From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

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Edited by John Joseph Adams

Absolute Zero

It sat on a tree stump the way neighborhood men sat on bar stools, surrounded by a cavalry of thin, burned trees. Max almost recognized this nightmare place as Digby Forest, a festering infection of wild land on the edge of Cripple Creek.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

The Secret Beach

Though I’m the kind of person who uses the self-checkout line at grocery stores just to avoid the necessity of small conversation with a human cashier, I blurted out, “Hey, where were you guys swimming?”

Edited by John Joseph Adams

Three Damnations: A Fugue

I woke naked in the garden. Nothing grew there—not even weeds. Just withered stalks that looked ages old. Maybe dating back to when things were still okay. The darkness was beginning to brighten. I always came to, just before dawn.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

The Nymph’s Child

She’d sail off the edge of the world with him. She very nearly had, that time through the Iron Teeth. This was simply another journey, and it would be over soon. Rope around her neck, a moment of fear, then nothing.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

Using It and Losing It

Pratt walked the distance to work, stopped in at his accustomed cigar store to buy cigarettes, and rode the elevator upstairs to his office; in short, his standard routine, without deviation—yet it didn’t feel right.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

Lessons from a Clockwork Queen

She pulled back the sheets and found the little hole in the queen’s throat where the winding key fit like a kiss, and she turned and turned the key until her shoulders ached and she couldn’t turn it anymore.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

The Edge of the World

The Edge of the World lay beyond the railroad tracks. The streets were narrow here, the sideyards crammed with broken trucks, rusted out buses, even yachts up in cradles with stoven-in sides.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

Crossroads

John came to the crossroads at just shy of noon, where a man dressed all in black stared up at another man hanging from a gallows-tree. No, not hanging; he was being hung.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

The Pragmatical Princess

Princess Ousmani had fallen asleep in her chains, from boredom. She woke to the weight of a dragon’s head resting uncomfortably on her stomach. One rough, scaly paw kneaded her left shoulder, pricking at her skin.

Edited by John Joseph Adams

The World Is Cruel, My Daughter

One day it was, “Why haven’t you any hair, Mother?” She stroked her own golden locks, which now swept her ankles, as she waited for an answer.