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by Parker Lee

Morpheus Stamos held the penlight between his teeth, shining it on the book spines aligned on the mahogany shelf in front of him. The pattern of pictographs helped him identified the book he wanted, Demon Lullabies for Young and Old, and he carefully removed it from the shelf. Wrapped in soft leather, and held together by thin straps of green twine, the portfolio-sized manuscript released a light scent of vanilla and wet sand. He carefully placed the book into a silk-lined cloth bag and hung it over his back. He pushed the remaining books together, closing the gap, and stepped back from the library shelf.

He didn’t notice the small three-legged pedestal table that now stood where it hadn’t before. As his foot made contact with the table, he began falling backwards. With one free hand he reached out and grabbed a bookcase shelf, to steady himself and hold on; with the other hand he reached out for the crystal bowl on top of the table. He successfully avoided falling, but it was too late for the bowl. As the table tilted, the bowl toppled over, and the black substance it held spilled through his fingers onto the wooden floor. As the bowl hit the floor, its delicate crystal frame shattered into pieces.

Odd, he thought. The texture of the tiny gritty granules felt like warm sand, similar to the kind found on a hot beach. He steadied himself, stood up straight, and rubbed the grains between his fingers. He wondered why anyone would fill an expensive crystal bowl with sand. He also wondered how sand stored in an open bowl could maintain this level of warmth. The night-lights in the library provided just enough light for him to see what happened next.

The sand on the floor began to vibrate. It arranged itself into little hourglass mounds. The mounds began to take shape; a pair of feet and legs made way for hips, a waist, stomach, hands, arms, shoulders, a neck, and finally, a head. Like a genie from a bottle, the shape began solidifying into a human form with hair, a face, breasts, and clothes. Then she opened her eyes.

“I am Rem,” she said, nodding her head, imparting a slight bow. She stared at him through large, dark, almond-shaped eyes. Thick straight eyebrows, in perfect alignment, enhanced her eyes’ lovely light-amber color. Black hair, olive skin, high cheekbones, and full lips hinted at a Middle Eastern ancestry.

The library night-lights highlighted only her face, but it was enough for him to see that the person who stood before him was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.

As she looked down at the broken bowl and the broken table, her forehead crinkled, and her smile died. She bent down to retrieve the largest piece of the bowl, which was etched with the partial wings of a cherub. A fall of long thick black hair fell forward and obscured her face. He was mesmerized by her beauty and the graceful way she moved.

“This is a Lalique Luxembourg bowl!” She touched the table leg that had splintered away from its top. “And this is an eighteenth-century American Federal Period table!” She held the piece of the bowl up for him to see. “Ouww, this was my favorite crystal bowl!”

She whipped her body up. No longer cordial, her muscles tensed into a defensive stance. “How dare you! You have no idea how much history these items have witnessed!” She paused to study him more closely. When she had taken in the full picture—the black attire, cap, and gloves—the light of discovery in her eyes instantly shifted her demeanor from friendly to hostile. “These were among my most precious things. I can see why you’re here,” she said, “but tell me, who sent you?”

“I, um. Well, you see.” He tried thinking of something plausible to say under the circumstances. The truth–I’m a thief, hired to steal a centuries-old book of lullabies–simply wouldn’t do. He’d never in his adult life explained himself to anyone, but this woman made him want to confess this sin and many more. Not once in his entire sixteen-year career as a “connoisseur ” of ancient artifacts had he ever been caught, and he didn’t plan on breaking with tradition. His plan was to retire soon and become a consultant–a legal one.

“Explain yourself! Right! This! Minute!” Her tone was menacingly low, her fists clenched, her face an angry scowl.

He backed away. He wasn’t really afraid, but the way in which she’d made her appearance meant she wasn’t totally human, and he didn’t know what she was capable of. He might need to defend himself to avoid being turned into a nasty boil-covered toad, or worse.

“Well? I am waiting.” She compressed her lips into a tight horizontal line. Her arms crossed, the long clear lacquered fingernail on the index finger of her right hand tapped the top of her left elbow.

He didn’t want her pointing that finger at him and striking him with a lightning bolt. Think, think. What plausible answer could he give her? Hey there. My name is Morpheus. I’m a freelance professional connoisseur of ancient objects d’ art.  No, no, no. Too honest. That revelation would ruin his chance of ever getting a date–provided it was dark enough in the room that she wouldn’t recognize him later, and he believed it was. No point ruining a relationship before it began.

