It was Siobhan woke me up. The smell of honey wine on Summer’s End does it. (Whiskey works too.) To my surprise and hers, it still worked, even after so many years when no one left anything beside my notched stone.
Scared her bowels loose the first time. I got a laugh out of that.
“You’re allowed one question a year, granddaughter,” I said out of the air beside her.
When she got her breath back she said, “I’m not your granddaughter. She must be gone long ago.”
“I know that. I spoke with her for years after; she’s moved on now. I stay. And so does the customary name.”
“Well then,” she said, drawing herself up. She asked grimly, “There’s a man I want. How do I get him?”
Oh, the living.
“The answer is in the question you asked, and the way you asked it.”
“What do you mean?”
“One question a year,” I answered, and went for the honey wine and apples.
“I hate you,” she announced, and went down the hill.
She was back again the next year with a bigger plate.
“You were right,” she said sadly. “This year’s question. There’s a man who wants me. Should I have his child?”
“You were right,” she said next year, holding the baby, a little girl with her same lively eyes and three-cornered smile. But I’d said no because she’d put no value to herself. I’m not all-wise; how was I to know that a baby would help her do that, instead of making the matter worse?
“There’s a job, overseas,” she told me ten questions later. “I want it. They want me. A good job. Will you hear me across the ocean?”
“I don’t know,” I answered. “We used to stay at home, your family. Try. The baby and her father going with you?”
She smiled. “Sarah’s eleven. And his name is Ian; I’ve come to love him.”
This year I was up early, moving things around in the grave, scaring birds off the stone, nervous. Well after dark came the scent of honey wine and flowers, candles and apples, drifting across the salt sea, and I climbed up out of my old bones for a taste of it. I heard her voice clearly, but with a sound of waves in it.
“Are you there?” She asked.
“Yes, I am,” I replied.
We’re changing things up a bit this week, giving you updates on cabalists you haven’t seen here in a while mixed with some microfiction pieces that are even more micro than our usual fiction. Click here to read yesterday’s update, here for yesterday’s story, or just click “previous story” further down this page.
Where are they now: Jason Fischer
Jason Fischer has written quite a few stories, garnered some awards and some nominations for them, and even written a graphic novella, After the World: Gravesend. His most unusual achievement, however, may be that his fiction once inspired the renowned science fiction editor Gardner Dozois to burst into song.
Bonus: If you’d like so see one ex-Cabalist interview another, click here.
A flexing of the worldskin, and Bird flies, Calling. It is a time of joy, for strangers have landed on Mechaieh. A silver egg resembling the spawn of Frog drifted gently to the ground near Pool. Out of it hatch five beings of the same color and reflectivity, though the egg is not broken. The hatchlings proceed to water’s edge. Frog Greets them, but the strangers do not answer. Dipping one of its upper limbs into the water, one of the creatures drinks with a mouth at its waist. A moment, and all five drink with the mouths in their heads. Bird circles, Frog hides, Tree holds still as strangers approach. There is much pointing, Tree’s limbs dance the Words, but the strangers Speak not. The strangers catch several small beasts and cut pieces from them. The pieces are eaten by the mouths at strangers’ waists. One of the strangers cuts Tree, eats the piece of Tree with its waist mouth. Tree dances again; the stranger falls and moves not. One of the remaining strangers points at Tree. Fire is born, and two of Tree’s limbs are severed. Other strangers run to the fallen one, carry it toward their egg. Worldskin trembles; the strangers tumble from their feet. They rise, run swiftly to their egg, which opens its mouth to swallow them. The egg shudders, stars to rise, then is pulled down into the ground. Mechaieh judders, water splashes from Pond. Again, and again. Worldskin stills, later extrudes silver Egg. Egg opens its mouth and Stranger steps out. Stranger Speaks, and Frog Answers. Bird Calls, and Tree makes Reply. It is a time of joy.
When Kat Beyer lost the use of her hands in 1999, she decided that shouldn’t stop her. She writes with speech software, and her hands have healed enough to paint. She has published with Circlet Press, Strange Horizons, and others. Check out her website, complete with gallery, links to writings, favorite single malt scotch, and “Wasabi for the mind, ” at www.katspaw.com.
