Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Issue 13
Stories
Beautiful Winter
by Eugie Foster
Hologram Bride: Part Two
by Jackie Gamber
Second String
by David A. Simons
Command Transfer
by Darren Eggett
Folk of the Fringe Serialization
Salvage
by Orson Scott Card
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
De-Fence
by David Lubar
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

Writing Fantasy

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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

Second String
    by David A. Simons
Second String
Artwork by Kevin Wasden

I watched Ribaldi's 4,200th career goal from the sidelines, from my little metal folding chair.

It was a typical Ribaldi goal. No artistry, no foresight, no teamwork. He just ran to an open space on the left flank and waved his hands in the air, calling for the ball. "Hey! Look at me! I'm the superstar! Feed me!" Our midfielder, Jackson, did like always: beat his man, then lobbed the ball Ribaldi's way. Ribaldi corralled it with his chest, dribbled past the last defender, and launched one of his curling drives on goal. The Saudi keeper should have stopped it, but of course he didn't -- it grazed off his fingertips, into the net. Two-one, Australia.

And then Ribaldi did his little dance. His damn Brazilian samba. Shuffling his feet, swinging his hips, twirling his finger in the air, while the stadium's resonators blared his mongrel music, the buzz-cams circled his head and ninety thousand taxpayers screamed their delight.

In my twenty-six years as Ribaldi's backup, I'd watched this routine hundreds -- no, thousands -- of times, all from my little metal folding chair. All the while knowing how much Ribaldi hurt our team, that his undisciplined, selfish play was the reason Australia never advanced past the third round of the Dues Cup. But I would remain passive no longer.

This goal would be Ribaldi's last.

While Ribaldi and the other first-stringers finished their celebration, I activated a hidden transponder in my shoe, setting off a buzzer in the pocket of one of the Saudi defenders. The defender, Musahan, turned to me and grinned. Idiot! I stared at my knees.

The game resumed. Ribaldi's goal had given Australia a late lead, but there were still twelve minutes remaining, plenty of time for the Saudis. They pressed an attack, searching for open space in Australia's zone. Ribaldi, of course, didn't help defend -- he stayed in the offensive end, waiting for a counter. Musahan tracked him.

Jackson gained possession, dropped the ball back to our keeper, who cleared it up field into the Saudi zone, into Ribaldi's open left flank. Ribaldi gave chase, eyes wide, nostrils flared, charging full speed, his 4,201st goal in sight.

He never saw Musahan.

The defender reached the ball just after Ribaldi did and slid into his path, swinging his thick right leg. Of course, Musahan was nominally aiming for the ball, but he connected instead with his primary target: Ribaldi's shin. The crack could be heard across the pitch.

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