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

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.

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.

The School of Seven Bells: Prelude

by Daniel Braum

“I don’t think the octopus likes you very much,” I said to Terrence.

“Of course it does,” he said.

Terrence was always embroiled in some crazy adventure. He was smart enough and rich enough to make his impossible schemes happen but he certainly didn’t have time for a pet.

The octopus sat in a massive tank in the living room of Terrence’s Hampton’s estate. Flags, a Ouija board, waterproof maps, and chess pieces littered the gravel and coral. Next to the tank was Terrence’s big work table, which today was full odd bells, the largest one two foot high and wrought from iron.

“Isn’t that the Octopus that guessed the outcome of every world come match,” I asked.

“Yeah,” Terrence said. What a waste of money. “It’s been wrong on every other thing I’ve asked of it.”

“You could try being nicer to it.”

“Forget about the octopus, Doug,” he said. “I’m leading an expedition to find the School of Seven Bells. Once I pin down the last of these troubling locations, I want you to come with me.”

The School of Seven Bells, a mythical band of mystic pickpockets, was folklore. Besides being the name of one of our favorite local bands, they did not exist.

“Stop being such a sulking grump,” Terrence said.

 He rang the iron bell.  The sound was hollow and disappointing. After a second, shadows of butterflies danced across the table. Nothing cast them. The octopus jetted to the corner of the tank nearest us and looked as interested as an octopus could.

“Neat trick, huh,” Terrence said. “All the bells have neat tricks. But I finally figured out the Seven Bells aren’t bells at all. Not at least those kind of bells. They are the seven steps to take to find the Prince of Peace.”

I hated when he went off on supernatural mumbo jumbo. I much preferred his expeditions for shipwrecks and buried treasure.

As we spoke the octopus was spelling out “Die Terrence” on the Ouija board.

“Seriously, Terrence,” I said. “I don’t think the octopus likes you.”

Just then Terrence’s butler wheeled a library cart full of old tomes into the room distracting him from any reply.

The octopus began arranging the items in its tank. It marked locations on the map with pawns and spelled out names on the board. It was telling us the School of Seven Bells was in Argentina. It was marking dozens of specific locations. Of what I couldn’t be sure.

But I was right about one thing. The octopus didn’t like having Terrence around after all. Argentina was halfway around the world and we were going to be gone a long time.



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One Response to “The School of Seven Bells: Prelude”

  1. Rudi Dornemann Says:

    July 27th, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Looking forward to the next installment!