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

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

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

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.


by Luc Reid

By the time the sky began to lighten to gray, Abbie had finished painting a pentagram that encompassed the entire interior of her car. She had painted through the night using clear nail polish, a miniature flashlight gripped between her teeth.

When she crawled out the door and straightened up, finally stretching her cramped back muscles, it felt like someone was prying her apart with a crowbar. Abbie’s eyes watered, but she kept her groan fairly quiet.

Compared to gathering the ingredients for the invocation and painting the pentagram, the actual process of calling the demon was anticlimactic and easy. The object of the summoning was just a weak little Dolor Culi (a name that she was told translated roughly to “pain in the ass”). Abbie reached into the back seat of the car, set the materials on fire on top of an old cookie sheet, stepped away, and recited the Latin she’d memorized.

The car filled with a dull green smoke, which stank like a burning outhouse. In the depths of the roiling cloud, two bulging red eyes peered out balefully, though as the smoke dissipated they went invisible with the rest of the demon, just like the books said.

Abbie and her car stood in the driveway of a small, yellow house that badly needed repainting. Now she walked to the front door and knocked on it. She had to keep knocking for several minutes before Danny’s new girlfriend Britney–the one he’d been cheating with–opened up, squinting and wearing an oversized Pokemon t-shirt. Britney grimaced when she saw Abbie, but pulled the door open and walked toward the back of the house, shouting “Danny! It’s your ex.”

Danny emerged from the bedroom bleary-eyed, wearing only his beloved Soviet Russia boxer shorts. Abbie tossed him the keys. He grabbed for them belatedly, still befuddled by sleep, and missed. The keys hit the carpet with a muffled jangling sound.

“Hope you enjoy my car,” Abbie said.

Danny smiled. “I will enjoy my car,” he said.

“That I paid for.”

He shrugged theatrically. “Title’s in my name. Next time you should be smarter.”

“From your mouth to God’s ear,” Abbie said, and left.

As she walked off toward the bus stop, she waved to the Dolor Culi. She had no way of telling whether or not it waved back.

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