Our latest story
When winter comes to Vakning Forest, nothing changes. The evergreens, packed tightly together, don’t wilt or become bare. Nor does the smell fade. As the winter deepens, the snow covers the canopy like a blanket, and the scent of pine needles and pine cones follows the only path worn out of the darkness.
Outside the forest, where the path begins, is the cottage of Abi and Odo Tremord. It has a red roof, brown walls, and a whitewashed, waist-high fence. In the yard stands a pine tree, a sapling, half as tall as the forest.
While the kitchen looks out over the pine tree, Odo’s wood chopping block looks towards the forest. So it is that Odo is the first to notice any man exiting the forest.
It was always an adult, stumbling along the path on legs with newly formed muscles. The Tremords would take the man in, feed him, clothe him, and set him to bed. Then they’d teach him: wood chopping, speaking, etiquette. And when the season changed next, they’d see the colour on the horizon as the Bastler came trundling along, his wagon painted that garish orange. They would dress up the man in the finest clothes Abi had made, and all three would wait at the path’s end for the Bastler to arrive.
When he did, the Bastler would get off the wagon. He would wave his black cloak around for show, with its purple inner trim and the wolf fur on the cuffs, and he would flash a smile which showed off his pointy canines, stark against the perfection of his other teeth. He would inspect the man.
“The forest made you mighty,” the Bastler would say after checking the man’s teeth with his eyes and a finger. Then he would push the man into the back of his wagon and get back in front of the horses, and prepare to leave. “Does he know when to run and when to walk? I can’t set him to work if he can’t show common sense.”
The Forest of New People – Thom Connors
Time’s Arrow – C. Heidmann
The Stars Don’t Lie – R.W.W. Greene
The Tapestry – A.C. Worth
Q: What’s easier for you – imagining a happier world, or a darker one?
A: I mean, it’s not hard at all to imagine a better world than this—a world free of racism/sexism/homo- and transphobia/genocide/war/gun violence/etc. A lot of fiction draws our attention to issues by exaggerating the bad, making it worse (I mean how popular are YA Dystopias right now? How popular is 1984?). There’s a kind of escapism in that though, a tendency to say “Oh well at least real life isn’t that bad.” But I think some of the best speculative fiction, like Octavia E. Butler’s “Dawn,” shows us how horrifying our own human tendencies can be by putting them in contrast to a happier world, by showing how humans do not fit in a utopia.
- Dragons I Have Slain – B. Morris Allen
- Shiplight – Benjamin C. Kinney
- Strix Antiqua – Hamilton Perez
- Showtime – Jamie Brindle
- Flann Brónach and the King’s Champion – Allison Wall
Cover art by Vincent Coviello.
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Vincent enjoys the creative process and strives to create fantastical illustrations. Specializing in creature/character design, fantasy/sci fi illustration and visual development he is passionate and motivated to create creatures and characters that are interesting, unique and functional to the laws that govern them. His work has been featured in ImagineFX, 3Dtotal Publishing, Alluria Publishing, Galaxy Press, Fox Chapel Publishing, Pathfinder Studio Inc, BosLeo Inc. and many others.
Vincent Coviello‘s image “Earth, Air, and Fire” is the cover art for our September 2016 stories.