“Old Bones”

from Interzone #251

A sudden knocking at the door of his garret shocked Simon out of his chair by the portal window. The chair – older even than Simon – tipped backwards and banged against the warped gray floorboards, cracking two of its brittle slats. That sound, so loud in the empty room, and so soon following the first shock, caused Simon to flinch. The knocking had come without warning – no creak of stair from the landing, no veiled whispers or stifled coughs. Simon had been watching the desolate street beneath his little window all day. From time to time he’d seen mummers moving through the perpetual smog, wrapped tight in drab cloaks, but nothing friendly – never anything friendly. But now here was light – probably from a lantern – showing in the gaps around the frame of his door. What kind of fool ventured out with such light?

“Predvestniki”

From Interzone #250

Ben pressed his forehead and palms against the cold glass of the picture window. Twenty-three floors below, ice floes clogged the Moskva, bumping for position in the sluggish current. On the opposite bank, walkers bundled against the weather followed a towpath along the curve of river. The path skirted the park and disappeared under the covered span of the Pushkinsky pedestrian bridge.

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“Once More to Kitty Hawk”

From Intergalactic Medicine Show #36

“The first symptoms most often appear in the hands,” the doctor explained to the young couple and their aged father. “The grip weakens; manipulation of even the most basic instruments becomes increasingly challenging. Within a very short time, you will feel that you’ve grown feeble and uncoordinated. None of these symptoms represent an actual loss of strength, you understand, but rather a declining capacity to interact with the physical world.”

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“Freshwater Sharks”

From Gray’s Sporting Journal; Vol. 38, Issue 6

“Before a man goes fishing, he needs to know some things about the fish he plans to catch, and some things about himself.  If he doesn’t know about the fish, he doesn’t deserve to catch it–and probably won’t. If he doesn’t know why he wants the fish, he doesn’t even deserve to be fishing.”

“Dark Gardens”

From Interzone #248

Sam bought the foreclosure on Enfield at auction, sight unseen. He assumed its history would be questionable, but as the plan was to gut, remodel and resell, history was irrelevant. Not until the day he took possession did Sam learn the previous owner had been a semi-professional magician, stage name of Kurricke. The magician had vanished after living in the two-bedroom ranch for seventeen years, leaving spoiled milk in the refrigerator, dishes in the sink, and all the tools of his trade in unlocked trunks.

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“The Study of Monstrosities”

From Beneath Ceaseless Skies #127

“On the morning of his interview with Dr. Alabaster, Ethan rose at dawn to claim exclusive use of the shared lavatory at the end of the hall. He wiped down the interior of the tub before adding three inches of hot water from the spigot. He bathed with a washrag, then lathered his face sparingly with soap. Other men used thick cream to shave, a practice he found not only lavish and uneconomical but a sore compromise for maintaining a keen razor. When finished, he carefully rinsed and dried his ebony-handled razor before folding it away. Again, he wiped down the inside of the tub, the spigot, sink, mirror, and every tile upon which he had stepped.”

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“Vacant Spaces”

From Clarkesworld #77

“Eighty kilometers above Earth’s moon, Caine and Shepard abandoned the cockpit for the tug’s passenger cabin. All but two facing rows of seats had been removed to make room for the biology of the engines. Like the roots of a tree, piping and conduits ran from floor to ceiling and all along the bulkheads. From inside, it seemed the engines had not so much been bolted to the tug, as grown into it. When stoked, they would sweat something like a mucus-blood mixture, which stank like burning fat, and sizzled on the floor.”

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