Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 35
Tangible Progress
by Edmund R. Schubert
Last Resort
by Michael Greenhut
Wet Work: A Tale of the Unseen
by Matthew S. Rotundo
Southside Gods
by Sarah Grey
Tales for the Young and Unafraid
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
At the Picture Show: Extended Cut
Beautiful demise
by Chris Bellamy

The Elder Thing and the Puddle People
    by Samuel Boyd Taylor

The Elder Thing and the Puddle People
Artwork by Lance Card

"Want to go outside, Momma!" Gwenny said, and to show how much she wanted it, she jumped up and down three times while holding the door handle to the back yard. She'd already put on her green galoshes with the smiley frog faces on them, but she hadn't changed out of her purple princess dress with all the glitter and lace. She didn't want to change. She was a princess today, and she was prepared to throw a screaming fit to stay one.

"Gwenny, it's still raining. There's lightning."

"My puddle, Momma. Puddle people want to play!" She again jumped up and down three times.

Momma came to the door, turned Gwenny around, and gave her a kiss on the forehead. "You and your imaginary friends. You love that puddle so much - why that one puddle?"

"Not majnary. Puddle people want to play."

"Gwenny, the storm . . ." But already the rain was slowing, beading on the Barbie Dream House and the Lego Death Star buried at opposite ends of the sandbox. "Alright. How do you ask?"

"Pweeeeze, Momma."

"Well, let's put your raincoat and hat on."

From the Confessions of Yrr'dra the Heretic, 527th Generation of the People of the Lake:

Lo! And the cycle did repeat, and events did come to pass just as the Glitternomicon foretold, would that I could have stopped them. Upon the coming of the rain and the reawakening of the Krr'atn Race - We of Beak and Tentacle, We of the Ocean of the Four Corners - the Elder Thing returned to us and squealed Its sky-splitting squeal and waded in among us. It came with the green feet that had eyes and mouths, and with the yellow, rubbery outerskin, and with the lace and the glitter - oh, the horrible, horrible glitter.

It towered above our vast ocean, terrible and terrifying, body stretched unto the sky, and we raised our tentacles to It and begged for Its benevolence, for Its patience, and for the kindness It so rarely showed.

High Priest Frrr'maakh declared our prayers a success when It danced into the middle of the ocean, and we launched leaf-ships to visit It and dance with It even as the rain became heavy again. Many perished in overturned leaves, hit by falling water or the splashes of Its feet, but we heard the laughs and screeches of our God, the Elder Thing, and we thanked It for killing so few of us.

One-third of our generation passed in peace and joy before the Elder Thing began to stomp our ships and destroy our villages with strikes from her huge, horrible, pink hands. We knew not the cause for its fury, but It rose up and loosed the great cackling noise that always presaged destruction.

The king of us all, the Great Krr'huna, trembled and raised his tentacles to Our God, said unto it, "Eek!" And there was much panic, and the masses fled to the shores and screamed and cowered.

But the High Priest Frr'maakh responded with a decree he read aloud from the steps of our temple: "As described in the Glitternomicon, our God is angered with us. Only the sacrifice of a youngling will appease Its wrath. Lotteries shall be held forthwith to determine who shall be offered up to save us all."

Gwenny squealed and laughed and laughed even more, swinging her muddy, glittery dress around, stomping on the puddle people. They were so much fun. They loved to get squished, and they were funny when they fell into the water and sank. She loved it when she sat in front of their houses making funny sounds so she could stomp them better. This was the best game ever!

In every city and every village, the people of the Four Corners wept at the unjustness of having a God that demanded such sacrifice.

When they pulled Mrr'ka, daughter of my fiftieth egge, from the lottery pits, she knelt to Our God, burying her beak in the dirt and praying as if this were a blessing. With her tentacles clasped together and held on high, she sang the praises of the great Elder Thing: "God is great! Gave us the chocolate cake!"

But I wept, and threw myself through the crowds and wrapped myself about her, screaming, "No! Flee with me! This is madness!"

Of all the egges I had lain, hers was the most beautiful, and I could not part with her. I would not.

But my daughter averted her eyes. "Mother," she said, "you speak a heresy of the darkest and most forbidden kind. You must turn your heart away from this bleakness, or there will be no room for you in the Great Plastic Dream House when you die. Only the doom of the Lego Death Star awaits such doubts!"

But I railed against the madness and blindness of our leaders in front of a large crowd, and I was taken along with her for sacrifice unto the Great Northern Mountain, both of our deaths considered necessary to appease the Elder Thing.

As soon as I was near the altar and my blindfold removed, I fell on my hands and knees and begged for my life, proclaiming, "Let me atone for my sins! Let me sacrifice my own daughter, let me offer her squigglysquooch unto the lace and the terrible, terrible glitter!"

There came a murmur of approval from the guards and nobles nearby. Indeed, the King himself said, "Eek!" and so my request was approved.

High Priest Frr'maakh stepped forward and handed me the sacrificial knife and declared: "Yrr'dra, Mother of the Chosen Sacrifice, I anoint you with the holy duty to offer sacrifice unto Our God, to appease Its wrath, and to save the People of the Ocean of the Four Corners from destruction."

My daughter lay tied to a rock, and I raised the knife high over her, and Our God, the Elder Thing, lowered its head to watch. I saw the twin and terrible blue eyes of Our Lord focus upon me, just as I had hoped they would.

I ran toward Our Lord, then, and the King and the High Priest and their attendants fell back in horror, wailing and praying for forgiveness, begging that in death they not be exiled from the Great Plastic Dream House.

I leaped and landed upon the Elder Thing's nose, and Its eyes crossed trying to watch me. It reared back from the mountain and shrieked, the sound so close and so loud that it shook the jelly inside my squigglysquooch. Far below I could see the smiling faces on Its green feet stomping through the water, sending towering waves of destruction unto the Four Corners. One wave ate away the foundation of the Great Northern Mountain and a landslide raged down the slope, burying the King and the High Priest and many more, but Mrr'ka remained untouched, still tied to the rock.

"Why do you do this?" I yelled. "What is it you want from us? Leave us alone!" And then I stabbed Our God's nose. I relished Its screams even as I toppled back toward the water, sure I would die, and all I saw was lace and glitter - oh, the horrible, horrible glitter!

"Gwenny!" Momma yelled, running over and scooping her up, standing ankle deep in the puddle as she cuddled her close. Gwenny snuggled in tight to Momma's shoulder and sobbed and squeezed her nose. "Gwenny, what happened?"

"Mean puddle lady!" Gwenny said. "Bit my nose!"

"Aww. You and your puddle people."

"Don't like anymore. Stomp them Momma! Stomp them!"

Momma paused, probably thinking about saying no, but then she saw the tears in Gwenny's eyes and the bottom lip sticking out, and the sore spot on her nose, and Momma stomped and kicked and smashed the edges of the puddle.

Gwenny giggled then, and her Momma did too.

"Feel better, baby?"

"Yes, Momma."

"Good. Let's go inside and play with the Lego People."

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