Plugs

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

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

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

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.

Bone and Breath

by Angela Slatter

They lured me here with promises of marriage. The best of men, the greatest of warriors was to be my husband.

We left my brother and sisters behind, taking the lightest chariot, the fastest horses, my mother and I. Chrysothemis and Elektra wept, covering their face with grief at our parting, but I saw their eyes, rich and dark with envy. My sisters swallowed down the bitter aloes of my marriage to Achilles, of my being chosen for such an honour.

How could we have known? Any of us, stupid girls. Stupid children. Even our mother was deceived.

We came to Aulis where Artemis had stilled the ships, all because my father had hunted sacred deer in the grove. Achilles waited, ardent, he himself taken in by my father’s promises.

Agamemnon sold me not for a bride-price but for a breath of wind.

I stepped from the chariot, all white and gold, the loveliest bride a man could hope for (if he could not have bright Helen to wife). My skin was pale, hair shining ringlets, eyes blue as the Aegean, my body ready for my bridegroom’s bond.

Father led me past Achilles, spoke to me quietly, told me it was my duty. He led me to the altar where Calchas stood, dagger in hand; where kindling had been laid in wait to carry the sacrifice upwards. Achilles wailed, a child deprived of his new toy, but he conceded soon enough to promises of greater treasure. Of his pick of the Trojan women.

My mother howled and I wondered for a moment if perhaps Hera might come to her aid. Might smite them down, all these men who thought it fair and just to cut short my life. Clytemnestra would not forgive and her vengeance would be terrible, but no more than my father deserved.

They speak of me as immortal. They say the goddess took pity on me and flew me away to Tauris, leaving a white hind in my place. They say a man there loved me, gave me children. That I had a long life far from here.

They lie. No god-blood in my veins. I was but flesh and blood, bone and breath and the blade was cold against my throat. I am another unhappy shade left to walk the dust of this earth.

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