Plugs

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

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.

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

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.

Archive for the ‘Jason Fischer’ Category

The Telegraph Crew

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

The sagging ribbon of wire stretched across the Overland now, a fragile line linking the settler-towns. Communication, weak and intermittent as it was, the flour of civilisation. A four man crew had hauled the telegraph line across a thousand miles of nothing, raising a line of uneven posts even into the blasted plains of the Inland, until one day they simply downed tools for good.

Perhaps it was the heat and dust that finally got to them. They’d spent months watching the bush for signs of bad natives, knowing that the taursi hated the settlers now. Skeletons were sometimes found in abandoned holdings, shards of taursi glass crusting the bleached bones. It was a bad death.

The Inland brought other fears. Snakes, great rolling serpents that slept in the dust for years, waking only to gobble up unwary travellers. Crooked mobs too, town-fellas gone bad, robbing folks, tearing up the back tracks. Eating man-flesh.

It’s hard to say what caused the telegraph crew to turn on their foreman. They beat him with their shovels and crowbars, choked him with an off-cut from that great spool of wire. Broke him in a bad way, and as such their employment came to an end.

Perhaps it was the brooding ranges that called to them, great twists of bruised rock that hunched above them with the gravity of ages. Or the vastness of the plains below, a timeless waste full of hidden monsters. Men had scratched little tracks and trade-ways across its back, and this was an insult to the land itself. Holy places had been fouled by the settlers, old springs used to water stock, shrines older than the taursi used for firewood or dismantled out of spite.

These empty places sing to a man’s soul, and sometimes folks stop what they are doing and listen. Three good town-fellas, soft and civil, eager to finish a bad job and get back to the towns and their families. None of them had so much as marked their sheilas or beat on any man, yet they’d murdered their boss-man in that lonely place. They took the bullocks and vanished, and they’re either dead now, or unrecognisable. Most likely they have gone off with the howling mobs, running riot in the in-between places.

Sometimes a crooked man will talk, in the camps that tolerate their kind. They speak of bringing down the towns, of wiping the settlers out, of undoing civilisation. It’s not hatred that drives folks crooked, though we stole this land and none of us ever belonged here.

All we know is that the natives will not touch a crooked mob, nor the beasts. A crooked man has safe travel from Inland to beyond, and those who huddle behind a town-wall are right to fear his attention.

Cold Goat

Friday, December 25th, 2009

A seed of truth to every myth. Just think of a giant game of chinese whispers, the beginning somewhere in the dawn of history, filtering through a thousand generations, ending in the watered-down version we hear from our parents and repeat to our own children.

Let me tell you about the true Santa.

At the time I was looking for a familiar, a creature from beyond the Black that I could bind to my service. I’d called out little spirits before, nuisance demons that were more trouble than help. I wanted something with a bit more grunt, something that would give me true power.

My quest led me all over the world. I read ancient scripts printed on human skin, found mention of an elder demon in archives that most museums have never made public. There was the hint of a malevolent spirit, so powerful that only one family dared write down its name.

I learnt of a certain man, last of a long line. Keeper of a certain secret. I arrived unannounced at his house and found an old man living simply, surrounded by cats and knick-knacks. He did not die well, but at last he coughed out the creature’s name in a bubble of thick blood.

That whispered name was enough to call the demon, and it took all of my art to contain the spirit. Had I faltered once, it would have taken me into its cold, icy hands, driven the life and warmth from me.
It had a face like a goat, a goat born under a different sun, limbs that bent in ways that made my eyes swim. It wore a thousand years of ice.

I broke the demon, broke it like a wild foal, though it took two days and two nights of intense struggle. I was weak and covered in my own filth, but I bound the demon, drew it into a ring.

It is not a peaceful captive, and it whispers to me at night. I do not dare take off this ring, and it’s all I can do to hold it in.

The ice-demon gives me dreams. Of rude huts in the snow, of vengeance curses sworn in its name. The thrill of reaching out from the cold dark, through chimney-holes and out of lavatory pits, snatching at the children.

Ho Ho Ho.

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