When Blind Side of Life whinnied nervously, Hamr and Kirchi untangled themselves from their lovemaking. The moon tilted like a cup, high in the blue depth of night. Out over the tundra, in the western darkness, another moon had begun to rise—a swell of ghostly light. Blind Side whined as it rose higher, though he caught no scent or sound.
Hamr quickly donned his antelope loin-wrap and deerskin sandals. He crouched beside the fire, spear in hand. The moonshape took form as a huge beast loping toward them with a howl of wintry wind.
Hamr’s hackles bristled. He had never heard the wraith before, nor seen it moving. Its huge head slung forward, fanged mouth brushing the ground. He looked to Kirchi, who had wrapped herself in her grass robe and fumbled with her bag for the warding powder.
With a lean-legged stride, the Moon Bitch hurtled itself at them. Its bat-fanged face glared, and as it neared, Hamr noticed that its wrinkly eyes indeed glowered like the crone’s.
When Hamr rose to meet it, Kirchi grabbed his leg. “Don’t leave the circle!”
The storm-whistle of the Moon Bitch cracked the air. Ripped seams of green fire fell like a net over the area of the magic circle. Fangs drooling, the beast pounced.
Hamr and Kirchi cowered as the monster crashed into the invisible barrier, bounced off, and lay in a stunned crouch. The moonstones at the four points of the circle pulsed crimson.
Howling, the Moon Bitch slashed her talons across the nearest power point, trying to dislodge the stone. Lightning met her at the edge of the circle, and her claws came away curled with pain.
Her head low, the Moon Bitch glared at the lovers, hissing so loudly that Hamr and Kirchi cried out as one and hid their faces.
Sudden silence made them look up. A slavering grin distorted the Bitch’s muzzle. With new purpose, she strode to where the Blind Side of Life strained at his tether. The horse bucked and neighed in terror.
No!” Hamr yelled, and leaped to his feet.
Kirchi threw her arms around him, and he staggered backward.
The Moon Bitch leaped upon Blind Side’s back. Her powerful hind talons ripped the stallion’s flanks. Her fangs stabbed at his throat while he bucked and kicked wildly. Blood shot out in black jets at his flanks.
Hamr threw off Kirchi’s hold and leaped out of the circle. His spear held high, his war cry rattled in his throat.
Immediately, the Moon Bitch abandoned the horse. Hamr heaved his spear. The weapon sailed harmless through the apparition, and stabbed the tree where Blind Side tugged his tether.
The wraith smashed Hamr to the ground. Her powerful jaws pierced his chest, and blood sprayed over his face, surged up his nostrils and down his throat with the bitterness of death.
Hamr’s hands fell away from the scaly body of the Moon Bitch and seized the Moon Serpent at his hip. The fangs knifed deeper into him, and he heard his ribs crack. With a last flare of strength, he gripped the black-glass dagger in both hands and drove it up hard into the Moon Bitch’s belly.
She roared with pain, and her hind legs frenzied, tearing open Hamr’s abdomen and kicking his bowels out behind her.
Hamr pulled down with all that remained of his life, slitting the belly of the Moon Bitch. She reared, her mad visage twisted, and a cascade of live blood and sticky tangles of hot matter spilled out over him. With the last gasp of breath in him, Hamr wept aloud, for the bloody knots of tissue flowing from the Bitch’s underbelly thrashed alive!
Red-fleshed, raw foetal monsters slithered over him. Glossy, big as rats, their lidless yolk eyes stared mindlessly as they whirled squealing on furious claws into the pitch darkness.
From Hunting the Ghost Dancer
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By Salam Tims
Hunting the Ghost Dancer is an exciting and wonderful adventure set at the dawn of human life, when our species were hunter-gatherers sharing the world with dwindling numbers of our Neanderthal “cousins”. The characters are vividly drawn and stay with you long after the story is over. The story is an epic adventure in which surviving members of an enslaved clan seek a new life in the northern forests and tundra where they encounter a “Ghost Dancer”, maybe the last of his kind, a giant mystical Neanderthal who channels spirits – light and dark – who dwell in the planet’s magnetic field. His quest for a place among the spirits of light, aided and accompanied by a young human female, informs much of the story. I’ve read this novel maybe least half a dozen times. Like all great tales, it never gets old. A.A. Attanasio writes high adventure in lyrical language that lifts the spirit of the reader even as it entertains and enchants. If you’ve not read his books yet, you have a great adventure awaiting you…