Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

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

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).

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


by Trent Walters

Note: Although this story stands alone, this is part of the Pandora series.

Pandora had not known then what we today take for granted:  Our houses are watching us:  from the center hole in the ceiling fan, to the constellations of faces and creatures inhabiting spackles in the painted ceiling, to the creatures frolicking among the knots in the wooden paneling.  So it was that Pandora was taken completely off-guard by the house’s incisive observations.

Pandora returned from the gym after a half-hour on the stair-master, which somehow felt like her work at Widget Manufacturing, Inc.  She stripped to her Underoos and struck muscle-man poses in front of her bedroom mirror.  She pinched her gut and slapped her jiggly thighs.  “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fattest in the mall?”

“Is that a rhetorical question, or do you really want an answer?”

Being self-conscious of her body and her silly underwear, it wasn’t the best of times to hear a strange voice in her bedroom.  “Who said that?”

“Rhetorical, then.  My father always said I couldn’t keep my reflections to myself.”



“What were you saying?”

“Simply that you have a body-image problem.  Just accept yourself.”

Pandora stared into her reflection and nodded at it, slightly.  She wrapped herself in a fluffy pink robe and stepped into the bathroom.  She undressed in the shower, washed, and wrapped her body in a towel before standing in front of the bathroom mirror.  “So,” she asked, “you think I have a body-image problem?”

The mirror snorted.  “That’s one way to put it.  All you do is primp and preen: Is my hair perfect?  How’s this shade of lipstick?  Vanity, vanity.  I’ve never known anyone so damn self-absorbed.”

Shell-shocked, Pandora stared at her steamy reflection.  Then she walked stiffly into the bedroom and laid herself across the bed, face planted in a pillow.  After a good cry, she draped her towel across the bedroom mirror, dressed in her pajamas, and lay with the covers up to her chin.  She tried to read, she tried to sleep, but her eyes kept leaking.

“Excuse me, Pandora.  I couldn’t help noticing your distress.”

“Who said that?”

“Me.  The ceiling fan.  Look, I know I shouldn’t interfere, but those mirrors don’t see you for who you really are.”

“Thank you.”  Pandora smiled up at her ceiling through bleary eyes.  “It’s nice to know I have a fan.”

“Sure.  Your problem is laziness: All you ever do is lie around.”

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