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

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

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

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.

Archive for March, 2011

The Infinite Train

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It had started four years before Luna was born, and never slowed or gave any sign of ending.

No one could say for sure that the train was infinite. It just kept going by and going by: appearing from empty space under a highway overpass outside Montreal– tracing three-quarters of a circle through Canada, US, and Mexico–disappearing behind the governor’s palace in San Luis Potosí.

For Luna, growing up just blocks from its route, the train rumbled behind her parents’ every shouted conversation, vibrated in her chest when she stayed in her room to draw, blocked her eyes with a horizon-wide wall when she went out.

As a teenager, when she did venture out, it was often into the no-go zone beside the tracks. A few months, and parties in basements of abandoned houses grew routine. She found herself joining the trainspotters she’d once mocked, standing, staring for hours at the cars as they shimmered by. No shouting past the rumble here. The vibration might have replaced her heart.

She started painting, not quite the tagging some of her classmates did on buildings and ordinary trains. She’d never see her designs standing still; she just sprayed swoops and waves on the passing cars. Dots, she discovered, turned to dashes, so she mastered them, flurried them out among the long arcs of her hypnotic cursive, in each hand, a can, a staccato stuttering hiss of propellant. Quick. Flashes. Color. Motion.

One night, she fell out of her painting trance, box of empty cans beside her, rainbow haze retreating after the train on the wind of its passing. She hauled her cans home. Her mother had finally gone, and her leaving blocked her father’s sight to any horizon but the most immediate. Luna heard his words as a broken rumble, but her heart held true to its own vibration. Attuned to speed, she saw the dishes he smashed as dots rather than dashes, and dodged the fragments with trance-practiced fluidity. When he collapsed in a corner, he seemed too still for her eyes to focus on.

In the kitchen doorway, she woke again, as if from another trance. Part of her was traveling away, lines shaped from her movements crossing the continent and slipping out of the world. Another part of her stood still while everything moved as relentlessly as the train, designs rushing past that she’d never really see.

Parthenia Rook, Episode MXLV: Penguins Neat

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Parthenia Rook, adventurer, renowned stamp collector, and backup drummer for The Ramones, paused to slather on a gloop of sunscreen before taking up her kayak oar once more. According to the GPS in her pineapple-frame sunglasses, she had three more miles to go before she’d reach the Magnetic North Pole and be able to reconfigure Doktor Mandrill’s latest nefarious device. Provided she could find it.

On the up side, the device had melted the polar ice, so she had open water all the way.

When her oar pulled at nothing but air, she briefly wondered if she had sunstroke. Then she saw the turrets on either side of her, and knew that she sat atop The Bonobo King’s submersible castle, a perfect replica of Neuschwanstein down to the last wedding-cake flourish.

A dozen dormer windows opened, and rocket-propelled robotic penguins shot out in crazed trajectories before locking on to her position. Parthenia shoved off a nearby chimney, and slid sideways down the metal roof. Her kayak caromed off a pipe, the roguins zooming low to follow, straight for the edge of the roof.

“Penguins!” she thought. “Trust the good Doktor to get his poles reversed.”

At the last moment she caught a rain gutter with the oar and hung three stories above the water. Her kayak slipped off and spun downward, followed by the rockets. They slammed into it.

The resulting explosion knocked her upward again and blew an enormous hole in the side of the subschwanstein. She landed running, and dived through one of the dormer windows. A launch tube led down to an ammunition dump full of roguins and roseals.

She briefly debated setting some to explode, but the castle was already taking on water.

She still had to find Doktor Mandrill’s machine. It must surely be in the castle somewhere. Even if it went down with the castle, there was no assurance its destruction would bring back the ice cap.

Quickly, she texted her progress so far and prepared to delve deeper into the castle.

– – – – – – – – – –

Here Parthenia Rook’s intercepted last report ends, with supplemental material supplied by satellite and Orcandroid surveillance. Observation continued as ordered for the next two days. The castle sank and exploded underwater, with no sign of life detected. The North Pole is slowly resolidifying.

Respectfully submitted to his majesty the Bonobo King this 29th day of March, 2010.

– – – – – – – – – –

The previous appearances of Parthenia Rook by Luc Reid, Rudi Dornemann, Sara Genge, and Trent Walters may be found here.

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