Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Issue 52
Stories
Silverbird Rising
by Rebecca Birch
The Cenotaph
by Deborah L. Davitt
A Touch of Scarlet
by David Steffen
Cabbage Communion
by Chris Phillips
Orphaned
by James Van Pelt
IGMS Audio
Orphaned by James Van Pelt
Read by Stuart Jaffe
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
Waiting for Rain
by Mary Robinette Kowal
Bonus Material
Ghost Talkers
by Mary Robinette Kowal

Writing Fantasy

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Cabbage Communion
    by Chris Phillips

Cabbage Communion
Artwork by Andres Mossa

The hallowed fields of the Ludlow farm waited a safe distance from McClernand, Kentucky. Clydette Terry, a sixth grader with sad eyes and a tangle of hair, hid her bike and paused at the edge of the long, dark driveway, trying to catch her breath. So far from town, all the roads were dirt stretches barren of anything except for washed out gouges and empty beer cans tossed out by teenage kids, but even drunk kids wouldn't dare to venture to the Ludlow farm.

There was a rumor bleeding through town that if a person traveled far enough up East Cliff Road, they'd run right into the gates of heaven. . . or hell, depending on who you asked. Clydette had no intention of going any further up the road. At night, the profound Kentucky darkness thrummed with sound, a chorus of bullfrogs and crickets all trying for first chair in the orchestral choir of midnight. Now and then, a woman-like scream cut through the insect symphony.

It wasn't human, though. Coyotes had taken up residence in the Bluegrass State and helped themselves to stray cats and all the rabbits they could catch. Clydette wished everything would shut up so she could concentrate as she sneaked down the driveway toward the rows that the locals called their destiny.

The Ludlow Garden, which most people spoke of in whispers if at all, was the place where the dead made their transition from this life to the next. Clydette's mother had been driving the school bus at the time of the accident. That was six days ago. On the seventh, Ludlow would harvest fifteen heads and bring them to town for communion. Clydette would buy herself a miracle before that happened.

Cottonwood branches slapped her face, making her sneeze, while the spiny fingers of hawthorns snagged her clothes, pleading for her to turn back. Clydette pushed through the boughs and tried to control her breathing as she moved along the narrow, rutted drive. In a pinch, David Ludlow might shove a lawnmower pulling a small cart with a body down it, but most of the time he walked where he needed to go, catching a ride from a Christian whenever the preacher wasn't looking.

She emerged into a field backed by a dense wall of foliage. The moonlight reached down from overhead, shading the place in pale blue with a half-shuttered crescent stare. A tiny house, dark as the asphalt through a graveyard, clung to a low rise as if in defiance of the forest. A large section of the field was dedicated to sheep. The animals were silent, but the earthy scent of wool and manure sat heavy in the empty space. Clydette swallowed as she scanned the area for the garden gate, grimacing as the whiff of sheep manure coated her tongue.

Her mama used to say that the hallowed ground was protected by magic. How she knew this, Clydette had no idea, but when knowledge ran scarce, rumors did just fine until experience filled in the gaps.

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