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).

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

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.

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.

Archive for the ‘Daniel Braum’ Category

The Pasha’s Panda

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

Maleek knew the safe thing to do was to turn himself into a cobra and get out of there before the Chinese soldiers arrived. The Pasha was dead and the Red Army soldiers had taken over the sook and probably all of Marrakech. It was only a matter of time before they found their way into the Pasha’s riad.

The Pasha’s panda sat against the sea blue courtyard wall nestled between two giant potted bamboo plants, chewing the elegant green stems uncaring or unknowing of the turmoil happening not very far away. All of the animals, even the parrots and monkeys, were calm. Maleek wondered if they were real. It mattered not. The Panda was non-synthetic, the cobra in him told him so. Never mind the squads of soldiers tearing the city up looking for it.

The Pasha bought his armaments from the Chinese. Patrol-bots. All the flavors of smart-side arms for his guards. A few tanks and vehicles for parades and affairs of state. The Pasha, or more accurately his primary wife (a newer series Cleopatra consort he acquired in the aftermath of the fall of Egypt), fancied herself an enlightened zookeeper. Her head was full of all sorts of autonomous mods and thus the medina was full of all sorts of exotic animals both caged and free roaming. Maleek had once seen a family of raccoons and gray ground squirrels from the Americas. On hungry days, the cobra in him lusted for them.

The Pasha’s mistake was giving into his wife’s whimsy to acquire the real panda. He should have returned the crate as soon as the arms dealer offered it. China needed panda parts, real panda parts- they always needed real panda parts and this one hadn’t escaped their notice for long.

Maleek looked at it. A study of black and white resting peacefully and chewing softly in the afternoon sun. How long until it ended up in a Beijing vat farm? Animals deserved to be wild. Or kept in comfort and style as was the custom of the Pasha’s wife. Except for the cobra in him. He had fought so hard to keep it locked down.

Boot stomps echoed in the labyrinthine maze of passages leading to the Pasha’s riad. Maleek let himself go. He felt the skin on his neck transform into black scale. Even now the panda chewed blissfully unaware of what was to come. He hated becoming the cobra. But he hated what the Red’s did with the vats even more.

Maleek’s teeth became fangs coursing with poison. He knew the cobra would not be caged again so easily. Still, he sunk his teeth deep into the Panda’s soft skin. The soldiers were upon them. The sook was in chaos. Perhaps he would not have to cage the snake so soon.

– END –

Matthias and the Sentinel

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Cornelius and Matthias sat at Flamingo Airport’s tiny departure gate with the flock of antsy tourists. Cornelius nervously ate crackers out of the box one after another, while watching a sun burnt family play a game of Yatzee in the uncomfortable molded plastic seats as if it were the World Cup. A green blur whizzed past the bar where the security guard was standing. Matthias gripped his case tighter and cursed the Buyer. But it was a false alarm- just two American kids throwing their stuffed toys around.

Sedated and wrapped in damp towels inside Matthias’s carry on bag were three baby yellow headed parrots. The endangered birds were worth a fortune, at least to his Buyer. He and Cornelius had come to Bonaire to track down the nests in the secluded North shore of the island. Only seven hundred remained on the planet. Exactly the sort of thing his buyer liked.

Cornelius was one of the best in trackers. Matthias had the knack for smuggling. Getting things through customs came naturally for him. All they had to worry about were those things… the Sentinels the Buyer called them. These days it seemed every animal they tried to move had one of those mystical protectors. Matthias wasn’t scared of ghosts. But Cornelius was frayed to his core. Matthias had considered passing on this job.  But the Buyer said he’d take care of the Sentinels and he had something big lined up for them after this. He couldn’t resist.

Pre-boarding for the flight began and Matthias thought they were home free. Then a green blur swooped across the terminal. As it glided toward them it took on the shape of a green parrot. He was glad Cornelius hadn’t seen it; he didn’t need him panicked.

The parrot hovered in front of his face. At least this Sentinel didn’t look so bad. He still had bad dreams about the snakes and spiders from past jobs. So much for the Buyer taking care of things. He braced himself for what came next. Nothing happened. The parrot-god, Sentinel thing was just hovering there. Like an image stuck on pause on a television screen.
“Something wrong?” Cornelius asked.

“Nope,” Matthias said.

He heard the wet rags inside his bag crackle and sizzle. So the concoction and magic words the Buyer had given him weren’t bogus. You came through after all, Matthias thought.

“I’m looking forward to what comes next,” Cornelius said.

Matthias liked the look of the parrot thing, frozen there. Powerless. Taken by surprise and unable to stop them.

“So am I,” Matthias said. “So am I.”


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