Steven Shinder

As Pamela prances around as the school mascot, her sister Peyton gets to know members of a club known as the Nap Kin. As they go to the park for a nap, Peyton notices a mysterious figure sitting on a hill. He is known as Stagmantel...

Lemons Loom Like Rain

Everyone got in their sleeping bags and rested their heads on their pillows. Peyton waited until everyone else closed their eyes before rolling her own eyes and unrolling her sleeping bag. As everyone else fell asleep, Peyton remained alert, convinced that someone would try to prank her somehow.

In the distance, she could see a hill with rocks on its side. A miniature mountain. There, she spotted a silhouette with antlers. At first, she thought the figure might have been a pile of rocks, or perhaps a statue. But she saw it moving its hand over its mouth, presumably to cover a yawn. Peyton got up, determined to prevent whatever elaborate prank could have been in store for her.

Quietly, she got up from her sleeping bag, not wanting to alert anyone that she was walking away. Everyone else's heads remained still on their pillows. She walked around the back of the hill, where she discovered a hedge with a tunnel. Crouching down, she walked through the short tunnel until she reached the clearing, from where one could overlook the park. There, she saw someone sitting in a metal foldable chair, its back to her. This could only be Stagmantel.

“Not napping, then?” he said without turning his head around.

There was something about his voice that unnerved her. She could not quite place what it was. It sounded human, but also earthly. Not in a personal sense, but in the sense that one might expect from a talking boulder.

“Why don't you turn around?” Peyton asked. “Or are you afraid that those antlers will fall off?”

“They have never fallen off of me within all these years I have inhabited. I ask that you do not threaten me. Otherwise, I might start caring about the actions of your kind.”

“My kind?” Peyton repeated, tilting her head.

“You normies, as I believe you are called now.”

“What's a normie?”

“That's something a normie would say.”

“Then what the hell are you?”

“A bridge between flesh and stone.”

“Are you trolling me?”

“Trolls can dwell under bridges, but there are no trolls here. They dwell elsewhere. Far from here, thankfully.”

“How long have you been sitting there?”

“I do not care enough to count. Indifference is key around these parts.”

Peyton heard a quack and turned around. Four ducks came out of the tunnel and approached the chair. Still not turning his head, the man reached out with his right hand as a duck examined his fingers, made of dirt that somehow seemed like flesh. Peyton could not help but make the connection in her head.


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