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).

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

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

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

Archive for November, 2009

The Frog Prince

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

She was never a big fan of the castle pond.

            It lay at the fartherest corner, hidden by scrubby shrubs, and gnarly trees that dropped leaves into the nasty brown water. Frog spawn clung to the edges of the pond like an unfashionable necklace. Really big spiders waited for short-sighted flies. Pretty awful, all in all.

            Princess Felicity generally stayed away but one day when she was playing soccer with the stableboys (because she was an egalitarian sort of a princess), she mistimed a kick. Her golden soccer ball spun off into the nasty tangle of foliage. There was a splash. The stable boys disappeared speedily.

            Felicity was very fond of the ball (it was magically treated gold that gave when you kicked it so you didn’t hurt your foot), so she headed in the direction of the splash.

            She got tangled up in a vine, lost her balance, and fell face first into the water. When she stood up, sputtering, she spotted the ball, out in the middle of the deep stinky pond. Unless she could find a stableboy, she was going for a swim – except she didn’t know how.


            She looked around but saw no one, and went back to starring at the ball.

            ‘I said hello.’ A bit tetchy now. ‘Down here!’

            The frog was the size of a moderately fat cat, green and shiny, with eyes set wide on either side of his bumpy head. He wore a worse-for-wear crown. ‘Hello again.’

            ‘Hello, errr, you.’ Talking frogs were par for the course. ‘I’m Princess Felicity.’

            ‘Tad. Prince Tad. Lost your ball?’


            ‘Not a big swimmer?’

            ‘Not so much.’ Felicity was getting annoyed. ‘Is there a point to this?’

            ‘Well, I was going to offer to get your ball back but if you can’t even be civil…’ Tad began to hop away.

            ‘No! Sorry. Just a bit tense about the whole falling in the disgusting pond incident. I do apologise.’

            Tad gave her a sly look. ‘An in return: a date?’

            ‘You’re a frog!’

            ‘Look, if you’re going to be froggist about this…’

Maybe it would be easier to ask for a new ball.

            ‘One date.’

            ‘Agreed.’ With that, he plopped into the pond and swam out to the golden ball which he pushed back to the shore with his nose. Felicity thanked him reluctantly. He hoped about excitedly. ‘Pick you up at seven, then?’


Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

“Jordan! Did you pick the cat up from the vet ?” he looked startled, then guilty, then pushed the door shut with his foot. Sounded like she was in the kitchen. That meant it had been a hard day for her, which was always bad news.

“Uh, no. I forgot. I’ll do it tomorrow.” He rolled his eyes, then headed for the kitchen.

“Tomorrow is Saturday. They’re closed on the weekend. You can’t get her till Monday, which is a holiday. So you can’t get her till Tuesday. That’s 75 bucks room and board. I’m getting just a little tired of this.” She was wearing her “get out!” apron and holding a spatula. Batter dripped onto the floor.

“In fact,” she continued, “I am tired of it.” Donna picked Jordan up and dropped him in her purse, which stood open on the table.

Inside, Jordan fell a considerable distance, landing heavily on a red compact. He sat up, rubbing the back of his head. There was a sizable amount of room, far more than he had expected. In the dim light and he saw keys, lipstick, a pencil stub, crumpled pieces of paper, and other things not immediately identifiable. Then he noticed the people. A couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses, their starched shirts looking a bit rumpled; someone who might have been a repair man or meter reader; a cop; a couple of teenage boys; a well-built young woman with a head full of red ringlets. No wonder he hadn’t been able to get her on the phone.

“Oh wow, Gloria! How long have you been in here?”

“Since the day you cheated on Donna, but told me you weren’t seeing anyone.”

Jordan reached for her shoulder, but she stepped back “Get your hands off me. I think you’ve done enough already. I just thank God we used a condom.”

Jordan let his arm fall to his side and looked away to avoid Gloria’s glare. He noticed four guys slumped around a card table in the shadows. “Who are they?”

Other former boyfriends. She sure can pick ’em.”

“What do you–? Oh.” Jordan closed his mouth, and they stared at each other.

Darkness fell with a snap.

“What’s going on?” Jordan cried, unable to keep panic entirely out of his voice.

“Brace yourself.”

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