Flash Fiction: “1348” by Russell Hemmell
(Originally published in Strangelet 1.4 and also End of the Year Anthology 2015.)
He arrived on Sunday, after a winter of sleep and snow. A jester with clear blue eyes, pale lithe hands and white flowers in them. He smiled and said, I come in peace. I ply my trade with buffooneries and riddles, and the joking tambourine accompanies my laughter. Enjoy my gifts, you beautiful city, and the good time I bring. He bowed in reverence, with the beauty of an angel. And it was Sunday.
On Monday Florence woke up at the song of hundred birds, colourful plumes of fast-winged spirits. Sun was bathing the city roofs, and its rays made the Cathedral’s spires shine and glow. Here it comes an unforgettable season, people rejoiced. For the jester had promised.
Russell Hemmell is a statistician and social scientist from the U.K, passionate about astrophysics and speculative fiction. His stories have appeared in Not One of Us, Perihelion SF, SQ Mag, and others. Learn more at earthianhivemind.net or on Twitter via @SPBianchini.
Main Story: “Master of Business Apocalypse” by Jakob Drud
(Originally published in Unidentified Funny Objects 3.)
For the last one hundred thirty-one years my job at Mundo Perpetuo has been to stop all the probable and improbable apocalypses that people accidentally invoke. I’ve worked my way up from junior meteor diverter to viral containment specialist, and now, as the most senior staff member, I get to run the Department of Mixed Ends of the World. If the dinosaurs return, or civilization as we know it is threatened by falling anvils, Old Joe steps up to bat.
And still, some days the world takes me by surprise, like the day when Paula Johnson greeted me in the lobby with these words: “Mr. Inflectus. I am to inform you that our new CEO, Mr. Halen, has called a meeting of all department heads at 9:00 A.M., and that you are now five minutes late.”
Around the office I just go by the name of Joe, so her salutation stopped me dead in my tracks. “And, eh, a very formal morning to you too, Ms. Johnson. New CEO, you said?”
Paula just cracked her knuckles, a gesture I knew as danger incarnate. Her magic was capable of manipulating physical objects in disturbing ways, which made her the best security chief in the northern hemisphere. She was also an archivist of unrivaled skills, and both abilities had saved my life time and again. If she felt threatened, I did, too.
Jakob Drud lives in Denmark with his wife and children. It’s a good life, but his stories are probably more exciting than he is. They’ve met aliens, lived in the Sun, fought monsters and flown between the stars. They also travel more than he does, and so far they’ve appeared in magazines in the US, Canada, and Australia.
About the Narrators:
Alex Weinle lives in a cottage just outside Cambridge where he writes science fiction and narrates stories. His new fridge is bigger than the cottage itself, somewhat like the TARDIS but containing far more calories.
Jonathan Sharp lives and works in a sleepy southern New Mexico town alongside his exceedingly talented wife, Paige. When he is free from the mountains of organic vegetables under which he works, he plays in front of the microphone in the hope it may one day talk back to him. You can reach him online at sharpandvoice.com.