Winter 2007 Contents

Issue #6: Winter 2007

Issue 6

Nine magical stories, including “Sparrow and Egg,” from Amal El-Mohtar, and n.a. bourke’s gorgeous “Juana and the Dancing Bear.” Cover art by the marvelous Sandro Castelli.

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“…Full of magic, love, poetic prose, and again, magic. Not the kind of magic you expect in traditional fantasy stories—spells and bewitchment—but the kind of magic that pulses through the veins of a well drafted collection to enchant the heart. You will remember these stories long after you have tucked the small paperback among your other collectibles.”–Tangent Online

Table of Contents

Juana and the Dancing Bear by n. a. bourke

We were at the court of Queen Isabella in Castile, Just-Simon and I. He played the part of a jester and I the dancing bear. Each evening, while dinner was still being cleared from the lower tables, he led me into the hall. There, on a floor littered with food scraps, I danced for the ladies and lords while Just-Simon played the wild music the Cossacks had taught him. It pleased the queen to listen to the music of snow and ice while the court swooned in the heat of a thousand candles. I danced in my blue silk harness with its hundred bells as if my blood were beating to the remembrance of starless nights on the open steppes.

Duets, by Philip J. Lees

I heard her before I saw her. Her voice, raised in anger, bounced off the wall of the saddler’s across the street and down the alley where I was walking, having just left the apothecary’s shop by the rear entrance. I hitched the guitar strap higher on my shoulder and quickened my pace, certain that adventure was at hand.

Tom Cofferwillow Comes Undone by Stephen L. Moss

‘Twas half-past Criventide and getting toward dark on the road to Torkson’s Manor where I kept my crackling hearth. I glanced up from my studies and reached for a nail, but my hand found the scutter empty.

Who’s been smoking in my drawers? I wondered. And with the shops closed for the night? Ah, well. Perhaps a cranny-search on hand and knee would yield a prize or two.

Catch of the Day by Michael Livingston

“We have some questions to ask you, Mister Harris,” the man in the black suit said.

“Doctor,” Will said, trying to play it confident even as he squinted into the light, trying to separate the other people in the room from the shadows. There were three or four of them, he figured. And all of them, aside from the man in black, probably as nervous as he was.

“Pardon?” The man in the black suit spoke deep and smooth, like how Will imagined an old poolhall hustler would talk. A veteran of many a summer blockbuster, Will wondered for a moment if the man was an alien disguising himself as a human. Then again, Will of all people knew what aliens looked like now, didn’t he?

Eagle-haunted Lake Sammamish by Cat Rambo

“You’re nuts,” my husband told me.

“Land is always a good investment,” I said. “Here, I’ll send you the link.”

I mailed it to him and there was silence while he clicked through the pages on his laptop.

“This is in Utah,” he finally said. “It’ll be swarming with Mormons. Or there’ll be some sort of religious cult just down the road.”

“By purchasing this land for a mere 350 dollars,” I said, “I have doubled our property in the world. We are landed gentry now. I think that means we can be knighted.”

Interview with Cherie Priest

Lucy, by Chrissy Ellsworth

Night Milling, by Mike Driver

Lights out. Night milling.

Empty console room, bathed in flickering blue light from the VDU’s. Last delivery came in at 11pm, full load; lifters took the contents from the lorry bearing the blue Adams Grain logo into silo forty-three. Driver signed himself in, signed himself out. Security man checked the manifest and waved him through. Now the load makes its way from the silo into the tubes that lead to the grinding floor. Twenty-two grinders, some single, some double, speed into life; no one is there and the bright yellow ear defenders hang unused on their hook on the wall. Grind wheels grind, air pumps cycle silently to increase the flow, the mill wheels sift the finer grains, the remainder is recycled; more grist to get those sharp serrated teeth chattering excitedly. More to tonight’s delivery than usual.

Dwell on Her Graciousness, by Dario Ciriello

Yvène felt the pressure against her soul the moment she woke. She barely made it to the tiny cabin sink before she threw up. Gasping, she released the cabin’s foldout seat and settled before the little shrine she’d arranged in the study nook. She closed her eyes and breathed.

It normally took her less than a minute to uplink via her Dea implant, but she felt instead as if she were trying to work free of a wet blanket tied around her.

She ran a diagnostic on her uplink soulware. Nothing. She tried a second time. Still nothing.

Sparrow and Egg, by Amal El-Mohtar

A sparrow lies within an egg that lies beneath a sparrow.

“Egg,” says the hidden sparrow, dreamily, “I love you.”

“I love you too, sparrow,” says the egg.

“But egg, I love you more.”

“That may be, though I doubt it,” says the egg, “but I will love you longer.”

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Speculative fiction for a miscreant world

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