beautifully written speculative fiction
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The midday sun reflected off the sea in a thousand broken glimmers, belying the cutting chill in the early spring air. Salt scoured Alrik’s nostrils, the burn setting his nerves at ease. The vessel rocked casually amid the rolling waves, slowly inching its way to the black mass of clouds that hung off in the distance.
He scanned the islands that stood around them. More than a half a dozen jagged, rocky outcroppings where the gulls would gather and only the toughest trees could set root in the iron sheets.
He shook his head. This was a stupid place to be, especially now, at this time of year. He had heard once that a sailor should fear when springtime danced with storms, yet here he was on a ship with dark clouds looming in the distance.
“Time’s up, snakes!” the captain roared.
Alrik turned back to the deck. The chains rattled as the Medmanari shuffled back into the deep dark belly of the ship. They dragged their feet slowly, trying to breathe in as much sea breeze as their lungs could carry before they were submerged in the stink of must and mildew again.
Medmanari were thin-framed to begin with, and the many weeks at sea had made it easier to see. Their scaled skin was wrapped tight around waning muscles and frail bones, and many had to cover their serpent eyes against the sun’s harsh light after days of being mostly in the dark. The ship carried males, females, and younglings, all of whom received a few precious minutes each day to stretch their legs and clean the stale air out of their lungs.
Some of the crew herded them on, sabers in their hands, while the captain watched from the wheel. He was young and as brash and bold as the mustache that trailed across his face. And that brash boldness had led him here, taking cargo for some lord Alrik didn’t care to know. The captain had said the Medmanari were servants, but an old sailor didn’t split hairs. Alrik knew slaves when he saw them.
Whether or not he liked it, the captain was still the captain, and he was just a deckhand, and deckhands didn’t voice whether or not they liked to sleep with slaves beneath their beds or talk about negotiating prices when they reached port. Deckhands just did what they were told to do, keeping whatever thoughts they had for themselves.
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The midday sun reflected off the sea in a thousand broken glimmers, belying the cutting chill in the early spring air. Salt scoured Alrik’s nostrils, the burn setting his nerves at ease. The vessel rocked casually amid the rolling waves, slowly inching its way to the black mass of clouds that hung off in the distance. He scanned the islands that stood around them. More than a half a dozen jagged, rocky outcroppings where the…
L. Chan’s story “Whalesong” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 15 April 2016. “Whalesong” started out with a single prompt-like line: the 50 hertz whale is the hero. The 50 hertz whale, also known as the loneliest whale in the world, is a solitary whale who sings at a frequency that other whales can’t hear. The jury is still out on whether there’s truth to that particular factoid, but it formed the kernel of this…
Q: Are you a Luddite, or do you have the latest and greatest technology?
A: I consider myself a “Version 2.0” technologist. I prefer to let other folks find the bugs.
Karl Dandenell’s story “Comes the Tinker” will be published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 28 October 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Table of Contents The Cartographer – Caleb Warner My Last Summer at Camp Unterlaken – Eugene Morgulis Pandemonium – Allison Epstein Hearts and Roses – Kathryn Yelinek Cover art by Luke Spooner. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Caleb Warner was born and raised in Indiana, in the Whitewater River Valley basin. Here he fostered a love for wilderness conservation, primitive living skills, and writing. He still lives there, working as an assistant to the director of the Writing Center at Indiana University East.
A young woman in the depths of the Russian forest faces temporal and supernatural challenges, especially with respect to household spirits that few others can see. The cover of Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale caught my eye at NetGalley. A closer look suggested it wasn’t my kind of book, but then I got several e-mails from the publisher suggesting I try it. They compared Arden to Robin Hobb, and Hobb herself blurbed the…