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

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

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.

Archive for September, 2010

Crow Guide

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Doreen tucked a loose lock of hair behind her ear and licked her lips. She had never seen the Martian tarot before. For that matter, she had never been this close to a real-live Martian. But she had to know what was in store now that her guide was gone.

The creature placed the first card on the table. The painting was composed of dots, but no pattern emerged no matter how she squinted. The Martian pinched the next card’s corner with three spatulate fingertips, turned it over. Another pointilist nonlandscape.

“Fate, the inevitable. Also, subterfuge.” Doreen didn’t know what this meant. She turned her head. Looking at the card with just one eye didn’t seem to help.

“What position does that take?” she quavered.

“Behind you, of course,” it muttered, placing the card beneath the first. She looked quickly over her shoulder. Nothing. She shook herself, nodded quickly for the next card.

This one was predominantly blue and green, but no more interpretable than the first two. “The moons.” Doreen was beginning to feel bloated.

Another card. A whole range of pale shades, but no white. “The sea.” Doreen bobbed her head nervously. Her arms trembled. She opened her mouth to speak, closed it with a snap.

Card. “Pathways, in search.” This one looked like a photorealistic painting of a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. But the meatballs were … wrong. They had legs tucked up beneath them, and eyes. Doreen could no longer sit still. She hopped up on the seat, shuffled her feet, fluttered her arms.

Card. “Release, equanimity.” Mountain peaks stood up before the stars. A bird flapped heavily in front of two small moons. Doreen scratched behind her ear with her foot.

Card. “Disclosure, a return.” A shove, and the chair landed on its back in a puff of dust.

The end


Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

There are two stairwells at either end of the hallway outside your new apartment. You take the one in front for the first week. The weekend comes, and you want to explore the back yard, so you take the steps in back.

Two flights. Four. Six, and you should be on the ground floor, but there’s no exit, just more stairs leading down. Did you miscount? Or is there a basement exit? But no, only more flights of stairs weaving back, then forth, lit by the same weak fluorescent tubes at each landing.

Down you go, envisioning some egress into a rumrunner’s cave, maintenance tunnels, or a disused subway station. Just as it is getting – you think – ridiculous, you reach the bottom. There are no more stairs leading down, there’s a door.

It leads to the street, as if you’d walked out the front door. Not thinking, you let the door close behind you. There’s a finality to its click.

It’s gray. Like the day is overcast, or there’s more smog in the air. But the sun is up there, only weaker. When you open the door again, there’s the front lobby, not the stairwell you left.

Days go by, and it never gets brighter. Everything is subdued, colors washed out, animals sluggish, people less animated. As the days go by you feel it too, this creeping lethargy.

You’ve been living in what looks like your old apartment; there is no other ‘you’ in this world, if it even is a different world. You avoid the back stair.

Until you don’t.

The day comes when you feel that a change, any change, is better than the eternal gray surrounding you. You plod down the hall, open the door, and gaze down the stairs. They seem to go on forever, and it sure looks dark down there.

You take one step, then another, wishing this were the kind of world where stairs could lead upwards.

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