Narrated by M.K. Hobson.

He hadn't put out place settings, this time. Instead he'd gone inside, by the cabinet near the hearth and the concertina that lay in a little heap on top of it like a discarded shawl. From the looks of him, he'd been there a while. Katrin dumped rabbit and greens on the table. "Leave it," she said, and he turned, his eyebrows peaked together in concern. She sighed. "Leave the concertina alone," she repeated, this time in a sweeter voice. It was the tone that mattered, not the words. "Don't you ever touch that," she cooed, and he smiled at her.

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Read “In the Ground, Before the Freeze” by Margaret Ronald, in Issue #264

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Margaret Ronald's short fiction has appeared in such venues as Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons, Fantasy Magazine, and over ten times in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, including a series of stand-alone stories set in the same steampunk world that began with “A Serpent in the Gears” in BCS #34 and includes “Salvage” in BCS #77 and “The Governess and the Lobster” in BCS #95 along with four others, as well as an ongoing series of fantasy mysteries beginning with “A Death for the Ageless” in BCS #134 and continuing in "Sweet Death" in BCS #161 and "Murder Goes Hungry" in BCS #182. Soul Hunt, the third novel in her urban fantasy series and the sequel to Spiral Hunt and Wild Hunt, was released by Eos Books in 2011, and she was a finalist for the WSFA Small Press Short Story Award in 2017 for "The Witch's Knives" in Strange Horizons. Originally from rural Indiana, she now lives outside Boston. Visit her website at

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