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Dream Quest One Third Writing Prize Winner
Winter 2005-2006
Terry Weide
of Kansas City, Missouri - USA

          It was just after midnight, and he was sitting on a wide bench looking up at the stars. The new moon tilted on its side behind him, casting him half in light, half in shadow, as it bid its adieu to the old.

Turning at my approach, he gave me a quick look of appraisal, then gestured for me to sit down. I did so while appraising him in return.

He was tall and his shirt was silver, his pants black. A turquoise, Navaho pendant hung at his neck. His nose looked like it might have been broken once, but the moonlight made it hard to tell.

“Thanks for coming,” he remarked. “I don’t get as many visitors as I used to.”

“Thanks for having me. I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet you when you were alive. I kept telling myself I’d do that next year.”


“Don’t worry about it. You’re meeting me now. Besides, I have the sense you wanted to talk to me.”

“True,” I said. “I always wondered what would have happened had we met. That’s what brought me to this place.”

 “Anything special you want to know?”

 “Just the basics. How to spin yarns. Whether it’s worth it to lead a life as a teller of tales.”

He chuckled and withdrew a pipe. “This could be a long night. I don’t suppose you’ve any tobacco? It’s a bit hard to come by here.”

It had occurred to me there might be such a request. I reached into my jacket, took out a pouch, handed it to him. He opened it, filled the pipe and struck a


~Page 1~


match. The flame illumined his angular, cadaverous features. Then the match died and the shadows returned. He started to hand the pouch back. I motioned for him to keep it. We sat back, relaxing. Tobacco smoke and silence drifted on the air. At last he spoke.


“Spinning yarns is easy enough. All it takes is imagination. You’ve got that, or you wouldn’t be here.”

“What about the rest,” I asked, “is creating fantasies a worthwhile way to spend life?”

“Of course it is. Why wouldn’t it be? What kind of... You’re serious, aren’t you? Well,...

hmm... I don’t know. Yes, no, maybe, all of the above. It’s as worthwhile as anything else, I

suppose. In the end, it comes down to what you want to do and if you can make a living at it.


I could. That’s the difference between me and a lot of others, even those with talent. I got paid.”

“You were everyone’s favorite,” I said. “One of the all time best. I often thought that if I could be anyone other than myself, I’d liked to have been you.”

There was a snort beside me.

“That’s no good. You can’t be me—you have to be yourself. That’s all any of us can do, no matter where we are. Tell me, do you enjoy your work?”

“Yes,” I replied, “I do.”

“More than anything else?”

“I believe so.”


“Believing won’t help. You’ve got to know. Put it like this, would you be happy as a butler or bottle washer?”

“Maybe for a time,” I answered, “but I’d always be looking for a way out.”

“Then you’ve answered your own question. It doesn’t matter if it’s a worthwhile life or not. You’ve got it and you’re stuck with it. Good luck.”

“Gee, thanks.”


 ~Page 2~


“It’s not that bad. You’ll get to create your own realities instead of living other people’s. Once in awhile, you might make some money. What more do you want?”

“Got any pointers for success?”

“Write about kingdoms to be won, a damsel or two to be saved, not too many, just enough to make things interesting. Stuff like that always sells. Have some sword fights, throw in some fencing terms and phrases in French. That’ll make your critics mad.” He chuckled again.

I laughed with him. In person, his ironic humor was even funnier than in his writings.

“Remember to have fun, though,” he went on. “A little wenching and carousing, a bottle of wine now and again, a good book of poetry, a fight or two, all those things would be good for most authors, some more so than others. Makes for interesting reading.” He looked at the sky once more, noting the positions of the constellations. “I should be going. There’s more work to being dead than you think.

“I’ll bet.”


“Yes. I’m meeting Chaucer. He’s going to show me his ‘unedited’ tales. That should be worthwhile.”

He tamped the pipe against the bench and stood. So did I and extended my hand. He gave it a strong clasp.

“One other thing,” he remarked. “Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not any good. None of my fans ever had to apologize. Whatever you can dream, you can live. So get out there and live.”

“I will,” I assured him, as he released my hand. “Before you go, though, could you autograph this?” Pulling a worn paperback from my jacket, I handed it to him. He looked slightly chagrined. I thought he was going to tell me I had enormous chutzpah, but his eyebrows quirked at the title.

“My, that was a long time ago,” was his comment. Opening the cover, he turned to the fly leaf, then took out a pen. “I haven’t signed anything in over 10 years. I


~Page 3~


may be rusty.” He scribbled a dedication and handed the book back. “There you go, kid.”

Suddenly, he was moving down a path that appeared as if just summoned into existence. It pulsed and sparkled in the moonlight and silver roses grew in soft luminescence along its edges like flowers stolen from the mind of Van Gogh. I’d wondered, sometimes, where they’d come from.


“Hey,” I called.

He looked back.

“Thanks for all the stories.”

He smiled and stepped away, into shadows, as it should be.

I opened the book and read the dedication. The letters glowed with an amber fire. To a fan.

Good-bye and hello, as always. Closing the paperback, I returned it to my jacket. Starting on my own way, a demon wind propelled me west of the moon, towards the realms of light.


~Page 4~


#  #  #

By Terry Weide

Missouri, USA



In memoriam, Roger Zelazny, 1937— 1995. My favorite author, whom I still miss. - Terry Weide


Terry Weide is the author of  a fantasy novel, Dream of Power, Dream of Glory,  which won the 2004 Preditors and Editors poll for best sci-fi/fantasy book. His writing has also appeared in Flash Me Magazine, Flashshot, The Verb, The Sword Review, Whispering Spirits, and Alien Skin e-zines, on the OnceWritten.com site, and in the print magazines Moon Reader, Midday Moon, and The Writers Post Journal. He is the author of a chapbook of poetry, Suburb of the Mind, and a digest book of poetry, stories, and essays, Skipping Across Creation, both from Snark Publishing.  He thanks all those who take the time to read his work.