Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

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.

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.

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

The Diplomat Teaches Oneness

by Kat Beyer

The Diplomat and I sat with some thieves in their hot, stuffy cave. They watched us, unable to believe that we were who we said we were: the Gaia diplomat and his novice, traveling alone, and carrying or wearing all that we owned—clothes and begging bowls. Their eyes said, “how can you make us rich?”

We sat there while they tried to take our measure. At least there was a cat. That’s another good animal from Gaia. It let me scratch its ears, having already taken my measure.

I hadn’t wanted to go with the thieves, when there was still time to choose. The Diplomat had said, “they are part of us, we are part of them, we are all one with everything else,” adding, “whether we like it or not.”
Sometimes I thought the Diplomat was a naïve idiot.

“Rathand will take you some place while we talk it over,” said somebody who thought he was the Chief Thief.
So we sat outside in the cold, blessed air. Rathand let us sit against a big tree. He sat down facing us, his sword across his lap.

In the middle of asking Rathand about his family, the Diplomat paused as though he were listening. Then he stood up.

“We will be going now,” he said. “Though I would have liked to hear about your mother. Please don’t use your sword, it would be bad for you.”

Rathand looked down at his blade in surprise, then lowered it.

“You could come with us,” offered the Diplomat.

Rathand stayed, however, when we walked straight into the brush.

“I hope that boy is all right,” said the Diplomat when the shouting started far off, “but he had to make up his own mind. They were going to kill us, you see. Hang our bodies by the road to frighten people.”

I stared at him.

“I have had practice not fearing death,” he went on. “But I’m busy, and besides, you are here. So I thought we should leave.”

“How did you know what they were going to do?”

He looked at me, blinked, and grinned. “Haven’t you been listening? We are one with all creatures. When you know that, it is easy to hear what you are thinking in your other heads.”

Many footsteps later, though, he admitted he had preferred listening as the cat.

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