Hellooo and welcome to the book club discussing Closing Time by George R.R. Martin. Like each book club story on this blog, the reading and commenting is done at your own pace. Have fun and enjoy!
I have started a book club re-read for the older works of George R.R. Martin for purposes such as research, scholarship, and teaching. I own all copies of material that is used for this book club. If you have not yet a story listed, please check with your local bookstore for your own reading material to purchase. (Indie Bookstore Finder) The full list of GRRM stories outside of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I have read can be found on this page here.
This short story was published in 1982, around the time Martin was working on other stories such as:
- Nightflyers, 1980. Transcribed here.
- One Wing with Lisa Tuttle, 1980.
- Guardians (of Tuf Voyaging), 1981.
- Remembering Melody, 1981. Transcribed here.
- In the Lost Lands, 1982. Discussed here.
- The Monkey Treatment, 1983.
I cannot find much online, on Not A Blog, or in either Dreamsongs anthology books that provides GRRM comments on this story. It was included in the anthology Portraits of His Children, which includes a wonderful forward by personal friend and fellow author Roger Zelazny. I might transcribe the entire forward tilted “A Sketch of their Father” one day soon, as Zelazny was quite the poet and wordsmith himself.
A few repeating themes readers of A Song of Ice and Fire, and Martinworld as whole, will notice is to be careful what you wish for- you just might get it, as well as personal choice, power and how to handle it, Armageddon, as well as plenty of skinchanging/greenseeing prototyping that GRRM will expand on with each proceeding story.
Per usual, I have added my own notes along the way. Feel free to use them as a starting point for conversation, or feel free to skip them and chat away about something else you noticed and want to discuss.
This story is almost a bar rag type of blague, so let’s get serious about not being serious.
I also want to re-note, as I sometimes forget to mention it, but when I transcribe one of these older stories, I scribe as printed, mistakes and all. If you have any questions, just ask.
If you want a short-ish video to watch or listen to that gives highlights of this story, tyr this…
Closing Time by George R.R. Martin
The world ended on a slow Tuesday night.
The rain had been coming down heavily since mid-afternoon, and trade was lousy. Hank was washing some beer steins and listening to Barney Dale relate his marital woes. He has heard all of Barney’s marital woes before, but there was nothing else to do. The Happy Hour crowd had departed early tonight, and Barney was the only customer in the joint.
“Nothing I do pleases her,” Barney was mumbling into his draft. He was a short, balding, elderly fellow whose wife had been browbeating him for forty years now. Hank had been earwitness to at least five of those years. “I’ll really catch it tonight,” Barney said, “Out drinking beer, she hates that, and she’s bigger than me. She–”
That was when the door swung open and Milton stalked in, wet and angry. He stood in the open door, rain pattering on the asphalt of the parking lot behind him, while his eyes swept back and forth across the dim, empty barroom. “Where is he?” he said loudly. “I’m going to kill the mothafuckah, I swear I am.”
Hank sighed. It was going to be another one of those nights. “First close the door, Milt,” he called out. “The rain’s coming in.”
“Oh,” said Milton. Underneath his temper, he was actually kind of a sweetheart, though you’d never know it to look at him. He stood six foot seven with fists the size of cinder blocks, and twice as hard. “Sorry,” he said, a bit abashed. He closed the door and came striding over to the bar, working his glower with every step. He was drenched, and his shoes squished when he walked, but his anger was so palpable you almost expected the moisture to come boiling off as steam.
- Squisher in ASOIAF.
- This physical and attitudinal description actually near exactly with Hairy Mike Dunn from Fevre Dream.
“The usual, Milt” Hank asked. He flicked water off a stein, wiped it desultorily with his towel, and stood it next to the others.
“Yeah,” said Milton. He yanked out a barstool and sat down next to Barney, who was blinking at him in mildly inebriated astonishment. “And you tell me where that jiveass turkey has got himself to,” he added.
“Who is it has you so worked up?” Hank asked, as he pulled out the cream de menthe and set to work on the grasshopper.
- Two things stick out to me here. One being the maybe connection I discovered a while back that maybe links Pinocchio to Bran (and talked to GRRM about it), and Petyr Littlefinger Baelish, who is trying to pull a fast one with Sansa the latent skinchanger, his breath always smells of mint.
