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

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.

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

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

Archive for November, 2010

Testing Ground

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rucker:

As you may be aware, Santa Clara County is conducting a series of above-ground atomic bomb tests in our effort to defend ourselves against the invasion of forces from San Francisco. These tests began two years ago when Oakland destroyed the Bay Bridge and San Francisco’s navy proved unequal to mounting an assault across San Francisco Bay. San Francisco then turned their attention south toward San Jose, provoking our military to explore the nuclear defense option. After considering many factors including environmental, strategic, economic, and impact on residents, the site selection committee has chosen the 5200 block of Merit Avenue as the best candidate site.

This letter is to inform you that your house (identified as Tax Parcel No. 5480035017) was chosen as the site of the test. The County of Santa Clara, California hereby claims your property under the right of eminent domain so that this test may be conducted.

The County of Santa Clara will reimburse your family the current tax assessed value of your home and reasonable moving expenses if you choose to remain in the county. We anticipate that you will have questions about this purchase, and will be pleased to discuss the particulars with you. Ms. Beverley Allele will be your point of contact with Santa Clara County, and can be reached at the number below.

By the way, should you choose to remain within the city of San Jose, we recommend you avoid North Loganberry Way.

Yours truly,

Leopold Budden

County Assessor’s Office

Sunlight on Broken Columns

Monday, November 29th, 2010

This is the final piece in the Hollow Men series.  Three others have appeared (now revised):  part I, part II and part III.

The way to the land leviathan, half-submerged in sand, was dry and empty.  At dawn I dug a shallow trench and draped a cloth over the top to bury myself under.  At dusk I cut succulents for their amassed water, gathered my gear, and marched on.  Ahead the glowing eyes of the leviathan winked sleepily beneath the lamplight of the moon.

My heart felt a pang as the memory of a breeze rustled distant poppies and the glorious waxing-moon colloquies on the probability of existence, the purpose of purpose, and the electability of those electing to use nonexistent words.  Yet I could no longer lay with my hands pillowing my head and chew the stems of bittersweet clover, much as I longed to sense the heat of a companion’s elbow seeping into mine.  The world swelled with too much.

As the hours waned into morning, details of the leviathan’s general features spread apart: no longer a lounging leviathan but a ramble of crumbling buildings left to ruin.  When light pooled at the horizon, what had been eyebrows raised into an archway of tiny wedding bells weakly, brokenly tinkling their march.  The leviathan’s eyes became nothing more than mundane dimension portals.  The images that the portals cast drew me closer.

The scenes were vaguely familiar, changing each time as the eyelid of one screen slid over another:  me as a child I’d dreamed of was laughing and log-rolling all the way down to the bottom of the screw, the giant man my imagined self had assembled crossed deserts and mountains in a few strides, and me again as a man attaching pipes to construct a bridge spanning the screws.  One corner of my mouth drew up.  I touched the portal screen to visit these alternate realities, but a tough if thin, milky film separated me from penetrating this eye.  It further hardened and clouded over under my palm while I pondered the dwarf’s warning, the silliness of dreams, and the water leaking from my eyes.

They closed, and I dreamed of piecing together a giant to help me build bridges.  The screen softened, my hand slid through, and I toppled.

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