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).

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

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

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

Dont Frget Oracl

by Kat Beyer

Sandra texted me just as I left the Time Warner Building. “Doz eggs, cig lightr. Dont frget oracl.”

I had forgotten. Mazy Maxie under 96th Street Station was the most convenient, so I got off there and turned down the stairwell everyone pretends not to know about. Down and down, into the dark that smelled of old subways and new biodiesel trains and recent piss. It got cold then warm. When I couldn’t see my way any more I heard her voice.

“What’d ya bring, supplicant?”

“A carton of cigarettes and a bottle of crème de menthe.”

“Oh, it’s you, Dave. Finally somebody who knows what I like.  It’s been rare unguents all day, fachrisayks. Hand ‘em over.”

I held them out in the dark and felt them lifted out of my hands. She flicked on an old clerk’s lamp and eyeballed me. She isn’t blind, though her milky eyes look like a blind person’s; just sees further than most.

“Question?” she growled.

“Oh yeah. Sandra wants to know if we should try to look for a new apartment.”

She glared into our future for a minute, then lit a cigarette and took a long drag.

“Beware of men wearing camels,” she snapped. “Have a good evening.”

Some newbies might ask, “What the hell does that mean?” but I know better: first, you get what you pay for in this town, and second, usually you find out what she means sooner than you want.

“Thanks, Maxie,” I said. “Have a good evening yourself.”

“Whatever,” she shrugged, and turned out the light.

Sandra got home ahead of me. I told her about the oracle while I cracked eggs for an omelet.

“I’m thinking next time you should try the one in Astor Place,” she said.

We didn’t find out what Maxie meant until my brother-in-law came over for dinner. Luke’s OK for someone so annoyingly hip, and his weird DJ projects make more money than we ever will. When we asked if he knew a good realtor, I couldn’t read his face, which was new. When he got up to go to the bathroom, Sandra grabbed my arm. Unlikely as it was for a guy so into his appearance—and after all, our apartment isn’t that dirty—he had an empty Camels package stuck to the seat of his pants.

FYI, the guy he recommended got arrested a week later.

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