Plugs

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.

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).

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.

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

THE ROC GRAVEYARD

by Daniel Braum

This entry is third in a series. Feel free to revisit Basilisk Tracks and Bats on Fire before or after reading.

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Michaela wondered how they knew to come here to die. Was it something like how sea turtles always found the same beach they were born to lay their eggs?

No one had ever photographed one of the great birds actually coming here to die. It happened so infrequently. Still, gatherings like this, with great numbers of the aggressive, territorial birds were rare. Her group was in luck.

François would have loved it.

She fingered the Phoenix feather he had bought her. He had given it to her before their first kiss. He had been that sure. Even now, she still carried it with her.

#

The island mountaintop was littered with giant bones. One by one the giant birds dropped from the sky and perched on the macabre roost of bleached rib cages, beaks and skulls. The group’s transport lifted from the waves, hovering high into the air for a better vantage. This was as close as they dare come.

Something bumped the transport. A young Roc. Defenses fired. Flares. Water. Directed blasts of sound. The bird held on.

Michaela composed a frantic message to François on her PDA. “Dearest One. I am sorry. I do not know how to untie this knot we got in, but there is still so much love…”

The boat lurched. A big flare exploded and the Roc let go. The rest of the group scrambled for their cameras as if this were routine.

#

The Rocs sang. Their mourning vibrating with the flickers of the endless stars above. What worlds, what sights had the departed bird seen? Scientists said they flew between worlds. In the quantum spaces between realities. They saw possibility. They lived in worlds that could be and that never would be.

Michaela held the phoenix feather up. Rich orange shimmered through the stringy fiery red veins. It was perfect. And for a while there she and Francois had been so perfect. She brought the message up on her PDA. She stared at the little glowing screen, counting each bell she wished they hadn’t rung, then hit delete.

The transport hovered above the waves. The stars lit the deck. The Roc song was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard and she couldn’t hold her tears back much longer. Oh, Francois, she thought. She released the feather and let the night wind take it.

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