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

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

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.

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

Mermaid Cull

by Jason Fischer

‘You cheating bastards!  Open the bloody gate now!’

Erickson was standing in the back of his jeep, yelling up at the castle walls through a megaphone.  Five mermaid carcasses swung from a purpose-built rail, hung by fat iron hooks through their tail-ends.

Those time-crazy sumbitches holed up in their fortress did not say anything, and made no move to open the enormous gates.  He was mad now, madder than a cut snake dipped in warm piss.

‘I took out your mermaids!’ he yelled, the megaphone squealing with distortion.  ‘If you folks mean to cheat me on the bounty money, I will bring you pain.  Oh yes.’

Someone shot an arrow at him, and with a curse that would have made a sergeant-major crap his dacks, Erickson threw down the megaphone.

‘Enough talk,’ he said, and got behind the minigun, mounted on a swivel behind his seat.  He’d stripped it from a junked copter, back when time started to get whacky.

He opened up, and the spinning barrels spat lead kisses across the top of the palisade, biting out chunks of rock and punching right through the stone in one or two places.  He took out the offending archer, and a few others who didn’t duck in time.

Erickson gritted his teeth and painted the gates in a figure eight of howling bullets, splitting the wood in dozens of places.  The clanging of bullets as they ricocheted against the portcullis showed that he was wasting ammo, and there was no getting through that gate.

Not without a lot more firepower.

‘I’ll get you mongrels!’ he said, no megaphone this time but the shaking of his fist passed the message through loud and clear.  He swung forward into the driver’s seat, just in time to see the large arm of a trebuchet swinging up above the castle walls, releasing a chunk of some building that flew at him with uncanny accuracy.

Thankful he’d left the motor running, Erickson jammed the old jeep into gear and floored it, fishtailing through the mud as the enormous block of stone crashed into the spot he’d just been.

A second catapault launched another load of medieval fire-power, and it was only Erickson’s experience as a rally-car driver and an ex-Blackwater operative that saved his arse.  Yanking up the hand-brake and spinning the wheel, he launched into a power-slide, narrowly missing a peat-digger’s shack.  It exploded into a fountain of shit and stone.

‘I’ll be back for you lot,’ Erickson growled.  He thumbed a cassette into the tape-player, and blasted the lonely moors with his AC/DC mix-tape, turned up as loud as it could go.  ‘And when I come back, I’m gonna ruin your shit.’

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