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

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

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 ‘Looking Downward’ Category

Dragons at Dawn

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

A kilometer outside the fortress of the Green Empress, a small white rabbit huddled naked against a dirty concrete shed cracked with age and bombardment, clutching in her small arms a tiny version of herself: her shivering baby, the only one left alive after the incessant aerial bombings of the Dragonflies over the past four weeks.

The skies were the ever-slate of the Land of Grey Dusk, but the Dragonflies’ explosive ordnance threw up smoke incarnadine and lavender. Overhead, the massive insects droned, searching out any remaining warrens or burrows not yet obliterated by their patrols. The rabbit squeezed her eyes shut and held her little one tight as she dared, her entire body ajitter, anticipating the descending whistle of the ball of light and noise that would destroy her completely.

But instead she heard, “Psst! Over here!”

She eased up her right eyelid and saw a young girl poking her head out of a doorway in the shed, a doorway the rabbit was certain had not been there before. Within was dimness, but the rabbit skittered over and leapt inside onto a dirt floor. The girl slammed the door and the rabbit laid eyes on the motley assortment gathered there in the faint light: a tortoise, a cat, and two person-shaped things with spears.

“We’re looking for the Green Empress,” the girl was saying. “Can you tell us how to find her?”

“Do you mean to kill her?” asked the rabbit.

“What? No! I just need her to send me back home. Why would you want to kill her?”

“She did the same to my lifemate and my dozens of children. To her we’re pests to be exterminated.” Her one remaining bunny trembled and wept silently in her arms.

“Is that so?” said the girl, her facial features set hard and angry. “Well then, I have yet one more thing to discuss with her.”

“And then afterward you will kill her?”

The girl bent down and gently touched the rabbit on the arm. “No. I don’t believe in killing. It wouldn’t bring back your family. But I will make her stop her extermination, and there will be recompense for the survivors, you can be assured of this.”

The rabbit said not in a word in reply, but held out her precious baby to the strange girl, who took her. The rabbit closed her eyes again to concentrate, and despite her exhaustion both physical and mental, she touched her forepaws to the dirt floor and began to dig.


(This piece was inspired visually by Lisa Snellings’ evocative eponymous painting, and aurally by Linkin Park’s “Krwlng (Mike Shinoda ft. Aaron Lewis).“)

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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

Wind and Harmony

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

On the reedy banks of the River Floyd, the Fellowship of the Little Girl came across a middle-aged man in a rumpled blue suit arguing with a large sinuous dragon. The man was the first human Anya had seen in the Land of Grey Dusk, and so she led her party over to the squabblers.

“But it’s not so far,” the man was saying. “Why are you being so stubborn?”

“On account of this,” the dragon hissed and lightly poked at the man’s paunchy stomach. “You have gotten heavy, Jackie, too big for me. You’ll likely break my back were I to take you to Harmony.”

“John, not Jackie,” said the man, “and this is water weight.”

“Hello,” said Anya. The arguing duo stopped and turned to look at her. The eyes of both the man and the dragon were identical, a blazing green.

“Yes?” said the dragon.

“Hi, my name is Anya,” said Anya.

“John,” said the man, “and Feng here is too lazy to give me a ride to the Land of He.”


“No, not ‘Huh,’ ‘He,'” said Feng the dragon. “Your pronunciation is atrocious. ‘He’ is Chinese for Harmony, the land that is my home. Jackie used to visit me when he was much younger, and play, and bring me gifts, but then he grew up and had no more time for his dragon.”

“Can you blame me?” said the man. “It happens to everyone. I’m here now, aren’t I?”

“Yes. Here, grown up, and much too fat.”

Before the man could launch another retort, Anya said, “Friend Dragon, you look to be strong enough to carry John wherever he needs to go, but you still feel hurt and abandoned. John, you want to reconnect with your lost friend, but your pride is getting in the way of true intimacy. It seems to me that if you both admit to your feelings, you could stop arguing and both be happy.”

“Hmm,” said Feng the dragon. “She’s right, you know.”

“Yeah, I suppose.” John kicked at the reeds. “I’m sorry I left you all those years ago.”

“And I’m sorry I called you fat.” The dragon lowered itself to the ground. “You ready to go?”

John smiled and climbed aboard. As the dragon was about to depart, Anya said, “Wait!”


“Can you give me a ride too? I’m trying to reach home.”

“Oh no, my dear girl, I don’t travel to the world above anymore. You will need to consult the Green Empress for passage back to that place.”

Feng the dragon squatted down and then launched itself into the air, twisting and twirling and ribboning through the skies, its passenger whooping and yawping all the while, both man and dragon now reunited in joy.

Creative Commons License

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

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