Issues from 2018
Issue #258
Size / Zoom
The Wyvern Rider and Those of the Land

There is an ache within the Captain. A silence where a voice of wonder and curiosity should speak. The absence left when the Machaenum stole their soul of air with a blade of liquid light. Veled, the fourth quarter of their being, who had longed for the vastness of the world. Now they are only three.

There is an ache within the Captain. A silence where a voice of wonder and curiosity should speak.
Shattered Hand

Kayta withdrew her arm from the thick liquid, the leather straps that bound the amputation now jet black. Salt peppered my carapace; near-misses kicked up sand sprays. Kayta, shielded for the moment, crouched, drew deep breaths. I picked up her detached hand, held it against my thorax.

Glittering sand rushed past, whispered against my chitin shell. The light faded as we fell...
From the Archives:
The Wizard’s House
The clouds began to glow around us, and slowly the schools of jellies dropped and came into view.
Issue #257
Size / Zoom

Featuring new cover art: “Swamp Relic” by Piotr Dura

A Legacy of Shadows

A moment longer, Rallos watches in disgusted fascination as the vile man-beast's body twitches and lurches as he puts his muscles into grinding something in a large mortar and pestle before him. Reagents, no doubt, for some rite or malicious magick.

allos gives a curt nod. He knows when he's beaten, although it is a rare enough sensation and one that tastes like gall.
Old No-Eyes

Most of the teeth in his jaw didn’t belong to him—after one-hundred and eighty years and a small mountain of corpses, he lied through other people’s teeth. He’d pulled them out of the mouths of other mages, mostly dead ones.

He had purposefully waited three years to answer.
From the Archives:
The Castle That Jack Built
He knew there was more to the story he’d told Greta. Not just later, not just the forgotten ending.
Issue #256
Size / Zoom
Drawing The Barriers

Nonar leafed through the pages of the notebook, trying to connect with the long-ago long-dead engineer who had worked with a different magic to sew worlds together. The drawings there were precise. Free. Accurate. Really, what harm would it do if she drew? What harm would it do if she couldn’t draw?

Silence was her one weapon, she had learned through the years. Stare, and wait, until people spoke just to fill it.
Flesh and Stone

Perrin would have preferred to cleave off his own fingers rather than accept the commission the count was asking of him. But Marie was waiting, and she had made a request. “My wife believes that by seeing one of my statues, she might love me. If you would let her come to the château, see one of them...”

“My studio is closed," Perrin told her. "I carved my masterpiece for the count. Nothing I do will surpass it.”
From the Archives:
The Breath of War
She would have run, but her legs betrayed her—a contraction, locking her in place, as frozen as the baby within her womb.
Issue #255
Size / Zoom
Speak Easy, Suicide Selkies

And then she was running after the retreating ocean waves as they sheeted from the beach, as it curled under like an enormous sunlit tongue. Louise jumped into the color, into the wet, certain she had never seen anything so beautiful, until the skin, emboldened by the water, swallowed her whole.

They say that when you go to the sky-reflected ocean and strip yourself as bare as the day you were born, the water will take you in.
The Scrimshander

A wind picked up, and a half-torn poster of the Scrimshander flapped on a lamppost. The caricaturist walked over to it, reached out to rip it up into pieces. One word was partially legible above the face, and the way the poster flapped in the wind made the word there, gone, there, gone, as if flashing. Strike

He stared into the flickering eyes of the monster he'd drawn, hypnotized, stricken, and his shivering stopped as grief became anger.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Scrimshander
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 15:27 — 10.61MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

He stared into the flickering eyes of the monster he'd drawn, hypnotized, stricken, and his shivering stopped as grief became anger.
From the Archives:
Ratcatcher
I much desire to drink myself into blackness with a flask of the grog I trade for but I have my daughter with me and a man cannot live who loses his daughter due to insensibility or slowness of reaction.
Issue #254
Size / Zoom

Featuring new cover art: “Mace Landscape” by Mihály Nagy

The Sweetness of Honey and Rot

Jiteh remembers when Gurteh, father of the spring's tithe, broke down sobbing and refused to drink. The sloths skinned him as they had the tithe and added his flesh to the broth. Each villager was then made to drink two spoonfuls. No one has refused since.

