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

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

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

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

The Frog Prince

by Angela Slatter

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?’

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