She’s got her system down: a fly on a string, to lure a snapper to snap; a sharp carving knife to sever an extended neck. Simple. Safer than other methods. She’s lost toes to other methods. She’s lost fingers. Snappers have wickedly sharp beaks. No one knows that better than she does. There are safer ways, of course. A heavy enough rock lobbed from a distance can shatter a carapace. Shatter a spine. You don’t have to get close enough to lose digits. But that way is cruel. Jenny doesn’t like cruelty. She doesn’t like killing turtles, either. But it has to be done. There are two turtles today, which is the right number of turtles. They’re near the pond, behind the house where Jenny lives with her grandmother. Where Jenny’s parents used to live. It is a place where turtles rarely go anymore. A place the turtles have learned to avoid. The coincidence of finding them here heartens Jenny. It is as if they have been guided here. By something inside them. Guided to Jenny’s fly on a string. To Jenny’s knife.
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“Nothing but the world is real and true,” Grandfather began. His voice was soft, whispery and wise. His eyes were as black as the darkness beneath the good ground. “Everything that does not belong to the world is false and untrue,” he continued. “It is the stuff of spirits.” “It is a lie,” Raven continued, knowing the lesson by heart. “Spirit stuff only looks like green grass and white sand.”
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I was mowing the lawn on my tractor when a raccoon jumped out from a line of trees. Luckily I stopped in time. The raccoon waddled to the side and I continued on. I was amazed to find the raccoon keeping pace with the tractor. I decided to name the raccoon Bandit. It’s not the most original name but riding around the lawn doesn’t lend itself to creativity.
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Theod didn’t like to think of it as depression that had him lingering by the tracks, readying to jump at the right moment. It felt more like advanced boredom, but neither did he like ennui, as the insufferably hip named it. He refused to join those ranks, and while he didn’t really want to hurt himself, he wouldn’t mind being dead if it meant he didn’t have to get up and go to work in the morning.
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Sir Percival spurred the borrowed police horse as far as the corner of York Avenue and 67th, where he swung his armored bulk down from the saddle to land on the sidewalk with a clangor that stopped the startled street vendors in their tracks. Grail in hand, he ran in past the security guards at Sloan-Kettering Memorial Cancer Center, who called after him, “What room number are you visiting, sir?”
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“And to think the biggest problem the advance critics are having is religion,” Shin says, smiling as he holds the pad in his hand, scrolling through the spotlight on his play in the arts page of the planet newsfeed. “As if it matters if I use New Servitism or not. It’s science fiction. The future. As if the audience won’t get the implication.” For my part I nod and stir, bring the spoon up to my lips to taste it. Too sweet still, and nothing to do about it other than start over. I suppress the grimace that wants to form on my face, and keep my attention on Shin.
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Written by Josh Brown, art by John Fortune © 2015 Josh Brown 3,472 total views, no views today
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Waking up on a chipmunk’s back racing through the underbrush might sound cute. It’s not. Up close, chipmunks sorta smell like a dumpster fire. Plus, the first time you see a parasite, a semi-translucent tube sock full of dark blood the size of your forearm, emerge from the fur and then disappear like a breaching whale, you lose all thought of Alvin, Simon, and Theodor.
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Captain Lawson stood in front of the wall-sized painting of the Battle of Melusinae, where he’d died. He did not hear the wind blowing or the chilled waves pounding the rocks far below the inn. He did not hear Madame Shirley, the proprietor of this place, speaking to him, as she usually was or the lead crystal glasses clinking with rough chips of ice and fingers of gin.
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You didn’t know me the second time you said “Hello.” You couldn’t have known we’d met before, because people don’t believe in spirits in this modern day. Everything is decided, neatly parceled into little bits of what is considered possible and what is not. I am just a myth. But when I look at you, gazing back at me from your seat beside my hospital bed, I know what is real. We are real, what we share is real, and I am dying.
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The day we met, Prasad asked me how many times I had died. I answered without hesitation. “Forty-four.” That number is part of my identity. As important as my womanhood, my occupation, my name. My soul had occupied forty-four bodies. Had experienced forty-four deaths. And the memories of those forty-four are in my head. Unforgettable. Unshakeable.
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Eliška huddled in her laboratory during that short autumn before the predicted onset of the Dark. She poured over her star-maps, scrawled calculations on a black ink diagram of planetary epicycles. She hefted bound volumes of research by Copernicus and Kepler, Brahe and Galileo, about Mars and the moon, about the ascendency of Mercury and the dangers of spotting a comet in Taurus.
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I‘m practicing juggling again, because it’s raining outside and there’s nothing else to do. Big fat bloodwarm drops drum on the tent’s waxed canvas. In an hour, as the day’s light vanishes, the circus’s light will flicker to life, powered by the ancient turbine/treadmill pulled by three ponies and a servobot. Townsfolk will wander the […]
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It happened one day that the Blessed Lady of Dark Forever went for a walk in her garden of black leaves, past the Seven Broken Doorways, and down to the ferries, where the refugees arrive in endless outpourings. She was watching her servants—”facilitators” they called themselves these days—play a game of Snatch The Bone when […]
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The stranger’s back is turned to me when I enter The Cactus Tap. Lost in his whisky glass, he does not spare an old lady like me a glance. Once black hair spills across his once black clothes, draped dusty and bedraggled over his tall and angular frame. A mercenary, I guess, a Near Kingdom […]
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I wanted to break my brother’s face again. My knuckles burned from my previous efforts. Dark mascara ribbons streaked down Bridgette’s cheeks. Roger’s smooth features, darkened with fury, no longer bore a single scrape. The bruises he’d left on my body throbbed. This time I had to fix things without getting hurt. More than that, […]
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His partner was missing, and P.I. Stamens didn’t know how to feel, so he went to the local branch of the Emotion Store. “Ninety minutes of Pensiveness, please,” Stamens said to Jack Condon, the proprietor. “Actually, make that three hours.” Stamens’s tall, standoffish calm contrasted with the squirrely Condon’s jerking movements. A tag hung on […]
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Once they applied the new algorithm, the senseless chatter of the Universe immediately came through as a coherent message: CAN ANYONE HEAR ME? HELLO? The telemetry rattled off the message a dozen times while the assembled men uttered a collective, “Holy shit!” A return message was quickly composed and transmitted: WE HEAR YOU. The incoming […]
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When Raine went kicking through the flower beds of the forest, Paylee knew their mother had returned from the village with a heaping basket still brimming with pungent, dried herbs and weeds. He wondered what she offered the people this time. Wartberry Fairvbell? Arrowhead Groundsel? Yellow Skullcap? She could offer them the Fountain of Youth, […]
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“You won’t tell anyone this.” I don’t remind Magnus that I can’t. Besides, his is a knee-jerk sort of question, the one he always asks at the start of a session. “You’re the only one I can talk to,” he says. I nod, doodling on a piece of paper, its edges so charred that the […]
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