Jiteh lets her hand hover a breath away from the Boundary. Somewhere beyond, there are people who do not watch their brothers devoured by the Life Tree. There are people who do not praise.
Three Dandelion Stars

Amarine wanted to plant a garden and was wild with her plans. Shai watched her wife's lips as she went on and on about which vegetables would winter well. Amarine had chipped a tooth yesterday while chopping wood, and it gave her beauty a feral quality. Now she looked dangerous, and Shai liked catching glimpses of it while she talked.

It was sudden behavior. Strange, but perfect. Shai refused to believe that it could be fairy magic.
From the Archives:
Stitched Wings
Rowan hadn't been lying when he said his queen was the best liar of all, but Madeline knew that was only because he hadn't met her mother.
Issue #253
Size / Zoom
A Tale of Woe

Rana read the woe that wrapped the man—a swarm of blood scorpions that writhed beneath his flesh. Woe was a reciprocal thing. The more you inflicted upon others, the more you gathered. The Goddess’s judgment was quick. This time she imagined a sewing-needle half long as her forearm. Reaching into her satchel she withdrew a fine opaque thread of woe and sewed it into the man, weaving it between the scorpions.

Rana released a weary breath. The gift of the Goddess of Sorrows could be burdensome.
The Weaver and the Snake

Reilitas clutches tightly her wrought-iron railing as the city guards throttle the thieves and rioters. Wherever she looks she finds destroyed the things she has made. The ambassador's tiled vases are smashed; she had spun them wide to hold his banana trees. The golden automaton in the shrine of the god of prophecy, which she had helped a foreign machinist assemble, has lost all four of its arms, and its topaz eyes have been plucked. A dress that must be her work, woven for a virgin consecrated to the temple, is ripped and fouled in the street.

Reilitas has dreamed of the snake, dreamed of hammering its beautiful onyx scales into ceremonial knives, shields, the faces of clocks.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Weaver and the Snake
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 25:35 — 17.57MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Reilitas has dreamed of the snake, dreamed of hammering its beautiful onyx scales into ceremonial knives, shields, the faces of clocks.
From the Archives:
The Book of Autumn
I made the truth something those duty old men couldn’t ignore.
Issue #252
Size / Zoom
The Wild Ride of the Untamed Stars

There was no stopping that porcupine-headed diva once she set her course. Cinrak straightened the hem of her tailored suit jacket and eyed Loquolchi's riding garb: a batwing dress straight out of the Rat-oyal costume department, all white froof and flop. Surely a tripping hazard.

Taking her place in line, the marmot graced her pirate lover with a toothy smile. "Can't let you have all the fun, Cinny."
The Ghostpotion Games

She glanced up at the miniature maze her creation would have to navigate, a spherical cityscape of shell and chrome-colored fossil levitating above the table. A pressure-headache hum of whispering thoughts brushed against her mind. She usually didn't get headaches and she was already struggling with one. The judges' thoughts made her nauseous to go along with it all, but it wasn't like she could tell them to stop.

She glanced up at the miniature maze her creation would have to navigate, a spherical cityscape of shell and chrome-colored fossil levitating above the table.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Wild Ride of the Untamed Stars
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 24:13 — 16.63MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Taking her place in line, the marmot graced her pirate lover with a toothy smile. "Can't let you have all the fun, Cinny."
From the Archives:
On the Transmontane Run with the Aerial Mail Express
Why in perdition were the pirates after the blimp on the return trip, after the payroll'd been delivered?
Issue #251
Size / Zoom

The BCS Ebook Subscription Drive ends Friday! You can support BCS and help us to our stretch goal: raising our word-count for submissions to 20,000 words.

