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.

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

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

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

The World, Under

by Jason Erik Lundberg

Dark and constrictive and wet, cacophony of noise, the yelling, the pushing, vague sense of ejection, and then the little Eurasian girl with the Sanskrit name emerged into the Land of Grey Dusk, whispers of the world she knew still clinging to her jumper and jeans.

Bewildered, she gazed wide-eyed at the surrounding forest of sere arbor, the slate-colored skies, the ashen soil and the cinereal sun, and tried to block from her ears the faint staticky background hum of the place, as if a myriad radios were tuned to dead air. Her equilibrium slightly unsettled, as though the ground was quaking beneath her feet. The air tasted faintly of charcoal.

From a tree branch above descended a Corgi-sized spider on a silken line, landing gracefully at the little girl’s feet. Eight crimson eyes blinked in unison as the spider took in her face.

“Such pretty eyes,” said the spider with a husky feminine lilt. “They match the color of this place. And who might you be?”

“My name is Anya,” said Anya. “Where am I?”

“You are in The World, Under. Are you lost?”

“Yes, ma’am. Could you show me the way home?” The little girl rooted in the pocket of her jeans for something with which to barter, and produced two greenish iridescent scales, vaguely fish-like, which shimmered in the low light. She didn’t remember how the scales had gotten into her pocket, but they were pretty enough. “I can give you these in return for your help.”

The spider scrutinized the scales for a moment, passing two of its forelegs lightly over them, then nodded.

“Indeed. Quite unusual. I wonder how you came across them. Catoblepasi are very rare in any realm, and their scales tend to stay on.”

Anya said nothing, protective of the scales’ origin and slightly embarrassed by her unintentional theft. Though the spider seemed friendly enough, Anya knew about not giving away too much information to strangers.

“Fine,” said the spider, taking the scales in two of its arms. “I will show you the way.”

Abruptly, the spider cast out its filaments and ensnared the little girl in a cocoon of white fiber. Snug tight in her swaddled capture, the little girl closed her eyes and lost consciousness. Then, without another word, the spider pulled her effortlessly upward, into the treetops.

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00: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall

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