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Wednesday, July 8, 2009


by John Shirley

The A'taranda’s long tail, a powerful ribbon of flesh and leather ending in a barb, lifted and vibrated back and forth, holes in the tail making a shrieking sound with the motion: a sign it was about to charge. The shriek and whipping of the tail was intended to paralyze its quarry with terror and confusion. A hunter not ready for an A’taranda’s rush was good as dead—its attack ended in a rampage of slashing talons. The tongue would retract, to be replaced with the sharp piercing tube stabbing stiffly from its long, tapered maw. The talons would tear, and then the forelimbs would hold the man down so the feeding tube would penetrate his body; the tongue would whip out through the tube to lap up the man’s wet inner parts. No one was known to have survived its rush once struck down. The only way to kill the thing was to aim your weapon true before the rush. To do this a man must surprise the A’taranda, which Vonn had been poised to do, till Jann blundered onto the scene.

Jann had just time to lick his lips and prepare to die—before Vonn jumped up, shouting, “Here, beast! To me!”

The A’taranda hadn’t seen Vonn –for it tended to discount the motionless--and now it recoiled in surprise, turning to set itself to charge him, even as Vonn fired the crossbow, the bolt flying to bury itself in the creature’s neck, just below its’ head. Vonn cursed—he had aimed for the skull, where a properly placed bolt would have killed it instantly. Now –as the vines overhead twitched and slithered like snakes in typical Paradinian reactivity--he must take an even greater risk.

He drew the scimitar from its sheath across his back, the drawing motion becoming a downward stroke as he rushed the A’taranda, severing the slashing, taloned forearm so that the A’taranda spurted inky fluid from its neck and the stump of its forearm. The predator shrieked with its vibrating tail and recoiled another step, searching for an angle of attack. Its piercing tube darted out—but Vonn had anticipated this and twisted himself to the right, so that the tube only burned the skin of his left hip, ripping his hunter’s leggings; in the same moment he angled his blade up and drove it deep into the upper thorax of the beast, piercing its primary heart.

The A’taranda jerked hissingly back, becoming an S-shape, so that four of its stubby limbs waved frantically in the air, the motion twisting the blade from Vonn’s grasp. But it was dying now, falling on its side to thrash wildly, turning the mosses inky-purple with its lifeblood.

Vonn waited till the thrashing eased, then stepped in, pulled his blade free, and saluted the beast. “A’senka Karosand A’taranda!” he said, as hunters who’d trained with the mountain primitives always did, after a kill of this kind.

He still had his back to Jann, but, going down on one knee to clean his blade on the moss, he shouted, “Get you over here, Jann, and pull this ravenous mollusk from my back! Three minutes and more it has gnawed at me!”

Jann shook himself from his almost paralytic fascination, and hurried to Vonn, bringing out his pocketknife.

Vonn leaned over the boulder, hands flat on the stone as he spoke. “I felt the nasty thing drop on the back of my neck from the boulder the instant I heard the A’taranda coming…"

Jann shook his head in silent wonder. The spiderlike bloodsucker did not dig deeply into its host, but its gnashing was excruciating to endure.

Jann lifted the cloth, winced at the sight of the thing clinging bloodily to his teacher’s living flesh, between his shoulder blades. It made a puddle of blood there and extended a little black tongue which lapped doglike at the blood.

He dug under its mandibles with the knife, prying it loose, then flicked it onto a stone.

Vonn strode to it, ruefully crushed the parasite under his boot-heel. “You can put some wound-closer on me, I can’t quite reach the spot. Now tell me why you have interfered with my hunt, blundering in here with all the rackety noise you made?”

Jann swallowed his exasperation. Vonn didn’t give him the respect he craved—but then, he knew that he had not yet earned it. “There’s a starcraft landed without permission by the border with the Golldens. I saw them there myself, from the air. And Vonn--they killed one of my behemoths!”

“Did they! And did they see you?”

“I don’t know—I suppose they thought they were taking a pot-shot at a wild one. But I got the herd out of there, as quick as I could—I was afraid they’d shoot Aleshna out of the sky before they saw me there...”

“So they are poaching—for sport, since there’s nothing much left of an exploded Behemoth.” Vonn scowled. He hated the pointless killing of animals. He'd have spared the A'taranda had it not come so close to the manor. “A starcraft. Who do you think it was?”

“It looked Kastillian to me. They ignore the treaty when they choose. I wanted your...your counsel.”

Theoretically, Jann’s mother was in charge of the Manor, while her brother Denmo was away. But the bibulous Denmo was always away, drinking wine and smoking Groak in the reeking dream-dens of Lapis, Paradine’s only major city, two hundred miles northwest. And Sena spent her days with her weaving, and in charity rounds to the outlying villages; she had lost the heart to run the manor, soon after her husband’s death, and it fell to her son and to Vonn a Vleet. Most specifically, to Vonn. Technically he worked for Jann, but Jann usually deferred to Vonn.

“A starcraft,” Vonn repeated musingly, scratching in his thatchy gray hair—when he bothered to cut it he did the job himself with sheep sheers. He dug a small bottle of wound-closer from his belt pouch and tossed it to Jann. “I’ve been half expecting them. The Peacekeepers would have so informed you, if they’d known they were on your land. Therefore the Kastillians landed under the umbrella of a sensor-damper. Which suggests they are up to thievery.”

Jann applied the wound-closer. “The gigglin' skreff can't break our laws with impunity. We can demand their papers and see that the ship's captain is fined...”

