back door banged shut, and a bolt was drawn.
Whining a little, Rex stood up, shook himself, then picked up his hat and slowly made his way down the alley.
The dining room at the Chateau Marmot was bustling that evening, and the Hubbards, coming in with no reservation, felt lucky to be quickly seated. To be sure, it was at the children’s table. This posed fewer problems for Mother Hubbard, who was of shorter stature, than for her husband. His knees, as he sat wedged into one of the tiny chairs, came nearly up to his chin, and he had to crook his elbows back so as not to have his hands dangling in the plate of the child sitting across from him.
They ordered from the waiter, an androgynous-looking Frenchman whose ornately lettered name-card read Jaquin Gilles. He hastened to fetch them an amuse-bouche of puréed carrots and peas in a chilled saucer. Father Hubbard, unimpressed by this mischef d’oeuvre, attempted to dispose of his bowl by surreptitiously dumping it under the table, but the tot seated next to him took umbrage at such wanton wastage — or perhaps at the sensation of pease porridge cold landing on his left foot — and promptly sank his teeth into Hubbard’s forearm. Hubbard howled in pain. Another child at the table, who had suffered too long the indignity of being clad in only his second-best bib and tucker, took up the refrain. Soon the entire table, excepting Mother Hubbard, was yelping and mewling like a hungry brood of baby hedgehogs. They were only somewhat placated by the timely arrival of the main course, an immense dish of polpettine pasta with gumdrop tomatoes and pink elephant garlic, served family style. Hoots turned to hollers of approbation when it was discovered — among the younger crowd — how perfectly the pasta fitted a spoon being brandished as a trebuchet. The din increased.
“Pass the cheese, if you would, my dear,” shouted Father Hubbard to his wife as he ducked for cover. “Shall I pour you some wine?”
“Just hand me the bottle, that’ll be lovely.”
Hubbard cupped his hands around his mouth and aimed towards his wife’s good ear. “Not quite the peaceful evening I’d hoped for.” He grabbed for the basket of bread, on its way to being used as a means of escalating hostilities, and lifted it well above harm’s reach. A passing waiter seized it and carried it off, but not before Hubbard grabbed a slice or two as perquisites of war.
“At least the dishes aren’t what’s being thrown,” his wife replied, forking up a bite of pasta while dodging another. “I call that an improvement. Dear, have you happened to notice anything a bit peculiar about Elsinore recently?”
“How do you mean?”
“This morning when I went to give him hay, I found the Plato you mentioned, but also a copy of Discours de la Méthode, tucked away into the straw where he sleeps. Quite whole. And with a bookmark in it.”
“That is indeed odd,” Father Hubbard replied thoughtfully. “I’d no idea he had a taste for French philosophy.”
“Well, no matter.” His wife smiled and patted his cheek. “We’ve more pressing concerns. Do you know, I thought I was going crazy, wondering where on earth I’d put that bone. Now I think that cupboard hid it deliberately. Maybe even tossed it out the window. Caused such a fuss!”
“That it did,” muttered Father Hubbard, removing a stray morsel of mushroom from his cravat. He eyed the dessert tray approaching, an assortment of tiny lock-lime custard tarts, each liberally adorned with whipped cream. “Shall I perhaps request the bill a bit early?”
The disheveled creature that staggered down the darkened streets, barely lit by lamps running on unnatural gas, bore only a trace of his former glory. His hat was a sodden, smelly wreck, his once-proud waistcoat fit only for lining the chicken coop. His unfocused eyes wandered; the heavy fog was turning to a light rain, and the streets around him seemed to float away. In the distance he heard a muted clank-clank-clank, a singular noise that only added to the eeriness of the night. He pulled out a wooden flask from an inner pocket and took a long swig. It was even more bitter to his taste than the last time, and to his overloaded insides, it was the last straw. He leaned over a nearby log and vomited long and lustily, till there was nothing left but sour memories. He slumped down on the log and tried to catch his breath.
The mysterious clanking drew nearer, and presently an ancient, if perhaps not venerable, breadbox came into view. It was a sorry thing to behold, as it limp-hopped along aimlessly with a great dent in its side, like a wounded soldier, sunken in shame, who has lost his way home. The box stopped to attempt conversation with a small can of mandarin oranges it found in the road, but the can was opened, empty, and silent. The box continued on its way, clacking its lid sorrowfully, with a hollow sound.
