This month’s cover art is “Abyssal” by Jason Deem, a designer, art director, and illustrator who mostly creates fantasy and horror art, and is the resident cover artist for Grimdark Magazine. You can find him online at spiralhorizonart.com, or in real life in Dallas, TX.
First Story: “Raikou and the Shi-Ten Doji” by Ed Ahern
(Originally published in Eternal Haunted Summer, Autumn Equinox 2013)
A long time ago the capital of Japan was Kyoto, the city of blossoms. The Mikado and his court lived in Kyoto, a place of beautiful shrines and temples. But the capital was troubled with many thieves and murderers who snuck through the city gates at night.
Even worse were the evil imps, called onis, with horns, and long fangs, and tiger skin loin cloths. These onis would prowl the Kyoto streets by night, grab people by their hair, drag them through the Rajo-mon gate into the mountains, rip the meat from their bones, and eat it. The young women they did not eat they kept as slaves.
The bravest captain of the Mikado’s city guard was Yorimitsu of the Minamoto family, called most often Raikou. And the bravest of Raikou’s guardsmen was Watanabé Tsuna. It was Tsuna that Raikou ordered to guard the Rajo-mon gate at night.
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty-odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but advises that after forty-eight years they are both out of warranty. Ed has had more than ninety stories and poems published so far, and two books. You can find him on Twitter as @bottomstripper and online at swampgasworks.com.
Second Story: “The Miscible Imp” by Tony Pi
(Originally published in When the Villain Comes Home.)
Treg’s new bottle was tall, narrow, and square, and he hated it. It was cramped inside, and the thick flint glass distorted his view of the outside world. But Myrina had been adamant: he must ride inside this bottle or not come at all. “I hain’t carrying a prissy vial that’ll break from a sneeze, and if it’s round it’ll roll underfoot when I set you down,” she said. “You don’t want to spill, do you?”
The magic that gave Treg life came with a curse that trapped his essence inside bottles and jars. Within the confines of a glass prison, he could possess and animate any liquid it held, but he could never hold thought or shape beyond the vessel’s mouth. Therefore he needed Myrina to retrieve Old Man Reeve’s notebook from its hiding place; without notes, he’d never learn how his former master made him. If he had the formula, he might discover how to halt the strange decline of his genius. To live simpleminded was a doom worse than death to Treg, and Myrina was living proof.
Tony Pi is a Canadian science fiction and fantasy writer whose short fiction has been thrice-nominated for the Aurora Awards, and was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2009. Visit his website at tonypi.com.
About the Narrators:
Seth Williams is the avatar for a three-kilometer sentient starship that is parked (probably uncomfortably) close to the third planet. Surprisingly he has not yet been discovered. He is very happy that the inhabitants have discovered enough technology to that he can communicate in this limited fashion. Any communications can be directed to theboojum.org.
Brian Rollins was born in California and grew up in and around the Western US. He currently resides in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, where he works as a voice artist primarily focused on audiobooks. He is best known as the voice of the “Glen and Tyler” series of audiobooks written by J.B. Sanders. You can find him onstage in the Denver area with Magic Moments, a non-profit theater group that brings theater professionals together with people with special needs to create an original show every year. You can hire Brian to narrate your next audiobook at TheVoicesInMyHead.com.