“Sleazy Pete,” Milton growled. “I’m going to wring his skinny lil’ neck for him. Where the hell is he? He hangs around here Tuesday, don’t he? I know he does. You tell that bastid he ain’t gonna duck me, no way.”
Hank spun a coaster onto the bar and placed the grasshopper on top of it. Milton wrapped one huge meaty hand around it, and glared over at Barney Dale as if daring him to make a comment. Barney suddenly discovered something of enormous interest in the bottom of his stein.
- The Skin Trade- as the hero, Willie Flambeaux, walks into a barThe bartender was an old guy, hard and dry as a stick of wood. He looked mean. Willie considered ordering a banana daiquiri, just to see what the guy would say, but one look at that sour, twisted old face cured the impulse, and he asked for a boilermaker instead. “Ed working tonight?” he asked when the bartender brought the drinks.
“You’re too early,” Hank said. “Pete will be in a little over four hours from now.”
Milton sipped his grasshopper and grunted.
Barney raised his stein and smiled tentatively. Hank took it and drew him another. As he set it down, Barney said, “Now how do you know just when he’s going to be in, Hank? You one of them ESP fellows my missus is always reading me about from the Enquirer?”
- A few more things here. ESP is reused again in the Thousand Worlds universe as “esper”, as in a psi-onic/telepathic talent of some sort. Then there are whisperjewels that are esper-etched by certain people with the talent, and esper-etching a crystal is a way to store memory and emotions. Also, mentally reaching out and touching is the best way (aside from sex) to read another person’s mind. Enquiring minds want to know…
Hank smiled. “ESP don’t come in to it. Pete’s a regular. I know my regulars. I know where they live, and what they do for buck, and how many kids they got, and what kind of cars they drive. And I sure as hell know when they come in. Pete usually comes in early, except for Tuesdays during the summers. He always goes to a movie or a ballgame on Tuesdays. He’ll be in a couple hours before closing time.” Hank picked up another stein and dipped it into the dishwater.
“I’ll wait,” Milton said. “When the sumbitch comes in, I’ll bust his goddamn head, you wait and see.”
“Sure thing,” Hank agreed. He didn’t like trouble in his place, but he wasn’t too worried. He knew his regulars. Milton couldn’t hold his grasshoppers, and he was a maudlin, amiable drunk. By the time Sleazy Pete wandered in, Milt would be a pussycat. “Why are you so corked off at Pete?” Hank asked conversationally. Anything was better than Barney’s marital woes. ” I thought you two were buddies.”
- “Only Cat.” -Petyr Baelish
“Buddies!” Milton roared. “I’ll kill the mothafuckah. He gypped me. Here, take a look at this.” He pulled something out of his pocket and toss it onto the bar.
Barney Dale sipped his beer and stared at the thing curiously, not bold enough to reach for it. Hank set down the stein he was washing, came over, picked it up. It was a round amulet, on a heavy metal chain. He held it up to the light, and twisted it slowly. “Gold?” he asked.
“Hell, no,” Milton said. “Brass. Even Pete ain’t stupid enough to sell it if it was gold.”
The amulet had a nice heft to it. Hank examined it more closely. All around the outside rim were little carvings of animals, all kinds of animals. In the center was a milky white stone of some sort. The lines ran in from the animals to the stone, like spokes on a wheel. “Interesting,” Hank said. “What’s the crystal in the middle?”
- “…like spokes on a wheel.”
“Glass,” said Milton. “Milkglass. Sleazy Pete said it was moonstone, whatever the hell that is, but it ain’t.”
- Moonstone in ASOIAF is worn by Brynden Bloodraven Rivers, an archetype GRRM has been developing rather consistently for decades. It is only in ASOIAF that GRRM had to fit him in somehow to the Targaryen line (that Bloodraven then refused). We even have a ‘bastard’ here and in ASOIAF being associated with skinchanging.
Hank put the amulet back on the bar. “Can I look at it?” Barney asked, timidly. Milton stared at him and nodded.
