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

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

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

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.

A Monkey in the Hand – Part 2

by Angela Slatter

How could I resist? A Galatea to my Pygmalion – but something infinitely more intriguing than an ordinary woman.

I’d read about sailors who’d caught a mermaid in the South Seas and tried to bring her back to Portsmouth. They kept her in a barrel of water on the deck, but it seemed she jumped ship not far out of the harbour, waved the men goodbye and ducked under the dark, cold roiling sea.

But if I could create something that knew no home but mine?

The mech-monkey had been easy, comparatively. This was far more complex, far more challenging. I do like my things to be beautiful and the mermaid had to be exquisite.

It took two months of solid work, the mech-monkey labouring madly by my side. Sometimes it refused to participate. I just thought it was being, well, monkey-ish. After I yelled and threatened to turn it into the guts of a harpsichord, it obeyed, albeit bitterly, dropping things, straightening things that were meant to be bent and bending things that were meant to be straight.

In the end, though, she was finally ready. Polished brass for skin, covered with engraved scales, an articulated tale where the smoke came out (a farting monkey was one thing, a farting mermaid another entirely). Her irises were emeralds, her lips embossed gold. Her hair I bought from a magnificent whore in Spitalfields who let me take the whole glorious flaming red torrent for twenty guineas. I spent another twenty guineas having it made into the finest wig you’ve ever seen, then fitted it tightly over the metal egg of the skull.

The breasts were my pride: jutting things, ruby tipped, inviting, hard to the touch, and cool in the mouth. I thought about making her a voice-box, but then decided that her smile was enough, the way the corners of her mouth slid back like a sled across an icy lake.

The monkey, needless to say, hated her. My clever little creature, so smart, so learned, such a happy companion when we were alone. And I started to neglect him, poor little sod. But in all honesty, dear reader, I thought her too large for him to do anything about.

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