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

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.

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

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

Another Winter’s Fantasy

by Rudi Dornemann

Here’s this year’s installment in the series that includes A Winter’s Fantasy and A Winter’s Fantasy II, once again a tip of the hat to the esteemed Mr. Ogdred Weary.

Uncle Cuthbert summoned us to his rooms in the North Wing. Edmund and I found him there, propped up on a heap of pillows with a lily-pad-pattern comforter pulled up to his chin and fires blazing on either side of the bedroom.

He was always sick, but we’d never seen him this bad.

“The countess assures me of your discretion,” he said, and we tried to act humble while he caught his breath. “I have… a task.”

He coughed several minutes before continuing. “The pond. Where I studied. Many years. Dangerous. In this cold. Creatures. Keep in. Walls up. Don’t…”

That was all he had strength for. His doctor wouldn’t let us wait for him to wake.

The woods were frigid — tree trunks coated with ice, path glazed slick. It was hard to walk, but not hard to find the pond. A little path led from the shack that had been Uncle Cuthbert’s research station.

We didn’t see any wall, although we tromped through the woods until our feet felt like stones. Pieces of glass lay everywhere on the ground, like windowpanes without windows. A few leaned up against trees.

“That could be a wall,” said Edmund.

We made quick work of it, setting up a wall of glass all around the pond, then hurrying home to thaw by the fire.

The glass was still there the next day; it must have worked.

Dark came quickly under the trees. We’d worn warmer coats and triple socks, and thought we’d wait to see what we were holding back.

They lifted themselves from the pond around moonrise. Long fingers, long noses like icicles — they were icicles. When they rickety-walked closer, I could see air bubbles, trapped insects, and bits of water plants inside their transparent bodies.

I backed up. They could just slip through between the panes. But the glass distracted their sharp fingertips. They drew patterns, lacy, intricate, mesmerizing to them and us. We wouldn’t survive sitting there like statues until morning — our coats weren’t that warm, and our socks were full of snow.

I couldn’t move my eyes, but could — barely — move my hand. I found a rock. I don’t remember throwing it, just the crash, the shrieking, their icy-sharp fingers on the backs of our necks as we ran all the way back to the house, and the shivers we couldn’t shake until summer.

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