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“To Go Home to Leal,” by Susan Forest
The pronouncements of the captain were drowned by the goading of the crowd, but his actions were clear. It took three men to hold Kaul’s father’s left arm on the block. One soldier brought out a broad-bladed axe and his father’s struggles renewed. The axe-man bent over him, giving instructions, but his eyes rolled and he screamed. The axe-man seemed to shrug; then, raising his weapon, he brought it down, once, with a sickening crunch.
“A Marble for the Drowning River,” by Ann Chatham
I held out my hand with the marble in it, and the drowned girl reached out her long fingers and lifted it gently out of my palm, not even touching me with one of her fingernails. She rolled it in her hand for a moment, looking into the misty shadows in the glass, and then swallowed it, grinning almost like she was still human.
“Pridecraft,” by Christian K. Martinez, from BCS #93
I was sagging, listing in pain, by the time I could see Rattle and the crew. They were waiting on the Eight-B platform, near the engine console. The Eight-B line had a rust-and-people smell that mingled into a peculiar musk. I imagined the stench of Hail’s blood and body beneath the usual platform scents. From Rattle’s face, I knew she didn’t have to.
I tear the robe open. Father’s belly’s a ruin–but he has been, as he is in all things, strangely exacting. I press in with my fingers, feeling the wound’s edges; mercifully, they don’t go up underneath the ribs. No, he’s slashed his intestines with expert precision–a deadly but slow wound. Plenty of time before swollen guts and poisoned blood will take his life.