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

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

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.

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

Chinrezik and the Isle of Demons

by AlexM

On the south edge of the city, the river splits into two around an island. Now, in the time when the city was smaller and that island a far-off piece of rock, a group of terrible demons lived there. Manlike in visage, they possessed none of the goodness of heart and lived selfish, sordid, drunken lives.

A ship wrecked on the smaller rocks near that island, casting the sailors ashore. There, despite the city less than a day away, they fell prey to the demons’ power and adopted their lifestyle.

The city-guardian Chinrezik saw this and saddened.

Taking on the form of a giant horse, like the legendary Horse-King, he flew to the island on a foggy morning when the demons slept and said to the sailors, “Your wives and husbands are waiting with your children, fearing the worst. Climb onto my vast back and I will return you to them.”

The sailors all looked at one another, reluctant to leave this pleasurable new life – but, one by one, began to agree that their families were more important. Though some thought sadly of a return to life’s difficulties after their many days on the island, they followed the others’ – and Chinrezik’s – sentiments.

“When I leap from this island into the sky,” said the giant horse-Chinrezik, “the demons will sense your departure and call for you in the most tempting way. Fix your gaze forward and you will be safe.”

“We understand,” said the former Captain.

So the sailors climbed on the vast back and Chinrezik leapt into the sky and it was as he had said: the demons awoke and began calling, reminding the sailors of the many selfish joys the island held.

To Chinrezik’s dismay, several sailors longed for this life of constant selfishness more than their families and proper lives. As each looked at the island, he or she fell from the vast back. By the time they reached a safe distance, only the Captain and three of her crew remained.

Chinrezik extolled the virtue of these people, and he adjured them to console the lost sailors’ families and teach them similar values.

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