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Hishi’s claws ticked on the polished floor as she ran. The sound was barely audible, yet the teeming corridors emptied ahead of her. News had spread through the great city, out and down from the bloody throne room, that a new blend – an Excisor – had been dispatched to seek vengeance. Ten million people wondered who this Excisor was going to kill today. A very few knew, and prepared as best they could.
“Sure as The Scour hunts us all,” the old ones whispered as she passed, pointing superstitiously up through the ceiling towards the roiling leaden cloud that blanketed the world. “The bonehawks will feast today.”
The bonehawks feasted every day, Hishi’s glanded memory stacks told her: Portmanteau’s dead were rendered to remove every priceless, treacherous trace of metal, and the remains dropped through one of the mile-long vents in the bottom of the track as the gargantuan city rolled along its ancient course. Vast flocks of the vicious four-winged scavengers roosted on Portmanteau’s underbelly, swooping down on Funereal days to try and catch the cascade of meat before it reached the steppe far below, there to be fought over by far more deadly competitors.
Hishi cut off the information flood with a thought. She had an Instruction from the Eternal him/herself, and would carry it out in perfectly and literally, as demanded. For the briefest of moments, the little Excisor wondered how things might be were she not to do so, and felt the gland at the top of her neck pulse. The surge of shame and contrition was so great that her step faltered and she came to a halt in an arching bloodwood cathedral, saw a flutter of red robes as a group of Spirituals scuttled to get out of her sight-line, never pausing in their endless repetition of the Histories.
Hishi – David A. Gray
Hold This Star for Me – Mark David Adam
Cheminagium – David Gallay
Love in Its Heart – David Z. Morris
Tony Clavelli is a writer and stopmotion animator from Illinois. He graduated from the West Virginia University MFA program in fiction. He lives and works in Seoul.
Q: What book or books inspired you as a child?
A: Like many people, my childhood was practically made of books. Something that stands out as especially captivating is the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Images from those books are seared into my mind. Even today, certain sights regularly transport me back to that world: Turkish delight, lampposts in the snow, paintings of ships, and, of course, wardrobes.
Kaitlin McCloughan lives in Minnesota, where she writes about software by day and spaceships by night. In past lives she resided in Beijing, Taipei, and various U.S. states while working as a scenic carpenter, an English teacher, and a naturalist, among other occupations. She tweets very occasionally at @kaitlinbmcc.