When my daughter was one year old, I loved her for her smile. Anything could tempt her to joy—my own smile, the noises of cooking food, the proximity of the black kitten I gifted her upon her arrival.
What a fool I made of myself, contorting my face and making unlady-like sounds. All I needed was another giggle and the game would go on. She couldn’t yet ask questions I couldn’t answer and was delighted by the information I volunteered. “Kitty,” “No, it’s hot,” and “Boo!” all brought smiles. Even when she disobeyed me, I never struck her. My disappointment was enough to bring her to tears and she would pour herself dry on my bosom before looking up once again with a hopeful smile. Did I forgive her?
Of course I did.
When my daughter was five, I loved her for her eyes. They were the impossible purplish hue of forget-me-nots. We don’t have them in the salt marsh where I built our tower. Her eyes told me what she would say before she said it. But sometimes she still surprised me.
I bit my tongue when she asked me why our house had no windows on the bottom floor. She still hadn’t conceived of a “door.” I knew she would ask some day, but then, on that cool April morning, I wasn’t prepared.
“The sea rages in the winter, poppet. We don’t have room for her to live with us, do we?”
Rated R. Contains violence, including some suggestions of . It’s a fairy tale retelling, after all.
Originally published as a novella by Subterranean Press. Pick up your copy here!
It was the twenty-eighth of April, 188- and a day of warmth, beauty, and commerce in the crowded streets of London, but Lord Carmichael’s features had a distinctly wintery aspect. He stood by the front window of the King Street flat, scowling down at the cobbled streets. The snifter of brandy in his left hand was all but forgotten. Behind his back, Meriwether caught Balfour’s gaze and lifted his eyebrows. Balfour stroked his broad mustache and cleared his throat. The sound was very nearly an apology. For a long moment, it seemed Lord Carmichael had not so much as heard it, but then he heaved a great sigh and turned back to the men.
The flat itself was in a state of utter disarray. The remains of the breakfast sat beside the empty fire grate, and the body of a freshly slaughtered pig lay stretched out across the carpeted floor, its flesh marked out in squares by lines of lampblack and a variety of knives protruding from it, one in each square. Meriwether’s silver flute perched upon the mantle in a nest of musical notation, and a half-translated treatise on the effects of certain new world plant extracts upon human memory sat abandoned on the desk. Lord Carmichael’s eyes lifted to the two agents of the Queen as he stepped over the porcine corpse and took his seat.
“I’m afraid we have need of you, boys,” Lord Carmichael said. “Daniel Winters is missing.”
“Surely not an uncommon occurrence,” Meriwether said, affecting a lightness of tone. “My understanding was that our friend Winters has quite the reputation for losing himself in the fleshpots of the empire between missions. I would have expected him to have some difficulty finding himself, most mornings.”
“He wasn’t between missions,” Lord Carmichael said. “He was engaged in an enquiry.”
“Queen’s business?” Balfour said.
“Indirectly. It was a blue rose affair.”
Balfour sat forward, thick fists under his chin and a flinty look in his eyes. Among all the concerns and intrigues that Lord Carmichael had the managing of, the blue rose affairs were the least palatable not from any moral or ethical failure — Balfour and Meriwether understood the near-Jesuitical deformations of ethics and honor that the defense of the Empire could require — but rather because they were so often lacking in the rigor they both cultivated. When a housewife in Bath woke screaming that a fairy had warned her of a threat against the Queen, it was a blue rose affair. When a young artist lost his mind and slaughtered prostitutes, painting in their blood to open a demonic gate, it was a blue rose affair. When a professor of economics was tortured to the edge of madness by dreams of an ancient and sleeping god turning foul and malefic eyes upon the human world, it was a blue rose affair. And so almost without fail, they were wastes of time and effort, ending in conformations of hysteria that posed no threat and offered no benefit to anyone sane. Meriwether took his seat, propping his heels on the dead pig. As if in response, a bit of trapped gas escaped the hog like a sigh.
Rated R: Contains violence and monsters in the Victorian fashion.
“How’d you like a match next decadi?” said Mr. Karinen. I’d been sparring with his lads since Plum-day, my knuckles scuffing open and seeping into my wraps. My Da poured vinegar over them until they finally healed over into dark pink scars.
“Yes, sir!” I said. “Which I’ll do you and Da proud.”
“No doubt of it, Valma, no doubt of it. There’s one thing, though, you see. The Provosts, they won’t allow lasses in the ring. There’s lasses among the Provosts, not that you can tell them for such without a hair on their heads. Why they can do magic but not fight, I don’t know, but it’s the Provosts’ law to make and ours to live under. But I know just the fellow who will help.”
Hanno Jalmarinen, charm-master, lived behind a copper-worked door at the end of a long alley. He measured me up and down with his little pale eyes and then made me stand still for a half-hour while he did mysteries about me, and then he went to his workbench and muttered over a bit of metal for a moment. Two hundred soldats, it cost Mr. Karinen, and I thought it a vast sum indeed, but when I put on the charm Mr. Karinen said it was excellent work.
The charm was a fine copper ring to go about my littlest finger, flat enough that it would not be felt beneath my wraps, let alone my gloves. “Mind you never take it off,” Mr. Karinen said. “And keep it secret. The Provosts have laws on everything.”
Rated R. Contains violence, sports, alcohol, and burlesque.
Wilson Fowlie as the Narrator Dave Thompson as Chris “Exalted” Clark Graeme Dunlop as Elder Devout M.K. Hobson as Arlo Glick Anna Schwind as Graciela Chan LaShawn Wanak as Shontay Jackson Amanda Fitzwater as True AmericanTina Connolly as Lanie Armstorng and Ann Leckie as Justin Side
How many styles of taco are there? Not just fish/pork/beef/chicken, but also puffed, breakfast, even Chocotacos (if you can stand the very thought). There are disagreements over whether they should be made with corn or flour tortillas, whether they should be hard or soft, and whether they should be steamed, grilled, or fried. You’ve seen the recipes that were handed down through the generations and recipes that were created on the fly by some of the greatest chefs in the world.
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We have acquired a small plot of land in New Mexico and have planted a special crop of heritage maize: No GMO, no pesticides, no industrial fertilizer. The land is being farmed the way it was 200 years ago, when campesinos worked the land with donkeys and hand plows.
What’s more, the seeds have been planted in a special design found only in El Libro de los Muertos. When the crop matures this fall, I will conduct a secret, sacred ritual to summon the Most Holy of Holies: The Folded One.