From his seat on the log, Rex recognized the breadbox as one belonging to his own domicile, from which he had received many a fat-laden scrap in former days of glory. Rounding his muzzle, he called to it. The breadbox, perceiving his tone, stumble-hopped over as quickly as it might, startling the little purple storm-spiders that had just emerged from under the log to celebrate the advent of rain. The two old companions sat amidst the growing downpour, sharing their wretchedness as best they might. Rex even poured a little from his hip vial into the breadbox, taking care not to aim for the dented side, for which the tin banged its lid gently in gratitude.
The streets grew wetter, and wetter, until all around them was nothing but ruts and puddles filled with sticky mud. Without thinking Rex lifted his head and bayed mournfully. The breadbox clanked in commiseration. Rex started, looked down at his comrade, and heaved a sigh that ended in a whimper. He knew now what he must do.
Rex took off his hat and awkwardly nudged a small button on the inner lining, which gave off a faint twirping sound. He thrust his muzzle inside as the drops fell more heavily and spoke a few words into it, words which now sounded strange to his own long ears. He paused, put the hat back on his head, drew nearer the breadbox, and waited in the rain.
It was a fact not to be denied, that the Hubbards, as they drew nigh unto their humble abode, felt a great apprehension weighing upon them. Their fears, they soon discovered, were not unfounded. There were no more broken dishes in the house than before, true, but the cupboard, in their absence, had evidently grown restive at its confinement to the kitchen and resolved to better, or at least alter, its circumstances. When the Hubbards entered via the side door, they witnessed the cupboard, doors flung wide and clattering fearfully, advancing on its short stout legs across the dining room, as if determined to lay claim to all territories in its path. It was a rather frightful sight: paint had been scraped off on one side, a handle had fallen to the floor, and one of the doors had come unhinged and was hanging at a rakish angle. It paused and turned ever so slightly as they entered the room, as if adjudging their resoluteness to halt its incursion.
This time Father Hubbard did not even bother to remove his cap. He turned to his wife and inclined his head politely. “Do go out into the barn, if you would, my dear. My axe should be in the rightmost corner, near the air-billiards trunk. I’d be pleased if you’d bring it to me.”
The cupboard pivoted fully as Mother Hubbard reentered, holding the axe aloft. The door that hung askew began swinging a little, with a menacing creak. Neither Father Hubbard nor his wife, who moved to the far side of the cupboard, was daunted.
“Now then,” Father Hubbard said pleasantly, as he took the axe from his wife’s grasp, “we don’t want any trouble, but we are not about to lose any more furnishings tonight.” The cupboard did not move.
“Please go on back to the kitchen, and we’ll set you to rights.” This from Mother Hubbard, who had positioned herself protectively next to her grandmother’s cherrywood whatnot. Again, there was no acknowledgement, and no movement, though the door ceased swinging. They waited some moments, putting in a few more entreaties. Still the cupboard did not budge.
Clearly, provocation to break this impasse was in order, they thought more or less simultaneously, and as one, nodded to each other. Father Hubbard returned the axe to his wife; she had wielded it in the past when it was needful, and despite her years she was not a body to be trifled with when she had one in hand.
“Ho there!” he addressed the cupboard, and stepped forward purposefully to heave the cabinet towards the wall.
The one remaining hinged door took the occasion to hit Father Hubbard squarely in the nose, causing it to bleed freely. He backed away a step or two; his wife took out her pocket-handkerchief and ran to his aid.
“Shall I?” she said, gesturing with the axe with a meaningful gleam in her eye.
“Not yet,” her husband replied, his voice muffled by the kerchief, raising his head to stanch the flow. Leaving her to keep a watchful eye on their foe, he hastened to the shed, returning with a coil of twine and a pair of scissors. “You take the right door, I’ll take the left,” he said grimly to his wife.
They pulled the doors close while he tied the handles together with the twine, knotting it several times. The cupboard rattled its uneven doors as if it would shake them off, but the knots held firm. They cut more lengths of twine and hobbled the legs securely.
“That should fettle you, then!” Father Hubbard cried, and hoisted the cupboard towards the wall. Its bound legs flailed a trifle in the air but it was helpless. In a few more hefts Father Hubbard had restored the errant cupboard to its former place in the corner of the kitchen. He backed away, breathing heavily with relief, and mopped his face with the one clean corner of the kerchief.
