Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

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

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

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

Before Exile

by Luc Reid

This story is part of the Daily Cabal’s third anniversary celebration, a collection of kabbalah-themed stories. (Thanks to Mechaieh for the theme!) The other anniversary stories are Angela’s Mechaiah’s Daughter, David’s Has he thoughts within his head? and Rudi’s The Third Golem.

Many thanks to Faye Levine, whose page on parchment amulets from her Practical Kabbalah site helped provide information in this story. Any gross inaccuracies in my story or failings on my part to understand things fully are, of course, her fault.

Far across the city, we heard the screech of metal and the first concussive roars of the Robot Insurrection. My daughter Leah and I sat on her princess bed and watched through the window as the night sky across the river grew orange with flames. She reached out and touched the leather case I was holding, inside which, she knew from demanding the story of it many times, was the special Parchment Amulet, prepared by a very learned Shofer.

“Are you going to go fight the robots now, daddy?”

“Soon,” I said. “First we need to wait for Aunt Alice to get back. You’ll go stay at her apartment, and then I’ll go.”

Her face scrunched up. “Those robots are bad! You should make them say they’re sorry and clean it all up.”

“I’ll try to. I’ll be very happy if we can do that.”

“Can you?”

I frowned and squeezed her hand. “No use trying to tell the future, maideleh.”

She stroked the leather case softly, as though it were a pet. “Is your special paper more powerful than the robots?” she said.

I think it is.”

“Why didn’t it keep mommy from going to heaven?”

“Because it’s only for one person. When they wrote it, they wrote the name right down on it. It doesn’t help anyone else.”

I heard the front door, and my sister Alice’s hurried steps through the living room.

“OK, you have to put it on,” she said.

I smiled. “You think it’s my name on it?”

“It’s not? Whose is it?”

I lifted the amulet case up and settled the chain around her neck, over her Tinkerbell nightgown. It hung down almost to her knees.

“It’s my name?” she said breathlessly. “It’s my name is on it?”

“Who do you think?” I said. “I don’t need it anyway. I have chutzpah.”

Alice came in and swept Leah into her arms, looking at me broken-hearted over my daughter’s shoulder as I picked up my taser gun.

“Do I have huspoppa too, daddy?” she said, her voice muffled in Alice’s shoulder. I walked with them to the door.

“You will, sweetheart,” I said. “For now you have protection. All the rest comes later.”

Then we went our separate ways in the hallway, and I took the exit down the stairs as the lights flickered out and the city was plunged into darkness.

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