Ken is multiple kinds of geek: writing, film making, virtual worlds, video games, music, cars, motorcycles, and computers. His publications include Analog, Writers of the Future, Strange Horizons, Talebones, Darker Matter, Fortean Bureau, Ideomancer, Weird Tales, Midnight Street, Modern Magic, The William and Mary Review, Rosebud, Science Fiction World, Exquisite Corpuscle, and others. He’s also sold some stage plays, a screenplay, and produced an award-winning feature film. There are rumors he may be making more films soon.
He lives in Tokyo with his wife, Yuki – a manga artist — and runs a company that creates virtual world and social media strategies. Sometimes, people force him to speak at conferences.
His website is irregularly updated. Someone should really do something about this, don’t you think? Alternately, you can find him on Facebook, Twitter, Quillpill, LinkedIn, Naymz, and occasionally MySpace and Friendster.
Daniel Braum likes his fiction to take him to places on the edge of civilization, or anywhere near or far where the darkness needs a little light or vice versa. His stories often blur the lines between genres, most of the time unintentionally. His short stories can be found in print in places such as Cemetery Dance, Electric Velocipede, and Full Unit Hook Up and online at sites such as the Fortean Bureau, Abyss and Apex, and Dark Recesses. He is very happy to be in such good company with the diverse and talented authors here at the Cabal. He is currently shopping for a publisher for his first novel, a supernatural thriller set in Central America. Visit him at www.danielbraum.com and www.livejournal.com/danielbraum.
What we know of the Rudi Dornemann has come has been passed down through the generations of storytellers, from father to son and from mother to daughter since the days before the Dark Times. The tale-tellers speak of how the Rudi’s fiction appeared in various magazines, some of which were fashioned from the skins of ancient creatures called trees, others of which were made of a more ethereal substance — some chronicles speak of webs, others of vast systems of tubes. The names of these magazines have come down to us like the words of some incantation – Behind the Wainscot, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, The Fortean Bureau, Flytrap, Ideomancer/, Rabid Transit: Menagerie, and others. Some of the legends tell of the Rudi’s home in a place called “Maine”– an Atlantis-like locale said to be located somewhere off the coast of Vermont. A few of the tales relate that he had a thing called a website and others speak of his blog.
Jason Fischer is based in Adelaide, South Australia. He is a graduate of the 2007 Clarion South workshop, and a recent finalist in the Writers of the Future contest. He has a story in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again, and forthcoming stories appearing in Aurealis Magazine and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine. Jason likes anything to do with zombies or post-apocalyptic settings, and when he’s not writing he wishes he was. He can be found lurking in internetland at jasoni.livejournal.com
Sara Genge lives in Madrid, Spain. She writes speculative fiction aided and abetted by a coven of friends and female relatives. She’s walked the Camino de Santiago and spent a year as a foreign exchange student in Paris. Sara even saw a gnome once, but it was after a week of sleep deprivation and sixteen hours of studying, so she’s not sure if it wore a pointed red hat or not. Her blog is regularly updated.
David C. Kopaska-Merkel was born in Charlottesville Virginia in 1872. He attended Redhill school until the fourth grade, but dropped out after only 18 years without completing high school. He took to electronics like a duck to water, once the field was invented, and quickly developed a machine that allowed him to become his own great-great-grandfather. He later tried his hand at fiction but, realistically, it was too unbelievable. So he became a ghostwriter for scientific reports. In his spare time he specializes in yak pedicures and appraisals of stuffed marmots. He lives in a quarter million dollar condo a half a block from the railroad tracks, with a flock of seagulls and a couple of minor inconveniences.
