Gods and Monsters Installment 17: Moirai Mechanics

Reading Time: 7 minutes

LAST WEEK: Gabriel begins to see color in his dreams. Jim finds one thousand dollars and an odd coin in his pocket. Huck plucks a hair from Gabriel’s head and steals a coin from Mike’s Pawn Shop.
Read last week’s installment hereSee all installments here. Read the next installment here.

(Image created by E.E. King with Adobe Firefly.)

Chapter 48


Ray Brook, N.Y. — 1983

Moirai Mechanics

One day, as I was wandering aimlessly homeward, I saw an auto shop. I remember my shock. I’d been down that road many, many times before, and it had never been there.  It seemed to have sprung out of the earth. It seemed like a hallucination, but I’d been clean for a long time by then.

It was as out of place as crystals inside a geode, perched on this deserted road in the middle of nowhere.

‘Moirai Mechanics’ was penned in iridescent, arching, gold letters over a wide turquoise eye that nestled inside of a purple triangle. It was an odd sign, but it called to me somehow. I was looking for work, after all, and I had learned to weld in prison.

I was met at the entrance by a solid brown woman, about forty-five or so.

“Hi,” I said, but she didn’t reply, just looked at me like I was, well, not exactly welcome, but expected.

“Greetings.” Another woman had come to stand beside the first. She was tall, hard, and kinda scary. Her hair was dull-iron gray and pulled back into a tight knot that rested on the nape of her neck. She had a quirky sense of style, like something out of a gothic novel. Her dress was plain, black, and tight as skin. The weird thing was, I couldn’t see any zippers, buttons, or fastenings, and I checked real carefully when she turned around. Over the dress she wore a leather carpenter’s apron, filled with dozens of pairs of scissors. A long, silver shears hung from a chain around her waist. It looked dangerously sharp. Normally I would have asked her if she was a seamstress, but something about her didn’t invite chatter. She was formidable and forbidding.

“I’m Morta,” she said, “this is my sister Decima. We own this place, along with our sister Nona.”

Decima stepped to the back of the shop and pulled a curtain aside. In a small inner room, a young woman, Nona I guessed, sat in front of a crazy wooden loom. It looked like something from out of the last century.

“She weaves custom seat covers,” Morta said.

“Seat covers?” I scanned the small shop. The shelves were empty except for some unidentifiable engine parts.

“We sell them privately,” Morta said.

How much more private could you get? I thought

Nona glanced up from the weaving and smiled at me.

I looked back and forth between the three women. They sure didn’t look related. Decima and Morta looked old enough to be Nona’s mother, but it wasn’t just their age that set them apart. Decima was a heavyweight; buff, muscular, and tough. Morta was as stern as a judge, and so gaunt I could count the bones in her neck, and Nona, Nona seemed to be about twenty-three. She was a real looker, a fairy-tale princess, with sky-blue eyes and long golden hair.

Everything about them was unexpected. Out here with only a prison for company you’d have expected to find hard-livin’, toothless drunks, not three mystic, mechanical sisters.

Chapter 49


San Francisco — 1984

The Silver Bullet

River is on his way to Bert’s. Darkness has just begun to fall. A moon, bright and full as a night sun, rises over the city.  A howl pierces the night, long and mournful. It makes children shiver and moan in their sleep. It drives stray cats into doorways and under basements. It causes dogs to cower beneath beds, whimpering. It sends small rodents scurrying for cover. It raises the hairs on the back of River’s neck. They crackle with electricity. Huck spreads glossy wings and shoots from River’s shoulder, cawing.

Something leaps from the darkness, grabbing River. He tries to turn, but the something wrestles him to the ground. It has inhuman strength. Under the bright white of the moon, River glimpses sharp teeth, a long snout, and a wet, red tongue. He feels rough fur. Sharp claws cut his flesh. River, senses on alert, hears a door slam, then an explosion of gunfire. Something punches into the hairy body on top of him. The body seems unaffected, the strength unchanged.

“Use this,” he hears a soft voice say. He recognizes that voice. Then all is darkness.

He wakes alone and cold on the street. Turning, he sees the still form of a large wolf. As he watches, rough fur falls from skin, dispersing like dandelion fluff leaving a bare seed head. The head shortens, eyes narrow, ears curve, and limbs constrict.

Next to River lies Wang Lijun, eyes open and blank, staring into emptiness. Lijun is dead. River shuts his eyes. He drifts toward unconsciousness, hearing the howl that has haunted his full moon nights since childhood echoing in his head. Through closed lids, he feels the heat and bright of a light. Cautiously, he opens one eye.

Jackson and his partner are standing over him.

“Where did you get the gun, River?” Jackson asks.

