No ReservationsBy: Kristen Proby
A Fusion Novella
1001 Dark Nights
One Thousand and One Dark Nights
Once upon a time, in the future…
I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.
I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and
the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast
library at my father’s home and collected thousands
of volumes of fantastic tales.
I learned all about ancient races and bygone
times. About myths and legends and dreams of all
people through the millennium. And the more I read
the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered
that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually
become part of them.
I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher
and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I
would not be telling you this tale now.
But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off
One afternoon, curious about the myth of the
Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to
see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar
(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then
sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written
and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,
the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand
Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived
in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged
places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had
never occurred before and that still to this day, I
Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have
taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can
protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to
protect herself and stay alive.
Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.
And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a
point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.
And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that
he might hear the rest of my dark tale.
As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new
one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before
“I don’t love blind dates,” I remind my friend Kat for the fourth time since she picked me up at my place twenty minutes ago. “You really didn’t have to set me up with anyone.”
“I think you’ll like him,” she says with a shrug.
“Why are we meeting them there?”
“Because Mac just finished up with work, and having him come home to get me and then go back downtown seemed unproductive.”
I nod and take a deep breath. It’s not that men as a species make me nervous. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever met a man that gave me butterflies, which I guess is a sad commentary on the state of my love life.
“You do like men, don’t you?” she asks with a raised brow and glances over at me. Kat is one of the most colorful women I know. She has deep red hair, a full sleeve of beautiful tattoos, and the outfits she wears should land her on the cover of a pin-up girl calendar. She’s super pretty.
“Yes,” I reply with a laugh. “I’m into men.”
“Perfect.” Kat smiles and pulls into a parking space at a trendy sushi restaurant near the waterfront. “And there’s no pressure. If you don’t like him, no harm done.”
“True.” I nod and exit the car, meeting her on the sidewalk. “If nothing else, I get to spend some fun time out with you and Mac.”
“Atta girl,” she says with a wink and opens the door for me, following me into the restaurant. I immediately see Kat’s husband, Mac, sitting at a table in the back of the restaurant. His friend’s back is to me, but it looks familiar.
When Mac stands with a smile to kiss his wife like he hasn’t seen her in a month, his companion stands and turns around with a smile, and all I can think is, fuck.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
“Maura, this is—”
“Chase,” I say, interrupting Mac’s introduction. “We’ve met.”
Chase grins, showing off his perfect teeth and the perfect dimple in his right cheek. He holds my chair out for me, and I take it. Mostly because I’m not an asshole.
If I was an asshole, I’d turn around and leave.