Jason Erik Lundberg is an American expatriate living in Singapore, and the author of The Time Traveler’s Son (2008), Four Seasons in One Day (2003, with Janet Chui), and over forty articles and short stories; he is also the co-editor of Scattered, Covered, Smothered (2004) and A Field Guide to Surreal Botany (2008). His solo work has most recently appeared (or will soon) in Polyphony 7, Subterranean Magazine, Sybil’s Garage, Farrago’s Wainscot, Hot Metal Bridge, and other groovy venues. His short fiction has been honorably mentioned in The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, nominated for the SLF Fountain Award, and shortlisted for the Brenda L. Smart Award for Short Fiction. With Janet Chui, Lundberg runs Two Cranes Press, an independent publishing atelier. A graduate of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop and the Creative Writing Master’s program at North Carolina State University, he now teaches English and creative writing at Hwa Chong Institution. His website and blog can be found at jasonlundberg.net.
Susannah Mandel enjoys poetry, bicycling, comic books, movies, languages, and landscapes — in fact with the proper priming she can enjoy just about anything. She is especially hot on science fiction, and looking at things. Susannah has degrees in English literature and media studies (and it may not be over yet), and has worked in research, editing, translation, teaching and linguistics. After time in northern California, Boston, and the north of France, she now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She publishes a regular column at Strange Horizons about the fantastic in classic literature.
Alex Dally MacFarlane has been writing ever since the discovery of computer games made her think that if stories could be found on a 32-bit cartridge, why not in the mind of an eleven-year-old girl? Now she works just outside London, England, proof-reading military specifications. Her short fiction has sold to magazines including Shimmer, Sybil’s Garage and Farrago’s Wainscot, and she guest-edited the Five Senses issue of Behind the Wainscot. Visit her at http://alankria.livejournal.com
Luc Reid is a past winner of the Writers of the Future Contest and the founder of the online neo-pro writers group Codex. His first book, Talk the Talk: The Slang of 65 American Subcultures was published in 2006. He created and writes for a site with practical articles about how self-motivation works called The Willpower Engine and recently completed a free-to-copy eBook on writing motivation called The Writing Engine: A Practical Guide to Writing Motivation. Luc lives in Williston, Vermont. His Web site is www.lucreid.com.
Angela Slatter is a Brisbane-based writer, schlepping her way through life. Her short fiction has appeared in places such as Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Shimmer, The Lifted Brow, Strange Tales II, 2012, Crimson Highway, Dreaming Again and a few small disreputable bars in London. She likes fairytales and thinks the creepier they are, the better. She is working on a couple of novels, but the one taking her time at the moment is set in Jerusalem during the last years of the Crusader Kingdom – it’s always 1187 in her head.
Jeremiah Tolbert is a web designer, photographer, and writer living in Fort Collins, Colorado. His stories have appeared in Interzone, Ideomancer, Polyphony 4, and All-Star Zeppelin Adventure Stories. He is responsible for the design and maintenance of the Daily Cabal site, so if anything goes wrong, you know who to blame. He blogs on photography, science news, and more at his website.
Edd Vick, the son of a pirate father and a baking mogul mother, is a 2002 graduate of the Clarion SF Writing Workshop. He has had several stories published in Asimov’s SF Magazine. Other magazines to publish his work include Electric Velocipede, Tales of the Tai-Pan Universe, and Jim Baen’s Universe. Anthologies with stories by Edd include Fundamentally Challenged, Distant Planes, and Northwest Passages. He lives in Seattle with SF novelist Amy Thomson and their adopted daughter Katie. Visit him at eddvick.livejournal.com.
Trent makes his living taking drugs for the DEA. Unlike most Americans, he walks to work every day with a spring in his step. His work appeared in The Golden Age SF anthology, Electric Velocipede, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, and BSFA’s Vector. Online work can be found at 3am Magazine, The Angler, EOTU, Lamination Colony, Pindledyboz, Vacancy (audio). Forthcoming are works in Full Unit Hookup, Grendelsong, Legends of the Mountain State, Triangulation, and Visual Journeys. Also forthcoming from Morpo Press, a poetry chapbook called Learning the Ropes. He is the poetry editor of Abyss and Apex.
Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York. He writes odd little things that show up in odd little places, like Weird Tales, Fantasy Magazine, Farrago’s Wainscot, and Behind the Wainscot. It’s also forthcoming in Chizine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and several anthologies, including Crawlspace: The Best of Farrago’s Wainscot, and Hatter Bones.