She continued to advanced until his back hit the bookcase. Now they were an arm’s width apart, and he couldn’t easily escape. At that moment a flash of inspiration shot into his mind like adrenaline. He looked down into her beautiful amber eyes, and instead of answering her question, he did the next best thing.

He kissed her.

The deep kiss was quick, and her eyes widened in surprise. What happened next would never have been on his list of multiple-choice answers for a test concerning what a women would do if she were kissed by an intruder in her home. He expected a kick to the shin, a slap, or that she’d use that perfectly manicured finger to literally curse him–because he was sure that she was capable of it. However, she did none of those things.

She simply fell to pieces at his feet.

He looked down and saw himself surrounded by sand. He felt heat rising up from the pile, and said “We’ll meet again.” He ensured that the book remained secured to his back, stepped over the sand pile, and ran from the house.


“Mr. Stamos, another job well-done. I trust that you have checked your account?” inquired the voice on the phone.

“Yes, and as always, I thank you for your business, sir,” Morpheus said.

“I’ll have more work for you soon.” The voice bid Morpheus goodbye and disconnected the call.

The Sandman picked up his latest best-selling book, The Single Monster’s Guide to Sex and Dating, walked out of his hotel suite, and returned to the hotel meeting room.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he began. “Oh, and um, creatures of the night,” he added, after the Wolfman shot him a glare. Ahhh, you politically correct types have always got a hair out of place, he wanted to say. Instead, he smiled and said, “Allow me to continue with the second part of the presentation. Please take your seats. I believe we have a testimony, and I have some good news to share with you.”

Nosferatu’s great, great, great, great-granddaughter, Rose, stood and looked around at the fifty or so workshop attendants. “I simply want to assure you all that the thirty thousand dollars you paid for the Sandman’s matchmaking service is well worth it. She held up her left hand, displaying a five-carat, red, pear-cut diamond. “It’s my favorite color and shape,” she said wiggling her fingers so that everyone could see it. “You’ll get those hard-to-mate daughters and sons married to their soul mates for sure.”

A group of vampires grumbled loudly at the sound of the “S” word.

“Sorry about that,” Rose said with a blush. “Just wanted to get my point across.”

“That remains to be seen,” sighed the Harpy. “I promised my sister Iris that I’d find husbands for her three daughters. Centuries have passed and they’re still getting into trouble like children, and I’m responsible. Just last week I collected Iris Jr. at the police station where she was being held for food theft and public intoxication. Her sister is known for stalking chefs. No one understands how difficult it is to marry off foodie kleptomaniacs,” she sniffled.

“Ha, you ought to try marrying-off women with snakes in their hair,” said a distant relative of Medusa.

Everyone began speaking at once.

“All right, calm down. I guarantee results or a full refund,” said the Sandman. “In fact, I want to share with you that I just introduced my niece to her future husband. And you’ll all receive official wedding invitations, of course.”

“No kidding?” said the Wolfman, with a perplexed look on his face.

“Well,” said Bigfoot, “as I recall she’s a real beauty. Can hardly see how that’s a challenge. Now, marrying off a hairy daughter with big feet? That’s a challenge,” he moaned.

“We are in agreement,” chimed the Furies in unison. “Lots of men want three women, but only for one thing. We need love, and sincerity,” they sniffled.

“Looks are deceiving my friends,” said the Sandman. “My niece Rem only appears easily matched. That one is very picky, and spoiled by a life of luxury. Her mother has introduced her to thousands of men over the past century, but none were good enough. That’s when I suggested that she might be avoiding marriage until, like the items she collects, she finds perfection.”

“Well, how do you know she’ll marry this one?” asked the Banshee. “Who is he? Is he perfect?”

The Sandman smiled. “He’s a freelancer who does occasional work for me. She’ll marry him because he’s handsome, smart, adventurous, and knows fine art and antiquities as well as she does.

“They’re a perfect match. She even swooned after the first kiss. I anticipate a June wedding,” he said with a mischievous grin.



Parker Lee is a freelance journalist and nonfiction book author who lives and writes in the Midwest. Her work has appeared in national and international publications. She loves writing genre fiction, and is currently working on her next short story. In her spare time she enjoys reading, hiking, antiquing, and traveling with her husband.