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

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

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.

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

The Bison Girl

by Luc Reid

I’d been on a panel discussion about Noh theater, and the bison girl had caught me on my way out and asked if I wanted to have coffee. I should have gotten out of it, but 1) I couldn’t come up with an excuse and 2) I was distracted by her tight-fitting costume. She had a lithe, beautifully-proportioned body. But it disturbed me that the body had a tail and a bison’s head.

My friend Isaac had tried to explain furries to me before I left for the convention. At one point he’d said, “There are furries, and then there are yiffy furries. The regular furries are just having fun.”

“Then what are the yiffy furries doing?” I’d asked.

He’d just laughed at me.

We were sitting. The bison girl sipped iced coffee through a long straw she’d taken from her purse. “Insurance,” she said, answering my last question. “I’m a field adjuster.”

“I should have guessed you’d work in the field,” I said. She laughed: a beautiful laugh, for a bison. And you had to admire her mask, especially around the eyes. Of course, the expression didn’t change–but then, masks aren’t an extension of your face: they’re a replacement for it, a veil, a barrier, a statement, a simplification, a distraction.

My watch beeped. “Oh, I have to get to my next panel,” I said, relieved.

“What are you doing after? Want to get some dinner?”

Just for a moment, I considered it. I thought of the graceful shape under the fur. Then I thought about Isaac laughing. “I don’t think that’s a good idea,” I said. I waited for her to ask me why. Apparently she didn’t need to.

“Fine,” she said. “That’s funny coming from you–but fine.”

“I just don’t feel very comfortable with … uh, furries.”

“Obviously,” she said. “I just thought, working with masks, you might get what this is about.”

“Artistically? Sure,” I said. “Personally? No clue.”

She stood then and pulled off her mask. Her face glimmered with perspiration, framed by damp tendrils of dark hair. I would have recognized her anywhere: Jessie Rosner, the girl I’d been obsessed with all through high school. I’d never gotten to say more than two words to her, until today.

“You know, just because your face shows,” she said, “doesn’t mean you’re not wearing one.” Then she turned her back on me and left.

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