Rated PG. Contains mysteries, religious and philosophical.
Cup and Table
by Tim Pratt
The Old Doctor welcomed Sigmund, twenty years old and tormented by visions, into the library at the Table’s headquarters. Shelves rose everywhere like battlements, the floors were old slate, and the lights were ancient crystal-dripping chandeliers, but the Old Doctor sat in a folding chair at a card table heaped with books.
“I expected, well, something more,” Sigmund said, thumping the rickety table with his hairy knuckles. “A big slab of mahogany or something, a table with authority.”
“We had a fine table once,” the Old Doctor said, eternally middle-aged and absently professorial. “But it was chopped up for firewood during a siege in the 1600s.” He tapped the side of his nose. “There’s a lesson in that. No asset, human or material, is important compared to the continued existence of the organization itself.”
“But surely you’re irreplaceable,” Sigmund said, awkward attempt at job security through flattery. The room shivered and blurred at the edges of his vision, but it had not changed much in recent decades, a few books moving here and there, piles of dust shifting across the floor.
The Old Doctor shook his head. “I am the living history of the Table, but if I died, a new doctor would be sent from the archives to take over operations, and though his approach might differ from mine, his role would be the same — to protect the cup.”
“The cup,” Sigmund said, sensing the cusp of mysteries. “You mean the Holy Grail.”
About the Author
Tim Pratt is the author of over twenty novels, including Heirs of Grace and forthcoming space opera The Wrong Stars. His short fiction has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year’s Best Fantasy, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, and other nice places. He’s a Hugo Award winner, and has been a finalist for World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Stoker, Mythopoeic, and Nebula Awards, among others. He lives in Berkeley CA and works as a senior editor at Locus, a trade magazine devoted to science fiction and fantasy publishing. For more than two years he’s been publishing a new story every month for supporters at patreon.com/timpratt. That’s where “Six Jobs” first appeared.
About the Narrator
Serah Eley is a software developer and former podcaster who once produced a weekly science fiction podcast called Escape Pod. It’s since gone on to become somewhat successful. She strangely mispronounced her name as Steve Eley at the time; she’s since realized that life is much more fun as a woman, and came out as transgender. Serah lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her two wives, Alison and Cat.
So if there were ever any betting pools on what happened to Steve: changed sex, joined a committed lesbian love triangle is the dark horse winner. She is, obviously, still Having Fun.
In 2015, Eley appeared on StarShipSofa to discuss “her remarkable transgender journey from Steve Eley creator of Escape Pod to Serah. We delve into some of the very real issues that Serah has come across, why she gave up Escape Pod and why now she has stepped away altogether from the SF field.”