“The Devil In Rutledge County” first appeared in LORE Vol. 2, #4, December 2013.
VICTORIA HOKE writes, draws, and codes in Los Angeles. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and Three-lobed Burning Eye. She grew up in North Carolina and still gets cravings for hush puppies and butterscotch candy. She’s editor-in-chief of sub-Q, a new online magazine for interactive fantasy, science fiction, and horror. If you like stories that get under your skin, or you’d like to create some yourself, visit sub-Q for resources, submissions details, and a look at what they publish.
Your narrator – Laura Hobbs – works in infosec by day and is a random crafter by night. Twitter is her social media of choice, and she despises the word “cyber”. When asked nicely, she sometimes reads things for people on the internet. You can find her online at SOAPTURTLE.NET
It was my fault. It happened ’cause I prayed to the Devil.
Of course I prayed to God first. I prayed every night since I realized Pa was a drunk. Not a joker or a hothead or a layabout — a drunk. I prayed God would make him quit drinking. I prayed God would turn him back to the easy-laughing man who took us fishing on Saturdays.
I prayed whenever I heard Pa retching in the backyard at dawn.
I prayed whenever the constable’s boys dragged him home at midnight.
I prayed when Essie got bit on the heel by a copperhead, and Pa was face-down in bed, and there was only one other person we could turn to.
“A Thing Of Terrible Beauty” was first published in Fantastic Stories of Imagination, April 1963.
Roger Zelazny (1937 – 1995) was an American poet and writer of fantasy and science fiction short stories and novels, best known for The Chronicles of Amber. He won the Nebula award three times and the Hugo award six times. In his stories, Roger Zelazny frequently portrayed characters from myth, depicted in the modern world. Zelazny was also apt to include numerous anachronistic present-day elements and references to various drama classics into his fantasy and science-fiction works. His crisp, minimalistic dialogue also seems to be somewhat influenced by the style of wisecracking hardboiled crime authors, such as Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. The tension between the ancient and the modern, surreal and familiar was what drove most of his work. He has a crustacean named after him! Many thanks to Trent Zelazny for working with us to share this story with you. While you’re in the mood for fiction, check out some of his work. We recommend starting with his excellent collection “The Day the Leash Gave Way and Other Stories“.
Your narrator – Ben Kohanski initially became interested in voice work thanks to Pseudopod. He has been an avid listener since all the way back in 2006, and having developed a love of audio fiction, decided to pursue narration. He has since professionally recorded and produced one audiobook, as well as a previous story for Pseudopod, and is available for contract on ACX (hint hint). Though he hails from the grim primordial forests of northwestern Connecticut, he currently lives in Niigata, Japan where he teaches English.
How like a god of the Epicureans is the audience, at a time like this! Powerless to alter the course of events, yet better informed than the characters, they might rise to their feet and cry out, “Do not!”—but the blinding of Oedipus would still ensue, and the inevitable knot in Jocasta’s scarlet would stop her breathing still.
But no one rises, of course. They know better. They, too, are inevitably secured by the strange bonds of the tragedy. The gods can only observe and know, they cannot alter circumstance, nor wrestle with ananke.
My host is already anticipating the thing he calls “catharsis.” My search has carried me far, and my choice was a good one. Phillip Devers lives in the theater like a worm lives in an apple, a paralytic in an iron lung. It is his world.
NICK MAMATAS is the author of several novels, including the Bukowskiesque zombie novel THE LAST WEEKEND and the murder-mystery at a Lovecraft convention title I AM PROVIDENCE. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Lovecraft’s Monsters, BLACK WINGS II, FUTURE LOVECRAFT, and FUNGI, the journal of revolutionary letters known as SALVAGE, and many other venues. He is also published by Wildside Press – check them out!
“Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Nyarlathotep” originally appeared in FUTURE LOVECRAFT, by Innsmouth Free Press and later when Prime Books reprinted the entire anthology.
Cheyenne Wright is a freelance illustrator and concept artist. He is the color artist on the three-time Hugo Award winning steampunk graphic novel series Girl Genius, and co-creator of many other fine works; Including 50 Fathoms and the Ennie award winning Deadlands Noir for the Savage Worlds RPG. He has also produced graphics for Star Trek Online, the Champions MMO, and t-shirt designs for T.V.’s Alton Brown.
