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.

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.

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.

Androcles Again

by Jason Erik Lundberg

The little girl awoke, unbound, aware of a great rolling movement of musculature beneath her. Shapes and curves resolved into the structure of an enormous pachyderm. She’d been sleeping on the back of an elephant.

She looked over one side; its ponderous walking took them both across a frighteningly narrow tree branch hundreds of feet above the ground. She let out out a small squeak; the elephant’s trunk periscoped over its head and seemed to look at her.

“You are awake.” Its low rumbling voice sent vibrations through Anya’s legs and up into her teeth. The beast did not halt in its ambulation.

“Yes,” Anya said. “Where am I?”

“My realm. I am the Olifanz.”

“Don’t you mean elephant?”

“Did I misspeak?” the Olifanz said.

The little girl was quiet.

“Madame Spider delivered you to me.”

“Will you show me the way home?”

“No. But I will bring you to the Turtle, who will. Now be silent, or I will change my mind and eat you up.”

“But elephants are herbivores. I learned it at school.”

“As I said before,” the creature boomed, turning its massive head and fixing Anya with one harsh green eye, “I am not an elephant. I Am The Olifanz.”

“But why are you so grouchy?”

“Because I must deal with incessant questions from little girls who do not belong here. Plus, something behind my right ear has been causing me irritation and pain for months.”

Anya gently lifted the flap of the Olifanz’s right ear, and discovered a wickedly sharp-looking black object lodged in the skin. Tri-cornered, a bit like a shark tooth, and the darkest fuliginous black she had ever seen. Without a further thought, Anya reached down, gripped the tooth in her hand, and gave two quick tugs. The tooth came free, and in the process, one acuminate corner shallowly bisected the fate line on her palm; both she and the Olifanz cried out in unison.

“O! O!” trumpeted the Olifanz, then sprinted forward. Anya stuffed the tooth in the pocket of her jumper and held on, hand stinging. The Olifanz abruptly leapt forward into thin air. Anya screamed as they soared through the spaces between space, a lateral dimensional shift, vibrant colors blazing past her eyes, until, just as suddenly, they stopped, surrounded by a dense bamboo forest.

Before them stood an ancient tortoise, its skin fathomably wrinkled, its shell whorled and swirled with rune-like arabesques.

“As promised,” said the Olifanz, reaching up to snare Anya with its powerful trunk and then place her on the ground, “this is the Turtle.”

“How did we get here?”

“A moment of pure joy,” the Olifanz said. “We would have gotten here eventually, but your way was much, much faster.” Then the great beast lumbered away without another word.

Creative Commons License

00: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
01: The World, Under

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.