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.

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

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

Shore Birth

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

It was a still sea that spat him forth, the surface as flat as a pond, the waters rank with dead sea-grass and the bloated bodies of fish. There was no sun to herald his arrival, nothing but a faint spot somewhere above the slate-grey clouds.

A jagged rock snagged his bobbing vessel, and the skin around him tore. As he uncurled from his foetal position he found twin horns on his head, sharp and mean. They made short work of the amniotic sac, and in moments he’d freed himself.

Awareness. Movement.

He saw his body for the first time, drank in the enormity of his limbs, his height, touched his long snout and horns. He was. The newborn knelt in the motionless brine, sluicing the wreckage of skin and slime away from his matted fur.

He cupped a handful of water in his broad hands, and lifting it above the murk he saw his own face reflected. He was a bull-man, a hybrid of man and beast. A minotaur. While there were many blanks in his mind, these terms of reference came instantly to him.

The child stood for a long moment in the shallows, pondered the desolate stretch of shore, the endless cliffs. The beach was loose stone, here and there covered in thick drifts of dead sea-grass, white and crumbling to dust. There’d been no high tide in months, if not years. In moments he realised the concepts of tidal patterns, lunar cycles, the works.

With some panic he realised that he was the only living thing on that desolate shore. The world he’d just been born into had an ocean but no tides, death but no new life to make way for.

‘I’m alone?’ he asked, voice a thick rumble. It was a strong and deep sound. He cried out in fear, an animal bleat, the sound echoing against the cliff-face.

As the sound faded, the beach was once again silent and still.

Drawing a deep breath through the fat pipes of his nostrils, the bull-man found control. He clambered ashore, the rocks doing little against the thick leather of his feet. This shale shifted beneath his weight, but he kept his balance, shuffled forward.

The Infinite Train

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

It had started four years before Luna was born, and never slowed or gave any sign of ending.

No one could say for sure that the train was infinite. It just kept going by and going by: appearing from empty space under a highway overpass outside Montreal– tracing three-quarters of a circle through Canada, US, and Mexico–disappearing behind the governor’s palace in San Luis Potosí.

For Luna, growing up just blocks from its route, the train rumbled behind her parents’ every shouted conversation, vibrated in her chest when she stayed in her room to draw, blocked her eyes with a horizon-wide wall when she went out.

As a teenager, when she did venture out, it was often into the no-go zone beside the tracks. A few months, and parties in basements of abandoned houses grew routine. She found herself joining the trainspotters she’d once mocked, standing, staring for hours at the cars as they shimmered by. No shouting past the rumble here. The vibration might have replaced her heart.

She started painting, not quite the tagging some of her classmates did on buildings and ordinary trains. She’d never see her designs standing still; she just sprayed swoops and waves on the passing cars. Dots, she discovered, turned to dashes, so she mastered them, flurried them out among the long arcs of her hypnotic cursive, in each hand, a can, a staccato stuttering hiss of propellant. Quick. Flashes. Color. Motion.

One night, she fell out of her painting trance, box of empty cans beside her, rainbow haze retreating after the train on the wind of its passing. She hauled her cans home. Her mother had finally gone, and her leaving blocked her father’s sight to any horizon but the most immediate. Luna heard his words as a broken rumble, but her heart held true to its own vibration. Attuned to speed, she saw the dishes he smashed as dots rather than dashes, and dodged the fragments with trance-practiced fluidity. When he collapsed in a corner, he seemed too still for her eyes to focus on.

In the kitchen doorway, she woke again, as if from another trance. Part of her was traveling away, lines shaped from her movements crossing the continent and slipping out of the world. Another part of her stood still while everything moved as relentlessly as the train, designs rushing past that she’d never really see.

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