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

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

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

Archive for the ‘Looking Downward’ Category

Cricetinae’s Paroxysm

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

The Cave of Endless Hamsters was a supreme disappointment. Guided by the Turtle, who glowed a pale green, the fellowship (Anya, her father the cat, Mister Shiftless, and Mister Hopeless) proceeded through the cramped quarters, occasionally bumping a head on the cave’s ceiling, avoiding slactites and stalgmites, edging around pools of fetid orange water, and not seeing one single solitary hamster.

No hamsters. In the Cave of Endless Hamsters.

Twenty minutes later, they emerged through the other side of the cave, back into the harsh light of the Land of Grey Dusk. For Anya, it had been the single least interesting experience of her seven-year-old existence.

“Huh. So, um, where were all the hamsters?”

Mister Shiftless and Mister Hopeless shrugged. The Turtle wandered over to a bush and munched on the yellowish foliage. Her father the cat sat down next to a dead anthill and began licking his shoulder.

“Isn’t anyone else bothered by this? Something is wrong here.” Anya sat down on the ground next to her father. “I really wanted to see the hamsters.”

“Desire is an outgrowth of attachment,” said the Turtle with a full mouth. “It only leads to dissatisfaction.”

“Oh, be quiet and eat your leaves.”

Anya’s father the cat suddenly stopped his impromptu bath, and began scratching at the anthill. Digging and delving and destroying, inverting the hill into a dale, skritching and skrotching and skrutching until the ground gave an abrupt thump and rumble and lurch, as if a great beast beneath the earth had humped intself up and then back down again. The cat edged backward and pressed itself into Anya’s side, and then the both of them jumped at the same time as the pit violently inverted once again, erupting in a bursting stream of furry grey, white, black, and mottled, spewing out of the hole as if a hidden oil reserve, a Vesuvius of squeaking fuzziness.

“Wow!” Anya shouted as hamsters landed on her and all around her, Winter Whites and Roborovskis and Campbells and Ladaks and Tibetans and Sokolovs, fur and whiskers and wet little noses tickling her face and making her giggle. She reached down and hugged the cat, who patiently endured the flood of hamsters crawling over his head and body, and who purred softly, a minature engine in her arms. “Thanks, Daddy!”

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

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Shiftless, Hopeless

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

At the mouth of the Cave of Endless Hamsters stood two squat dumpy smoke-colored creatures, each the shape of a bowling pin. The one on left was slightly taller, and it shook with mild internal tremors. Both creatures seemed to waver in and out of existence, as if simulataneously there and not there, and their eyes glowed redly. They held short wicked-looking spears.

“Toll,” said the shorter one on the right.

Anya slid down from the back of the Turtle (who had promptly fallen asleep after they had stopped moving), and her feline companion leapt down smoothly to land beside her feet.

“Toll for what?” Anya asked.

“Whatchu mean? For passage through the cave o’course.”

“Is this cave really so important that it merits a toll?”

“Um.” The shorter one scratched its head and the taller one shivered where it stood.

“Do you enjoy your job?”

“What? Why you ask that?”

“It seems to me,” Anya said, “standing at the mouth of a cave in the middle of a forest waiting for people to come by so you can extort them would be quite boring. Yes?”

“Being punished,” said the taller shivery creature.

“By whom?”

“The Green Empress. She’s still sore at us.”

“Why? What did you do?”

Neither creature answered, and their body postures indicated sheepishness.

“Look, my name’s Anya.” She motioned to the cat. “This is my reincarnated father. We’re just looking for a way to get home. If I can offer you payment, will you be our protectors?”

“What? Us?” The two creatures turned toward each other and appeared to communicate, whether subvocally or telepathically, Anya could not tell. After a moment they turned back and the shorter creature said, “What about the empress?”

“Let me deal with her.”

“What payment you got?”

Anya reached into the pocket on her jumper and pulled out the black tri-cornered tooth she had extracted from behind the ear of the Olifanz. Previously dull, it now glinted in the filtered light of the forest. The two creatures started forward, their forms abruptly shifting completely into reality, the tooth somehow solidifying their existence after exposure to the light.

She held the tooth behind her back and said, “Payment after we’ve found the way home. Deal?”

“Yes, yes, o’course,” the creatures said in unison.

“Great. So what are your names?”

“Mister Hopeless,” the shorter creature said. “He’s Mister Shiftless.”

“Right,” Anya said, scratching the Turtle underneath the chin to wake it up. “So, are you excited to see the Cave of Endless Hamsters?”

“Dunno,” said Mister Shiftless. “Never been in.”

“Well, now’s as good time as any, right?” And she led the motley group inside.

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

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