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

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.

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

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

The Lephir

by AlexM

“Do not scoff, child. Do not tell me how your great-aunt sailed through a mid-winter storm and only lost one of her crew.

“Mid-winter storms are not the Lephir.

“You can imagine going into a strong wind, I’m sure. You can imagine the beat of the drum almost lost to the crashing waves, you can imagine the shouts of the oarsmen as they keep each other motivated.

“I was one of those oarsmen, my throat sore and salty, my back and arms aching as we bore closer and closer to the western end of the Strait. Yes, I rowed the Strait as a younger man.

“Can you imagine the oarsmen weakening? Can you imagine the ship beginning to move back the way it had come? Probably. Can you imagine what happened next?

“The Lephir whips the waves, and those waves hide whirlpools. Now, our captain knew about these whirlpools. He knew the places they most commonly formed. With his outstretched arm as our guide, we rowed close to the rock walls of the Strait.

“We thought our captain wise.

“As we tired, as we began drifting backwards — slowly, for we still rowed with all the strength we could muster — we heard screams from the bow. Twisting on my bench, I saw the torso of an oarsman fall to one side, missing his shoulders and head. Only the legs remained of another man.

“The creatures, long-necked and dog-headed, stretched out again from their caves a drumbeat later. Our arrows could not stop them from taking two men closer to the mast, and two more after that.

“They feasted — and do not say that we should have fought harder, aimed truer, rowed faster. They moved quicker than your great-aunt’s tongue set foolhardy challenges for herself and others.

“When our captain was devoured, we rowed harder. And we put up the sail, so that the Lephir would help to carry us east. We had learnt our lesson.

“There’s a reason only the foolhardy attempt the Lephir, child. The wind is not all they face.”

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