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).

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

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

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

Archive for the ‘Daniel Braum’ Category

Hanna’s Last Day

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

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-

The Moalai

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Koda was supposed to have been out hunting for clues to the whereabouts of the ape-man of the forest. Another one of the Americans had come to her village with a television crew and there was money to be made.

The day wore on and she found herself deeper in the jungle than she had ever been before.  She stopped to rest by a clear pool of water surrounded by lush greens of every kind. As Koda rested, the surface of the water came alive with color.  Big fish were jumping, their scales scintillating where the sunlight found their scales.

Koda fashioned a makeshift line and hook out of vine and stick and ran it into the pool with the remains of her lunch as bait. After only a moment she had pulled out the most beautiful fish. She hurried home; her previous money making task eclipsed by this new found good fortune.


Koda sold the beautiful fish for a handsome price. She returned to the pool again and again. It turned out no one else in her village had ever seen the pool nor could find their way there, no matter how they tried. Koda’s fish, which she called Moalai, were in demand and became a source of fortune. Koda became rich. Her fishing trips to the clear pool were her source of comfort and connection to what was beautiful in the world. Sometimes she even saw the ape-man of the forest on the other side of the pool quietly drinking or just watching the fish. Over time she was courted by the sons of businessmen and fisherman from the coast. After many years she chose one and had a large family but always returned to the pool once a week to bring home a Moalai.


Koda and her family prospered for many decades. One day her daughter asked her if she was still happy. On her next time at the pool she did not take a Moalai. She walked farther into the forest, perhaps into the domain of the ape-man. She knew she would never return to her family again. In her mind she answered her daughter’s question of why? You love something until you can not or do not any longer, Koda thought. And then she disappeared into the woods, chasing good fortune.


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