Plugs

It paid better than shouting on corners with newspapers. There was less chance of losing a finger or catching a killing cough than if you worked the bobbins. And it wasn’t as risky as pickpocketing — no matter what the neighborhood, no matter how late, the censer marked you as in the employ of towermen, who were said to know everything, to control everything as far as the fog went, and the fog went everywhere in the city.
That was the part Gabriel Loy liked best, being able to walk wherever and have everyone step aside at his approach. They all looked at him without wanting to look like they were looking — he liked that too. The only thing he didn’t like was the way he dreamed disordered jumbled dreams crowded with faces, numbers, and hints of terrible knowledge.
He’d made an art of swinging the fog-seeder, looping it out long or spinning it in tight, in far more elaborate figures than what you needed just to the keep the whirligig works in the brass sphere wound up.
Not that it mattered to the towermen. They didn’t care who waved their smoking orbs as long as someone did it. Half a crown when you took it smoldering from the cart; another crown when you returned it, cold, at dawn.
But when, in alley where he strutted even thought there was no one to watch him, his foot went through a gap between boards and he fell just as the censer was on the downswing and it went down into the dark and splashed two heartbeats later, he knew they’d care about that.
He had to get it back. Even though it meant scraping his hands and straining his shoulders to wrench all the boards off the top of the well. It meant finding handholds in the loose bricks, and mastering his panic when the bricks gave way to packed clay ten feet down and there was no way down and there didn’t seem to be any way back up either. But as he breathed, he learned: the fog had poured deep into the well, so that he was as high above the knowledge-mist as the towermen on their spire-tops and chimney-trestles.
What the fog-mind told them, it told him: he knew where the censer was, how to get it back up, how to keep learning. Plans unfolded like dreams in his head: a balloon! He would fly and breath the top of more fog and he’d be wise, and everyone would look at him without wanting to look like they were looking, even the towermen.

Two elephants carved from a black wood stand on the counter alongside a card advertising Gonella Baking Company Italian beef dogs and a small stack of flyers for Triple-A.  Each elephant wears on its forehead an index card with the words ‘For Sale – $100′ in faded red ink.  The handwriting is cursive, feminine, neat.

As I cover my brats with ketchup, I notice the elephants seem angry.  Their eyes, inlaid disks of unpolished silvery metal located on the sides of their heads, hold a rage that threatens to ignite them, to send them marching up and down the lunchcounter, setting the flyers ablaze in an advertising apocalypse as they trumpet righteous fire.  But why?  Is it the plight of their great brothers and sister in Africa?  Or is it simply because they have cards taped to their heads?

I remove the cards, peeling back the tape with great care, then prop them up along the elephants.  It doesn’t seem to help.  All I have done is attract their attention.  Are their trunks quivering, their feet readying themselves to stampede?

I throw a dollar beside my half-eaten brats and step outside.  Outside in the August sunshine, a car rolls by, metal hubcaps flashing.  Behind me, I can feel the weight of elephant eyes watching me go.

Sixth Ed., Vols. A-C.
Aconitum (Aconite). Also known as monkshood, wolfsbane, leopard’s bane, women’s bane, or Devil’s helmet.
An unassuming cousin of the buttercup, aconite thrives in mountain meadows and is much sought after by herbalists for its defensive properties. As its nicknames suggest, it is viewed as effective in warding off the dangers of a) wolves; b) leopards[1]; and c) women — thus its popularity among monks.
As with all mountain flowers, aconite may be less potent at lower altitudes. If it fails against a woman, the wielder can resort to force-feeding her the virulently poisonous root. This method is of questionable effectiveness against leopards or wolves.
Aconite is contraindicated in confrontations with the Devil. Do not give him back his hat.
[1] Or possibly giraffes. The Latin tractates are unclear on this point, and practical experiments have yielded inconclusive — if interesting — results.
Alopecurus (Foxtail).
Foxtails thrive in many climates, from the semidesert plains of North Africa (A. fennecus, notable for its large ears) up to the Arctic tundra (A. thulensis, which is buff-colored throughout the short summer months but produces white spikelets in winter).
Alopecurus is a gregarious grass, and travels in large packs, hunting by night. During the day it digs a burrow for resting, presenting in the tail-upward position for which it is known. Although not normally aggressive toward humans, Alopecurus will bite if disturbed. Therefore pulling it up is not recommended, unless provision has been made to anesthetize it first.
Creamcups (Platystemon californicus).
This New World poppy is densest on the American west coast, especially on the littoral between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Traditionally, the flower is harvested for its thick, rich juice, which can be added to coffee (north of the Oregon border), used in cooking, or whipped.
Recent report has it that new uses for the creamcup have developed in the California pornography industry, but Goodwife Python has no further details on this. (Much to her regret. She welcomes updated information, and video, via the usual channels.)

