Plugs

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

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

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).

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

A Few Notes Concerning Griffins

by Rudi Dornemann

The thing about griffins, and nobody really takes this into account, is that it isn’t just the beak–the whole digestive system is avian. That means gizzard stones, and that, in the case of griffins, with their fondness for hoarded riches, should mean swallowed rubies, opals, and chunks of jade as big as your fist. Which would be pretty much inaccessible except the feline side brings with it a grooming instinct. And that means hairballs.

The sound is a fearful thing, particularly when echoing among the dunes on a night when the new moon is a low huge matte-gray absence overhead. A sound like a freight train hauling an angelic choir roaring by, then slamming into a glottal stop the size of Rhode Island. Not a sound you forget, or one that I could resist investigating.

So, after hours wandering the dunes, I found the griffin around dawn, stretched out in a garage at the burnt-out end of a cul de sac where the lawns were all sand and switch grass, gnawing on a truck tire.

“What do you want?” said the griffin.

Ever since the apocalypse, lying hasn’t seemed worth the effort, so I answered with utter honesty: “Treasure.”

“Help yourself,” said the griffin. “Plenty for us both.” It waved a claw in the direction of the lawns, and I saw, by the plum-colored sun that had just crested the split-level ranch opposite, that the sand was strewn with the stuff you give away two hours after your your yard sale should have ended–a broken blender, a stack of Steven Seagal DVDs, a bedraggled Cabbage Patch Kid…

The good stuff was heaped in the back of the garage, and it wasn’t all that good. A cherub-encrusted chandelier. A plastic faux-jukebox hutch. One of those sad clown paintings. The griffin’s taste was abominable.

I had just realized the whole priceless hairball thing was pretty iffy when it made that disgusting, angelic, and, at this distance, skull-splitting sound again.

“If I help you with that,” I said, “what’ll I get?” I was thinking, Androcles and the Lion; I was thinking, hairball remedy and vasoline in the cupboards of the abandoned subdivision; I was thinking, something in that hoard-heap might be worth a decent meal in one of the shanty-burbs.

“You’ll get,” said the griffin, “not eaten.”

I was thinking how its eagle side and its lion side had carnivorousness in common.

“Deal,” I said.

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