Letter From The Editor - Issue 56 - April 2017

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Issue 42
Stories
A Dragon's Doula
by M.K. Hutchins
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by Adria Laycraft
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by Samuel Marzioli
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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints
    by Rachael K. Jones

Wine for Witches, Milk for Saints
Artwork by Anna Repp

My grandmother would have disapproved of a Tinker in a Father Christmas suit, my customary dress in the children's hospital each December. She believed no good could come of frivolity in our profession, when a routine procedure could end in tragedy. I saw her point when I found myself delivering bad news in costume to a seven-year-old and her sick friend on Christmas Eve.

Maria wasn't supposed to be in Lia's hospital room to begin with. She should have been in the Puppet Ward with her little brother Enzo, who was infected with puppetism. Instead, the two young girls curled up cross-legged on the hospital bed, divvying up sweets I knew Lia shouldn't eat in her condition. Congenital heart failure didn't require abstention from sugar, but with her transfer imminent, the Coromancers advised against heavy food, as it could interfere with medical magic.

I didn't know how she'd smuggled in the contraband, but that was Maria. It wasn't easy for siblings of sick children, stuck in a hospital for days on end. Maria coped by slipping into all sorts of places she shouldn't go. But on Christmas Eve, we all tended to look the other way.

"Maria," said Dr. Vanessa Silva, "would you please step out? We need a little privacy with the Giordanos right now."

"Mamma, can't she stay?" Lia asked.

"Of course. I'm sure it's all right," said Mrs. Giordano. She shut her book and gave Dr. Silva her full attention. "What's the trouble, dottore?"

Dr. Silva stole another glance at Maria, breathed deep. "I'm afraid there's been a delay on Lia's transfer today."

"What do you mean 'a delay'?" Mrs. Giordano asked in a careful, strained voice.

Dr. Silva rubbed her temple. She had volunteered to work the Christmas shift so the other Coromancers could be with their families tonight. But I knew she had no one to go home to except the absence of her elderly cat, who had died earlier this month. She cleared her throat. "The cogs Enzo needs were shipped from a Tinker in Canada last week. The package should have been here two days ago, but I'm afraid it's been lost. Without the cogs, we can't transfer Enzo's puppetism to Lia today as planned."

It was actually a good deal worse than that. Originally, we'd ordered the cogs from a Tinker in Belgium, but before they were produced, authorities discovered the Tinker had been selling precious human organ cogs on the black market for use in machinery. The Tinkers' Code forbade the use of human parts, even broken, discarded ones, to repair a machine, and they jailed him for it. A Canadian Tinker filled the order at the last minute, but now the package had gone missing en route to Vittorio Veneto. Without the cogs, I couldn't repair Enzo, and Dr. Silva couldn't perform the magic disease transfer that would cure Enzo's puppetism by infecting Lia.

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