A Tale of Guns and Goats and Velvet Coats

A Tale of Guns and Goats and Velvet Coats

Ladies and gentlemen! Grass eaters! Horned friends! The freshly launched anthologyYou Are Here – Tales of Cartographic Wonders has a teaser story. It has just been published on SFFWorld.com, and what makes it quite interesting is – ’tis a story of mine. Now, hold your breath, here comes the title: A Tale of Guns and Goats and Velvet Coats. Say no more.

Goat, teaser
Image taken from Wikimedia Commons, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

Originally, I wrote Forward as the story for the anthology, but then my mind went ballistic, and I had this silly title in my mind, and the whole story just forged itself around it. Let me stop writing and you start reading. A quick few paragraphs here, and the rest on SFFWorld.com:

“Follow Yellow Sick Toad,” Margot read.

“What?” Gustave frowned, straightening up.

“Stay still,” Margot chided, pushing him down.

She stared hard at the faded writing of the map pressed against his wide back, tracing the old ink with her gloved fingers, permanently smudged with dust. Realization suddenly struck her, and she followed the emotion with a solid slap to her forehead.

“Oh, it says Todd. Not Toad.”

Gustave stepped away from her and spun around. “What does that mean?”

Margot shrugged. “I don’t know, Gus.”

Gustave looked at the landscape as if seeing it for the first time. He was still getting used to being on solid ground again, his stomach protesting the lack of the seesaw motion of the ship. Those slow, rhythmic lurches had been his loyal companions for the last two months.

The richness of details stunned him. Everything looked so distinct, so vibrant. After half an eternity spent staring at the two endless strata of blue, divided by a sharp, unchanging line of madness, the chaos of the island made him dizzy and nervous.

Margot did not seem to share his plight. She was light-footed, eager to step off the shore and move inland, to wade through the gullies and hills toward the buried treasure.

Only now, the map didn’t really tell them where they should be going.

What—or who—the hell was Todd?