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

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.

Edd Vick’s latest story, “The Corsair and the Lady” may be found in Talebones #37.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

The Miser’s Cat

by Rudi Dornemann

There was a miser who had a cat.

He died.

The miser, that is.

The cat was fine.

The miser, who’d hoarded, cheated, and loaned at exorbitant and inflexible rates, left all his wealth to the cat.

Had this been strictly a matter of what was written in his will, his lawyer (whom he’d swindled) and the judge (whom he’d nearly bankrupted) would gladly have mislaid or invalidated anything bearing the miser’s signature.

But the miser had guaranteed his wishes by locking his fortune in a brass-bound trunk he buried beneath the oldest, tallest tree in the forest, and by hanging the trunk key on the cat’s collar.

Now, you’ve heard that cats have nine lives, but that doesn’t mean a string of lives lived one after another. Cats live all nine at once. And only one is a cat life. For instance, the miser’s cat was also a riverboat captain, a seamstress, an itinerant mole, a mathematician, an angel, and several other things.

On a cloudy day, the lawyer and the judge finished decoding clues the miser had left in his will, and dug around the roots of some old, tall trees until they struck the brass-bound trunk with a shovel-bending clang! At the very same moment, in a nearby field, the cat wriggled through an inconvenient fence and snagged its collar there, key and all.

While the lawyer and judge rested from their excavations, a seamstress and a mathematician were crossing a fence-divided field from different sides. These two women spotted the key at the same moment they spotted each other.

Don’t mistake this for coincidence–this kind of thing happens all the time. In that country, there’s an expression, “They’re two lives of the same cat.” So it was with the seamstress and the mathematician.

It began to rain, softly, but as if it weren’t planning to stop, so they took refuge in the forest. Following the map on the inside of the collar, they found the trunk, opened it, and lived happily for many years.

The lawyer and the judge, whose schemes to defraud each other the treasure had given way to fisticuffs and blunt objects, regained consciousness and stumbled back to find the trunk empty. The lawyer was convinced that the judge had taken all the treasure, and vice versa, beginning a feud that would last generations.

The cat, meanwhile, was fine.

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