Seven ThreadsJason Fischer / Fantasy
By Jason Fischer
Copyright 2017 Jason Fischer
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“By the Laws of Crab and Woman” was originally published online by Review of Australian Fiction, Volume 17 Issue 6
“Rolling for Fetch” was originally published online by Aurealis Magazine Issue #49
“Defy the Grey Kings” was originally published online by Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #180
“The Dog Pit” was originally published in Cthulhu: Deep Down Under
“Pigroot Flat” was originally published in Midnight Echo Magazine #8
“The House of Nameless” was originally published in Writers of the Future Volume 26
“Gunning for a tinkerman” was originally published in Aurealis Magazine #44
This ebook edition published by Jason Fischer, January 2017
Cover design courtesy of canva.com
Layout by Jason Fischer © 2017
Dedicated to eager readers everywhere
By the Laws of Crab and Woman
Rolling for Fetch
Defy the Grey Kings
The Dog Pit
The House of Nameless
Gunning for a Tinkerman
About the Author
These stories have been published previously in one form or another, and are collected here to give new readers a taste of my work. In this carefully selected collection I delve into the fantastic, the sad, the horrible and the humane. Like a needle-work sampler, here are seven fantastic threads, woven together for your pleasure.
By The Laws Of Crab And Woman
For her heresy, Reft climbed up to the House of the Pale Daughters. The law dictated that she take the penitent's path, so she stood barefoot and bleeding in the front courtyard, picking thorns and slivers of glass from her feet.
Reft held a crab on a leash, a juvenile almost up to her waist in height. Its shell was fresh after a recent moult, streaked with blue and orange. Like the other crabbers, Reft had fastened a platform to its back, drilling deep into the hardening shell. From now on, as the crab grew, the platform would grow, and by adulthood it would have entire buildings bristling from its back.
The inner door to the House opened, a thick slab of stone that turned easily on a pivot hinge. One old woman pushed it open with the tips of her fingers.She was like a piece of driftwood in a robe, flinty eyes buried in a maze of scars.
"Reft the heretic," she said. "You have come."
Reft fussed nervously about the crab, unpacking the trunks and crates that she’d lashed firmly to its back. With the tip of a coral knife, she parted the wax seal around the lid of an amphora.
It was honey, gold and thick, filled right up to the brim.
"What does this get me?" Reft asked.
"Death," the crone said.
"Yes," she said, voice shaking. "But how long does it get me?"
The ancient woman trailed a finger along the top, and sucked at the goopy mess. Where a thimble of honey was beyond the means of most, this was worth a fortune.
"One year," the woman said, and Reft moaned. She cut away more netting, revealing further trunks and crates. She spilled treasures at the old crone's feet. A breastplate made of laminated crab-castings, set with pearls. A dagger smelted from an iron ore, worth a prince's ransom. A shell-backed guitar, a tapestry, bags of rice and a cask of mash liquor.
With each gift, the old woman added time. One year became two, two became five, and soon Reft was adding mere days, pulling rings from her fingers and toes, plucking the silver hoops from her ears. Soon she was pushing the crab's leash into the old woman's hands, and she kneeled, weeping, begging for more time. She grabbed for the hem of her robe, but the crone stepped on her fingers.
"Have some dignity," the old woman said, a little disgusted. "Everyone dies."
"I have nothing now," Reft said. "I am ruined."
"You were ruined the moment you strayed," the woman said. "I give you eight years, Reft the heretic, and may every moment weigh upon you."