“Pete sold it to you?” Hank said. Sleazy Pete ran a little, used bookstore and bric-a-brac shop a few blocks away, and was always coming in with one piece of junk or another and trying to sell it to some drunk. This wouldn’t be the first time it had gotten him in trouble.
“Damn right,” Milton said, “Lying lil’ weasel. Got fifty bucks out of me for that ugly thing. I mean to get it back if I got to take it out of his hide.”
- A few notions that will lead to the story The Skin Trade as well as the Bolton-Stark battles through the ages.
“Why’d you buy it? Think it was gold?”
Milton frowned, finished his grasshopper, and signaled for another. “Hell, no,” he said. “Do I look stupid or something? Knew it weren’t no gold. Only I was drunk, and Pete said the damn thing was magic. You know. A fucking magic amulet.”
“Ah,” said Hank. “So you bought it because you thought it was magic, and it wasn’t.”
Milton looked pained. He stared morosely at the bar, shredding his coaster in his big hands. Hank gave him another grasshopper. “That ain’t it, exactly,” Milton said finally, with a touch of reluctance. “it’s magic all right, but not like Pete said it’s be.”
Hank looked up from his dishwater. “What?” he said. Barney Dale was staring too, looking from the amulet to Milton and then down again, blinking his watery blue eyes as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
A Game of Thrones – Bran III
..At the heart of the godswood, the great white weirwood brooded over its reflection in the black pool, its leaves rustling in a chill wind. When it felt Bran watching, it lifted its eyes from the still waters and stared back at him knowingly.
- Watery eyes, like Bran’s blue eyes, or Sweetrobin’s weepy watery eyes, are common links to having some sort of greensight. Why Bloodraven is a Rivers. Bran and Sweetrobin’s similarities are discussed here.
“You heard me,” Milton said, frowning again. “The damned thing works. Only…” He paused, a bit perplexed. “Maybe I ought to start at the beginning.”
A Game of Thrones – Prologue
“We should start back,” Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.
“That’s generally a good place to start,” Hank said. He was thinking that maybe it would be an interesting night after all, at least for a Tuesday.
- Origin of Tuesday: Old English Tīwesdæg ‘day of Tīw’, a Germanic god of war and the sky; translation of Latin dies Marti ‘day of Mars’, the god Tīw being equated with the Roman god Mars.
“It was a couple of weeks back,” Milton said. “Right in here, this very damn place. I had a bit to drink, you know, and Sleazy Pete comes over and shows me that thing and gives me this pitch about its powers. It was supposed to be, like, a thing for changing.”
“Changing?” Hank said.
A Dance with Dragons – Melisandre I
Mance Rayder chuckled. “I had my doubts as well, Snow, but why not let her try? It was that, or let Stannis roast me.”
“The bones help,” said Melisandre. “The bones remember. The strongest glamors are built of such things. A dead man’s boots, a hank of hair, a bag of fingerbones. With whispered words and prayer, a man’s shadow can be drawn forth from such and draped about another like a cloak. The wearer’s essence does not change, only his seeming.”
Milton waved his hand irritably. “Shiftin’ shape, that’s what the bastid Pete called it. You know, werewolf stuff, like in them old movies. Only this thing don’t change you into no wolf, Pete says, which was fine with me, ’cause I didn’t see no sense in running around ripping out any anybody’s throat, you know? He says it’ll change me into a bird. Says he used it himself, during the full moon, which is the only time it works, and he changed into this big hawk, flew around all night. Only Pete got this thing about heights, you know, so he didn’t want the change. Only it ain’t something you got any choice about, he says. If you own the goddamned amulet, when that ol’ moon comes pokin’ up, you change.
- Moonblood. Sansa in the Vale as a bird-type symbolism flies all around her. Jon at the wall with the blue flower as a signal of his warg “moonblood” abilities becoming realized; puberty, flowering (and warning to Dany). In the Targaryen family, controlling moonblood has a different meaning.
“Well, hell, I ain’t got no thing about heights, and I always wanted to fly, you know, only I never had the goddamn money. Sounded like it’d be a lot of fun. So we dickered over the price for a bit, and finally I bought the damn thing and took it home and waited for the next full moon.”
Barney had the amulet in his hand. “Last night was the first night of the full moon,” he said, peering cautiously over at Milton.
