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

Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

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.

Really Big Presents

by Luc Reid

Drood set the huge box on a table in the near-empty cafeteria. His friends Thea and Hector stared at it.

“It’s huge,” Hector said. He turned the tag toward him and read “Franz Evan Hahn-Drood. Hey Drood, your middle name is Evan?”

“You should just give it back,” Thea said. “Why did the creepy toy store man even give you a birthday present? He doesn’t know you.”

“He’s not that creepy,” Drood said. “And don’t you think we should at least see what it is?”

“Oh, he’s creepy,” said Hector. “But we should definitely see what it is. ” He began to peel off the heavy, bronze paper, and Drood joined him.

“You have no idea what’s in there!” said Thea.

“Duh,” said Drood. “Why do you think we’re opening it?”

It turned out to be a shallow box, about three feet long and two feet wide, made of some gleaming reddish material. The top was some kind of door or lid, with a handle set into it.

“Don’t–!” said Thea, but Drood pulled the lid open.

It was like looking through a window. Inside was a sunny forest clearing, in the middle of which sat a squirrel. The squirrel was petrified, being surrounded by at least fifteen cats, and the cats didn’t look any more comfortable than the squirrel: their attention was taken up by a dozen or so little silver-suited green men nearby standing at the entrance to a thrumming and glowing flying saucer. The aliens were preoccupied with several large, boot-shaped robots who were hovering over them, orange eyes glowing.

One of the cats happened to look over and notice the kids. “This just keeps getting weirder,” the cat said. The orange-eyed robots all turned to face the door and began floating toward it. The little green men shouted orders at each other and scrambled around the ship. The squirrel bounded over the cats and fled.

Thea slammed the door shut. She stared, wide-eyed, at Drood and Hector. Drood and Hector stared, wide-eyed, back.

“Oh my god! What was all that?” Thea said.

“I don’t know!” said Drood. “Should we open it again? They might be friendly.”

“No!” Thea said. “What if they’re not friendly? Those aliens or those flying things could go on a rampage. We have to keep it closed! You guard it: we’ll get a teacher.” She grabbed Hector’s arm and ran out, dragging him along.

Drood stared at the box, looked around the empty cafeteria, and stared at the box again.

Then he grinned and opened it wide.

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