Silver Gren ruled the circumferences, which is to say, pretty much everything.
From his perch clutching the second finger of my right hand, he drove me into
a staring wound many times.
The shimmery reflections whispered to me, sometimes like a scalpel's quick grin,
other times like liquid fire in a silver bullet. Secreting a heated controversy over
what's real and planting seeds in my dreams were the least of its concerns,
I immediately knew.
The messages pressed in its leaking steam machine whispers only reached the core
of my mind after a long time seeping in. I would stare at the ring's mercurial curves
for minutes on end, wondering what lay nestled deep inside that tiny cavity it had
for a skull.
The ring was fashioned in a rather ingenious design of a simple frog motif.
A head with two tiny lumps for eyes; a tortoise-like open mouth in which
only shadow could be discerned, hind legs formed to sculpt into the perfect
circle of the ring itself, made of silver.
When worn, it gave the appearance that the little tree frog was hugging onto
your finger. I wasn't too sure about the skull. For all I knew it was a relay-icon
built of supremely fibrillated and folded-in nanowiring, containing within
its small frog-shaped dimension all the circuitry needed for an instrument
more powerful than any supercomputer I'd known.
As it lay dormant upon my finger, possibly sealed in some alien dreaming,
I began to ponder how much it depended on me having just recovered it off
the bar room floor, where presumably it had inadvertently slipped off some
former customer's finger.
It had been lying on the dusty floor at a canted angle when I leaned down to
pick it up. The first thing I remember is that it bit me after I put it on my finger.
This happened in the early afternoon, and there was nobody else in the bar except
for the bartender, a skinny goth chick in black leather pants and turtleneck.
She had a scar across her left eyebrow that slashed diagonally upward,
as if the knife blade that granted it had been flicked viciously. It accented
the natural set of her left eye as she stared at me. I couldn't tell if I was letting
my imagination get the best of me. "Can I get you something?" She asked
as if it never would have occurred to me.
I tried my best to appear not to ignore nor acknowledge her,
stating "Yaeger shot" deadpan, then looking down at the floor again.
She reached for the green bottle, and generously poured my shot to the rim.
I tossed it back. She had the greenest eyes I'd ever seen. "Another."
Repeat aforementioned cycle. Yep. Still the greenest eyes I'd ever seen.
This certainly interested me, but I tried not to show it. I was still thinking about the ring
I had just found. Maybe it was hers. It was already on the second finger of my right hand.
Perhaps she'd notice it. I couldn't believe how the ring seemed to have bitten me,
after I put it on my finger. When I first put it on, I reached over with my right hand
to hitch my left sleeve further up to the wrist.
To all outward appearances, one of the ring's rigidly extended fore-arms snagged
the pale skin under my forearm. I still have the curiously small scar, like a tiny otter's
twisted moonclaw print.
I kept waiting for the bar girl to recognize the silver frog ring on my finger,
while at the same time thinking the ring must take with it it's prior host's memory of it.
She was about to pour me a third shot of Jaeger when I indicated with my left index finger
that No, I'd prefer a beer from the draught.
"First Amendment," I said and she poured me a cold frothy tall one.
I gratefully sipped from the rim, sucking most of the foam off the surface
and relishing the cold, hopped up flavors and fizzy carbonation.
My mind wandered back to the ring's previous owner. Assuming they had similar-sized
fingers to mine, suffice it to say, there've been many instances when during a particularly
cold, dry afternoon, the fingers of my hand contract just enough to let a ring slip off,
sometimes so obliquely as to be scarcely even noticed.
Perhaps that is exactly what occurred to the previous wearer of the ring.
I began feeling more certain of it, and resolved to bear the ring upon my
finger openly, to give it a fair enough shot at being spotted.
Of course I could meet this person and they might even notice and admire
the curious handiwork of the ring's design, not even for a moment suspecting
they themselves had ever worn it.
I drank the remaining dregs of the microbrew and pushed the glass forward
two inches, by means of asking for another. The bartender and I were on the same
wordless wavelength now. She slowly poured me another.
One thought in particular kept rising up in my mind while I meditated there at the bar.
It swam up before my mind's eye with startling suddenness. Like a dream of darkness,
firstly. And secondly, it was like a realm without sound. Really, it was a realm of sounds
in quite a different octave many levels below that which we are used to hearing.
It was a region of enormous calm and supreme quiet, transcending the dark.
As if disallowing it to take shape. The sound seemed comprised of far-reaching
distillations of pings and tones somewhat akin to the overhead view of a starry night,
only in a sense very much like an audial array of constellations. There was also a lurking
presentiment in this strange void of sight and echoed sounds, as if a certain swift deliverance of a leviathanesque nature charged every possibility.
I almost felt as if I were venturing too far out into deep waters, with every passing moment.
I looked down at the ring, and saw it regarding me from a tilted angle, as if not about to let
me out of its baleful sight. I pushed a twenty dollar bill across the counter toward the bartender. "Keep the change."
Silver Gren led the way out of the bar, as if something incredible far away was reeling it in
on an infinitely thin invisible fishing line. I could feel it tugging against my finger as it led us up the stairs and out onto the cold windy street.
There was an unseen line of tension leading up the sidewalk, pulling me without question
in a particular direction. Putting my hands in my pockets did nothing to alter the ring's sensitivity. We were lured along for several blocks in the direction of the old Chylde Manor building, abandoned and left derelict for the last twenty-seven years.
As I suspected, when it loomed out of the darkness ahead of us, a great chipped and flaking
bulk of ruined shadow with a gaping, hangar sized entrance, the ring began pulling itself off the sidewalk and straight toward the broken building. I couldn't resist, I just had to follow.