Kat Beyer
Kat BeyerWhen Kat Beyer lost the use of her hands in 1999, she decided that shouldn’t stop her. She writes with speech software, and her hands have healed enough to paint. She has published with Circlet Press, Strange Horizons, and others. Check out her website, complete with gallery, links to writings, favorite single malt scotch, and “Wasabi for the mind, ” at www.katspaw.com.

Ken Brady
Ken BradyKen is multiple kinds of geek: writing, film making, virtual worlds, video games, music, cars, motorcycles, and computers. His publications include Analog, Writers of the Future, Strange Horizons, Talebones, Darker Matter, Fortean Bureau, Ideomancer, Weird Tales, Midnight Street, Modern Magic, The William and Mary Review, Rosebud, Science Fiction World, Exquisite Corpuscle, and others. He’s also sold some stage plays, a screenplay, and produced an award-winning feature film. There are rumors he may be making more films soon.

He lives in Tokyo with his wife, Yuki – a manga artist — and runs a company that creates virtual world and social media strategies. Sometimes, people force him to speak at conferences.

His website is irregularly updated. Someone should really do something about this, don’t you think? Alternately, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Quillpill, LinkedIn, Naymz, and occasionally MySpace and Friendster.

Daniel Braum
Daniel BraumDaniel Braum likes his fiction to take him to places on the edge of civilization, or anywhere near or far where the darkness needs a little light or vice versa. His stories often blur the lines between genres, most of the time unintentionally. His short stories can be found in print in places such as Cemetery Dance, Electric Velocipede, and Full Unit Hook Up and online at sites such as the Fortean Bureau, Abyss and Apex, and Dark Recesses. He is very happy to be in such good company with the diverse and talented authors here at the Cabal. He is currently shopping for a publisher for his first novel, a supernatural thriller set in Central America. Visit him at www.danielbraum.com and www.livejournal.com/danielbraum.

Rudi Dornemann

Rudi DornemannWhat we know of the Rudi Dornemann has come has been passed down through the generations of storytellers, from father to son and from mother to daughter since the days before the Dark Times. The tale-tellers speak of how the Rudi’s fiction appeared in various magazines, some of which were fashioned from the skins of ancient creatures called trees, others of which were made of a more ethereal substance — some chronicles speak of webs, others of vast systems of tubes. The names of these magazines have come down to us like the words of some incantation — Behind the Wainscot, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, The Fortean Bureau, Flytrap, Ideomancer/, Rabid Transit: Menagerie, and others. Some of the legends tell of the Rudi’s home in a place called “Maine”– an Atlantis-like locale said to be located somewhere off the coast of Vermont. A few of the tales relate that he had a thing called a website and others speak of his blog.

Jason Fischer
Jason FischerJason Fischer is based in Adelaide, South Australia. He is a graduate of the 2007 Clarion South workshop, and a recent finalist in the Writers of the Future contest. He has a story in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again, and forthcoming stories appearing in Aurealis Magazine and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Jason likes anything to do with zombies or post-apocalyptic settings, and when he’s not writing he wishes he was. He can be found lurking in internetland at jasoni.livejournal.com

Sara Genge

Sara GengeSara Genge lives in Madrid, Spain. She writes speculative fiction aided and abetted by a coven of friends and female relatives. She’s walked the Camino de Santiago and spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Paris. Sara even saw a gnome once, but it was after a week of sleep deprivation and sixteen hours of studying, so she’s not sure if it wore a pointed red hat or not. Her blog is regularly updated.

David C. Kopaska-Merkel

David C. Kopska-MerkelDavid C. Kopaska-Merkel was born in Charlottesville Virginia in 1872. He attended Redhill school until the fourth grade, but dropped out after only 18 years without completing high school. He took to electronics like a duck to water, once the field was invented, and quickly developed a machine that allowed him to become his own great-great-grandfather. He later tried his hand at fiction but, realistically, it was too unbelievable. So he became a ghostwriter for scientific reports. In his spare time he specializes in yak pedicures and appraisals of stuffed marmots. He lives in a quarter million dollar condo a half a block from the railroad tracks, with a flock of seagulls and a couple of minor inconveniences.