The Examination Cloth

Ukeme knelt again at the table, took brush in hand, and paused above the first sheet of reed-paper. He wondered why he felt such hesitation. Words woven in cloth could protect bodies and hold spells; words on paper were merely words. But words on this paper could make him a scholar.

Slowly, Ukeme read the first row of characters: a knotty point of customary law. The second called for an essay on the Osun Republic’s conquest of Benin two centuries before. The third...
The Root Cellar

I’ve come for you, Jeremy; you, and my arm. The rats brought back to me everything I lost, except that. I’ve already searched Grandma’s house: the cellar and the attic, the dank room beneath the stairs, the cupboards and the chests, the hidden spaces between the walls and floors. But I’ll find you, brother; you, and that wayward limb of mine.

I’ve come for you, Jeremy; you, and my arm.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Examination Cloth
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 17:23 — 11.94MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Slowly, Ukeme read the first row of characters: a knotty point of customary law. The second called for an essay on the Osun Republic’s conquest of Benin two centuries before. The third...
From the Archives:
The Three Feats of Agani
I had hoped to tell you the first story in the summers to come. It is my sorrowful task to tell you all three, instead.
Issue #250, Special Double-Issue
Size / Zoom

A special double-issue for BCS #250! Featuring two bonus stories, two guest-narrated podcasts, new cover art “Legendary Passage” by Jereme Peabody, and a BCS Ebook Subscription Drive!

The Thought That Counts

The day before the money finally ran out, I did come across a tantalising possibility which, one of these days, I really must get around to following up, since it might just be the missing ingredient that would make all the difference; but of course I was in no position to do anything about it at that time, so I sold the glassware for even less than I paid for it and wandered into the centre of town, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.

For once in my life, I could walk down the street without looking for places to run to if I heard someone yell my name.
An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdhu Village

I hoped this was more than pretense, since our survival might soon depend on her. Father could conceal his peachwood sword easily enough, but there was no way I’d be allowed to bring my jian into the magistrate’s presence. I took my own precious bawu for no good reason that I could think of. I knew only Mei Li could reliably conjure a weapon out of hers at need; so far all my attempts at this transformation had come up short.

Now I understood my impression of the magistrate’s reaction. More, I did not miss Mei Li’s implication—it applied to herself as much as the magistrate.
Silence in Blue Glass

The perceptive kobold peered around the corner and, seeing me, grinned, exposing quite a lot of pointed teeth. "Nom de solelh! My good friend! My friend Mr. Swift! I did not expect to see you so soon!" I set down my glass and crossed the hall to her, taking her hand in both of mine.

It was, in short, a kobold, one of the refugees cast out for choosing the wrong side in the recent war; that is to say, our side.
Angry Kings

I struggled with the thought that one day my anger would emerge. Perhaps my father had been sweet as a boy and even as a young man; perhaps his true temperament had arrived with the first pains to plague his back or his first gray hair or the placement of a crown upon his head. I dreamt myself a monster, half bear with long claws, half serpent with two poisonous fangs behind my lips. I slept less and less for fear that I would wake and the nightmares would have transferred themselves into the waking world.

We daughters of angry kings tell ourselves terrible stories. We do this to convince ourselves that what we went through, what we witnessed, could have been worse.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
The Thought That Counts
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 1:06:51 — 45.91MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

For once in my life, I could walk down the street without looking for places to run to if I heard someone yell my name.
Audio Fiction Podcast:
An Account of the Madness of the Magistrate, Chengdhu Village
Play

Podcast: Download (Duration: 49:45 — 34.16MB)
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Podcasts | RSS | More

Now I understood my impression of the magistrate’s reaction. More, I did not miss Mei Li’s implication—it applied to herself as much as the magistrate.
From the Archives:
The Limitless Perspective of Master Peek, or, the Luminescence of Debauchery
For the sake of the beautiful Dogaressa, I took up my father’s battered old pipe and punty.
text