The Wages of Salt
by Deborah Kalin
Squatting to examine a buried shadow, I nodded. There was no academic or scientific value in salt — it would not advance my thesis, nor bring any glimmer of knowledge about the theriomorphs — but it would sell. White gold, the economic cornerstone of New Persia.
I brushed at the crust. Dirty grains clung to the sweat of my palms. The shadow underneath, too clean-edged to be a phantasm, didn’t change. “Here,” I said. “Help me.”
“It’ll just be another ammonite.” But he knelt and set to scraping beside me.
My fingers touched cloth.
I jerked back, staring at the dark linen we’d uncovered. Suspicion lifted the hairs on my nape and I dug faster, harder, in danger of damaging the specimen with haste.
An arm emerged from the salt. Beside me, Hareem had uncovered a knee. Working feverishly now, we followed the contours, salt flying from our fingers, until the entire body lay bare to the sky.
Hareem let out a low whistle. “Now this,” he said, “will fetch a fiefdom.”
About the Author
Deborah Kalin is an award-winning writer of literary speculative fiction, author of the collection Cherry Crow Children and The Binding novels. Her work has won two Aurealis Awards, and has also been shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Awards, the Ditmar Awards and the Australian Shadows Awards. She lives in Melbourne, subject to the whims of a three year old who thinks she’s a cat and a cat who thinks she’s a person.
About the Narrator
Rashida J. Smith is a writer, and the editor of the webzine Giganotosaurus. She has been a carriage driver, a zookeeper’s assistant, riding instructor, and a yoga teacher. Currently, she wrangles a small person, noodles around on the cello and makes photos. Lots of folks call her Eddie. It’s a LONG story.