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

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).

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

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

Sempiternal House

by Rudi Dornemann

Thomas followed the map’s instructions out of the city, off the highway, into the woods.

He parked at the pulloff, hiked what seemed longer than a mile over mud and slick leaves, found the house.

He didn’t owe the Aarons anything, really. When he’d told them the company he was working for, he had no idea they’d find an agent or invest in the very financial instruments for which he was writing math. They hadn’t told him.

Frozen rain rattled down. A copse of birch trees grew up against the house’s walls, erasing whatever path once led to the front door. Even if the market hadn’t tanked, Thomas couldn’t see how they could afforded to restore it — three stories of Victorian so far from existing roads.

When Marilyn asked him go upstate and shut off the water in their summer house, it seemed like the least he could do with his Saturday. Inside, it didn’t look like the summer house of a small college football coach and his high school secretary wife. Every wall was all shelves and every shelf was crowded with seashells, unfamiliar musical instruments, crystals, lizards in jars…

He looked at the instructions to see where he’d gone wrong. The laser-printed map was now a numbered list in Luther’s handwriting. Directions: find this piece here and move it to there.

Death mask of Marie Antoinette from the library to the kitchen. Gorilla shinbone from the upstairs bathroom to the front hall rug.

No matter how many times he asked himself, he knew he hadn’t seen what future that was hiding in the formulae.

Model of the central city of Atlantis from the pink bedroom to the green.

Could have seen, but why would he have even looked, when everyone was doing so well? When he was doing so well.

Griffin’s skull (boulder-heavy and, he was sure, really some kind of dinosaur) from the rolltop in the library to the dining room sideboard.

A rearranged constellation of curiosities, completed when he set the owl’s beak on the chessboard. He heard the door lock, looked in time to see it merge with the wood of the walls.

The phonograph wound itself and spoke in Marilyn’s voice, “Thomas, dear, make yourself at home. Don’t be angry with us. We aren’t angry with you. But the house needs a caretaker, and we thought you could use some time for reflection…”

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