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

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

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

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

A Monkey in the Hand – Part 3

by Angela Slatter

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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