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Of Hair and Beanstalks – William Condon

25 December, being the Birth-day of Isaac Newton, Physicist:

Madam,

Your stepdaughter has arrived and been installed in the tower chamber, per your instructions. This has already led to the predicted difficulties, as my dinosaurian bulk cannot fit within the narrow tower. When she refused to descend for supper this evening, I was reduced to flying outside her window and poking my face in.

I found her combing her long hair, which raises my second concern: while I am ill-acquainted with human customs, your instructions to periodically observe her appear to overstep the bounds of propriety. However, as you are not only her stepmother but a human noblelady yourself, I shall bow to your procedural knowledge.

Most dutifully,

ANTRODEMOS, Dinosaur.

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Of Hair and Beanstalks – William Condon
25 December, being the Birth-day of Isaac Newton, Physicist: Madam, Your stepdaughter has arrived and been installed in the tower chamber, per your instructions. This has already led to the predicted difficulties, as my dinosaurian bulk cannot fit within the narrow tower. When she refused to descend for supper this evening, I was reduced to flying outside her window and poking my face in. I found her combing her long hair, which raises my second …
Read it "Of Hair and Beanstalks – William Condon"
Graveyard – Arlen Feldman
The crew had already started calling it the graveyard. If it was a graveyard, it would be hard to choose a bleaker site for it, on a planet pretty much made up of bleak sites. I walked as close as I dared to the edge of the cliff, and looked down over a thousand meters of sharp gray crags spreading out all around under a dark, thunderous sky. I felt the wind tugging at me, …
Read it "Graveyard – Arlen Feldman"
Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, and I Love You – L’Erin Ogle
The cave sits in a hillside, with its mouth yawed wide open. It is the kind of cave suited for raising the dead. Shadows move across dark spaces as the witch drags the shattered spines of small trees across the entrance. She stacks them high, leaving a small space to wedge herself through. Soon a fire is lit, its dull glow chasing away the lingering shadows. The fire flickers, and smoke curls in ribbons towards …
Read it "Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, and I Love You – L’Erin Ogle"
When the Last Friend is Gone – Tris Matthews
Butler found Pebbles dead in the morning. Each day, the moment Butler became active at 6 a.m. sharp, the little old dog’s stumpy legs would carry her over to seat herself royally in front of the enormous and rusty Cadillac-themed refrigerator to watch. Butler would ruffle the flops and folds of skin on the top of her head before serving up her breakfast and then turning to other chores. Today, Pebbles didn’t come. Butler washed …
Read it "When the Last Friend is Gone – Tris Matthews"

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Submission statistics – the first 6 months

Up to 31 March 2016 Genre (as listed by author): Fantasy – 41% SF – 36% Other/mixed – 23% These rates have stayed fairly steady. Word count Stories average about 3,500 words, regardless of genre. Our responses Rejected – 70% Rejected but encouraged to submit other work – 22% Rejected but encouraged to submit a rewrite – 5% Accepted – 2% Feedback we gave Prose score Red line – where we knew it wasn’t for …

A question for Tony Clavelli

Q: Do you ever feel bad for what you put your characters through?

A: I sometimes feel awful for what happens to my characters, but I don’t feel responsible. I like to think of their trajectories as inevitable. However, I’ll occasionally stay up late at night trying to think of ways to unhurt people who don’t exist. I think if I don’t feel bad, then I didn’t write the character well enough.


Tony Clavelli’s story “The Sound Barrier” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 8 April 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.

Macerated friff leaves

Macerated friff leaves

Friff leaves are best eaten fresh. That poses difficulties, since the friff maxillae only develop at high altitudes. Terminology can be confusing here – maxillae are actually modified pairs of branches that are loosely attached to the thick mainstem and crash together in high winds. The sound is said to resemble teeth chattering.

What you’ll most often find on the market is ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves. Don’t be taken in! These are simply leaves gathered from the canyon floor after the morning cyclone. They are not truly ‘fresh’. During the long fall from the clag spires, the leaves undergo atmospheric compression, and much of the subtlest juice is squeezed out. Next time you see these ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves for sale, check to see if they’re moist. If they are, a good half of the juice is likely gone. The long fall to the canyon floor also drains the leaves of most of the volatile compounds that give good leaves their distinctive smell. Ask the vendor to let you smell the leaves. If he does, they’re not fresh, and your vendor is a mountebank. No reputable vendor would risk their product that way.

Once you’ve secured fresh friff leaves (see management for a list of reliable vendors), suitably stored in individual pressure-containment vessels, lock your doors. Clear your evening calendar. Send your loved ones off to a spa. Friff eating is a uniquely solitary experience. More to the point, you’ll be out of commission for at least several hours, and you won’t want to be disturbed.

Occasional friff eaters can rent a consumption chamber (see management for recommendations). A serious friff eatery will provide a clean, private room, a sterile eating suit, and a new pair of silicon tongs. These are recommended to avoid injury. For those who can afford it, or who expect to eat friff on a regular basis, we strongly recommend the B&TR Infuser – the XB2 is the latest.

The key to friff eating is simple – get the leaf from its containment chamber and into your mouth as quickly and completely as possible. Truly fresh friff juices are absolutely toxic until neutralized by saliva. Only 7% of trained friff eaters die every year, though dental injuries are common – thus the silicon tongs. The Infuser, of course, simplifies the problem by sucking up the leaf through a macerating fan, and shooting it directly into your mouth through a wide tube. Once you’ve used the Infuser, you won’t go back to tongs – though it may take a full day to return to consciousness.

Those who’ve eaten fresh friff (and we have) say there’s nothing to compare with the taste of pure joy dancing along your taste buds and down your nerves to the gala in your spine. It’s simply the best flavor there is. Plus, it cures acne.

If you can’t afford fresh leaves, we’d say don’t bother. But we try to cater to the common humanoid as well as sophisticates, so our editor insists we add this: if you must eat ‘fresh-harvested’ leaves, try them with garlic and a little zoof powder. The garlic will cover the slightly rancid taste, and the zoof will disorient you enough that you may think you’re eating the real thing. Good luck, and please don’t tell us about it.

from the kitchen of B. Morris Allen

About L. Chan

L Chan vacillates between studying for a post-graduate degree in London, writing all manner of speculative fiction and making up funny comments about cats on the Internet. He has been accused of being a self-aware meme-propagating bot. In the rest of his free time, he wanders the streets of London looking for the perfect cup of coffee.

https://www.facebook.com/Straydog1980/


L. Chan’s story “Whalesong” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 15 April 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.

Spoiler: She Leaves Him – Jack Noble

There is no doubt about how this is going to go. “You’re not leaving me,” I tell her. It isn’t a plea. It’s a fact. It’s written in stone. I’ve seen it. She stands in the hallway, mostly hidden within a raincoat of garish red. It’s two sizes too big and the hood is bunched up at the back of her head. Her small face looks out at me, jaw set firm but something shifting …

A question for Kaitlin McCloughan

Q: Do you generally start with mood, title, character, concept, …?

A: My best stories start with a character.

At any given time I have several ideas floating around in my mind for settings, concepts, or even opening lines, but it isn’t until I attach a character to one of those ideas that the story begins to form. The rest of the story takes shape based on the character—what they desire, what they have to overcome, and so on.

I certainly never start with a title. Titles are the worst!


Kaitlin McCloughan’s story “The Flight Home” was published in Metaphorosis on Friday, 1 April 2016. Subscribe to our e-mail updates so you’ll know when new stories go live.