Plugs

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

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

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

The Wind’s Road

by Rudi Dornemann

Ollie released the rope, quadruple-somersaulted, caught it again inches from the end. Let go with one hand and felt the crowd’s roar as an updraft. With it, the smell, even up here, of the midway’s frying oil.

A jerk to pull himself along the line and he let go, then caught it in his teeth. He couldn’t hold the pose as long as usual– the balloonsuit was overfilled, and Ollie felt the strain in his molars.

The spotlight swung to Marnie and Del, holding each other by the ankles, sliding cartwheeling up a pair of ropes. Ollie heard the showmaster’s patter–“No nets! No harness holding them back from the deep, deep sky!”–as he hauled himself downrope.

Marnie tossed her line away as Del grabbed her ankles, and began orbiting her while she revolved. Ollie readied, leapt/floated to catch her arms.

Missed.

Head down, he saw her grasp after him, and his heart contracted to a knot at the sight of her shoe, loose in Del’s hand.

Shrieks from the crowd. Clowns suddenly serious fired grappling hooks from stashed blunderbusses. He heard a hook slide across the back of his suit, didn’t feel it catch. Too long upside-down, he saw his pulse at the edges of his vision; but couldn’t take his eyes from the retreating ground.

A grapple had caught Marnie, but, when the clowns rushed to tow her down, it had torn all the quilted compartments on the suit-front. She lay in the ring, leg at a bad angle.

No one looked at Ollie. He waved and rose, drifted. Tents, then trees cut off his view. The accident might kill him but it voided the terms of his indenture.

An old air-soldier who’d roustabouted years back had told stories of free-fly missions. Gain height. Find the knife.

Their balloonsuits were military surplus–cloudy blue camouflage showed where painted-on gaudy had cracked. The knife was where it should be–left shoulder, slightly behind. One-inch blade; big loop handle.

Houses were matchbooks and the circus a distant crumple before he was nerved-up enough. Small holes: slow fall, the soldier had said.

The first was a hissing pinprick; the second, a larger than intended slit. He sank fast while that compartment emptied. Then careful cuts, a gradual descent over hours.

Treetop high in the twilight, he coasted above a country avenue, free to see where the wind would take him.

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