Plugs

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

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).

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

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

Archive for the ‘Looking Downward’ Category

There and Back Again

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Ana opened her eyes and sat up. The ground beneath her was spongy and damp, and the wet had seeped into the seat of her jeans and the back of her jumper. The sky hurt her eyes with its brilliant blueness, and though the sun beat down in its harshness, she half-shut her eyelids and bathed in its warmth. How long had she slept?

“Ow,” said a voice next to her.

She turned, and sitting there was a man wearing her father’s face and her father’s clothes, but was not, could not possibly have been her father, because her father had been dead since she was three. But there he sat, rubbing the back of his head and squinting in the sun.

“Daddy?”

“Hey, monkey. You okay?”

“What? But how?”

“You brought me back, remember? Your sacrifice to the Green Empress. I didn’t mean to keep it, but it appears I didn’t have much choice.”

“But that was a dream. Right?”

“No, sweetie, it happened, all of it.”

Her father suddenly reached over and squeezed Ana in one of his bear hugs, and though she was too startled at first to reciprocate, she breathed in the low smells of his deodorant and shampoo and perspiration, and something in her let go. She grasped him tightly and didn’t even try to stop the tears from flowing.

“Thanks, monkey,” he said softly. “I’ll never forget this.”

“So what happened to the rest of them? The Turtle and the two Misters and the white rabbit?”

“I don’t know. They’re still there, in the world under. Maybe we’ll see them again someday, but not, I hope, for a while.”

Ana’s father stood, his knees cracking loudly, and he helped Ana to her feet. Daughter and father grinned knowingly at each other, and then they proceeded out of the mangrove swamp to find her mother and give her the surprise of her life.

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Previously:
01: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
02: The World, Under
03: Androcles Again
04: Look Into My Eyes, You’re Under
05: Shiftless, Hopeless
06: Cricetinae’s Paroxysm
07: Wind and Harmony
08: Dragons at Dawn
09: Goodnight Nobody

Goodnight Nobody

Friday, June 11th, 2010

“Send you home?” said the Green Empress, eyes ablaze. “My dear girl, whyever would I want to do that?”

Anya knelt low in front of the Empress’ throne, pressed down by the shafts of the spears carried by Mister Shiftless and Mister Hopeless, whose loyalties had abruptly shifted back upon their subterranean inception into the fortress. Though they both had said, “Sorry,” she couldn’t really blame them for wanting to curry favor with their old employer.

“Because I am asking nicely,” Anya said, raising her eyes; with the weight on her shoulders, all she could see were the Empress’ knees. Anya’s father the cat miaowed softly behind her; she presumed he was also constrained in some way. She didn’t know where the rabbit and the Turtle had been taken. “Plus,” she said, “it’s the right thing to do.”

The Empress leaned forward. “Do I look like the type of person who tends to do the right thing?” She sighed and continued. “For your kind of request, there is always a price. What can you give me in return for such a great entreaty?”

“I have nothing more than what you see,” Anya said.

“Wrong, girl. You have very much more. I could take your soft palette; you didn’t have one until the surgery when you were six months old, so I’d just be returning you to your original state.”

Anya tongued the roof of her mouth and said nothing.

“Or, even better, I could take your name. Not even your entire name, just one letter, that would suffice.” The Green Empress’ index finger reached down and lightly touched Anya’s middle-forehead, the third eye, the Ajna chakra, Anya-Ajna, and for a brief blinding moment the world flashed indigo and silent, and she felt something removed from her, a strange sensation of losing something she’d never known she’d had.

The weights on her shoulders lifted, and the Green Empress said, “Rise, Ana, and go home.” In the Empress’ cupped right hand was a weak ball of bluish light that pulsed slowly; with her left, she performed a complicated series of gestures and a circular portal of hazy blackness opened in front of Ana. “Step through, and you shall be home.”

A high screeching yowl, and then a small cat, mottled and striped and blotched in patterns of grey, leapt from over Ana’s head and pounced on the Empress’ hand, biting and scratching, a blur of teeth and claws, then it snatched the pulsing bluishness in its teeth and bounded once again into Ana’s arms.

The Empress screamed, “Kill them both!” Without thinking, Ana sprung forward into the fuliginous darkness, falling into the black hole where sight, sound, and everything else were obliterated.

Creative Commons License

Previously:
01: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
02: The World, Under
03: Androcles Again
04: Look Into My Eyes, You’re Under
05: Shiftless, Hopeless
06: Cricetinae’s Paroxysm
07: Wind and Harmony
08: Dragons at Dawn

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