Plugs

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

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

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Overlea Marsh

by Kat Beyer

We’re a big family, notoriously hard to fright, unless you count Uncle Jack; the rest of us got our horses walloped over fences when we were young enough to learn— no fear, or don’t show it. My cousin Gilly’s shaping up to be like Uncle Jack. The aunts talk about what’s to be done about her.

Therefore when my horse cast a shoe coming up on Overlea Marsh I didn’t fret too much. Everyone warns about the marsh— “not after sunset,” & etc. I found the shoe settling in a pool off the track, pulled it out in the reddening light, and decided against going after the missing nails.

“We’ll have to walk it, Conqueror,” I told him, and he had the grace to look ashamed. We crossed the first bridge, by Cold Water.

“Who passes there?” asked a voice like water weed.

I stopped dead.

“John Overlea,” I said, addressing the empty dusk.

It said nothing more; yet I found myself kneeling in the middle of the bridge, weeping with loneliness. My whole family despised me, though they’d never said a word. Overleas don’t. They thought I was worse than a hundred Uncle Jacks.

“That was quick,” said the voice by my ear. “I thought to have to try you at all three bridges. Mind the lesson here. If you do, nothing more will fright you tonight.”

I stood up, startled. The loneliness had gone, my aunts and cousins and all didn’t despise me in the least.

I walked on leading Conqueror, thinking; the voice kept its promise.

When I got home, I walked round the porch to where Uncle Jack always sits, alone with his pipe on the far side. I sat down beside him.

“Young John,” he nodded.

“Uncle Jack,” I answered, “You suffer a great deal from us.”

He smiled, looking out over the north field towards the marsh.

“Yes,” he said. “Someone’s got to carry the fears awhile, if nobody else shares the burden. Makes you strong, I admit, though you hate it.”

He turned to me.

“Something happen in the marsh?”

“Yes,” I blinked.

“Ah,” he said, smiling out over the field again.

“I’ll share the burden,” I offered suddenly, because nobody ought to bear what I’d felt on the bridge, even if sometimes they must.

He patted my arm.

“Some’s you can, and some’s you can’t. Thank you.”

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