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

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

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

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

Archive for the ‘Jen Larsen’ Category

Life Goals

Monday, March 21st, 2011

I’ve almost got it. There’s a headache at the back of my head, right above my neck, and I know that’s how it starts. The primitive part of my brain flaring into life, burning up all the useless parts of the inside of my head, turning everything into ash except for the strongest parts of my mind, the parts made of steel and stone.

It’s too bright in the parking lot, and I’m almost out of cigarettes, but that hardly matters.

If I keep concentrating, I can feel it inside. If I concentrate hard enough, I can see it outside. I see the world vibrating like the string of a violin. I have plucked it. I can see things shimmer; I can see the moment before everything begins, shivering there. No one else can see that potential, but I do.

The secretary, who should go find her own place to smoke, looks at me sideways and I wonder how much she knows.

Once it happens, everyone will see it, though. Everyone will see what I can do. I will change the world, move the mountains and burn down the sea without ever lifting a finger. I will concentrate, I will harness the power of my mind.

On my next break, I’ll make a list of heads that I need to explode.


Monday, March 7th, 2011

Her husband said, “Don’t kill it. They don’t mean any harm.” She was pressed back in the corner, her hand over her heart, which was thumping so hard it should have burned right through her blouse, and he was bent over the thing on her desk, extending his hand.

“There we go,” he said, and he turned and extended his palm toward her. “See?” She saw. She couldn’t breathe. It crept from the end of his fingers down to his wrist. It lifted its legs like a woman folding a sheet, snapping it out in the sun. Her head jerked back and hit the wall.

He said, “Phobias are merely mental blocks. You need to work your way through them.” He lifted his hand up under her nose. Tears started to run down her cheeks. She could feel them running cold down the line of her jaw and dripping off her chin. He didn’t even notice, for a moment. And then he said “Oh, Julie.” He shook his head and left the room with the thing twitching in the palm of his hand.

She dreamed that night about spiders. They ran down the walls in streams, flowed around the bottom of their bed as if it were a rock in a river. A fountain, a waterfall of spiders sounds like nothing, magnified a thousand times; a whispery, bristly-legged nothing at all, made of legs and tiny eyes. They poured out their bedroom door and cascaded down the stairs, where the living room lights were still on.

In the dream, she didn’t move. The curtains fluttered in their wake, and the bed rocked, just a little bit, and the bedroom door shuddered. Her sheets glowed white beneath her hands.

Would it be worse if she woke up and found her husband’s body wrapped in silk, hanging from the corner of the living room? Or if she woke up to find him snoring on the couch with his mouth open? She laid in bed after she woke up, trying to decide which she hoped for most. In the corner, a spider lifted its legs exactly like an angry woman casting a curse at midnight, and spun a web.

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