Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

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.

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).

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.

Archive for the ‘Jen Larsen’ Category

The Vampire Harold

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

A vampire, right down the hall in the finance department. She told her boss. She told HR. She told security. Just because his name was Harold, and he was an accountant, and short and round. Just because sometimes she drank a cocktail or so at lunch. Just because sometimes she might seem a little lonely.

They didn’t believe her. Even though his cubicle stunk of the coconut sunscreen he reapplied every hour, and he wore hats. Indoors and every day. He wore his collar upturned. And the smell—bad meat, grave dirt. His skin, what you could see of it, translucent. When he caught her eyes with his rheumy, bloodshot gaze, she felt the weight of all his years bearing down on her and burying her alive. And then he hissed.

She knew he was the one who left the oranges on her desk, every day. Two perfect puncture marks, welling up with sweet juice. Her phone was always sticky, and the combination of scents, the citrus and the smell of blood made her clutch her throat, heaving over her tiny little trash can. “You’ll have to file an official grievance,” the HR man said, pushing his glasses up his nose. Her boss offered her a tissue and a weak, confused smile, and the gentle suggestion that maybe she ought to take a couple of days off. Security asked her to leave the office immediately, or they’d be forced to escort her off the premises. He was spinning on his office chair, around and around and around, when she marched by his cubicle on her way out of the security office. As he swung around he bared his teeth at her, and waggled his bony, earth-stained fingers and swept away again. There was a sack of oranges under his desk.

There were oranges on her desk, every day, and the smell seemed to fade away more and more quickly. You get used to anything, after awhile. You start to pick up the orange and hold it for a moment, before you toss it away. You lick your fingers clean of the juice. You squeeze the fruit between your fingers and feel the peel give and stickiness run down to your elbow. And you start to look almost look forward to it, every day. The orange, with two perfect puncture marks, sitting on your desk every day.

Enough Fairy Tales

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

I told him, don’t go into the woods, Gus. Stay away from the mushroom ring. Don’t listen to the fairies—their teeth are sharp and they have not got much in the way of morals. But he didn’t listen to me, because he never does, and he went out at midnight, straight to the mushroom ring and took the hands of the dancing fairies, and they whisked him straight off to never be seen again.

Of course, I couldn’t let that happen. I had read enough fairy tales to know exactly what I was supposed to do—pack light, and not eat anything they offered me, accept no bargains and enter into no games. I was supposed to rescue him with my wit and my beauty in a battle of wills. Some trick—some sleight of hand or eye or mind, some twisty phrase, some silvery promise that dug a hole under the Queen of Fairies and dropped her from a great height, right into the palm of my hand. Easy enough.

I didn’t know what, exactly, or how—but that would come to me at the precisely correct moment.  I had read enough fairy tales to know how it goes. I told our mother to put down the phone. I would retrieve him.

My mother sighed and packed me a lunch, and I made my way to the underground burrow. It was dirty. There were no lutes playing, or flowers growing along vines or sparkling motes making the air into diamonds. I don’t know why I expected lutes.
I made it all the way to the throne room without encountering any traps or tricks or temptations, too.

And then there she was. The beautiful and terrifying Queen of the Fairies. Her throne was made of black and thorny vines that dripped with blood. She glanced up at me when I came in, and put her paperback down.

“I’m here for my brother,” I said, striding to the dais.

“Never heard of him,” she said, inspecting her cuticles.

I waited for the moment, the golden shining one where I defeated her, but she just bit off a hangnail and picked up her book again. She didn’t look up as I left, and I didn’t look back. But not because I had read enough fairy tales to know what would happen if I did.

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