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.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

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

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

Cold Goat

by Jason Fischer

A seed of truth to every myth. Just think of a giant game of chinese whispers, the beginning somewhere in the dawn of history, filtering through a thousand generations, ending in the watered-down version we hear from our parents and repeat to our own children.

Let me tell you about the true Santa.

At the time I was looking for a familiar, a creature from beyond the Black that I could bind to my service. I’d called out little spirits before, nuisance demons that were more trouble than help. I wanted something with a bit more grunt, something that would give me true power.

My quest led me all over the world. I read ancient scripts printed on human skin, found mention of an elder demon in archives that most museums have never made public. There was the hint of a malevolent spirit, so powerful that only one family dared write down its name.

I learnt of a certain man, last of a long line. Keeper of a certain secret. I arrived unannounced at his house and found an old man living simply, surrounded by cats and knick-knacks. He did not die well, but at last he coughed out the creature’s name in a bubble of thick blood.

That whispered name was enough to call the demon, and it took all of my art to contain the spirit. Had I faltered once, it would have taken me into its cold, icy hands, driven the life and warmth from me.
It had a face like a goat, a goat born under a different sun, limbs that bent in ways that made my eyes swim. It wore a thousand years of ice.

I broke the demon, broke it like a wild foal, though it took two days and two nights of intense struggle. I was weak and covered in my own filth, but I bound the demon, drew it into a ring.

It is not a peaceful captive, and it whispers to me at night. I do not dare take off this ring, and it’s all I can do to hold it in.

The ice-demon gives me dreams. Of rude huts in the snow, of vengeance curses sworn in its name. The thrill of reaching out from the cold dark, through chimney-holes and out of lavatory pits, snatching at the children.

Ho Ho Ho.

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