by Leanbh Pearson
The musician sat beside the hearth, clothing threadbare and hair unkempt.
“Don’t ask me to play. I cannot resist.”
Men laughed, eyeing the wretch. “You something special then?”
He lifted the battered fiddle. “A Näcken was drowning children in a brook. If I answered his three questions, he’d gift this instrument and his uncanny music to me. And I bested him but cursed myself.”
“Play for us then,” someone scoffed.
Smiling wearily, he obliged. The music was as sweet as a midsummer brook, gentle like raindrops on a lake, but it dragged us under to our graves all the same.
Leanbh Pearson lives on Ngunnawal Country in Canberra, Australia. An LGBTQI dark fiction author, inspired by folklore, mythology, archaeology and the environment, her fiction features in numerous anthologies. When not writing, she enjoys exploring the Australian wilderness accompanied by her dogs (the canine assistants).