“Damn right it was,” Milton said.
“And you didn’t change,” Han asked.
“Shit, I changed all right, but not into a goddamn hawk. I’m gonna kill me that lying sumbitch, I tell you. He really sold me a bill of goods. Worst fuckin’ night of my life.”
There was a brief silence. Neither of them wanted to press him. Finally Barney Dale cleared his throat and said, “If you don’t mind me asking, er, exactly what kind of change did you experience?”
Milton took a long sip from his grasshopper, then turned slowly and deliberately an his stool to face Barney. Beneath his thick, bushy eyebrows, his eyes were squinty and mean. “What’s your name again, little man?”
Barney swallowed. “Er, Barney. Barney Dale.”
Milton smiled. “Listen up good, Mister Barney Dale. I’m gonna answer your question, you hear. But you better not laugh. I’m telling you out front. You laugh and I’m gonna twist your little head clean off and drop kick it about fifty yards down the goddamned street. You got that?”
“Er,” said Barney. “Yes. Sure. I wouldn’t dream of laughing.”
“Real good,” said Milton. “Well, the thing if it is, I turned into a rabbit.”
Barney didn’t laugh, Hank had to give him that. He was too scared to laugh. Hank didn’t laugh either, but he found himself fighting to suppress a grin. “A rabbit?” he said.
“A rabbit. You know, a goddamned Easter bunny. Hippidy hop, hippidy hop. One of them.”
“Oh,” said Barney. He peered down at the amulet again, and adjusted his glasses.
“A rabbit ain’t no hawk,” Milton said.
“That’s true,” Hank agreed.
“It was a goddamed nightmare, I tell you, and that mothafuckah is going to pay for every goddamned minute of hell I went through. City ain’t no place for a rabbit.”
“Not even a wererabbit,” Hank said, smiling.
“No, sire. Nearly got run down by cars, and this one cat cornered me in this alley, and I was lucky to get out with my skin, and later on there was this dog that chased me for miles, I swear. And the kids, the stinkin’ little brats, they were the worst. Some of ’em threw stones and some wanted to catch me and make me a pet. All goddamned night it was just hop, hop, hop, one fucking thing after another.” He shuddered. “My legs are sore as hell, too. I swear, when Pete comes in, I’m going to take this goddamn amulet of his and shove it up where the sun don’t shine.”
The World of Ice and Fire – The Riverlands
The seven-pointed star went everywhere the Andals went, borne before them on shields and banners, embroidered on their surcoats, sometimes incised into their very flesh. In their zeal for the Seven, the conquerors looked upon the old gods of the First Men and the children of the forest as little more than demons, and fell upon the weirwood groves sacred to them with steel and fire, destroying the great white trees wherever they found them and hacking out their carved faces.
Barney Dale was turning the amulet round and round in his hands. “There’s no rabbit on here,” he said.
“What?’ Milton snapped.
Barney put the disc on the bar between them. “Look,” he said, “there’s no rabbit. I thought perhaps these pictures along the rim gave some indication of how it worked. You see? If there was a hawk, and then a rabbit, well, that would make sense, wouldn’t it? Then we could see what followed , and no doubt the next bearer of the amulet would turn into that, whatever it might be. Only there’s no rabbit, see? Here’s a bird”– he pointed– “and there’s a wolf, and some kind of big cat, and all kinds of other predators, but there’s no rabbit. I think these are just decorative.”
A Dance with Dragons – Prologue
Dogs were the easiest beasts to bond with… The wolf is part of you from that day on, and you’re part of him. Both of you will change.”
Other beasts were best left alone, the hunter had declared. Cats were vain and cruel, always ready to turn on you. Elk and deer were prey; wear their skins too long, and even the bravest man became a coward. Bears, boars, badgers, weasels … Haggon did not hold with such. “Some skins you never want to wear, boy. You won’t like what you’d become.” Birds were the worst, to hear him tell it. “Men were not meant to leave the earth. Spend too much time in the clouds and you never want to come back down again. I know skinchangers who’ve tried hawks, owls, ravens. Even in their own skins, they sit moony, staring up at the bloody blue.”
