First Story: “They Would Only Be Roads” by Darin Bradley
Prester fingered the chain–he’d pulled it from the tank behind one of the commodes downtown, in Idio, the old feed-mill turned nightclub near the depot. The chain had absorbed such faith in the dank water, pulling endlessly as expected–as the clubbers believed it would. Prester imagined each flushing synapse exhausting its neural blast all the way through the chain and into the water, where it rippled gently into the lime-scarred porcelain. Idio’s clubbers had no doubt empowered the chain to degrees that, no matter how he found his gnosis, Prester would never fully measure. The tarnished scars on the delicate chain’s aged links reminded him of flowers, complete with rusted stems and lines of calcium like pale roots.
He took a deep breath as he eased out of his reverie, now acutely aware of his apartment’s water-stained breath. With a cough, he eased the chain back into his pocket–it had invaded his thoughts with decay enough for now.
“I’m going to need more charms,” he said aloud, the phosphor glow of his computer monitor rendering his fingers blue.
Darin Bradley is the author of three novels: Noise (2010), Chimpanzee (2014), and Totem (2015). With a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Literature and Theory, he works as an acquisitions and production editor at Resurrection House, having previously spent a number of years teaching writing and literature at several universities. He also worked as the full-time video-game writer at id Software for two years and served in various editorial and design capacities for a number of independent presses and journals. He lives in Texas with his wife, where he dreams of empty places.
You can find him online at darinbradley.com.
Second Story: “The Secret of Calling Rabbits” by Wendy N. Wagner
The breeze shifted as Rugel ran, and he caught a scent upon it, sweet and strong, a scent that reached into the depths of his memories and twanged them. He lost his footing at the power of it, and he threw himself into a bush beside the path, gasping. He preferred running to hiding, but he couldn’t run with that scent thickening the air.
His pursuer shouted again. “Wait! Show me how you did that!” Her voice distracted him from the smell of the past; it focused his mind on the pressing problem of survival. He should have never come back to this place.
She came closer, and Rugel peeked out at the little girl in the path. At his eye level, her knees, bared by her too-short shift, were scabbed and grass stained as she spun a slow searching circle. The little man — no, dwarf, although “dwarf” was a generous measure of someone his size — crouched further down inside the currant bush. He had a gift for going unseen. Perhaps the girl would lose sight of him.
“Please!” She stopped in front of the bush, picking out his gnarled face from the tangle of undergrowth. “I saw you call the rabbit.”
Rugel cursed to himself. He should never have summoned the hare, or at least if he called it, he ought to have killed it. Now he’d go hungry, and this Big creature had seen him.
Wendy N. Wagner is the author of Skinwalkers, a Pathfinder Tales novel inspired by Viking lore. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies, including Shattered Shields, Armored, and The Way of the Wizard, and the magazines Beneath Ceaseless Skies and The Lovecraft eZine. She is the guest editor of Nightmare Magazine‘s Queers Destroy Horror! special issue, due out October 2015, and the nonfiction editor of Lightspeed’s Women Destroy Science Fiction!, which was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014. She lives in Oregon with her very understanding family. Her next release is a story in Cthulhu Fthagn!, a Lovecraftian anthology due out in mid-August, edited by Ross Lockhart.
Visit her at winniewoohoo.com.
About the Narrators:
Alex Weinle (@alexweinle) writes short fiction for magazines and podcasts and author of of the anthology of shock-comedic-tragic stories, The Decapaphiliac, and science fiction novel Border. A long-time Sofanaut, he has finally got up the courage to narrate. He lives in Fulbourn, England, in a cottage that consumes bulbs of unusual wattage.
Rish Outfield is a writer, actor, and podcaster that can be heard as host of The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, which presents genre stories with a full cast. He also performs audiobooks for Audible, and occasionally becomes a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the moon is full and bright.