Plugs

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

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

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

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

Archive for March, 2010

Before Exile

Friday, March 26th, 2010

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.

Mechaieh’s Daughter

Friday, March 26th, 2010

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 Davids’s Has He Thoughts Within His Head?, Rudi’s The Third Golem, and Luc’s Before Exile.

I waited outside what was, until recently, my father’s house. I could feel the eyes of Rahab, his second wife, and her sons watching from inside the white-washed walls.

I had not changed, my flame-coloured hair marked me out. Perhaps they didn’t think I would return.

Laban, the eldest, came out and asked, ‘What do you want, Mariamne?’

 ‘My portion of the inheritance.’

But they refused. As if I had no right, as if I did not carry my mother’s blood, as if I wasn’t Mechaieh’s daughter.

‘Tell you mother that she will lose each of you if I am not given my due.’

For three mornings they found a corpse. Every evening I was in a tavern with witnesses while my stepbrothers died.

Now, in a cave outside Shechem, I wait again. Torches light the rough path down. I can hear Laban’s footsteps.

‘I have it. I have it all outside.’ His voice rasps. ‘You will leave us alone?’

‘As promised. It could have been easy, now you have three brothers to bury.’

His rage seemed to surge and bubble over. Fury overcomes fear and he leaps. I Don’t move, simply speak one word before his hands close around my throat.

Behind his back I see the creature coalescing, motes of dust, clay, any material from the ground it can muster to its call. All rush together to form a giant man, features rude but definite. It lifts Laban turns him so he can stare into its empty sockets.

‘They call it a golem, brother. We make it by mirroring God. It does the bidding of the one who breathes life into it. You see the word on its forehead – emet, means truth. It couldn’t have harmed you if you hadn’t wronged me.’

I watch as the light goes out of Laban’s eyes and foam collects around his swollen lips. The golem drops and faces me. It bows and I lick my thumb. I rub the wetness across the first of the letters etched on its brow. The word now reads met – dead. My lips meet those of the golem and I taste the rich ferment of the cave earth as I draw its breath away.

For a few moments we stand like lovers then the magic flees, and the man of clay crumbles to motes that swirl around like a lost love. Mechaieh’s blood serves me well.

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