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“The Ghost of Shinoda Forest,” by Richard Parks
Whether I was drunk or sober, Princess Teiko haunted my dreams. I had always assumed, if I drank enough that one day this would no longer be true, but there had been fifteen years of drinking after we parted, plus two more after her death, and now my optimism was quite exhausted. As this foolish hope had been all that I had to fight her with, there was nothing left for me to do tonight except the only sensible thing–I surrendered.
“Dirt Witch,” by Eljay Daly
The house was bigger on the inside, as Dorota expected from a witch. What she didn’t expect, in the flickering candlelight, was the filth. Spiderwebs, of course, in the corners, in the grimy chandelier, festooned with crumbling bits of insects trapped, dismembered, neglected. The floor might have been red, might have been stone; the thick black grease of it gripped the soles of Dorota’s boots as she inched through debris down the long corridor. The walls might have been red, too, red wallpaper dancing with bouquets of slime and countless handprints.
“Silent, Still, and Cold,” by Kris Dikeman, from BCS #62
A group of officers cluster below the mark on the wall. One balances an inkpot, another copies the symbol onto parchment, a third notes its location on a map of the city. Near where they stand there is a patch of bloody ice splashed against the stones next to an odd-shaped bundle of rags, the buckles of a Legionnaire’s uniform winking out at us. We stare, and the officer with the map waves us away.
I had little talent for poetry, but my instruction in the classic metaphors was probably no less extensive than Akio’s. The poem was both an entreaty and a question; that much was clear. But what was the answer? One who might be able to tell me was beyond speech now and might be for some time, if not forever.