Angela Slatter’s story ‘Frozen’ will appear in the December 09 issue of Doorways Magazine, and ‘The Girl with No Hands’ will appear in the next issue of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

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

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


by Jon

George stood on the edge of the viewing platform and looked down at the city.  Farther away he heard the crowd chanting the countdown for the New Year.  They did not see him; nevertheless, it sounded like a timer ticking down on his ruined life.  Family gone, his old life gone, his hopes and dreams, all gone.

“Anything has to be better than this,” he breathed to the night and leaned forward.  He fell.  The January cold ripped at him, howling in his ears as he fell, faster and faster.  But before he reached the pavement he heard the strangest sound–

“You’re my last one, then,” came a rough voice in George’s ear.  “Congratulations.”

George realized he was standing in the street.  Beside him was a strange creature, a ruined mockery of a human being.  The creature smiled at him.  “No time like the present,” it said.  “You can start with, well, yourself.”  It pushed a bundle of rags on the ground with a toe, rags which George realized a moment later were his mortal remains.

“What the hell is going on?” said George.  He felt like he was breathing mud.

“It’s a simple job, really.  I did it, you can do it.”  The creature pointed down at George’s corpse.  “Pick it up.”  Then it pointed past George.  He turned; not far away stood a horse-drawn wagon.  The horse appeared to be an iron statue, until it stamped a hoof and gave a spinechilling whinny.  A wisp of flame flared from its nostrils.  “Don’t make it angry,” said the creature in quiet tones.

Still in disbelief, George bent and picked up his crumpled body.  He paused by the side of the wagon, wondering how careful he should be before finally tossing the body into the wagon.

“Well done.”  It smacked George on the arm. “Goodbye, then.”

“Wait,” said George. “Who are you?”

“I don’t remember.  Doesn’t matter.  I’ve collected the souls of everyone who’s died this past year.  Everyone.”  It made a grin of broken teeth.  “Last one in gets the job for the coming year.”

“You mean–”

“Yep.”  The creature nodded, then turned away.  “It’ll be a long year.  But it’ll end eventually.”

“What happens to you now?” said George.

As the creature faded into nothing, it shrugged. “Doesn’t matter.  Anything has to be better than this.”

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