Flash Fiction: “Percy’s Crossing” by Elizabeth Archer
Sir Percival Pettigrew saw things other men did not see until it was too late.
“I should have named you Cassandra,” said Lady Pettigrew. “Pity you were male.” Only his mother understood him. Sadly, she died in a hunting accident, mistaken by Lord Pettigrew for a pheasant.
“Shame about that damned hat of hers,” Lord Pettigrew lamented to Sir Percival and his siblings. He drank himself to oblivion, and left everything to Percival’s brother Thomas.
Being a second son was dreadful.
Sir Percival decided to affect a large turban, with an enormous pheasant feather, in honor of his Mum. He wore a jeweled silk caftan, and performed at fashionable parties as The All-Seeing Panocculi.
“You know your name is redundant, don’t you?” said Lady Beatrice Bumbleshoot. “I suppose you must.”
She was a short, dark woman with the hint of moustache and very keen grey eyes.
“Perhaps I do,” said Sir Percival.
“Tell me,” said Beatrice. “In my dirigible Titanic, I plan to be the first woman to fly across the Atlantic. Will I be successful?”
Sir Percival shut his eyes, and put the back of his right hand dramatically upon his forehead.
“No. I see that you are going to hit an iceberg on your maiden voyage.”
Elizabeth Archer writes flash fiction, short stories, and poetry. Her work has appeared in Every Day Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, Every Day Poets, and many other places. She lives in the Texas Hill Country. Her blog, Let Me Tell You a Story, can be found on Wordpress.
“Percy’s Crossing” first appeared at Every Day Fiction on September 21, 2015.
Main Story: “Olimpia’s Ghost” by Sofia Samatar
My Dear S.,
Emil says you will not come to Freiberg this year; but Mother says you will. Who is right? We all know you hate Vienna with a passion; that is, Mother and Emil know it, and I know it through them, for Mother reads your letters aloud, and sometimes Emil, too, shares a few lines. Pray do not be angry! It is such a little thing, to hear of your successes, and it makes me very happy. And then, your sallies on your masters are so droll, and your remarks on Vienna — St. Stephen’s steeple like a “greatrolled-up umbrella” — Mother can hardly read for laughing.
I am sure you will not begrudge me this diversion, my dear S. On the days when there is no letter from you, life continues just as usual. The weather has been fine. There is fruit on the peach trees. In the long twilight, while Emil reads, I go up and down, up and down the stairs.
A few days ago I did have a new amusement: a marionette theater sprang up overnight in the square, like a white mushroom. I watched the marionettes for several hours, even though a light rain was falling, and the children screamed mercilessly. I suppose you would not have liked the noise, or the look of the dirty little boy who came around afterward, hat extended to gather our coins. As I left I saw him sharing a cigar behind the theater with the puppet-master, a rough, disreputable-looking fellow, undoubtedly his father. Oh, but the marionettes were so beautiful! The little Pierrot had a spangled coat, and two great tears shone under his eyes. He wore his heart on the outside, like any fool. As for Columbine, she carried a hand mirror that reflected her lavender hair.
I looked for them today, but they are gone..
Sofia Samatar is the author of the novel A Stranger in Olondria and winner of the John W. Campbell Award, the Crawford Award, the British Fantasy Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Her second book, The Winged Histories, is forthcoming in 2016 from Small Beer Press. She co-edits the journal Interfictions and lives in California.
“Olimpia’s Ghost” appeared in the inaugural volume of Year’s Best Weird Fiction.
About the Narrators:
Rish Outfield is a writer, actor, and podcaster that can be heard as co-host of the Parsec Award-winning 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.
Nikolle Doolin is a writer and a voice actor. Her fiction, poetry, and plays have been published and presented; and her voice has appeared in various media. Nikolle has performed numerous narrations for a number of popular and award-winning podcasts, such as The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Far-Fetched Fables. She also narrates classic literature by the likes of Austen, Poe, James, and more in her own podcast, Audio Literature Odyssey.
To learn more about Nikolle, visit her website at nikolledoolin.com.