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

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

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

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.

Parthenia Rook, episode VI: The World’s Fair

by Trent Walters

For previous episodes in Parthenia Rook, see the archive.

Parthenia, in her shiny leather pants and pineapple sunglasses for a disguise, scanned the crowds for signs of a barefoot chimpanzee in an Italian suit made out of chitin. The digital displays that flowed down the sides of her sunglasses assured her no zombie photographers slouched in the vicinity.

An anonymous tip had warned that the Bonobo King would “arrive today to rain on the world’s parade,” and Parthenia believed it. The Bonobo King always emailed his anonymous threats in assonance.

However, there was no hint of clouds in the pale sky above Vörpalsberg. Only the bittersweet scent of coffee wafted up from the four hundred cafes–reminding her of wasted kirchenstreuselkuchen.

Her stomach rumbled at the loss. No, it wasn’t her stomach, or else her stomach was making the silverware rattle and the dishes clatter. Earthquake? Probably more like the overgrown earthworms that Dr. Mandril had genetically engineered to attack Manhattan.

That’s when Parthenia saw the swift-moving cloud, the tail end of which twinkled like stars on a humid night. Parthenia turned her sunglasses to the dark mass, to allow the pineapples (actually, radar dishes with astounding pick-up) a chance to bounce and receive beams off the disturbance, but Dr. Mandril must have either devised a cloaking device or come up with something more sinister.

A plague of locusts? Not the Bonobo King’s style.

A gust of wind jostled the crowd. They looked up. That’s when Parthenia felt a lump in her throat. Dr. Mandril had engineered a Zemeros giganticus. A giant butterfly. Gorgeous. Parthenia stood paralyzed with awe.

But the twinkling that trailed the butterfly snapped her out of her reverie. Their plan was for Parthenia, the world-famous lepidotrist, to fall so in love that she wouldn’t protect the world from the Bonobo King and his minions. It might have worked if the Bonobo King’s zombies, harnessed in anti-grav devices, didn’t have to photograph the fair before wrecking ruin. Parthenia Rook tapped her platform heels to jet–Kung Fu fists first–into the butterfly’s maw.

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