River looks down. His right hand is wrapped around a cold black gun.

“EeEeEeEe!” The shrill, tuneless bouncing refrain of an ambulance deafens the night.

“Once you’re better, we’re going to be having a nice long chat, little buddy,” Jackson says. Jackson gently uncurls River’s hand from the gun. He wraps it in a white kerchief.

Just like they do in the movies, thinks River, drifting away into darkness.

Large paramedics clad in cool teal uniforms gently hoist River onto a white pad and push him into the small silver cage in the back. His arm is punctured by an intravenous needle. Liquids pump into him. Jackson follows in his patrol car. The ambulance driver never notices the large black crow flying beside him, never letting the ambulance out of sight.

Wang Lijun’s body is cradled in a white sheet…. His body has been pierced by over a dozen bullets, puncturing lungs, legs, and arms. The bullets all match the bullets in the gun in River’s hand… all except for one. It is the silver bullet that has pierced Lijun’s chest.


Morta needs her sharpest shears to sever the rough weave of the garment Nona has just finished: a high-necked jacket, red and brown. It is hard to believe that Nona’s smooth-as-velvet hands are not chapped by such coarse thread.

With rough work-worn hands, Decima lifts another almost finished piece from Nona’s loom. It’s a shroud, colorless and thin, connected to the woof by a thread so fragile a harsh breath might sever it.  Morta hovers over the strand, a pair of delicate golden filigree scissors in her hand. The blades resemble the long, fine head of a crane. The handles curl around her bony fingers like claws.

“Now, I think,” she says. “Now, when no one is around to see.” As she cuts, far away, in a pristine bed in The Quiet Dignity Coma Care Residential Facility, the rise and fall of breath ceases.

Chapter 50


Ray Brook, N.Y. — 1984

A Cry in the Night

That night, in my bed, I swear I heard Kristjan screaming… the sound a star might make falling to earth. I must have been dreaming, but it was so real I couldn’t forget.

That dream changed something in me. I got to taking odd bits and pieces, scraps lying around the shop that no one wanted, and welding them together. They grew into animals, like the metal just started coming alive in my hands. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true. I needed these creatures. They filled some part of me that was empty.

Decima and Morta might have looked hard, but they were great. They let me spend almost all my time crafting my tiny talismans of metal and junk. Usually, the bits of crap I had became crows, coyotes, and wolves. It was like they made themselves.

One day, as I was welding, that odd silver and gold coin fell out of my pocket onto the work bench. It vibrated like a gong. I cradled it in my hand, feeling its odd fire. I drilled a hole in the center and hung it round my neck on a thin piece of leather. I don’t know why. I hadn’t been into jewelry for a long, long time, but somehow, its heat in the crook of my neck was comforting.

Chapter 51


San Francisco — 1984

The Color of Blood

After his deliveries to the sisters, Gabriel dreams. He both dreads and desires the night visitations. They make his world more beautiful and more diverse, but also more fragile and more human. He is less in control for those brief instances in the night when eyes close and emotion takes command.

In the dark of his mind, he sees a brilliant scarlet. It is more vivid than fear, stronger than hope, truer than love. Only hunger could be as fierce as this color. It rushes through him like a river, it fills him like a flood. Gabriel feels alive and awake for the first time, though he slumbers.

Then ash blows across his internal vision, dulling ruby with embers, clouding the water with cinders. He hears screams of pain and sorrow. Voices of a man and a woman, unknown, yet remembered.

When Gabriel wakes, two shades in the black and white etching of his life are filled, brilliant scarlet and dark red. One of his orchids gleams like a jewel out of the monotone window jungle. It’s red as a heart, its fragrance soft and delicate as hope. It’s the color of new blood.

“Brazilian Red orchids are difficult to grow,” says Ryo. “But yours are doing well.” As usual, Gabriel does not hear him.

Watch the author read this week’s installment in the video below:
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NEXT WEEK: On my doorstep was a book. Frost was edging the trees, but the book was warm. The word Totems was scrawled on the cover. I recognized the writing. It was the same that had been on the envelope containing my thousand dollars. 

Edited by Mitchelle Lumumba and Sophie Gorjance.

E.E. King is cohost of the MetaStellar YouTube channel's Long Lost Friends segment. She is also a painter, performer, writer, and naturalist. She’ll do anything that won’t pay the bills, especially if it involves animals. Ray Bradbury called her stories “marvelously inventive, wildly funny and deeply thought-provoking. I cannot recommend them highly enough.” She’s been published widely, including Clarkesworld and Flametree. She also co-hosts The Long Lost Friends Show on MetaStellar's YouTube channel. Check out paintings, writing, musings, and books at ElizabethEveKing.com and visit her author page on Amazon.

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