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.

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

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

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Lunch with the Great Barrier Reef

by Daniel Braum

A pair of human eyes float in a glass cylinder of bubbling water on the center of our big conference table. I don’t like the way they stare. The way they are always watching. They have been here often enough that I can make out the gossamer tendrils connected to their trailing nerve endings. I follow the wires and tubing from the back of the cylinder to where they disappear into the wall under the window.

It is a bright sunny day and the ocean is sparkling, but I don’t enjoy the view. I can only think of the wires and tendrils running snaking out to the blue expanse and the Great Barrier Reef submerged beneath.

“How is the schedule proceeding, Mr. Abarax,” a tinny, synthetic voice asks through small laptop speakers next to the cylinder with the eyes.

 I asked it once, why human eyes? Why not a camera or synthetic lens?

We want to look on you as you see yourselves, they answered.

The board is assembled around the table. They shuffle papers nervously. We’re behind schedule.

“We’re having trouble with the second set of Co2 scrubbers online,” Jones says. “But the new tree plantation is going as directed.”

I want to smash the cylinder and tell that damn reef to shove it. But a set of those gossamer tendrils are in my house and at my kids’ school. We’re never very far away from stinging range.

“Here,” the reef says, through the laptop speakers. “This set of schematics might prove helpful. We expect progress next meeting.”

The eyes go blank. They look exactly the same as before but I can just feel that they are empty.

I don’t care about the temperature of the ocean or the coral reefs.  But those tendrils found their way into my son one night. With his four-year-old lips, the reef informed me of its plan. Of my new orders. And it is everywhere. Pulling our strings with gossamer stingers. So the board listens. And when the meeting is over, I will get to work.


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