Milton grunted. “Decorative. So what? Hell, I bet Pete turned into a rabbit too, them pictures don’t mean nothing. He knew what he was gettin’ rid of, you bet he did. I’m going to kill him. I’m going to kill him.”
Barney glanced at his watch. “Er,” he said, “pardon me, but you will run into a little problem there.”
Milton looked over, incredulous. “You think I’m going to have a problem beating the hell out of a lil’ nothing like Sleazy Pete?”
“I’m afraid you are,” said Barney. “Hank said that Pete won’t be in until a few hours before closing.” He looked at his watch again. “And, if I have the correct time, moonrise will be along in about forty minutes or so. Long before closing time. You’ll be a rabbit when Pete arrives, if what you said is true.”
Milton winced as if struck. “Oh, shit,” he said. He looked around wildly. “Hank,” he squealed, “you’ve gotta help me. Keep me here till dawn. Don’t let no kids get me.”
- “…Don’t let no kids get me.”
Hank shrugged. He was enjoying this immensely. “Anything for a regular,” he said. “I got some lettuce in the fridge, too. And we can probably win a few bar bets with you, if anybody ever comes in.”
Barney hefted the amulet in his hand. “I’ve got a better idea,” he said. “I’ll but this from you.”
Milton stared. “You’ll what?”
“I’ll buy it,” Barney repeated, amiably. “Fifty dollars, you said? Here.” He pulled out his wallet, extracted two twenties and a ten, and laid them on the bar. “Go on, pick it up, and then the amulet will be off your hands. You won’t change, and when your friend comes in, you can beat him into a bloody pulp.” He hefted the amulet again. It looked like a tiny golden wheel in his hand, with a cloudy white hubcap. “What do you say?”
Milton looked at Barney for a long moment, then gave a whoop of laughter and snatched up the money. “Brother, you’re on!” he said. “Hell, I don’t know what your game is, but I don’t figure on spending no more time as a rabbit if I can help it. Hell, I’ll even buy you a beer.”
- Barney name meaning:Pet form of Barnabas, a name borne in the Bible by the Christian apostle and missionary companion of Paul. The name is derived from the Aramaic barnebhū’āh (son of exhortation).
Barney slid the amulet into his pocket and stood up. “Thank you, but I’ll have to decline, I’m afraid. I have to get home. My wife will kill me.” He smiled shyly and started for the door.
“Barney,” Hank called out, “wait a sec.” He was unbearably curious. “What are you figuring?”
Barney smiled broadly. “It’s a nice piece of brasswork, you know. I bet it’s worth a lot more than fifty dollars, even if it isn’t magic.”
“But what if it is?” Hank asked. “Aren’t you worried about changing?”
Barney shrugged. “Not especially. I’m going to give it to my wife, you see. She’ll make a wonderful rabbit.” He chuckled. “Good evening, gentlemen. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
They listened to him drive off. “Poor woman’s got quite a surprise coming,” said Milton. He handed Hank one of Barney’s twenties. “Set me up with another.”
“You still waiting for Pete?”
“Sure am,” Milton said. “I figure I’ll kill him anyway, just on account of last night. That’s fair, ain’t it?”
Hank smiled and shrugged. Three grasshoppers already. By the time Sleazy Pete made his appearance, Milton would be all sweetness and light.
A little over a half hour later, though, Milton looked up from his drink and said, “Hey, listen up! The rain stopped.”
Hank listened. “I believe you’re right,” he said. Then, still listening, he got a cold feeling all of a sudden as he heard the sound of a car pulling up outside. It was a very distinctive sound, the putt-putt-putt of an old car whose muffler has long ago ceased muffling. It came to a halt with a screech of worm brakes and a dull cough. Hank knew it instantly: Sleazt Pete’s clunker. “So much for ESP,” he said.
- Petyr Baelish jokes that he is the lord of sheepshit because his land on the Fingers is “broke” and full of crap.
