Letter From The Editor - Issue 58 - August 2017

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Issue 28
Stories
The Curse of Sally Tincakes
by Brad Torgersen
Blank Faces
by M.K. Hutchins
The Snake King Sells Out
by Rahul Kanakia
Calling the Train
by Jeff Stehman
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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

Master Madrigal's Mechanical Man
    by Scott C. Mikula

Master Madrigal's Mechanical Man
Artwork by Jin Han

I tried to shut out the crowd's roar, but the thunder of a thousand feet pounding above us in the arena stands rose until I could feel the breastplate of the mechanical swordsman vibrate beneath my touch. Master Madrigal gestured with his palsied hand for me to replace the automaton's helmet, but I hesitated long enough to examine the delicate inner workings. Just one small adjustment -

A cuff to the back of my head arrested my motion. "We have spoken of this, Cetta," said Madrigal. "There is no problem with the balance." He crossed his arms, tucking his useless right hand out of sight beneath his sleeve.

I was twelve years old when I persuaded my mother to send me to her uncle Madrigal, after his illness. It was supposed to be temporary, but his palsy only worsened in the intervening years. The word apprentice was never used. Girls did not apprentice to craftsmen like Madrigal, and I don't think he would have taken an apprentice in any case. He referred to me as his hands. My deft fingers did the work his no longer could.

"Yes, Master Madrigal." I set the helmet as he had indicated, covering switches and levers and the gyroscope I believed flawed, but my belly roiled with indignation. Madrigal thought me no more intelligent than the automaton, as though my head, too, were full of switches and levers contrived to direct me to his bidding. But I held my tongue. Contesting Madrigal's opinion would only make him sour and stubborn.

The applause gave way to a muted anticipation as Lybron, the opposing swordsman, made his way to his corner of the combat yard. He was handsome, with a mane of golden-yellow hair that flowed loose behind him. He stood with an easy grace, exuding pride like a strong perfume.

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