Fiction: “Want’s Master” by Pat Bowne
(Originally published in Tales of the Unanticipated, 2002.)
When William Harrison Gracile came in to work at four-thirty in the afternoon looking as if he had aged twenty years overnight, his suit hanging loose on a wizened frame, his secretary wished him good day and went back to her typing. Gracile was offended. He had never been late to work before; he had never come in with a hair out of place. He deserved better from his secretary, he thought. She should make shocked noises, ask after his health, give unsought advice; she should stop him, as he went into his office. “I’m sorry,” she should say, “I don’t want to intrude, but…”
“Oh, by the way,” said his secretary, “a package came for you. I put it on your desk.”
A package was exciting, even to someone of an age and station that begged for unsolicited, meaningless packages.
Pat Bowne missed graduate school, so she made up her own university: The Royal Academy of the Arcane Arts and Sciences at Osyth, where “battling your demons” is more than a figure of speech. Folks at the Royal Academy have been suffering through meetings, attending ill-fated conferences, and pursuing their research into denizens of the netherworld ever since. Fans of academic satire can follow them through three novels’ worth of adventure (Advice From Pigeons, A Lovesome Thing, and Swept and Garnished), and a variety of reissued novellas, either standalone or in the collection Want’s Master and Other Stories from Osyth. The best place to keep up with all things Osyth is the Royal Academy’s website at raosyth.com.
About the Narrator:
Dan Kelly is an artist allowing the universe to deliver his wildest dreams. Other than a high school diploma and a few random certificates for esoteric skills like Steadicam operation and freediving, Dan is giddily sans credentials and credibility. Born just before all those iconic Americans were rubbed out, he now thrives at the northern edge of the USA amidst paranoid prepper enclaves and socialist sleeper cells. Dan likes movies and with a little luck, he’ll be releasing his first open source inspired featurette, a post-apocalyptic romantic comedy titled Daughter of God sometime in the late summer of 2016. You can learn more at dankelly.sexy.