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

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

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

The Third Side

by Rudi Dornemann

This is the third story in the Elephant Corners sequence, after “At the Elephant Corners” and “In Search of Elephant Corners.”

Sylvie sat in a marble rowboat in the middle of a pool in one of the teaching basements, trying to read the future from ripple patterns of thrown pebbles.

Katerina watched from the wooden shore.

“I don’t know,” said Sylvie. Every splash looked the same. She wished she could go back to reading clouds, coins, or chicken bones.

Even down here, Sylvie thought she heard the ghost rumble of her stolen motorbike vibrating the stone. She forced herself to sit still, to stare at the water. Katerina called her stubborn.

“Something about a book?” Sylvie said.

“Something,” said Katerina with that almost-secret smile that meant she’d seen everything Sylvie had missed, that made Sylvie want to run up the stairs and out the elephant-leg door and never come back.

Sylvie had learned a dozen methods of future-finding. She knew she’d only learned the beginnings of each, that there were dozens more she hadn’t even started.

Each method was a different vantage point, according to the old man whose breath smelled of figs, who taught her a couple afternoons a week. The way a scene looks different depending where you stand, different readings give you different perspectives.

“When the thief was alive,” said Katerina, “he wanted something from you, from us. Now all that’s left of him is wanting.”

“What did he, does he want?” said Sylvie.

“The thief was an adept in the origami arenas on Phiros, the floating island. There is a divination akin to dueling-origami. It might tell you.”

They went upstairs. The fig-man gave Sylvie a crisp square of paper. The basics were easy to learn.

She folded through the night, until the paper was soft as cloth, seeking what her teachers called the third side of the page. That was where the answer would be written.

She folded while the sun crossed the sky. She noticed the skin of her palms stung with papercuts; all the folding hadn’t blunted the edges. She looked, and by candlelight — was it night again? the second, or the third? — she could make out runes in the clusters of cuts, not quite like what she’d learned to read in chicken bones or the angles where clouds met. She knew it was the answer. She knew she couldn’t decipher it. Maybe that was what she was meant to learn.

She found Katerina on the second-floor sofas.

“Please read my palms,” said Sylvie.

Katerina’s smile was an open secret.

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2 Responses to “The Third Side”

  1. Dan Says:

    May 13th, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Love this, Rudi !

  2. Rudi Says:

    May 14th, 2009 at 10:30 am