Plugs

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

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

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.

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.

A Winter Walk

by Rudi Dornemann

When another hour passed without word, and the automatic voice that answered for his lawyer still repeated the generic message that meant it either didn’t recognize the caller or it did, but didn’t have any news he’d want to hear, Javad Azaizeh decided to go out for a walk. He wrapped the scarf around his neck, turned up the collar of his jacket, and pulled on his warmest hat. It would be ironic to have made it unscathed through half a Kharbarovsk winter only to catch a cold just when he might be back in front of crowds who wanted to hear his voice.

Javad’s ears popped as he door of his building shut behind him. The light, filtered by the blue plastic of the snow tunnel walls, was twilight-colored and noon-bright.

A scrap of paper, scuttled along by the wind, stayed just ahead of his feet. Midway through the second block, words appeared, lines in Korean script. A menu, to judge by the pictures of bulgogi and bibimbap — smart paper, a page set for a local frequency, that had come loose of wherever it had been posted originally. Another three steps, and the menu faded to a flyer for the jewelry store Javad was passing, then to a teaser for that day’s Tikhookyeanskaya Zvyezda. For a few seconds, under the concrete arch of a bike lane, the scrap showed nothing but crawl-scrolling gray-pink snow.

He followed the page, even when the tunnel wind took it off his usual route. Flickering false-3D ads melted into handwritten daily special lists, which morphed into tables of apartment dwellers meant to accompany banks of buzzer-buttons. Javad forgot the courtroom in Brussels, the message he hadn’t gotten. When he passed a school where a chorus must have been practicing, a few staves of whatever the folk song they sang sketched themselves across the wrinkled, dirt-smeared paper, and, before he could catch himself, he hummed the first notes.

He felt the vocal lock tighten in his throat. The lawyer must not have been successful; Javad still didn’t own the performance copyright to his own voice.

Wincing with shame more than pain, he leaned against the wall, feeling the chill of hard-packed snow through the plastic. He took thin breaths and let the paper continue tumble and change without him.

There’d be a message now, one telling him about the fine he’d just incurred.

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