Plugs

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

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

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

THE OLD WOMAN, THE SILVER ORREY, AND THE BAZAAR ON MERCURY

by Daniel Braum

Dimitri had the forge almost ready to melt the silver when they found him, his mother’s list held out in front of them like a warrant.

The fact no one warned him there were visitors did not bode well. From the cavernous main work area steel clanked and molten metal hissed as it poured into great ceramic molds.

Behind the heavy door beside him was the space Dimitri had covertly co-opted for his mother. Her arcane texts, full of astrology, Da-Vinci’s drawings, and roman mythology still littered the floor, surrounding the silver orrery she had built, in erratic orbits. But the flying machine, along with Mother, was gone, and had been for almost a day.

Dimitri thought his mother was brilliant yet mad enough to leave a list with the steps of everything she had done.

The visitors were a man and a woman clad in modern black suits. Dimitri wondered if they were agents of the Czar or the Bolsheviks and hoped nothing worse.

“The bazaar of Mercury?” the woman asked, and upon hearing what he took for gibberish, Dimitri thought everything might turn out okay after all.

Then she passed a strange device over Mother’s list. He had never seen anything like the sleek, metallic thing before. It fit snugly in her hand and cast a purple light that revealed glyphs and characters overlapping each other with its glow. Orbits of the Earth and planet mercury criss-crossed the page.

Something worse, Dimitri thought and remembered Mother just after she had built the orrery and had asked him for help with the cabin for the flying machine.

There’s not a lot of air in there, he said.

Doesn’t have to be. Trip will only take a minute, Mother said.

How are we getting this thing out of the foundry? Dimitri asked.

We’re not. I’m launching from here.

Launching, Dimitri had thought. And where was she going? Nowhere unless she had a secret tunnel in mind. Mother was capable of mad feats big and small, she cured colds, delivered babies and saved their mother’s lives. She had predicted the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand, and the fortunes of the Czars who came to her clandestinely. Dimitri was a man of science and steel yet he did not doubt his mother.

The male visitor pointed to Mother’s list.

“Mercury circles the sun every 88 days. For three minutes on the 87th night it disappears from sight,” he said.

“Where does it go?” Dimitri asked.

The pair laughed and Dimitri saw what he took for fanaticism in their eyes. It didn’t bode well. He looked for a steel bar he could use as a weapon.

“It goes nowhere,” the woman said. “All come to Mercury, for the great bazaar.”

He could sense her need, palpable as run-off steam.

Mother had wanted the orrery made of silver.

In case things went wrong, they couldn’t touch it, she had said.

Was this demon, this non-person, this thing from another world what she had in mind?

“The door is open?” the woman asked.

“Yes,” Dimitri said.

She shot him in the head, killing him.

She pushed open the heavy door, eager to find the orrery and divine direction to the bazaar and maybe finally a way back home.

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