First Story: “Public Safety” by Matthew Johnson
Officier de la Paix Louverture folded Quartidi’s Père Duchesne into thirds, fanning himself against the Thermidor heat. The news inside was all bad, anyway: another theater had closed, leaving the Comedie Francaise the only one open in Nouvelle-Orleans. At least the Duchesne could be counted on to report only what the Corps told them to, that the Figaro had closed for repairs, and not the truth — which was that audiences, frightened by the increasing number of fires and other mishaps at the theaters, had stopped coming. The Minerve was harder to control, but the theater-owners had been persuaded not to talk to their reporters, to avoid a public panic. No matter that these were all clearly accidents: even now, in the year 122, reason was often just a thin layer of ice concealing a pre-Revolutionary sea of irrationality.
Matthew Johnson is a writer and educator who lives in Ottawa with his wife and two children. A collection of his short fiction, Irregular Verbs and Other Stories, was published in 2014 and has received starred reviews in Shelf Awareness and Quill and Quire. His work has been collected in several Year’s Best anthologies and has been translated into Danish, Czech and Russian. While not writing or engaged in full-contact parenting he works as the Director of Education for MediaSmarts, an internationally known non-profit source of digital and media literacy resources where he writes lessons and blogs, designs award-winning educational games and occasionally does pirate voices in both English and French. You can learn more at irregularverbs.ca
Second story: “Mrs. Wilson and the Black Arts of Mrs. Beelzebub from Number Six” by Steven Pirie
Mrs Wilson knew they were not Earthly cats. Mr Wilson had thrown his boot at them to shut them up, for a start, and somehow they’d thrown it back. And it was the way their eyes shone piercing green even in the daylight. At night, in their sepulchral wailing and tireless leaping at the moon, they seemed very much otherworldly. It was a worry.
In the kitchen, at number eight, Mrs Wilson paused in stacking biscuits on her best crockery. She glanced beyond the window and over the fence into Mrs Beelzebub’s garden next door to where the cats still gathered. In the corner, part hidden behind the rickety wooden shed and the glorious apple tree, the vortices to beyond shimmered blue and green in the morning sunshine.
Mrs Wilson sighed; such a crime to sully a garden with the supernatural.
Steven Pirie lives in Liverpool, England with his wife and son. His fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies around the world. His comic fantasy novel, Digging up Donald, published by Immanion Press in 2004 and again in 2007, has attracted excellent reviews. A second novel, Burying Brian, was published also by Immanion Press in December 2010. Steve’s website is: www.stevenpirie.com
About the Narrators:
Nobilis Reed hosts the longest-running erotica podcast in the known universe, Nobilis Erotica. He is also the creative director of Quiver and Arch LLC, a production company that specializes in erotic audio drama. He’s also an author in his own right, with stories published by Circlet Press, Cleis Press, Forbidden Fiction and Logical Lust, as well as a number of self-published titles. You can find his website at nobiliserotica.com.
Veronica “V.” Giguere is a voice artist and author whose work can be heard on a wealth of podcast fiction magazines, fullcasts, and audiobooks across genres such as science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, and steampunk. She is the narrator and producer, as well as one of four coauthors, of the Secret World Chronicles podcast novel series, currently in its seventh season. Along with Cedric Johnson, she has recently podcast Broken, an inner-city cyberpunk story involving boxing, medical technology, and coffee. When she isn’t bringing the voices in others’ heads to life, V. masquerades as a mild-mannered academic whose specialties include first-year student success, learning strategies, and preparing for the zombie apocalypse.