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

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

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.

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


by Luc Reid

During the quiet times I end up in a trance state for a few years or decades at a time. Streaking through space, my thousand eyes open in all directions and drinking in the starlight, I sometimes forget what I am, or that I am at all, that I have a purpose, however long that purpose might take me to fulfill: more millennia, maybe longer. Maybe never … but then, never is a very long time. A lot of things can happen in an eternity.

Sometimes I find myself coasting into a group of other Motes, and our voices shiver through the ether as we talk about the endless stirring and changing of the planets’ surfaces, the taste of a comet’s tail, or especially the near-meetings, when one of the Bright Ones drifts by us in the opposite direction, a mere thousand or two thousand miles away. “If she had just been a little closer …” we say, but there is no way to finish the sentences.

We break these conversations up quickly, after two or three years at most, bending ourselves away from each other with the gravity of passing asteroids or moons. If we were to see one of the Bright Ones together, there is no telling what we would do to each other. The bonds of friendship grow a little weak when the goal of our lives is involved.

There is a light in front of me. I’m being pulled down toward it in my long orbit around the sun, and it’s being pulled up toward me.

At these speeds, there is hardly a moment to think, to reflect, to reconsider. Now I see the light is one of the Bright Ones, and it is clear that she’ll crash into me in moments. I only have time for the thrill of anticipation to rise in me and not for doubts or wondering to fully materialize before all of my thousand eyes are blinded with the light of her around me on every side, and I feel myself dissolving as she begins to dissolve. As we transform, I remember achingly the piercing light of every star I’ve ever seen.

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