Plugs

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

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

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

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

Archive for September, 2010

Unmasked

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

“You’re paranoid,” said Yellow Fever, slamming the muggers head into the wall. Bone and brick caved.

Centurion shrugged, shattered another man’s kneecaps. “The problem is endemic to the phenomenon, Yellow,” he said. “It’s waiting to happen. One day this anonymity stuff is going bite us on the ass.”

#

Trevor Milbank: mild mannered bank worker by day. Mild mannered husband by night. Less of an everyman, more of a nobody.

#

“I’m serious,” Centurion said as they took to the air. “I don’t know half the guys in the League from Adam. Wearing a mask and beating on people is not what normal people do.”

“What about me?” Yellow Fever asked.

“Don’t think I haven’t worried about you.”

#

Janice Milbank. Mild mannered wife of Trevor by day. Dr. Necrosis by night. He hadn’t had a clue. But there was a lab and a zombie army and everything. And he would have been willing to accept that. Except he didn’t find out until after a superhero ripped out the more important parts of her spine.

#

Centurion shrugged as they landed at the League’s hollowed-out volcano. “I just want to be more than a support group for the superpowered and unhinged.”

#

Trevor was angry of course. But he was a nobody. So in the end he just decided to dismantle Janice’s lab. It was for the best. But then there was the accident. And then…

#

“What would you have the superpowered do then?” asked Yellow Fever, as they pushed into the bustling main common room. “Don’t they have a responsibility to help?”

“They should be helped,” Centurion said. “Professionally”

Yellow Fever wrinkled his nose. “So what? If someone doesn’t measure up you’ll pull out bits of their spine?”

Centurion furrowed his brow. “I did that once. A zombie army, man. That was justified.”

“So’s this.” And mild mannered Trevor Milbank by day, Yellow Fever by night, took of his mask, and there were tears in his eyes. Yellow tears, that scored acid streaks down his cheeks. His eyes glowed yellow. And his mouth opened and screamed yellow. He erupted—an explosion that stripped skin from muscle, tore muscle from bone, and not for one moment allowed Centurion to appreciate quite how right he was.

First Night Rain

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

I look down from my high window, forgetting the brush in my hand, because the night is that beautiful. The rain drifts like smoke. The round paper lanterns, not yet put out by the water, gambol in the wind, and the leaves pattern and re-pattern against the light.

We had lanterns just like these at my fifteenth birthday party. (Was it that long ago?—Now the servants hurry out to take them down in the swinging dark. This storm couldn’t put out a fire, should the roofs catch.)  At my party, my father waited until the moon warned us it was rising. Then he lifted my sake cup out of my hand and said, “Now we must go, Kaida.”

We walked up the hill to our shrine. Two of our strongest bodyguards had to pry open the doors, for they had not been opened since my father was fifteen. The hinges squealed and growled.

We lit the lamps on the altar, and left incense sticks burning in the old drifts of ash. In the dim light I saw the clean, deep gashes in the wooden floor.

“You must blow out the lamps when I go,” he reminded me.

“Yes, Father,” I said.

So he left me. I blew out the lamps and waited in the dark, among the columns like trees.

By the time the moon was up I had no doubt—if I ever had—of my paternity.

I have to say, I was magnificent. My fingers and toes lengthened into perfect claws; my white skin burst into shining white scales; I coiled and uncoiled, sliding over myself, and when I roared, I brought rain to the fields: with my new dragon ears I could hear the clouds gathering in the night.

Tonight, I can hear the fields shouting greetings to the rain. After the moon rises behind the clouds I will shed my smaller form for a while, climbing up into the flying dark, coiling and uncoiling, telling our valley its name, and hearing it tell me mine.

Even though I’d spent my whole life knowing this might well be my inheritance, I still felt frightened that first night, waiting in the dark, wondering if the first telltale shimmer and strength would come. It takes time, to grow into the dragon woman one can be.

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