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

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.

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

The Road Home

by Rudi Dornemann

We drove. No light outside but eye-reflections of hedgehogs in the road, around which Sotehn swerved. No light inside except the speedometer and the yellow-dim beam of the flashlight I held on the copy of the Psalms of Enoch which my master, Lulnon, read aloud.

We didn’t want any other light. On the dashboard stood a figure of the Baptizer made of pale plastic that glowed in the dark. It was nearly three in the morning, and its glow had faded hours ago. If it brightened again, that meant a nephalim really was pursuing us, as Sotehn had said, and it was gaining.

I leaned from the back seat to keep the light shining over my master’s shoulder. The car smelled of sun-cracked vinyl upholstery. Most days, I was content learning distilling, compounding, and the rest of the alchemist’s craft. Ever since that bridge over the dry streambed, and the voice that came out of the water that wasn’t there, I’d wished I’d been apprenticed to a cobbler or a wool merchant like my brothers.

An hour later, while Lulnon read haltingly from a copy of the Psalms of Noah with very small type, I thought I saw the figure begin to lighten.

“There,” said Sotehn before I’d found my voice to speak.

We’d be fine once we reached the city. The priests had renewed the designs on every road leading in just last week, retracing the protective geometry with chalk I’d helped my master compound from the bones of animals sacrificed at the temples.

Setehn touched the sigils painted in a ring around the Baptizer, invoking each planetary angel by name as he touched its sign. The yellow-green glow went cloudy for a moment, then came back bright as before. Maybe brighter.

“A strong one,” Setehn said. “Probably newly wakened.”

The glow intensified as the city drew closer. Even with sodium lights along the road now, I could see it. Ahead of us, the chalk designs just visible against the road black.

We passed over them. I slumped back in relief.

“No,” said my master, “we are betrayed.”

The figure still glowed. The bones hadn’t been blessed after all.

“I’ll lose it in the market,” said Sotehn, and, knowing how familiar he was with the maze of alleys there, I had no doubt he would.

But an unholy creature walked the city, and someone had opened the way for it.

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One Response to “The Road Home”

  1. Fluffy Says:

    May 3rd, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Creepy. Nice. More. Please.