“Yes—but with some preparation,” Vonn said, straightening and putting his shirt back on. “Come on...”

They jogged down the wooded path together, toward the village, silent for long minutes. Jann knew that despite the medicine, Vonn would be in pain from the bite, but he showed no sign of it. After a few minutes, Vonn said, “Remember—if it is the Kastillians, they have weapons we don't have. We must deal with this quietly, unless they force our hand. Could be they mean us no harm—but we've got to take care not to provoke them.”

Jann growled to himself. “They’ve killed one of my skyherd elders! Why did we let them bully us into the SlowTech Agreement? Some of us have stashes of energy weapons, computers—there are the black markets, secret Tech Clubs. The SlowTech can't last—people are groaning under it, Vonn! If we had more energy weapons, enough Stropps, flyers for aerial attack, we wouldn’t have to creep around like frightened children...”

“And then we’d have a whole Kastillian fleet to deal with.” Vonn shook his head. He turned to look at Jann sadly. “You have always hungered for more technology; all your generation shares the hunger. History has shown what an excess of technology does to a society. The Kastillians do us an unintentional favor by keeping our technology in check—they think it keeps us from being a military threat, but in fact it makes us stronger...with the strength that matters. It's the inner capabilities that matter in a man-- not his reliance on crutches!”

They both glanced to their left at a sudden motion there—but it was only an Oosh tree, revolving in place. No one had yet figured out why the bright-yellow, globular Oosh tree occasionally revolved in the socket at the top of its roots, nor even how, though botanists sometimes came from Lapis to puzzle over it.

“We've let them push us too far in the low-tech direction,” Jann said bitterly, looking back to the trail. “Even computers are proscribed—one to a township! It's outrageous! Technology is freedom, Vonn.”

“Transcending desire is freedom,” Vonn a Vleet said. “Inner freedom is all that matters.”

Jann grunted, and shook his head. It maddened him how Vonn could be so right, and so wrong-- at the same time.

Click Here for Part 4 of SKY PIRATES,
by John Shirley

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Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of fear deep in our solar plexus.

Konstantine Paradias & Edward

Konstantine Paradias's

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's

Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.


Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee. He has been
a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff is the author of the
following books: Ring of Fire (Eraserhead
Press, 2018), Flesh Trade (co-written
w/Edward Morris; published by Create-
Space, 2017), Punk Rock Ghost Story
(Deadite Press, 2016), Amazing Punk
Stories (Eraserhead Press, 2016),
Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich (Eraserhead
Press, 2014), Hunting the Moon Tribe
(Eraserhead Press, 2011), The Vegan
Revolution...with Zombies (Eraserhead
Press, 2010), and Screams from a Dying
World (Afterbirth Books, 2009).
David is a hardcore vegan and tireless
environmentalist. His contributions to
the punk horror scene and the planet in
general have already established him
as a bright new writer and activist to
watch out for. The Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance.

Sanford Meschkow's

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
resides in the high desert of Phoenix,
Arizona where he enjoys campy horror
movies within the comfort of an Insane
Asylum. Search for his science fiction
stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)

Gene Stewart's

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.
When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found here.

Paul Stuart's

Paul Stuart is the author of numerous
biographical blurbs written in the third
person. His previously published fiction
appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and
His non-fiction financial pieces can be found
in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features
pictures of expensive homes, as well as images
of women in casual poses and their accessories.
Consider writing him at,
if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall
2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and
Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.

Rain Grave's

Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye
(along with Mark McLaughlin and
David Niall Wilson). Her most
recent book, Barfodder: Poetry
Written in Dark Bars and Questionable
Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's
Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..."
in January of 2009. She lives and
writes in San Francisco, performing
spoken word at events around the
country. 877-DRK-POEM -

Icy Sedgwick's

Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part
trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK
but dreams of the Old West. Her current
works include a ghost story about a Cavalier
and a Western tale of retribution. Find her
ebooks, free weekly fiction and other
shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth

BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend.
Singer, Songwriter, producer &
founder of the notorious DWARVES.
He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and

G. Alden Davis's

G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story
in high school, and received a creative
writing scholarship for the effort. Soon
afterward he discovered that words were
not enough, and left for art school. He was
awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along
with his BFA from Memphis College of Art
in '94, and entered the videogame industry
as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over
25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis
is a Burningman participant of 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
25 and I'll never be able to understand why.
Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
Somewhere along the tectonic fault
lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
The phrase "rest in peace" just bugs me.
I'd rather think that Greg Grub's inimitable
spirit somehow continues evolving along
another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
even beginning to suspect it? Well
people do believe in ghosts, but I
myself have long been suspicious
there can only be one single ghost
and that's all the stars in the universe
shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
emanations. My grub brother always
knew better than what the limits
of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
The adventures we shared together
will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
thest we can manage to tell our own
tale we may rest assured it will be
continued like one of the old pulp
serials by all our friends which survive
us and manage to continue
the saga whispering in the wind.

Shae Sveniker's

Shae is a poet/artist/student and former
resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living
in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on
Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.

Nigel Strange's

Nigel Strange lives with his wife and
daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing
in their home in California where he
occasionally experiments recreationally
with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN
is his first publication.

J.R. Torina's

J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions
(an industrial-ambient music label) and
Slaughterhouse Records (metal record
label), and was proprietor of The Abyss
(a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in
SLC, now closed). He is the dark force
behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-
noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE
IN THE PORT is his first publication.

K.B. Updike, Jr's

K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)