Plugs

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.

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.

Archive for May, 2010

Until Death

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

“Listen,” she says. “The way the nighttime air sings through the trees. Nature is brilliant. I love this world, I love this life, and I love you.”

Top down on the stolen Corvette you’re driving at a nick over a hundred fifty, all you can hear is the roar of the exhaust and the rush of wind. Her hair whips around and around and the smile on her face is angelic and mischievous at the same time.

You can believe that she really does love you, even with the trail of destruction left behind her, the smell of boiled blood and seared ozone, the laser pistol pressed to your side.

She digs the weapon into your ribs and says, “Go faster.”

“How far are we going?” you ask.

“As far as we can,” she says. “We’ll know when we’re there.”

Cities on fire, her eyes ablaze with the power of life and death, and you alone between her and man’s total obliteration. She never expected to meet someone like you, she says. She was supposed to kill everyone. Men fall short of her expectations. Always. Maybe, she says, you will be different.

“Our love will guide us,” she says. You believe her. It’s not that she cannot lie, rather that she doesn’t need to. The gun in your side, the weapons in orbit, her smile. To you they are one and the same, all devastatingly precise. Her power over you is absolute.

You decide you have to try, even if it kills you.

“Yes,” you say. “Yes, I love you. I will go with you.”

Her eyes soften, for just a moment. She’s thinking, processing, judging.

“I believe you,” she says.

Many things blur together. Time and space expand, contract, swirl. She takes your hands off the wheel. She climbs on your lap. She kisses you. She takes control. She pushes the accelerator to the floor. She pulls the trigger.

The nighttime air sings through the trees. It sings of love and death. It sings loudly.

Who knows what happens after that?

The Hydra Keeper

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Every once in a while some smart-ass kid sneaks a machete or something into the zoo, lures Edna over with junk food, and hacks off one of her heads. For the kid, it’s a lark. For me, it’s one more mouth to feed.

If you’re going to look after a hydra, you have to be dedicated. And you have to realize that things always get more complicated in the long run, never simpler. Take love, for example. If you’re alone, it’s the simplest thing in the world: no double families to juggle at holidays, no having to orient the toilet paper roll the right way … but then you fall in love, and all of a sudden you’re making accommodations and trying to remember the anniversary of your first date date. Getting out of it isn’t exactly simple, either, which I think is why some people opt for marriage … which is even more of a mess. Not even mentioning children! And then you realize that it was never going to work out in the first place, and you get divorced, and instead of having one person who more or less likes you, you have one person who more or less hates you who usually starts going out right away with someone else who hates you (notice how it doubles?), and likely as not you’re on the rebound and are going out with someone again, so it’s not even like you simplified anything there!

At least when it gets more complicated with Edna, you know what you’re going to get. One more head, one more set of teeth to dodge, and fifteen more pounds a day of fresh meat.

I still like it better, though, when the kid leans through the bars and Edna eats the little creep instead of getting one of her heads chopped off. First of all, it teaches all the other smart-ass kids a lesson. Second, it’s one less person, which makes the world just a little, tiny bit simpler for a while.

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