Jason Erik Lundberg

Jason Erik LundbergJason Erik Lundberg is an American expatriate living in Singapore, and the author of The Time Traveler’s Son (2008), Four Seasons in One Day (2003, with Janet Chui), and over forty articles and short stories; he is also the co-editor of Scattered, Covered, Smothered (2004) and A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (2008). His solo work has most recently appeared (or will soon) in Polyphony 7, Subterranean Magazine, Sybil’s Garage, Farrago’s Wainscot, Hot Metal Bridge, and other groovy venues. His short fiction has been honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, nominated for the SLF Fountain Award, and shortlisted for the Brenda L. Smart Award for Short Fiction. With Janet Chui, Lundberg runs Two Cranes Press, an independent publishing atelier. A graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and the Creative Writing Master’s program at North Carolina State University, he now teaches English and creative writing at Hwa Chong Institution. His website and blog can be found at jasonlundberg.net.

Susannah Mandel

SusannahSusannah Mandel enjoys poetry, bicycling, comic books, movies, languages, and landscapes — in fact with the proper priming she can enjoy just about anything. She is especially hot on science fiction, and looking at things. Susannah has degrees in English literature and media studies (and it may not be over yet), and has worked in research, editing, translation, teaching and linguistics. After time in northern California, Boston, and the north of France, she now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She publishes a regular column at Strange Horizons about the fantastic in classic literature.
Alex Dally MacFarlane
AlexAlex Dally MacFarlane has been writing ever since the discovery of computer games made her think that if stories could be found on a 32-bit cartridge, why not in the mind of an eleven-year-old girl? Now she works just outside London, England, proof-reading military specifications. Her short fiction has sold to magazines including Shimmer, Sybil’s Garage and Farrago’s Wainscot, and she guest-edited the Five Senses issue of Behind the Wainscot. Visit her at http://alankria.livejournal.com.

Luc Reid

Luc ReidLuc Reid is a past winner of the Writers of the Future Contest and the founder of the online neo-pro writers group Codex. His first book, Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures was published in 2006. He created and writes for a site with practical articles about how self-motivation works called The Willpower Engine and recently completed a free-to-copy eBook on writing motivation called The Writing Engine: A Practical Guide to Writing Motivation. Luc lives in Williston, Vermont. His Web site is www.lucreid.com.

Angela Slatter

AngelaAngela Slatter is a Brisbane-based writer, schlepping her way through life. Her short fiction has appeared in places such as Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Shimmer, The Lifted Brow, Strange Tales II, 2012, Crimson Highway, Dreaming Again and a few small disreputable bars in London. She likes fairytales and thinks the creepier they are, the better. She is working on a couple of novels, but the one taking her time at the moment is set in Jerusalem during the last years of the Crusader Kingdom – it’s always 1187 in her head.

Jeremiah Tolbert

Jeremiah TolbertJeremiah Tolbert is a web designer, photographer, and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. His stories have appeared in Interzone, Ideomancer, Polyphony 4, and All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. He is responsible for the design and maintenance of the Daily Cabal site, so if anything goes wrong, you know who to blame. He blogs on photography, science news, and more at his website.

Edd Vick

Edd VickEdd Vick, the son of a pirate father and a baking mogul mother, is a 2002 graduate of the Clarion SF Writing Workshop. He has had several stories published in Asimov’s SF Magazine. Other magazines to publish his work include Electric Velocipede, Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe, and Jim Baen’s Universe. Anthologies with stories by Edd include Fundamentally Challenged, Distant Planes, and Northwest Passages. He lives in Seattle with SF novelist Amy Thomson and their adopted daughter Katie. Visit him at eddvick.livejournal.com.

Trent Walters

Trent WaltersTrent makes his living taking drugs for the DEA. Unlike most Americans, he walks to work every day with a spring in his step. His work appeared in The Golden Age SF anthology, Electric Velocipede, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and BSFA’s Vector. Online work can be found at 3am Magazine, The Angler, EOTU, Lamination Colony, Pindledyboz, Vacancy (audio). Forthcoming are works in Full Unit Hookup, Grendelsong, Legends of the Mountain State, Triangulation, and Visual Journeys. Also forthcoming from Morpo Press, a poetry chapbook called Learning the Ropes. He is the poetry editor of Abyss and Apex.

Jonathan Wood

Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York. He writes odd little things that show up in odd little places, like Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Farrago’s Wainscot, and Behind the Wainscot. It’s also forthcoming in Chizine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and several anthologies, including Crawlspace: The Best of Farrago’s Wainscot, and Hatter Bones.

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