Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

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.

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.


by Rudi Dornemann

We came through in tin, our useless armor clanking, and the room was all stairs, some M.C. Escher thing, and the soles of our metal shoes, of course, had no traction, so every step was nearly a slip, nearly a tumble down however many floors, but the stairs also went up, wrapped around behind the doorway, and we made our way on careful, slow, slow tiptoes up, and the stairs grew steeper and those greaves or whatever pinched when we lifted our legs higher for the stepping, but there was another door, which we were grateful to reach and be through–

–through into a forest, in clothes of vine-bound bark. And ants biting. We took advantage of our new mobility, jogged through the trees. The next door has to be somewhere/said Monice. Has to be somewhere; could be anywhere/said Solly. Are we done?/I said. There yet?/I panted. We weren’t, but nobody said it, just ran. To the next door, and through it. And into–

–sand. Sand. So much. Sand. Desert. Or vast beach. (Maybe that blue distance is water.) Insect carapace clothes. We trudged. Slowly slowed. To rest. (Solly: I hope we’re there soon. Monice: When we’ve learned what we need to, the quest will end. Solly: Learn? Learn what? We’re too busy running from place to place. (I was too tired to say anything. Just nodded.) But the sea. A flash-tide. Was coming. Was on us. And we went through to–

–stone-suited mountainside-sliding scree-riding tumbling cracking smacking avalanche-among crushed pressed pushed and–

–through in tin again, that Escher-stairway room again, and us too tired, too bruised, to tiptoe-climb again, and I fell first and heard Sol and Moni thunder-tumbling after; however, it wasn’t as far a fall as I’d expected, and I wasn’t too much worse by the time we landed on a landing, where the door was a rectangular well in the floor, and we dragged ourselves over, and Moni dropped through, then Sol, then I went–

–through. In eggshell smocks and feather bloomer-breeches. On the plains, astride ostriches. In the midst of a flock-stampede.

“Enough!” said Monice.

Dismounting, she ducked as the rest of the flock stiff-legged by.

Following, Sol and I jumped down and covered our heads.

“No,” I said, “We have to…”

“No,” said Sol. “She’s figured it.”

“The quest’s over when we say it’s over,” said Monice. “And I say it is.”

And it was.

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