Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

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.

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

Hanna’s Last Day

by Daniel Braum

I thought it would remain open forever. Full of wonders and horrors. Comedies and tragedies. And grand dramas giving context and meaning to our sometimes rote existences. Its beautiful, terrible light set imaginations ablaze, illuminating both dark corners and sunlight days alike. Today it takes me a little longer to get out of bed and start my routine. They are closing the Vortex of Inspiration down and it is my job to get it done.


Standing outside my locker, in the Bureau of Vision and Illumination, I check my uniform one more time. The lab surrounding the vortex is full of dignitaries and high command and all sorts of upper brass pomp and circumstance. They’ll be watching.


When I was first told of the vortex I thought my commanding officer was insane. A device that is some sort of mad blend of science and magic given to us by the gods? Next she’d be telling me that Ra or Posiedon were real. They weren’t. But she went over a long list of gods that were real. And issued me a phone book sized official bureau document full of their offices and staff and contact numbers.

“Why are you telling me this?” I asked.

“You are being promoted.” She shook my hand. “Welcome, you are now the secretary to the under minister of Unfulfilled Dreams and Lost Masterpieces.”

“What do I have to do?” I asked.


I walk along a white painted line that leads into the spinning, blue vortex. I’m holding a transparent globe, full of agitated water. The bureau’s emblem is engraved on it. Everyone is watching as I pass into the vortex. Feels like I passed through a wall of water then it feels like nothing. On the other side is a bridge. It looks like San Francisco, only the colors are tinted blue and over-saturated. A woman is waiting on the other side of the bridge. When I get close enough I see her features are so strong. So exotic. Like a statue from a musuem. She takes the globe and the water inside stops spinning. Go back she says. Her voice is so beautiful I am overcome with sadness.


“The Vortex was a gift to the higher ups,” my CO had said. “A gift we squandered.”

“What do you mean?” I had asked

“One too many flat, unimaginative Hollywood remakes. One too many cities designed thoughtlessly. We stopped using it and now they want it back.”

I had wondered if these things were only symptoms of some greater disease or transgression.


I thought the vortex would remain open forever. Now that it is closed I do feel different. An aching void. Not entirely unexpected. I wonder what the blackness feels like to them. I leave the lab and do not stop in the locker room to change. I run for the parking lot with the thought on my mind. I light a cigarette and sit in my car and wonder if spark will ever come again to our darkness. I try to picture what it will look like. What it will feel like. And who might be waiting for it.

 – END-

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