Two Stories Just Published!
New Myths issue 39 carries my story, The Wall at the End of the World, about a Roman officer who is called to the wall that marks the end of the Roman world and there learns just why Emperor Hadrian decided that the empire should advance no further north. Here’s a quick taste of the story:
“The painted people!” The legate shook his head and spat into the fire before reaching for the cup and taking a swallow of the wine I’d brought with me.
“I’ve spent too many years fighting them to spend my off-duty time talking about them.” He looked at the cup appreciatively. “Good Roman wine this. The stuff they make here is vinegar.”
“That’s what I heard. It’s why I took the precaution of bringing a supply.”
The legate snorted with laughter, spraying wine over the woollen tunic he had wrapped around himself. “Maxentius told me you have a whole wagon stuffed full with amphorae.”
“The previous tribune brought an amphora of British wine back to Rome. I tried some when I met him to talk about the posting.
The legate stared into the cup. “What did he tell you of me?”
“He said to bring you some decent wine.”
And you can read the rest of the story here.
See the Elephant, issue 3, Slipping Through the Cracks, carries my story, Spellman Mathers’ Travelling Show & Zoo of Ordinary Creatures, which treats of boggarts, fairies and the thin places between worlds through which the unwary and the unfortunate might slip. It’s available through Amazon in Kindle and paper formats and you can find it here. This is the beginning of the story, where we meet one of my favourite ever characters, Spellman Mathers, the master of the strangest travelling show you will ever see:
Spellman Mathers’ Travelling Show & Zoo of Ordinary Creatures was shut up for the night. Tasks completed, Spellman kicked back a chair, lit a smoke and, hands behind his head, stared up at the sky. He breathed out, wreathing the stars with smoke, then, holding the cigarette between thumb and forefinger while inspecting its glowing core, he said, “I was like you once, kid.”
In his hiding place, in the deep dark beneath the bales of animal feed, Sadhu, his skin as brown as a nut and his eyes black as the sky, all but cried out. He couldn’t have seen him, couldn’t have. In the hiding place, dark and deep, he was invisible so long as he did not move and made no sound.
“I had no home, no folks, and I snuck into the circus one night and when the circus left town, I went right along with it.” Apparently satisfied with the cigarette, Spellman drew on it again, then breathed the smoke out, and it billowed and writhed until it became a little smoke boy, hiding behind a cage while peeping out fearfully at a frightening world.
“But that was back then, when I were little, and the world’s moved on. The circus ain’t the right place for a youngster to be growing up no more.”