Letter From The Editor - Issue 68 - April 2019

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Issue 33
The Other City
by J.S. Bangs
Small Creatures and Large
by Michael Haynes
Thirteen Words
by J. Deery Wray
IGMS Audio
The Other City by J.S. Bangs
Read by Stuart Jaffe
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews

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

Thirteen Words
    by J. Deery Wray

Thirteen Words
Artwork by Nicole Cardiff

When I first saw Mr. Evans, he didn't look any different from my regular patients. If it weren't for the restraints at his wrists and ankles, I would have questioned Nurse Eileen's insistence on personally walking me through his medical chart. But cymbies don't need restraints.

"He's not a cymbie, Nurse Sophia," Eileen said. "He'll wake soon. You'll see it then. He still remembers how to use his tongue. Only knows about ten words, but he does love to say them. He'll fight you every chance he gets. I've had to spoon feed him for the last ten years because they won't let me put him on an IV feed. But that's your problem now."

And it was.

"Forty, clover, key," Mr. Evans shouted.

I wiped the spittle from his chin. He jerked away from my touch which still surprised me, but in a good way. A patient responding to stimuli shouldn't seem strange, but I'd worked with nothing but cymbie patients for so long; six weeks wasn't enough time for the novelty to wear off.

"Happy, harmonica."

"Happy harmonica," I replied.

The words were an even greater novelty. He'd say "glass" next, then "tar," "box," "house,","weapon," "orange," "barrier," and "forgive." Nurse Eileen had been wrong. He knew thirteen words. They'd become a litany I repeated to myself as I tended to my cymbies.

"Glass, tar."

I couldn't help but smile. Tending to Mr. Evans had become the highlight of my day. Sure, he wasn't getting any better, but he also wasn't getting any worse. And I could accept that. It was harder to accept that cymbies just get worse.

"Box, house."

Like everyone else I knew, I followed the cymbid research, or rather the lack of it. In the early days, I'd been too young to understand the pull of it. I just saw my father smile more when the newscasts spoke of a bright new line of inquiry, less when the studies failed to pan out, then more again at the appearance of a new possibility. But as I grew older, as all the treatments and herbicides proved futile, I came to dread those newscasts. I watched them because I had to hope, but what I felt when I watched them was fear.

"Weapon, orange, barrier," Mr. Evans spat out.

No matter how much we struggled to find answers, the cymbies never struggled. The end came sooner for them, and the rest of us . . . How long before we're all infected? But no, it was no more useful to think of the end of humanity than it was to think of the research lost back on C-day. If there'd ever been any research.

"Forgive, fort--"

An unending beep sounded as Mr. Evans' heart stopped.

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