Autumn 2006

Issue #5: Autumn 2006

Issue 5

Eight stories, including Angela Slatter’s Aurealis-award nominated story “The Angel Wood,” and our interview with John Scalzi.

Two stories received an honorable mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror: Aliette de Bodard’s “Through the Obsidian Gates” and “A Wizard on the Road,” by Nir Yaniv (trans. Lavie Tidhar).

It was a totally enjoyable experience … Shimmer is one of the best small press magazines out there and you should all be subscribing to it! — SF Revu

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Table of Contents

Voices of the Gods, by Monica Eiland

“They say that when your wings are almost finished, the voices of the gods call you into the sky, and you become powerless to resist,” Kirsi said at the year’s festival. Her eager face shone across the fire where we sat with the other girls.

“I can scarce believe you could ever be absolutely powerless to resist,” I said. It was only Kirsi, our little cousin from a village over, telling the tale. She had no wings herself, nor the thought of any.

“Oh, Aire, when your wings are finished, you want to fly, and never come to earth again,” she told us, her eyes gleaming. “The gods tell you what they will, and when their seductive song is
over, you come down to the family and friends you hardly remember, to tell them those secrets.”

Halloween Night, by John Parke Davis

Halloween day is the best day of the year, because everyone you ever lost comes back again to see you. First thing in the morning, you come tumbling down the stairs following the scent of pumpkin bread baking and stumble into a sea of your favorite cats and dogs, who are barking and meowing and so full of love to see their people again. Mowgli, who ran too close to the road, is tumbling with Peter Spaniel, who had a weak heart, and they’re yipping and playing like they used to when they were old friends.

Skeletonbaby Magic, by Kathy Watts

Hope knelt on the cobblestone beach and hugged the tiny bones in her lap. She stroked the fur trim on the cedar strip baby blanket that sheltered the skull from the mist and surf spray.

“It’s been a long time,” she told the infant, “since you looked at me with your no-eyes, or ate at my breast with your no-mouth. You used to do these things.”

Hope gently prodded inside the blanket with her little finger and tapped at
the middle of the tiny jaw bones, where a baby’s mouth would be. Skeletonbaby did
nothing.

Pray For Us, St. Dymphna, by Bryan Lindsey

“Jacob Banes please,” chattered the friendly voice on the other end of the receiver.

“This is Jacob.”

“Hello, Mr. Banes. This is Cynthia from Civicbank. Our records indicate that your account is over 90 days past due. Your current balance is twelve-hundred forty-eight dollars. Is there anything we can do about that today?”

Jacob closed his eyes and focused on the sound of her voice. After a moment her thoughts became clear to him.

“Well, Cynthia, my records indicate that you asked your father for three hundred dollars last month. You told him you needed it for textbooks, but you used the money to pay for an
abortion.”

Cynthia faltered—then hung up.

The Angel Wood, by Angela Slatter

We wake only when a sudden stop almost jerks us from the seat. Now, with the plague-ridden city just a memory, the air is so sweet it creeps up our nostrils and makes us sneeze at its strangeness.

Jeremy-Charles lies quiet in my arms while Milly and Tildy snuggle, one either side of me. Outside, Mother’s voice is tense as she says she carries only plague victims from the city. A man answers that she lies—who would bother to transport the dying so far away? I bid
my siblings be silent and peek through the gap between the door frame and the curtains that cover the windows.

Interview with John Scalzi

Melancholix, by Joseph Remy

Through the Obsidian Gates, by Aliette de Bodard

I came into the palace of the lords One Death and Seven Death through the great gates of obsidian, on foot, armed with nothing but a desperate resolve. There, in the depths of the underworld, I asked for my husband’s life.

The lords’ thrones were huge, and made of human bones pieced together: skulls and finger bones, ribs poking out at odd angles. Everything stank of death. I stood, unmoving, awaiting their response.

The lords’ faces lay in shadow, and I could not see their expressions. “Few mortals dare ask for a dead man’s life.”

A Wizard on the Road, by Nir Yaniv, translated by Lavie Tidhar

The wizard materialized, to his regret, in the passenger seat of a small, creaking Fiat. The car’s owner did not appear to be of the quality-human material he had hoped for, but such trifles were never a problem in the place from which he came. It was late at night.

“Ah,” said the Fiat’s driver and continued to drive. He was a practical sort.

King of Sand and Stormy Seas, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

He stood at the edge of the beach and leaned forward trying to spy a kraken or a two-tailed mermaid beneath the water. Only there were no mermaids today, no terrible krakens or glimmering serpents. Just Lysander, alone, under a light drizzle.

He swung his arm in a mighty arc, ready to throw the sword into the water, ready to say goodbye. And then he couldn’t. Instead, the sword landed against a rock, fell with a loud clank while the seagulls watched. Lysander sat down. Small crabs scuttled by.

“If you don’t want it, you can give it to me,” someone said behind him. “It’s a waste of a
good sword.”

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