Issue #1 |

The Cold Boy

The forest is hardwood and the branches of the oaks and maples and sycamores and walnuts would have been bare except for the crows, hundreds of them, all huddled like little men in black cloaks. Together they make a rusty music—clicking their beaks and rustling their feathers and clawing the bark and hissing and muttering and cawing—that can be heard from some distance, at least a quarter mile away, across a snowy cornfield, where Ray stands on a frozen pond.

The stubs of last year’s cornstalks fang through the snow and two sets of footprints lead like a rough blue stream from his house to the pond. Two sets of footprints, yet he is alone on the ice and the cold of it rises through the soles of his boots, creeping up his legs, into his belly, seizing him.

The pond is big, close to a half-acre, with three holes melted into its ice from the warm springs beneath. The holes are big enough to drive a car through, the ice at their rim gradually thinning into a silver sliver that gives way to the dark water at their center.

To read more, please purchase a copy of Issue #1, 2014

Benjamin Percy is the author of three novels, The Dead Lands (forthcoming from Grand Central/Hachette in 2014), Red Moon and The Wilding, as well as two books of short stories, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His fiction and nonfiction have been published in Esquire (where he is a contributing editor), GQ, Time, Men’s …

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