Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

The Grand Spire

by Rudi Dornemann

(From A Comprehensive Guide to the Labyrinth City, by P.W. Garletts. 1087: Mewlen and Oll, Publishers; Osper Square. Pages 57-58.)

The Grand Spire is the tallest building in the Labyrinth City and, allegedly, the only one from whose upper floors the whole design of the city can be seen.

Built in the Linear Year 136 by architect siblings Oscar, Omar and Olive Specto, the tower was built of stone quarried from the mountain that formerly stood in what is now the Three Hills neighborhood.

The Grand Spire’s existence was one of the underlying causes of the Second Mapmaker’s revolt in L.Y. 260. When Queen Sheparsa IV brokered an end to hostilities, the fate of the spire was one of the most contentious issues. The only issue that united the squabbling Mapper’s Guilds was their common desire to see the Spire razed. Eleven-finger Owlsely, a steward of the Sevenbridge guild, even produced a map of a proposed park that would encompass the dunes that would result from the Spire’s being ground to sand.

The nearby neighborhoods, however, had seen the worst of the fighting during the revolt’s five years. With its massive stone blocks barely chipped, the spire was the least damaged building for nearly a mile in any direction, and a great source of local pride. More practically, the inhabitants of Spireshadow, Spireview, Baker’s Fallow, Wormtree, and Lower Seething saw the Spire’s use as a landmark as their only hope to rebuild without falling prey to the unscrupulous map sellers who were quickly amassing fortunes in other war-torn quarters of the city.

So it is that the tower wardens not only cover their faces with eyeless masks but also blind themselves each day at noon by plunging lit torches into troughs of ink-dust, filling the interior of the tower with impenetrable darkness. Behind the welded-shut windows, the wardens go about their duties by touch. No matter how they may be tempted, they are unable to abuse their position and glimpse the plan of the city.

From the time of the truce, maps in the Labyrinth City have been approximate, transitory, and provisional, but the peace, however strained, whatever injustices it leaves unchallenged, is — like the Grand Spire — enduring.

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