Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 53
Not on the Gallows
by Harry Turtledove
The Fairy Godfather
by Tim McDaniel
Carry On, Torus
by Gregor Hartmann
by Michael Meyerhofer
It Becomes You
by Laura-Marie Steele
Why Death is Silent
by William Fischer
IGMS Audio
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
The Toll
by Chuck Wendig

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The Toll
    by Chuck Wendig

Esbern and Tinturn sat crammed beneath the tiny stone bridge like wads of garbage shoved in the too-small mouth of a trash can. Esbern, clearly the larger of the two, sheltered the smaller and younger Tinturn beneath his tree branch arms, beneath his bent and broken nose, beneath his nest of gently twitching chin whiskers. Esbern also craned his bone spur arm around Tinturn's back, his soft-palmed hand held tight against his side: his old wound was throbbing again. And now, it was leaking--greasy bile like snot flecked with soot. He groaned.

"It's almost night," Tinturn said, his voice a throaty warble, like a little bird with gravel in its gullet. "We can go out soon."

"Don't want to go out," Esbern growled.

"Are you hurting again?"

"No," Esbern lied.

"You're leaking. I can smell it." It did smell. Like hot tar with a hint of vinegar: thus was the blood of the troll.

"It's not that. I haven't washed."

"We never wash." The creek dried up decades before. It was now just a ragged scar with dusty stones.

"Then that's why I smell."

Tinturn sensed the tension in his elder. He waited a few moments, then tried again: "If we go out, you can tell me a story."

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