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Cover
Table of Contents
Editor's Notes
Donations
Submission Guidelines
Website

Stories & Essays
Copy Machine Repair Guy
_
By D.E. Fredd
Corrupted Youth
_ By Kurt Kirchmeier
Dragon's Breath
_ By Lionel Cheng
Even the Damned Deserve to Love
_ By Anna Cortez
Gifts
_ By Jocelyn Johnson
House of Cards
_ By Steven J. Dines
In Doubt
_ By Stephanie Thoma
Lipstick
_ By Michelle Baron
Old Biddy
_ By Claire Nixon
QuinceaŮera
_ By Hester Young
The Fiddler and the Faerie
_ By Samantha Rae
When Barky Smiles
_ By S.E. Diamond

Poetry
2 A.M. Window Shopping
_ By Chris McGuffin
Alison
_ By Harriet O. Leach
Cloudy New Year's Morning
_ By Richard Fein
Not Easy
_ By Samantha Ogust
On Hearing Li-Young Lee Read His Poetry
_ By Foster Dickson
Prelude and Coda
_ By Richard Fein
Rainy Night Meditation
_ By Harriet O. Leach
Retreat
_ By Richard MacAleese
Silage Team--Machete Thirst
_ By Leland Jamieson
Starlight
_ By Richard MacAleese
Stolen Phone
_ By Jorge Jameson
The Abandoned Playground
_ By Richard MacAleese
Thought Provoking Baked Crescent
_ By Chris McGuffin

Art & Photography
Daniel Bravo
_ Paintings
Tove Hedengren
_ Photography
Peter Huettenrauch
_ Photography
E. Hunting
_ Drawings and Digital Art
Robin McQuay
_ Drawings
Iris Onica
_ Paintings
Pete Revonkorpi
_ Digital Art
Roy Wangsa
_ Photography

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The Fiddler and the Faerie
By Samantha Rae


I was never a patient person.

To be honest, very few of us were. My brother liked to say that it was strange that impatience should be one of the defining characteristics of an immortal race, but he never developed the idea very far. He wasnít patient enough. I didnít care either way, and when he started talking like that, I simply shrugged. To me, having all the years till the end of forever stretching before me simply meant that there would be time to fix the mistakes I had made, or to perfect something that I didnít know how to do just yet. Patience was more suited towards those who had to finish their work in the century or less they had before death claimed them.

Which only made it stranger.

I stared like a rabbit hypnotized by a snakeís gaze, although with none of the fear of such a creature. My foot tapped the ground ever so slightly, and I found myself swaying almost imperceptibly as memories centuries old were dredged up from the recesses of my mind, memories of fiercely wild dances under the stars and moonlight accompanied by music such as this. Forcing myself to remain still, for I itched to recreate those long-ago dances in the late afternoon light, I shoved the music to the back of my mind and watched the fiddler instead.

Humans, as a general rule, were quite boring to watch. Something about them made them seem blurry, as though they were seen from a great distance; a smudge of reddish brown for hair, a pale blob of a face, a twiggy suggestion of limbs and a strange lump of a torso was all I had seen of the last human to pass through this part of the forest. Yet the fiddler--

A lovely face; small with simple lines, and softer than any faerieís yet nowhere near the blob that other human faces resembled. A little shadow following a lock of pale brown hair down his forehead and over his bright brown eyes. I only saw them on occasion, for he closed them when he played, but when they opened to make certain of a chord, I admired the clear, almost faceted way his iris was split into tiny shards of rich brown and soft gold and near-black. A smile quirked his lips, lips that seemed as though they might very well kiss the violin tucked under his chin.

I smiled wanly when I realized I had conquered the urge to dance, only to find myself confronted with the whimsical desire to touch his hair and see how it differed from my own, if the softening of a fae body was more than just appearance. Whimsical and more than a little foolish. I stamped my foot down harshly just as he stopped playing.

He glanced skywards, noting the setting sun and the quickly darkening sky and shook his head. I could almost read his thoughts on his face--No time for another song. Disappointed, I nearly turned to leave when he brought his violin to his chin and began to play a song that rang in my bones and all but dragged me to the fiddler. This was more than a memory of that dance; it was the very tune that another had played. On a flute, I remembered, not a violin, but it was close enough. More than close enough.

My brown-eyed fiddler walked through the forest, a pack of firewood on his back, bow flashing across the strings of the violin in a tune that the fae had danced to on moonlit nights long ago. There was something deeper, subtler to it than when it had been played on a flute, and I wondered if perhaps the song had been written for the violin in the first place. Out of the corners of my eyes, I saw others of my court following him, sharp eyes fixed on the violin.

He didnít know what the song was. That much was obvious, especially when he changed it to a version that had only been played twelve times every year, the night before the fae ran the Wild Hunt. No human would play that, not when they were certain that they were the prey we dreamed of. Even in the earliest times, it had been one of the few patient fae who had played this song.

By the time we reached his home, night had fallen. I didnít know if he realized that and worried about what might come after him in the forest after dark, but his pace only increased long after I had seen the gleam of a lantern inside a window. In any case, he neednít have worried; nothing in the forest was foolish enough to attack the fae, and before now, none but the fae had played the Hunt-song in this forest. He couldnít have been safer if a thousand men with iron blades had been with him.

And that was before one took we fae into consideration.

At the sight of the village, a cluster of thirty or forty similar houses, those who had joined me after my fiddler had begun to play faded back into the forest. Still I followed him, for I couldnít feel any iron in the village. Iron was quite new, and there was nothing else to threaten me.

The Hunt-song ended, and the fiddler knocked on the door of a house, where he was quickly admitted for fear of the creatures that walked the night. I frowned and walked over to the house, hoping to hear him play another song, but there was nothing more, just a hurried conversation and a name: Tam. My fiddler, my Tam.

Finally convinced that there would be no more fiddling coming, I turned to leave and heard a soft song that was quickly cut of by a sharp voice. Not my fiddlerís voice. It was indistinct, like any other humanís, and I knew that it couldnít be his. His... sister? Lover? Mother?

In any case, the song hadnít been his. It was played on a flute.

(Turn the page)