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

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).

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.

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

Cricetinae’s Paroxysm

by Jason Erik Lundberg

The Cave of Endless Hamsters was a supreme disappointment. Guided by the Turtle, who glowed a pale green, the fellowship (Anya, her father the cat, Mister Shiftless, and Mister Hopeless) proceeded through the cramped quarters, occasionally bumping a head on the cave’s ceiling, avoiding slactites and stalgmites, edging around pools of fetid orange water, and not seeing one single solitary hamster.

No hamsters. In the Cave of Endless Hamsters.

Twenty minutes later, they emerged through the other side of the cave, back into the harsh light of the Land of Grey Dusk. For Anya, it had been the single least interesting experience of her seven-year-old existence.

“Huh. So, um, where were all the hamsters?”

Mister Shiftless and Mister Hopeless shrugged. The Turtle wandered over to a bush and munched on the yellowish foliage. Her father the cat sat down next to a dead anthill and began licking his shoulder.

“Isn’t anyone else bothered by this? Something is wrong here.” Anya sat down on the ground next to her father. “I really wanted to see the hamsters.”

“Desire is an outgrowth of attachment,” said the Turtle with a full mouth. “It only leads to dissatisfaction.”

“Oh, be quiet and eat your leaves.”

Anya’s father the cat suddenly stopped his impromptu bath, and began scratching at the anthill. Digging and delving and destroying, inverting the hill into a dale, skritching and skrotching and skrutching until the ground gave an abrupt thump and rumble and lurch, as if a great beast beneath the earth had humped intself up and then back down again. The cat edged backward and pressed itself into Anya’s side, and then the both of them jumped at the same time as the pit violently inverted once again, erupting in a bursting stream of furry grey, white, black, and mottled, spewing out of the hole as if a hidden oil reserve, a Vesuvius of squeaking fuzziness.

“Wow!” Anya shouted as hamsters landed on her and all around her, Winter Whites and Roborovskis and Campbells and Ladaks and Tibetans and Sokolovs, fur and whiskers and wet little noses tickling her face and making her giggle. She reached down and hugged the cat, who patiently endured the flood of hamsters crawling over his head and body, and who purred softly, a minature engine in her arms. “Thanks, Daddy!”

Creative Commons License

01: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
02: The World, Under
03: Androcles Again
04: Look Into My Eyes, You’re Under
05: Shiftless, Hopeless

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