AshleyRose Sullivan has an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University and a BS in Anthropology from Northern Kentucky University. Some of her fiction has appeared in Word Riot and Wigleaf and her short story, ‘How To Make A Stunt Man’, published in the Medulla Review, was recently adapted into a musical. She writes and lives here and there with her husband Scott and their many imaginary friends.
You can read the first part of the story for free below. If you would like to read more please order the second issue of Alt Hist.
by AshleyRose Sullivan
We have arrived in Cappadocia and we see nothing but dry hills. The people there are hidden, the general said. Dark and invisible against the night—they blur into the caves. Their bodies turn to rock and their voices to sand and their whispers creep into our ears as we walk alongside our armoured mares, too nervous and skittish to carry us.
As we march, my father’s spear grows heavy in my hand. Unfamiliar stars shine above us and reflect pale silver light in the bronze of our shields. In our ears, there is a thumping. It is only the sound of us. Leather rubbing leather, brass ornaments tinkling on saddles and reins, worn boots in the grit, our footsteps uneven and unsure. Our breath is coarse and thin with fear and we all know we are walking into a ghost town. A ghost country.
Formations of rock, shaped like cloaked figures, tower above us. Their shadows are lined with moonlight as they stand sentinel to what lies below. Carved into the ground beneath us is a vast hidden honeycomb of cities. We have been told that the earth below hides a subterranean civilization of armed men, their teeth and swords gleaming and sharp.
A hiss of fearful whispers creep through our regiment. The men below are monsters. They dig into the ground with clawed hands. They kneel at the foot of a strange stone cross, worshiping a deity once dead, then alive. The soldiers below are waiting. Waiting with a thousand ways to slice great and silent stripes into our throats.