The Lemonuclear Conductor

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The ridges on the back of my neck were prickling. 

I checked the feed from the cargo bay.  A dozen steel drums.  All of them full.  The bay was empty otherwise.  Normally that would have irked me, but the promised payment from this one delivery was worth the wastefulness of a near-empty cargo bay.  The drums and their contents were pre-approved to pass through every one of the near-hundred checkpoints that we were about to encounter.  It would not have been worth the risk of being stopped at every checkpoint for a full reckoning of our cargo if we were carrying our usual assortment of items—living, non-living, legal…not-so-legal. Continue reading

Nine Wishes in Three Tales

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A restless fairy grew bored one day and created a restless trinket, imbuing it with all of the fairy’s magic.  The magic was all bent toward one purpose, to grant the bearer of the trinket three wishes.

The form the trinket first took was as a pendant, which the fairy gave to a human acquaintance with only three instructions…or warnings.

“First, the wish itself will only have power over you.  Second, whenever you make a new wish, the old wish will vanish.  And third, once the final wish is made and granted, the trinket will leave your possession.” Continue reading

The Seeds of Many Worlds

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sf_wk010aHis person was bare of any adornment save the many rings that he wore on his fingers, and when he folded those fingers together and laid them on the table, the stones upon the rings aligned as if they were the very planets in my home system.

“They were worlds once,” the man, the merchant, said, locking me in a gaze that seemed to vibrate from his carnelian-colored eyes, “before they fell into decay, and then just…fell.”

I wondered what value there was in dead worlds.

*** Continue reading

The Merchant and the Magician

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Enchanted CandleIn those days, there was a magician who could cast a spell on a candle and link that candle to the life of a single person.  So long as the candle burned, there was hope.

Those families who had the means engaged the magician to cast this spell when husbands and sons went off to battle.  So long as the candle burned, their loved one was still alive.  The highest winds would not snuff out the flame.  But even on a quiet night, if the soldier died, so too would the flame on the candle die.  Those families would know of their loss long before word came to them from the battlefield. Continue reading