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Lugging her magician’s trunk in one hand and a map of Wonder Gardens in the other, she clambered onto the Rutabaga Express. The seat was sticky with pineapple gunk and the car was open to the sky.
As the train chugged past the Bananarama Coaster and the whirling Strawberry Surprise, a sweet scent wafted through the air. Hordes of people milled around, clumping up to watch the organic farming demonstration or three women juggling zucchini. Lines for rides and food carts snaked around and around. The sound was tremendous—laughter and shouting, the whoosh of the Bananarama Coaster, and the train chugging along, whistling occasionally.
Vienne pulled out a deck of cards and shuffled, the rhythm of the cards matching the churn of the train’s wheels.
Another performance at another weird amusement park. But the produce theme wasn’t so bad. Last week, it had been cats—a tabby tea cup ride, catnip funhouse, ice cream sandwiches shaped like mousey toys. The Performers’ Guild was always sending her to kooky places.
It would be different when she made a name for herself. She’d travel around the world—hike in New Zealand, read on a beach in India, take a cooking class in Japan. But first, she’d go to Iceland. Iceland had all the best things—tiny horses, magma caves, medieval manuscripts, super cool birdwatching. Ever since she was a kid, Vienne had wanted to visit.
She flipped four aces out of the deck in a flourish. Maybe someday, she’d do that trick on an Icelandic stage.
The train chugged along. It wasn’t until the Carrot Waterslide that she realized she was going the wrong way.
To the Eggplant Cannon – Beth Goder
Angels at the Border – Ian Rennie
Scraps – by Juliet Kemp
Sundown on the Hill – Timothy Mudie
Judy wakes up in the middle of the night to an empty bed, but she knows exactly where Edward is. There’s only one place he goes these days. As she lies there in the late summer heat, the sheet sticky on her legs, a fan blowing desultorily from an open window, she allows herself a moment to believe he might simply be making one of his many nightly trips to the bathroom. That he has…
Q: What happens when you hit writer’s block head on?
A: If I hit writer’s block, it’s usually a sign that there is some problem with scene, plot, characters, or all of the above. My immediate response, which I try to ignore, is to go and mess around on the internet. This is rarely helpful. To solve the problem rather than avoiding it, some level of thinking is required, worse luck. I sometimes sit down with marker pens (I have Copics, which are a tremendous indulgence but I do love them) and a colouring book and try to let my brain freewheel. Going climbing is good, too. Both colouring and climbing work well for occupying my monkey brain (the bit that just wants to hit refresh on Twitter) and letting the slower-thinking creative parts ruminate for a while. If I had a different sort of dog, walking the dog might work. Unfortunately if I stop paying attention to my dog, she considers this to be a reason to ignore me in turn, takes off after the nearest squirrel, and refuses to return. This experience does not generate anything useful at all brainwise, though all the running backwards and forwards is probably good cardio.
Lying down and staring at the ceiling can be surprisingly helpful, although sometimes it leads to napping. But then, napping isn’t always bad — once in a while I dream a solution to a story problem, which is exceptionally satisfying when it happens.
And, most importantly, all of the above work better when I add both chocolate and tea, in large quantities.
Juliet Kemp’s story “Scraps” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 7 April 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
Ian Rennie is a librarian and writer in Cambridge, England. As well as writing, he is one of the Cambridge organizers of National Novel Writing Month. He was once retweeted by Neil Gaiman, not that he’s bragging or anything.
Ian Rennie’s story “Angels at the Border” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 14 April 2017. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.
The lake’s still surface was a golden quilt. The churches which amassed along the shore over the centuries now had their fossilized features balanced between day and night. A most sacred moment. The eyestalks, V-shaped like the chalice from which the Savior had drunk her poison, framed the setting sun, the tails like the scepters with which she’d been prodded to trial facing the rising moon. One intake of breath, the sun dipped down, pulling…
Q: What’s the piece you’ve made that no one else thinks is as good as you do?
A: My favourite piece is a dragon I painted a few years ago. Non-artists seem to like it, but none of my peers do. I think its maybe not as technically proficient as it could be, but I loved painting it and it reflects those darker parts of my nature that most people don’t get to see, so it’s quite personal in that way. And well, I love dragons, so I don’t really care what my peers think, lol.
Candra Hope‘s image “Scraps” is the cover art for our April 2017 stories.
Hamilton Perez’s story “Strix Antiqua” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 16 September 2016. I’ve always been fascinated by old myths and folktales, and I like to keep compendiums of magical creatures close at hand when I’m writing. In one such compendium I discovered the strix, a bird from Roman mythology often associated with witches, owls, and the consumption of human flesh. Seemed like good material to work with. The first thing that came to…