Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

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).

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

Archive for October, 2009

The Year’s Question

Friday, October 30th, 2009

It was Siobhan woke me up. The smell of honey wine on Summer’s End does it. (Whiskey works too.) To my surprise and hers, it still worked, even after so many years when no one left anything beside my notched stone.

Scared her bowels loose the first time. I got a laugh out of that.

“You’re allowed one question a year, granddaughter,” I said out of the air beside her.

When she got her breath back she said, “I’m not your granddaughter. She must be gone long ago.”

“I know that. I spoke with her for years after; she’s moved on now. I stay. And so does the customary name.”

“Well then,” she said, drawing herself up. She asked grimly, “There’s a man I want. How do I get him?”

Oh, the living.

“The answer is in the question you asked, and the way you asked it.”

“What do you mean?”

“One question a year,” I answered, and went for the honey wine and apples.

“I hate you,” she announced, and went down the hill.

She was back again the next year with a bigger plate.

“You were right,” she said sadly. “This year’s question. There’s a man who wants me. Should I have his child?”

“Certainly not.”

“You were right,” she said next year, holding the baby, a little girl with her same lively eyes and three-cornered smile. But I’d said no because she’d put no value to herself. I’m not all-wise; how was I to know that a baby would help her do that, instead of making the matter worse?

“There’s a job, overseas,” she told me ten questions later. “I want it. They want me. A good job. Will you hear me across the ocean?”

“I don’t know,” I answered. “We used to stay at home, your family. Try. The baby and her father going with you?”

She smiled. “Sarah’s eleven. And his name is Ian; I’ve come to love him.”

“I’m glad.”

This year I was up early, moving things around in the grave, scaring birds off the stone, nervous. Well after dark came the scent of honey wine and flowers, candles and apples, drifting across the salt sea, and I climbed up out of my old bones for a taste of it. I heard her voice clearly, but with a sound of waves in it.

“Are you there?” She asked.

“Yes, I am,” I replied.

Oliver Twist and ZOMBIES

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Oliver’s feet quaked.  He felt the dead weight of of the other boys’ eyes upon him.  In his cold clammy palm he held the short stick that he had drawn.  His nerves were deadened as he lurched up the aisle, his empty bowl clutched in the other hand.

Mr Bumble, the beadle, looked down upon with disdain, as a gentleman might were he to find the rotting corpse of a mouse lurking in his salad.

“Yes, boy?” he said.  “What is it, boy?”

“P-p-p-please, sir,” Oliver’s voice wavered.

“What is it, boy?  Out with it boy!”

“P-p-please sir,” Oliver’s failing voice, hitched, paused, then continued, “may I have some more?”

“More?” roared Mr Bumble.  “MORE?”  He swelled with indignation.  That a boy in his care, one with the good fortune to benefit from the graces of he, the Beadle, should ask for more, more than God Himself had seen fit to give the boy, why the thought angered him beyond all reason.  He built up for one more explosive ejaculation of the word-

However, he got no further, for at that precise moment, the boys leaped up as one, fell upon his and feasted upon his brains.


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