The Late Mr. Folsom's Luminosity Shop
by Megan Lee Beals
Oren learned of Mr. Folsom's passing when the Notice for Peaceful Death shot through
the polished brass slot above his desk. The notice carried the cerulean tag of Necessary Eviction
and a simple note scrawled on the back: A painting in the Luminosity Shop has recently awakened
to sentience in the absence of Mr. Folsom, and it has claimed his shop as its rightful inheritance.
Oren glanced to the other clerks at their desks and held the papers close to his face to hide
the tears gathering in his eyes. He worried that the grief he felt might seem presumptuous for the
junior-most clerk at the firm of Honeydew & Smith. He only knew the man for his luminariums:
the self-contained ecosystems of bioluminescent sea creatures that lit the great homes and greater
city buildings that could afford his work.
The greatest of these was the reception hall of the Ministry of the Unknown.
Oren's father took him to the unveiling of the MU's luminarium almost ten years ago. The
reception hall was a vaulted glass building thirty feet high. Mats of algae glowed under the glass
floors. Its ceilings swam with cuttlefish and moon jellies and a pair of star-eyed sharks.
"The ecology is so finely tuned that it can support higher predators," explained the leather-tough and bespectacled Mr. Folsom. While the MU's illustrious directors presented his work as a
symbol of their might, Mr. Folsom walked Oren through the scaffolding. The life inside the
luminarium would last until oil and candle wax were no longer remembered, and the only magic
present in his work was the impeccable balance of the larger world, scaled perfectly to fit inside its
On paper, the Ministry of the Unknown bought the luminarium to "keep our glorious
agents forever ablaze in the light of truth, as they worked to unravel the networks of dangerous
magic that plague the world beyond our city walls." To Oren, Mr. Folsom explained that they
bought his work to study at their leisure, searching for some evidence of that dangerous magic the
MU was sworn to fight. They believed no mundane art could create such wonders.
They found nothing in ten years of study. But now that a painting came alive inside Mr.
Folsom's shop, the MU would dig up his corpse just to bury him again.
Oren typed an eviction notice, sealed it, and dashed down the stairs to nab one of the
firm's bicycles before all the new ones were taken.