Cheyenne lives in Seattle with his wife, their daughter, and an ever growing stack of unpainted miniatures. In his spare time he is teaching himself animation, and narrates short stories for a variety of audio anthologies where he is known as Podcasting’s Mr. Buttery ManVoice ™
Newspace was a lot like old space. Well, posters of old space stacked atop one another and constantly shuffled and re-shuffled. In the little waffle-iron spacecraft was the thunderous Niagara, any number of mansions on emerald hills, all piled up in a corner with Escheresque staircases going downwise and anti-spinward, marmalade skies and airships in the shape of giant, open-mouthed fish, the Pyramids of Egypt poking out from every horizon, and long, dark hallways in blue-and-purple neon everywhere, absolutely everywhere, as this is what the New Ones thought VR would look like, back when they were all children.
And the New Ones had fun playing like children. As it turns out, virtually all problems faced by Humanity, save the million-year war with the Old Ones, were resource problems. No Old Ones, no resources, no problems. Virtually no problems, anyway, which is an awful pun, it’s true. So, the New Ones spent their days naked and immortal, writing songs no fleshy ear could comprehend, inventing new languages to describe disembodied emotional states, engaging in virtual nucleic exchange and reproducing wildly to the humming databases, with beings unheard of and indescribable.
The waffle iron was busy, too. Zipping around space and whatnot, eating dark matter and printing copies of itself, in case something happened to it. And oh, yes, something was happening to it. Naturally, the poor little waffle iron didn’t quite understand that the something happening was the drive to laze-lathe meteoroids into replicas of itself. Oh, and then, within the guts of the waffle iron, ghosts started showing up everywhere, upsetting and terrifying the New Ones with their googly eyes and their siren howls. And they loved to eat the New Ones. Beautiful, tow-headed, pink children with cloth diapers and bows in their wispy hair. Lovely children with rich, brown skin and smiles to light up a room. Obnoxious children who sat on the couch all day, pretending to kill with their minds for fun. Children who flailed their hands about and slammed their heads against the wall because they saw the wrong kind of penny. Ghosts were indiscriminate—the ugly and the exquisite both were consumed, leaving naught but wrinkled husks behind.
You have to realize that words like eyes and children, and even husks, make little sense; it’s being dumbed down for you and the quaint bag of chemical reactions you keep in that bone bowl. We’re talking a density matrix, here. So, when a character is introduced, as one is about to be, understand that you’d be just as accurate, were you to imagine her as a blurry, yellow ball of light floating around in a black field, instead of as a person. Which is to say, you’d be much more accurate, after all.
William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian speculative fiction novelist and essayist who has been called the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre. Gibson coined the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome” (1982) and later popularized the concept in his debut novel, Neuromancer (1984). In envisioning cyberspace, Gibson created an iconography for the information age before the ubiquity of the Internet in the 1990s. He is also credited with predicting the rise of reality television and with establishing the conceptual foundations for the rapid growth of virtual environments such as video games and the World Wide Web. Needless to say, Gibson is a major influencer to the existence of Escape Artists. “Hinterlands” originally appeared in Omni Magazine, October 1981
Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, producer, composer, and heliocentrist George Hrab has written and produced six independent CDs and a concert DVD; published two books; and has recorded hundreds of episodes of Geologic Podcast. George Hrab has traveled to four continents promoting critical thinking, science, and skepticism through story and song. George is considered one of the preeminent skeptic/science/atheist/geek-culture music icons currently living in his apartment.
When Hiro hit the switch, I was dreaming of Paris, dreaming of wet, dark streets in winter. The pain came oscillating up from the floor of my skull, exploding behind my eyes in wall of blue neon; I jackknifed up out of the mesh hammock, screaming. I always scream; I make a point of it. Feedback raged in my skull. The pain switch is an auxiliary circuit in the bonephone implant, patched directly into the pain centers, just the thing for cutting through a surrogate’s barbiturate fog. It took a few seconds for my life to fall together, icebergs of biography looming through the fog: who I was, where I was, what I was doing there, who was waking me.
Hiro’s voice came crackling into my head through the bone-conduction implant. “Damn, Toby. Know what it does to my ears, you scream like that?”