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

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

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.

Archive for March, 2010

Going Home

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

We took Tamara and Niall to their first punk show the other day. We ran into Andy Peace-Earring-Andy, and he reminded me about the spaceship. I’d actually forgotten.

Palo Alto 1987: Converse All-Stars, dyed hair, dreaming of moving to London; high school without end, which didn’t matter since we were all going to die in a nuclear war. We doodled on our AIDS notes. A cop warned us about a drug called crack.

Bob the Drunk said he saw a UFO come down behind Lytton Plaza. He said you could see burn marks from their engines, up on the roof of the Burger King.

Marcus Not-My-Boyfriend climbed up there, helping me up the hard part. We lit candles and pretended to call them back.

We thought the burn marks were spray paint; it was hard to tell in the dark.

The next night I missed the bus, so I had to go back downtown to see if Andy Peace-Earring-Andy was still there, because he gave me rides hoping Marcus wasn’t my boyfriend. Anyway I didn’t want to get in trouble with my parents for missing curfew and waking them up for a ride.

No Andy. I sat down on one of the benches for a minute, trying not to cry.

That’s when the light came, settling over me. Weirdly, for a minute, I thought I was in the diner across the street: the same warm light and smell of frying oil.

I felt more disoriented than scared, first. Then I thought, it’s like high school. I’m totally trapped, there’s nothing I can do—that scared me. The light got eye-hurtingly bright. A voice spoke. Except it made no sound, just appeared in my thoughts.

Do you.



“Uh, yeah,” I ventured.


I didn’t know what they meant, so I pictured our house where my mom still lives, an olive green Eichler with two birch trees in front and a square pond with water lilies that Dad put in to make her happy (it worked, actually).

Then I was home. I even made it into bed without them hearing me.

That’s all.

The thing is, it makes a difference: in a world where Tamara and Niall still face nukes and weird diseases and new drugs, I know they’re out there, quietly helping out in little dorky ways. Even if nobody believes me except Marcus Not-My-Husband.

A Monkey in the Hand – Part 3

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Tobias (I had taken to calling him that after my favourite uncle, the one Mother had stuffed and mounted in the hall of the country house), truly hated her. I was very careful, making sure her coal hatch was locked with a key I kept on my person at all times; the same for her brain tray. She was, I thought, fool-proof – or rather, monkey-proof.

He was especially unhappy when I upgraded her, installed a new-fangled electric motor, and left him with the indignity of coal dust still puffing from his backside.

He was smart, though, he worked out what to do.

Logic would decree that a mechanical mermaid was never meant to go near water, but I’d made her water-tight, given her a layer of that strange new stuff out of the rubber tree. In the corner of the workshop I created a little pond, with a waterfall and a large rock for her to sit on. The pond was big enough that she could immerse herself. I thought again about a voice for her, so she could sing to me, and went off on a shopping expedition.

And that’s when it happened. He waited until I came home so I could see what he did. I opened the door to the workshop, ardent as a lover at the thought of seeing my cold metal darling again, only to find her in the water with Tobias sitting on the edge beside her, his hand on her chest.

I gave a great bellow and he bared his carved mother-of-pearl teeth at me and made an awful sound. He dug his sharp, bright nails under the mermaid’s  breastplate and wrenched it away, then pushed her down underneath the surface. Water rushed into her chest cavity, in among all my fine, tiny clockwork that kept her going with electric sparks. The water began to boil, steam rose from the pond, and Tobias himself danced happily as she fused. Or rather, I thought it was dancing, until I realised he was shorting-out, too. In the end there was only a lot of steam, fused metal, and a nasty smell of burnt hair and fur.

You shouldn’t get greedy. A monkey in the hand is worth a mermaid in the bath.

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