Sarah Singleton — The Preacher

Winter fell over the town and wolves came from the sea at night. They burst through a rim of ice at the sea’s edge and plunged across the beach: huge, broad-chested, spikes of iron on their shoulders.

They loped among the houses, heads low, pressing against locked doors. They milled about the market cross in the bright, frigid moonlight, and sprawled over tombstones in the churchyard, mouths hanging open, breath like fog about the graves.

It was a time of monsters. A giant made up of half a dozen drowned men, stripped bone and rags of seaweed sat on the harbour wall and sobbed. Three mermaids, shark-toothed and silver-skinned, lounged in a rock pool, picking the eyes from fish. Fishing boats blackened and rotted in the corrosive ice.

A boy at a window in the church spire, candle burning, stared at the waste land. Who were they looking for, the wolves? Who’d summoned them? He picked up an old knife, dull from age and use, and tested the edge with his thumb.

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