Flash Fiction: “Innumerate” by Laurence Raphael Brothers
The sorcerer stands in the center of a magic circle, a conservative gray business suit showing under his white ritual mantle, the traditional rod of blasting in his hand. I’m off to the side, in the triangle of summoning.“Come not in that form! I adjure thee. In the holy name of–“
Okay, so maybe the roiling nest of cobras was a bit over the top. But I hate this slow, grainy material world. These sorcerers think we’ve got nothing better to do than wait on them.
“Hold on,” I say. “How’s this?” Now I’m a rotating polyhedron, Kepler’s stella octangula. I didn’t mind it when Johannes summoned me. At least he knew his geometry and orbital mechanics.
“Not in that form, either,” says the sorcerer.
I’d roll my eyes if I had them. Maybe if they’d tell me up front what form they wanted, I wouldn’t have to go through this every time. I try again.
Laurence Raphael Brothers has worked in R&D at such firms as Bell Communications Research and Google. His stories have appeared in the Sockdolager and Daily Science Fiction. Follow him on Twitter @lbrothers. The S.E.5a on his Twitter profile page is in honor of his first novel, a WWI-era fantasy currently seeking representation.
“Innumerate” first appeared at Daily Science Fiction on July 18, 2015.
Main Story: “The Damsel in the Garden” by Pauline J. Alama
The dragon was bad enough, but when I’d cut off the last of its heads, I still had the bridge before me. And that was worse than a herd of dragons.
Over a burning river, the only footholds were hovering sword blades spaced so far apart, and so unevenly, that a mountain goat could have lost its footing. To make it a bit more interesting, the fire below the bridge had an annoying habit of spurting up at intervals perfectly timed to set one’s nerves off-key. Crossing it would be like a caper with death. Luckily, I’d learned capering from the jongleurs who sometimes stopped at my father’s hall along the way to more illustrious castles. I fancied I might have a better chance on the Bridge of Blades and Flame than a knight whose chivalric training had been more regular.
I considered leaving my armor and sword on the bank; they’d weigh me down as I leapt, and if I were really unlucky, they might get hot as branding irons. But I dared not trust that the Bridge of Blades and Flame was the last layer of deviltry wound around the Garden of Delights. Whatever bloodthirsty strategist had placed the dragon on the bank of the icy torrent, and the gulf of flame just beyond the dragon, might set a hungry lion or an assassin on the other side of the bridge. I kept my armor on. Muttering a quick prayer — God guard fools! — I leapt to the first blade-thin foothold, just missing the first jet of flame.
Pauline J. Alama, once a medieval scholar, escaped the ivory tower to an enchanted land called New Jersey. Her novel The Eye of Night (Bantam Spectra, 2002) was a finalist for the Compton Crook Award. The heroine of “The Damsel in the Garden” will return in “Liars’ Tournament” in Sword & Sorceress 30, and if you want a glimpse of the Damsel in middle age check out “No Tale for Troubadours”, first published in Realms of Fantasy and currently available online in Fantasy Scroll Magazine #7.
A full list of her publications is available here.
“The Damsel in the Garden” was originally published in Sword and Sorceress XXVIII, edited by Elisabeth Waters (Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, 2013).
About the Narrators:
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.
Katherine Inskip weighs galaxies for a living, and builds worlds in her spare time. She is addicted to chocolate and Japanese logic puzzles.