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Archive for the ‘Skin Horse’ Category

The Staves of the Istari
By Marcella Riley, Ph.D.

A.U.: Frodo chose the Gap of Rohan over Moria
A.U.: No Gimli

Two old men—one white, one grey—stood at the pinnacle of an impenetrable black tower, gazing out at the flooded ruins below. Their robes ruffled subtly in the winds of the high altitudes.

There was silence for a time.

“So much lost,” Saruman the White eventually intoned, his face an expressionless, craggy mask.

“All will be restored in time, old friend,” said Gandalf. “Under guidance of the Ents, the trees will grow again. The land will heal. Isengard will be what it once was.”

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For this month, have a sneak preview of the Kickstarter-exclusive Skin Horse bonus story, “Night Milking,” detailing a rather odd day on the job for Unity during the period she was employed by the government cheese folks.

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Unity was not sure whether or not she believed in God, but the Upper Midwest at night was evidence enough that if He did exist, He certainly enjoyed scaring the crap out of Himself.

For the one thing, it was very quiet. Unnervingly so. Unity had become used to the low-grade diplomatic bustle of McLean, Virginia (the only city Unity could come up with that was named after a kind of disgusting hamburger sammych from the 1990s), so being out in the middle of screw-all silent nowhere was profoundly unsettling to her. There were lots of comforting city-noises whose absence Unity was feeling very keenly at this point. She missed the screams, for one thing. She missed the sounds of tearing metal. She missed the wail of distant emergency sirens that confirmed the authorities were looking in completely the wrong place for whatever it was she had just done to cause the screams and the sounds of tearing metal.

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As happens so frequently in life, things began to break down during the screening of 1973’s blaxploitation-themed imprisoned-women film Black Mama, White Mama.  It is very nearly a truism of the modern condition that things will begin to break down when this point of human interaction is reached.

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Unity eventually returned from the Maragda Building’s luxurious underground parking garage and found me in the lobby, right where she left me, screaming at the open air like a total moron.

“FIND!” I shouted. “PICTURE! HOME SCREEN!” And then, after a quick squint at the screen: “AAARGH!”

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Another commission piece from the “Skin Horse” Volume 4 Kickstarter campaign.  Hope you enjoy, and, happy holidays!

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It was a bright and cheery morning in the 14-Lower Ultraviolet Radiation Corridor in the subbasements of Annex One, the sort of day that would have been described as “sunny” if any of the myriad inhabitants of the basement ecosystems were familiar with, or had indeed ever seen, the wrathful day-star that ruled the terrible surface realms above.  Tina the Basement Cobra slithered through her immaculate vinyl-encased kitchen, smiling a bit to herself as the unnerving violet glow of the radiation corridor warmed her face through the east-facing windows of her tiny cobra house.  What a pleasant day, she thought, to herself, as she busily prepared food for her family.

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For August, the first of a series of custom-commissioned short stories offered as incentives for contributors to the “Skin Horse” volume four Kickstarter drive.

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The fat man on the other side of the white Ikea desk gave Remy Sage-Marron a little leer.

“So,” said the fat man.  “What exactly is the state of the funeral industry nowadays, Mister Maroon?”

“‘Marron,’ actually,” said Remy.  “‘Sage-Marron,’ to be exact.”  He waved a hand.  “Don’t get too hung up.  I know I’m me, and so I’ll go by anything.”

“All righty, then.  So, how is business, then?”

“Business is dead,” said Remy, sitting back in his white Ikea chair, smiling a little in the hope that the fat man might think he was trying to be clever.

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The “Skin Horse” Volume 4 Kickstarter drive is now complete, and I can honestly say that it went better than I possibly could have imagined. I am grateful and a little humbled by the interest you’ve taken in the work Shaenon and I are doing.  June’s blog entry is a little teaser of sorts, the opening of “You Are Jonah Yu,” the pick-your-path story that’s part of the incentive package for some of the sponsor tiers. Once again, thank you all…

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It’s a lazy Saturday morning in the publication offices of Grillo Parlante, which is to say, your bedroom. Which is to say, the bedroom your parents picked out for you when your family moved here while you were in second grade because your father accepted a promotion. Which is to say, a “lateral transfer,” because he was asked by the company he works for to do the exact same job he used to do in Galveston out on the east coast, for less pay, because they were phasing out his department in the Galveston branch. Which is to say, technically, a “demotion.”

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