A Storm of Swords – Sansa VI
“No.” She stamped a foot. “I want you now, this very night. And I must warn you, after all these years of silence and whisperings, I mean to scream when you love me. I am going to scream so loud they’ll hear me in the Eyrie!” [and then] …Lady Lysa and Lord Petyr had the third-story bedchamber to themselves, but the tower was small . . . and true to her word, her aunt screamed. It had begun to rain outside, driving the feasters into the hall one floor below, so they heard most every word. “Petyr,” her aunt moaned. “Oh, Petyr, Petyr, sweet Petyr, oh oh oh. There, Petyr, there. That’s where you belong.”
Milton looked at him curiously, but he didn’t have time to inquire, for just then the door opened and Pete came sauntering in, all skin and bones, and tattered denim and long blonde hair. “Hey, guys,” he called out cheerfully. “What’s happening? Game got rained out tonight. Hi, Hank. Hi, Milt.”
Milton turned on his stool. “You,” he said. “You are going to die.” He got up and roared and started across the barroom, waiving a fist the size of wrecking ball. Sleazy Pete gave one long look before he broke and spun and raced for the door and the parking lot. Milton followed, bellowing with rage.
Hank sighed and reached under the bar for his Louisville slugger. What a business, he thought. He followed them outside, prepared to subdue Milton by force if he threatened any real bodily harm to Pete.
Pete was sprinting for his car, but Milton was bigger and faster, and he caught him just as he was opening the door, yanked him back and spun him around, seized his shirtfront and lifted him bodily into the air. Sleazy Pete screamed and kicked. “I’m going to kill you, you mothafuckah,” Milton said, and he slammed Pete down across the hood of his car, hard.
“Now, Milton,” Hank said. “Cut it out. You know I can’t allow this.”
“Think it’s fun to turn me into a rabbit, huh?” Milton said. “Maybe I’ll turn you into chopmeat and we’ll see how much fun that is, huh?”
A Dance with Dragons – Daenerys VI
The queen of the rabbits must not be wed without her floppy ears. “All those pearls will make me rattle when I walk.”
“Milton,” Hank said, a little more forcefully. “Stop it. I mean it now.”
“Let me alone!” Pete yelled. “You’re crazy! I don’t know nothing about no rabbit!”
Milton smiled and balled up a huge fist.
“Milton!” Hank shouted, and he brought the baseball bat down hard on the fender of Pete’s car. There was a satisfying loud thunk.
Milton, startled, looked over at Hank.
“Let him go,” Hank said. He hefted the bat.
Milton frowned and released his hold on Sleazy Pete. “Oh, hell,” he said. “I wasn’t gonna hurt him, just muss him up a little.”
“He’s mussed enough,” Hank observed drily. Sleazy Pete had earned his name. His denims were ragged and patched and dirty, his hair was a wild scraggle, and even his car was a twenty-year-old rambling wreck, partly faded red and mostly primer grey. Pete had never gotten around to finishing the paint job.
Pete sat up on the hood of his car, panting. “Jesus,” he said. “You’re one crazy fucker. What the hell’s wrong?”
“He says the magic amulet you sold him turned him into a rabbi,” Hank said before ilton could reply. “He didn’t like it.”
“Damn right I didn’t,” said Milton.
“A rabbit? That can’t be right. A werehawk, that’s what it was for. I used it myself. It turned you into a bird, it had to.”
“I know birds, I know rabbits. It turned me into a goddamned bunny rabbit, you mothafuckah!”
Sleazy Pete scratched at his beard and looked perplexed. “That’s interesting,” he said. “I guess it works different on everyone who owns it. Maybe that pattern of animals on the rim has something to do…”
“Hell, no,” Milton said. “We looked at that. Just decorative. Ain’t no rabbits on there.”
Pete looked even more puzzled. “Then I don’t get it… I… wait, wait a sec, maybe it’s like a mystic key to your true nature, you know. I’m a sort of freewheeling dude, so I turned into a hawk, and you…” He saw where that was going and stopped abruptly.
Milton made an ominous growling noise and grabbed him again. “You telling me I’m a rabbit?” he roared. “Damn it, you are going to die!”
Hank swore under his breath and slammed the bat down on the fender again. “Cut it out!” he said.
They stopped. Milton grunted and let go. Pete shook his head. “look whatcha done to my car!” he wailed. The second blow had left a big dent in the fender. “Jesus, Hank.”
