Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

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

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

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

Merlin, Mid-Ocean

by Rudi Dornemann

Merlin walked across the ocean on a line of sea turtles stretched like garden stepping stones all the way from Atlantis to Mu. Under the shadeless sun, he cut a somewhat twee figure — beard to his knees, purple robes, pointy shoes, bell-fringed bowler, and in either hand, a parasol.

The water was clear enough he could see all the way down to the bones of sunken cities even he didn’t remember the names of. The clarity was a sign of trouble, and a reminder of why he was out here: the leviathans. They’d scoured the seas of anything they could fit down their maelstrom-wide gullets, from plankton to the 30-foot megasharks.

Merlin hopped from shell to shell, sweated in his robes, and tried not to scratch the sunburn peeling from his nose. He didn’t have to wait long before he noticed turtles swimming by, fleeing. He turned, and the leviathans rose to meet him.

Taller than mountains, they became the sky. Spray and spill-water came down in torrents. One of the vast beasts bent to devour the wizard. Its breath stank of tide pools stranded too long under the sun, of whole schools of beached fish.

Merlin held a parasol out like a sword.

“I have my affectations,” he said, “but they’re useful affectations.”

Just as the monster’s jaws encircled him, its lips and teeth becoming the wizard’s horizon, he thumbed a button and the parasol popped open. It stretched as wide as the leviathan’s mouth, its tines rooting in the distant gum-line. The creature reared back and shook its immense head, but the parasol held fast.

“You can eat whatever you can suck through that,” said Merlin.

The second leviathan narrowed its mouth and charged.

Merlin gathered his robes and sprinted along the line of bobbing turtles. He threw the remaining umbrella at the vast flesh wall of the leviathan’s head.

The parasol unfurled, its supports melting to tentacles that scored the leviathan’s hide with tooth-ringed suckers and gripped it fast.

“You’ll never know rest again,” said Merlin.

The leviathan howled through a dozen octaves and dove, still embraced by the parasol squid.

Merlin sat down on turtle-back.

He rapped on the shell. “Change of course,” he said. “Babylon, please, but take your time. We have a few centuries.”

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