It was nearing midnight when they restored order to their home, sweeping up the broken dishes — and breadcrumbs — from every nook and cranny and taking them out to the trash heap. As he bent to brush the last sad remnants of glass and china into the dustpan, Father Hubbard noticed a few torn bits of what looked like pages from a book. He picked one up: Daphne and Apollo, the neat printing read. He caught up another scrap and found the word Arachne, together with some text relating her legend in a most poetic manner. The name Niobe was visible on another, though it was semi-obscured by a slather of highquat jelly. Must have been inside the cupboard, Father Hubbard mused to himself. What on earth had they been doing there? He brought the bits over to his wife, who was digging out their old wooden trenchers and flagons from the storage chest.
“Dear, do you have any idea what these might have come from? They look for all the world like pages — ”
” — of Ovid’s Metamorphoses,” she finished, nodding cheerfully. “Yes, I found that old copy of yours, you’d brought it out to the barn when you went to milk the mosscow and Elsinore got to it. Though he seems to have started at the end and was working his way backward. Anyway, I was out of shelf-paper last week, and I thought — ”
“You used the Metamorphoses to line your shelves?”
“Only half of it,” she said, a bit defensively. “Elsinore had ruminated quite well on the rest. It’s — er, been there and gone with him, if you catch my meaning. Don’t be troubled, dear. I’ve ordered up another copy from Manuscript Swap.”
“But — but — ” An idea was dawning on Father Hubbard. He stared down at the fragments in his hand. “Where did — just which shelves did you happen to line?”
“The ones in the cupboard,” she answered slowly. Her eyes widened and she looked at him aghast. “I lined the whole thing. Top to bottom….”
“And what else might you have — ”
“The breadbox,” she replied in a small voice. Then, with a gasp of horror: “And–and Rex’s bed! I lined it with three thicknesses last week — it had turned so cold–” She broke off and turned to gaze at the trussed cupboard, which shivered a little in fretful impotence.
With one accord the couple rushed to the cupboard, untied the doors and stripped every last shred of paper from its shelves. At first restive, the cupboard seemed to calm itself with every scrap that left its insides. When the last piece had been removed and Mother Hubbard had run an oiled cloth over all the wood inside and out — gently massaging the boards missing their paint — the cupboard was still as a stone. They sank down on their sofa, utterly spent.
At that moment Mother Hubbard’s bonnet on the hat rack chirped brightly. She rose wearily, picked it up and peered inside, then clasped the bonnet tightly to her bosom. Her eyes glistened with tears.
“It’s Rex,” she half-whispered to her husband, a sob catching in her throat. “He’s with the breadbox. They want to come home.”
“Well, let that be a lesson,” Father Hubbard murmured from the depths of their calliope bed that night. He set down his copy of the soon-to-be-lost Homeric epic Little Iliad, bound together with its sequel Little Egyptiad, on the night-table. “Books change you. Transform you, sometimes. Mustn’t forget it.”
“Mustn’t, indeed,” his wife concurred, leaning over to give him a goodnight kiss.
He blew out the candle and settled back on his pillows, making a mental note to check on Elsinore on the morrow, and perhaps subscribe him to the Picket Fence Street Journal, or at least Cart and Driver. Suddenly he sat bolt upright, causing the bed to toot a few furtive notes. His wife did not seem to notice. He lay back down slowly, coughed, cleared his throat, shifted his weight. No reaction. He gave her the faintest nudge with his elbow. She did not stir. He sighed.
A slight pause. “Yes?”
“Sorry to ask, but–did you happen to pay the futility bill while I was gone?”
“Right on time. Receipt’s in the chest. Not that it will do much good, of course.” She yawned and turned on her side.
“Thank goodness.” He flopped back down and drew his goosebarnacle-down comforter around his ears. Better than I deserve, he thought. “Oh, and dear?”
“Yes, my love?” This with the tiniest soupçon of impatience.
“I’m truly sorry I ever doubted you.”
“You should be, dear. Now go to sleep, you need your rest.”
At the foot of their bed, Oedipaws Rex stretched out all fours in his newly lined couch, twitched his nose, scratched behind an ear with his hind leg, and drifted back to sleep.
|Sharon D. King holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and works as an actor for film and TV. Publications include an essay in the critical anthology Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games (McFarland, 2012), a satirical novella, The Younger Games (WitsEnd, 2011), an essay in the critical horror anthology Supernatural, Humanity, and the Soul (Palgrave, 2014), and a science fiction/fantasy tale, “Follow the Music,” in the anthology Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails (Dragon’s Roost Press, 2014). Her theatrical troupe Les Enfans Sans Abri has performed short 15th-17th-century comedies since 1989 in the US and Europe, with an original play, “A Knight To Remember,” debuting at the Getty Family Festival (Los Angeles, September 2014).|