“Sorry,” the barman said. “I’ll stand you to one on the house. No one is going to notice one more dent on this thing anyhow. It’s an old piece of junk and you know it.”
“It’s a classic,” Pete insisted. He ran his hand over the fender, frowning. Then he climbed off the hood and stood up. “Three free rounds, I insist. A real classic.”
“One,” said Hank. “I saved your life, and the car’s a deathtrap. What the hell is it anyhow?”
“You don’t know your classic automobiles,” Pete said, affronted. “This is a Falcon, one of the first. Ford. Wonderful little car.”
Hank had stopped listening all of a sudden. He looked around. The parking lot was dark, the asphalt still slick with recent rain, but he could make out his own van down by the corner of the building. There was only one other car in the lot. He pointed to it with his bat. “That’s yours, isn’t it?” he said to Milton.
“Yeah,” Milton said, frowning suspiciously.
“Yeah,” said Milton. “Brand new. A Rabbit. It gets real good…” He stopped, awareness dawned in his eyes.
Pete looked from one car to another. “Oh, Jesus,” he said, cradling his head in his hands. “Where the hell is that thing now? We got to keep it safe. There are all kind of… cougars, bobcats, hell, the could kill somebody…”
“What does he drive, Hank” Milton demanded. “You know him, right? What kind of car has he got?”
Hank shook his head ruefully. “Poor Barney. We’re safe enough. He’s got a VW too. Only his is older.”
Milton nodded. “Oh, shit. A Beetle.”
“Poor Barney,” Hank repeated.
“What a night he’s going to have,” said Milton.
Hank sighed and turned to go back into his establishment. But stopped when he heard Sleazy Pete say, “Hey, look.”
“The moon,” Milton said, with a glance. Off where Pete was pointing, the sky was beginning to lighten. “The goddamn full moon. Guess it’s started for the poor bastid. Hope his wife don’t step on him.”
That was when Hank went cold all over. He dropped the bat. It clattered on the pavement and rolled. Then he pulled out his key and turned and locked the door to his bar.
“Hey,” said Milton, “it ain’t closing time.”
“Oh, yes it is,” Hank replied. He pointed to where the sky was growing brighter and brighter. “That isn’t the moon. It’s too overcast to see the moon, and anyhow, that’s the wrong direction.” But by then none of them could mistake the glow for moonlight. It was swelling visibly, eating up half the sky, and its heart burned like the noonday sun, too bright to look upon.
“Oh, shit,” Milton said, shielding his eyes and staggering back against the wall.
“He bought it for his wife,” Hank said sadly.
Pete asked the last question. “What does she… ” he began, but the flesh had melted off his bones before he could finish, and he ended with a terrible scream.
Hank had only seen it once, the night that Barney’s wife had come to drag him home. Barney had been so plastered that she’d needed help getting him to the car, so Hank had obliged, and he remembered, he remembered. He had a good memory for things like that.
“A Nova,” he said, as the world turned incandescent.
- This last bit is a lot like Quentyn Martell being burned alive by Rhaegal.
- Night’s King Corpse Queen
- GRRM has said a few times that Daenerys’ dragons are nuclear weapons.
Want more Martinworld?
- The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr – Discarded Knights guards the gates as Sharra feels the Seven while searching for lost love. Many Sansa and Ashara Dayne prototyping here as well.
- …And Seven Times Never Kill Man– A look into a proto-Andal+Targaryen fiery world as the Jaenshi way of life is erased. But who is controlling these events? Black & Red Pyramids who merge with Bakkalon are on full display in this story.
- The Last Super Bowl– Football meets SciFi tech with plenty of ASOIAF carryover battle elements.
- Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
- The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery. Near exact proto-Daenerys was developed in this story.
- Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
- Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
- Fast-Friend transcribed and noted. Written in December 1973, this story is a precursor to skinchanging, Bran, Euron, Daenerys, and ways to scheme to reclaim lost love.
- The Steel Andal Invasion– A re-read of a partial section of The World of Ice and Fire text compared to the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. This has to do with both fire and ice Others in ASOIAF.
- A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
- For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
- This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
- A Peripheral Affair (1973)– When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
- The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
- Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
- Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
- A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
- Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
- The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
- The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
- Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
- Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.
If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.
Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!