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ON THE COVER January, 2008

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An Affair Of Sorcerers
By  George C. Chesbro

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Nightmare time. I'd have expected something to do with werewolves and goblins, but it wasn't like that at all. I was at the bottom of some desert valley in which the colors were all wrong; low, green plastic sky, gray cactus and sagebrush, purple sand and stone. I was surrounded by figures that looked like people, but weren't. As if to confirm my suspicion, one of them pulled back his lips to reveal long snake-fangs. Slowly, in ballet-unison, all of the figures lifted their arms and wriggled their fingers: suddenly the air was filled with the deadly, rustling song of rattlesnakes. Then the figures began to change into snakes. A few, unable to complete the transition, exploded soundlessly. The rest completed their metamorphosis—almost; I was ringed by rattlesnakes with human faces.

It was all too absurd to take seriously. I knew I was dreaming, and I decided to wait patiently until I woke up.

My patience became a little strained when the snakes started to crawl toward me. Dream or not, the human faces on the scaled, limbless bodies repulsed me. I didn't want to be bitten. I instinctively reached out for a rock; one of the snakes hurtled through the air and buried its fangs in my right thumb. It hurt far more than such dream-things should, and I was relieved to feel the heavy-lidded, swirling sensation of vertigo that was always my passport to consciousness. The screen inside my head went blank and I slowly became aware of my bed, my pillow, the sheet over me, the hum of the air conditioning.

I was definitely awake, but my thumb still hurt. Something was wrong.

Something was gnawing on my thumb. 

Tiny needles of fire and ice were vibrating in my flesh, grinding down to the bone. I sat bolt upright in bed and shrieked when I saw the dark, fluttering shape hanging from my thumb. I jumped out of bed and violently shook my hand, but the thing wouldn't come off. Bony, cold wings flapped against my hand, and I knew with sudden, chilling certainty what it was—and what was wrong with it.

Groaning aloud with revulsion and terror, I reached over with my left hand, wrapped my fingers around the bat and yanked it off my thumb. It took all my willpower to hang on to the writhing animal, but I knew I had to keep my head. My entire body was quaking, oozing sweat, but I managed to walk across the room, turn on the light and examine the bat. It had worked one cold, skin-covered wing free and was flapping it against me in a mindless, disease-powered frenzy. Its body kept churning, and I could feel its tiny, clawed feet scratching against my palm and wrist The maw with its tiny needle teeth was covered with froth and blood. The flesh on my right thumb where it had been chewing was shredded; blood and flecks of saliva covered my hand.

I gagged and tasted sour bile in the back of my throat. Desperately hoping that it was all a dream-within-a-dream; I screwed my eyes shut and waited to wake up. But I was awake. The tiny, muscular body squirmed; I could feel its soft, throbbing belly, wire like veins, slimy feces lubricating my hand. In a few more seconds it would wriggle its way free.

Fighting off a strong compulsion to vomit, I staggered back across the room and used my free hand to remove the pillowcase from my pillow. I dropped the bat into it, then beat the shape to death with a shoe. Groaning and whimpering like a maniac, I kept pounding the stained pillowcase long after the creature inside it was dead.

I wrapped the package in plastic, washed off my hands with alcohol and bandaged my thumb as best I could. I tried to keep my mind off what I knew was inevitably before me as I dressed, picked up the plastic bag and went down to my car. I couldn't stop shaking. With the bundle on the seat beside me, I careened through the night streets of Manhattan to the university Medical Center. I didn't want to die that way, and I tried not to think of the deadly germs coursing through my system at that very moment, being carried by my bloodstream toward my brain.

Read IN's exclusive interview with George C. Chesbro about writing.
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IN This Issue
Gory Glory
Undertaker's Moon (Excerpt)
Romantic Intrigue
No Safe Place (Excerpt)
From The Docks To The Commons
The Care Vortex (excerpt)
Irish Mists And Histories
Shadows Will Fall (Excerpt)
A Mind On The Move
The Rush To Here (Excerpt)

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Bald Ego
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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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