Rated R. It May be Beautiful, but it ain’t Always Pretty.
Flash Fiction Special – Tales of Strange Inspiration
Originally published in Weird Tales, 2010.
The statues were disappearing from the museums.
Not as a result of theft, petty or otherwise, nor from careless misplacement. This was quite clear, as soon as the disappearances began, because the statues were not disappearing in their entirely. Rather, only certain pieces were lost.
The open hand of an elegant marble woman, outstretched as if in welcome, gone. The laurel wreath and lyre of an ancient poet, vanished.
Art experts and detectives were called in, inquiries made, vandalism quickly ruled out. The statues were otherwise undamaged. There were simply pieces, small fragments of beauty, missing.
“A Duet in Reyes,” by Caleb Wilson, read by John Michnya.
Originally published in A Journal of Sein and Werden.
One Saturday evening around the turn of the century the composer Arnauld Reyes was walking home along Vi Tuba when a tentacle of wind licked his hat straight off his head and over the rail into the Magoro River. He watched the hat sink as the current whisked it south, and then decided that since his route home was through the market square he would purchase a new hat on the way. At the market, he browsed several hatter’s kiosks until he found a hat which was identical to the lost one, but for a dark red velvet band–which, he hoped, would set him apart from the crowd. He bought it, placed it directly on his head, and continued home. He did not notice that, as he walked, several dozen powdery pink moths emerged from beneath the band and crawled into his ears.
While Reyes slept that night, the moths chewed his brain, severing certain synaptic connections. When he awoke, his brain had been split into two separate minds. At first the composers noticed nothing amiss. They breakfasted–during which their housekeeper was either very attentive or strangely shy–and walked to Zarbigny Park, where they intended to work on a suite of rustic dances.
“Ten Cigars,” by C.S.E. Cooney, read by Anna Schwind, Graeme Dunlop, Amal El-Mohtar, Norm Sherman, Tina Connolly, Ann Leckie, M.K. Hobson, Dave Thompson, Wilson Fowlie, and Peter Wood.
“Not much is known of Danaus Incendiarius, family Nymphaidae, order Lepidoptera,” writes popular entomologist Aurora Bismarck. “Mentions crop up through history, usually signifying the birth of a great statesman or the ratification of a peace treaty. They are dark gray, with a wingspan of six to eight inches, and black markings that look like roses in bloom. Once, on vacation in Edinburgh, I was privileged to see a swarm. Director Amy Riedel had just won Audience Choice Award at the film festival. Her friends were laughing, passing around champagne and cigars. Suddenly the room was full of rare Incendiarius butterflies . . . .
About the Authors
Caleb Wilson’s fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthology series, and most recently D. F. Lewis’s anthology Horror Without Victims. He and his wife live in Illinois and work at a public library.
C.S.E. Cooney is the author of World Fantasy Award-winning Bone Swans: Stories. Her short novel “The Twice-Drowned Saint” is included in Mythic Delirium’s anthology The Sinister Quartet. Her forthcoming novel Saint Death’s Daughter will be out with Rebellion in Spring of 2022. Other work includes Tor.com novella Desdemona and the Deep and a poetry collection: How to Flirt in Faerieland and Other Wild Rhymes, which features her Rhysling Award-winning “The Sea King’s Second Bride.” Her short fiction and poetry can be found in Jonathan Strahan’s anthology Dragons, Ellen Datlow’s Mad Hatters and March Hares: All-New Stories from the World of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, Rich Horton’s Year’s Best Science Fiction and Fantasy, and elsewhere.
Kat Howard lives in New Hampshire. Her short fiction has been nominated for the World Fantasy Award, anthologized in year’s best and best of collections, and performed on NPR. Her debut novel, Roses and Rot, will be out from Saga Press in May. You can find her on twitter at @KatWithSword.
About the Narrators
John Michnya is an actor, illustrator, and screen printer living in Pittsburgh PA.
Anna Schwind is a writer, editor, former librarian and Montessori educator living in Saint Louis, Missouri.
While Anna preferred to stay mostly behind the scenes, her writing and narration has appeared a few times over the years.
Ann Leckie is the author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award winning novel Ancillary Justice. She has worked as a waitress, a receptionist, a rodman on a land-surveying crew, and a recording engineer. She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.