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

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

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.


by Rudi Dornemann

To celebrate our first anniversary, each of us here at the Cabal has come up with a story beginning with a line kindly provided to us by the illustrious Jay Lake. Click the link at the bottom of the page to see how Alex, Dan, David, Edd, Kat, and Luc have handled the challenge, and check back tomorrow to see how Sara Genge winds up the series…

Zoli liked to hang around psychiatrists’ waiting rooms to hit on the low self-esteem chicks. It could take a couple days of hanging around, doing odd jobs, before she’d hit on an office where someone had brought in chicks, and not something useless like ducklings or a goat.

All the psychiatrists around the rim had the same group therapy rates: six hen chicks for general lack of affect, six rooster chicks for low self-esteem, four ducklings for anger management, a full grown chicken for alcohol abuse, a duck for drugs, a sheep or goat or dog for nightmares — because everybody’s nightmares were the same, and brought up things even psychiatrists didn’t want to face.

Zoli couldn’t stand any of it, the lying and turning away. “Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder” — as if that meant anything. As if the problem weren’t as obvious as the crater six-hunded miles wide and fifty deep. As obvious as all the people who didn’t exist anymore, all the craters they’d left in everyone’s lives.

The psychiatrists always had clothes to be darned, roofs to be shingled, water to be schlepped from the ration-well– finding odd jobs was easy. Finding male chicks wasn’t — self-esteem didn’t seem to be a popular problem anymore. And even the esteem chicks weren’t 100%, because most people weren’t any good at candling to tell which eggs were future roosters. It didn’t matter much to the farmers she competed with, but it mattered to Zoli.

She lived in a roofless warehouse within block of the edge where she’d emptied the ceiling-high shelves of high-def TVs, microwaves and robot vacuum cleaners and covered the sides with chicken wire to create multi-story coops.

The ammonia stink was so bad that her eyes watered and her nose ran constantly, and the coops were only half full. Every morning, she felt the crowing as something physical, a strong wind pushing against her. A few more months, and it would work. A few more months of hanging around waiting rooms with women whose every breath sounded like something ripping, men whose eyes never stopped moving, and she’d gather the generations she needed to complete the sound. Then the crowing would be a vast thing, and the world would shake like it had that day, and it would be enough. It would wake God, and then it would be over, and everything would be normal again.

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