Crooning of a Celestial Cyclops This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

June 3, 2017

Tonight, she is half asleep. The silver crest of her singular lid burns above you as you creep between frozen sentinels of oak and evergreen, hoping she will not betray you. If used wisely, her slumber can become your camouflage.
You look up, chilled to see how much her slitted eye resembles the Cheshire grin of a jackal. Shadows move above, dark cloud against darker space, shifting like continental plates beneath a black ocean. The air seems to drop ten degrees.
Behind you a branch snaps. Goosebumps needle across your exposed flesh as a howl slices the winter air. It is an acolytes cry. The prayer you utter from your own lips is no more than a thin zephyr rising on the winter air.
Another howl. Closer this time. This one is both ardent and empty. You realize the forest is thick with her lovers. The hour when they creep out from their hiding places and into her field of vision is at hand. This knowledge turns your heart to a silver hammer, playing a tattoo of terror up and down your rib cage.
She is an Eye, but her lovers are Ears and you wish for nothing more than to open your own chest and remove the bloody and treacherous bird from its cage of bone before it leads them to your hiding place.
All at once, a path appears. Perhaps you did not see it before. Perhaps it is lunar witchcraft. Above, her vitreous humor illuminates the narrow trail and you wonder if she is playing a game of mercy or if she intends to trick you.
She is silver, but she is also mercurial. Sometimes her eye is a compass to guide vessels across a lonely sea. Sometimes she dons a faerie crown of burnished violet. Sometimes her cornea milks over and appears rotten, grey and pocked as the moist flesh of a toadstool.
In a way, you yourself are one of her acolytes. The tides of your body pulse to her whims. You hope that somehow this endears her to you, but frigid uncertainty throws you off balance as you advance toward the path which is either a gift or a death sentence.
No howls haunt your steps and every dozen paces or so you begin to relax. Maybe she favors you tonight. Maybe you are riding the tide of her indifference, or better: her generosity. Like Titania she is fading into an enchanted slumber and you are free to find your way home.
But in the end she is a fickle mistress, and when she blinks the trees disappear completely. Far away in her bower of stars, she has abandoned you for dreaming.
Footfalls, soft and close, encircle you. Small orbs appear both to your left and to your right. They are silver, as if the hours of heavenward gazing have caused them to become the exact color of their celestial patroness, and when at last she peers down from the sky again it is only to illuminate teeth and fang.
You try to run, but her gaze is everywhere and you are exposed. You can feel the dry heat of her high priests, smell their foul breath as they draw close. Everything happens quickly now. When she looks into your open wounds, your blood turns black.
Far away in her bower of stars, the Moon watches, impassive.

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