Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 65
Stories
Coachwhip and Wade, Hex-tamers for Hire
by Tony Pi and K.G. Jewell
Gods of War
by Steve Pantazis
'Til Devil Do Us Part
by Jamie Gilman Kress
IGMS Audio
'Til Devil Do Us Part
Read by Alethea Kontis
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
Yuca and Dominoes
by José Pablo Iriarte
Bonus Material
The Story Behind the Stories
by Tony Pi and K.G. Jewell
The Story Behind the Stories
by Jonathan Edelstein

'Til Devil Do Us Part
    by Jamie Gilman Kress
    Read by Alethea Kontis


  Listen to the audio version


Margery twisted the plain gold band around her finger, felt the catch of it against the callus formed from almost three decades of wear. After years he'd abandoned her for some elusive freedom lost in his youth. And he wanted to take everything they had with him. It wasn't enough to leave her broken-hearted. Carl wanted her broke as well.

"It doesn't have to be this hard." The voice came from just behind her left shoulder, the auditory equivalent of gulping olive oil. Everyone else pacing the courthouse lobby made noise, but Simon just appeared in a cloud of ashy cologne and unctuous words. Margery wasn't even sure anyone else saw him.

She didn't turn. Long years of teaching had taught her to keep a steady voice despite fear, but looking at him would reveal her shaking hands. "I'm not signing that ridiculous postnuptial agreement."

"Yes, you've made that quite clear." He placed a hand on her shoulder, the heat of it radiating like sunburn. "So, we've found an alternative solution."

"Ah." She stepped away from his touch. "Is there where you finally threaten to kill me?"

"Kill?" Simon's voice took on an indignant tone like sauce glugging from a bottle. "What kind of uncivilized monster do you think I am?"

"A demon." Her voice came out strangled, but it didn't crack.

"Yes, but that doesn't make me a murderer." Simon moved into Margery's peripheral vision with a quicksilver smile full of too many teeth. "There are rules, you know."
She stared at the wood panel walls lined with solid oak doors. "How would I know that?"
"Well, if it were that simple I'd have done it already. But," he continued, "no. Today we have a more interesting offer. How would you like a do-over?"

She stared at the ruddy bald spot ringed in sooty gray hair at the top of his head. Hard not to since he barely stood five feet tall and at least three inches of that came from the crimson platforms on his boots. They perfectly matched the pinstripes in his ill-fitted black suit. He should have looked like a cartoon character, but he radiated a competent sociopathy that left Margery's throat parched.

Simon didn't wait for her response. He danced over to a door, identical to all the others, swung his arms wide like a game show host presenting a prize. "Behind this door is the win-win solution for everyone. You step through and you're back in college, able to make a whole new set of choices. No putting Carl through grad school, no long nights convincing yourself he's just working late, no impending pauperdom. It's a good deal, Margie."

She shuddered. "Doesn't that risk changing things so he never made that money?"
Simon shrugged. "Branching theory physics. Very complicated. Basically, you live a new life there; we find a dead body here. No you, no marriage. Easy peasy."
"If I say no?"
"The options get less pleasant, fast. I've got a deadline, I can't get out of this ridiculous contract until your marriage ends--one way or another--and Carl will be here soon."

"What exactly is that contract?"
He sighed. "Not relevant. Now--"
"It's relevant to me." Marge crossed her arms under her breasts, taking strength from the stance. "So, if you want to finish your spiel and leave before Carl gets here, and you always do, you'll tell me. If not, I go into the hearing and you lose any slim chance of getting me to agree."

Simon snorted and looked almost proud. "My, my. The little missus has a ruthless streak. Fine. Basically Carl paid his soul to get all the riches he wanted." Simon smiled sympathetically. "Which, by the way, he only managed because of you. You really would be better off doing it over without him."
Marge rolled her eyes. "Yes, so you'd have me believe. Less pitch, more answers. Why do you care so much how we settle our divorce?"

"I care," Simon said, "because now he's claiming breach if he has to share his wealth with you since, of course, he wants it all. A breach is very, very bad for me."

"And I'd get to go back to college, be young again?" Margery almost considered it, but then she remembered her daughter, her grandson, her friends. Carl's betrayal hurt now, but someday that pain would fade. Besides, why should she have to start over when he had torn their life apart?

Besides--college had been defined by Carl. She wanted something else. "Can you send me to high school instead?"

"High school?" Simon frowned. "No one wants to go back to high school. There're whole realms of Hell that are just that."

"So, you can't do it?"

The demon looked at her, face scrunched. "I can." The last word sounded like a question.

"And all I have to do is walk through the portal?"

He sighed. "Just like the others I've offered."

She glanced at her watch hurriedly. Mind made up, she just wanted this whole mess over. "Fine, open it up."

Simon frowned harder. "You'll go through? Really?"

"What else would I do with it?"

Simon's puzzled look bled into a sly, knowing smile. "What indeed. Carl's here. We both know what he's like. Better hurry." He winked as he disappeared.

"Carl," Margie called out, "The lawyers want to talk before the hearing."

He silently brushed past her and through the door like Margery didn't exist. The same way he'd entered every room since he filed the papers.

Simon's portals all worked the same way. First one through got the prize. Just not the one expected. She'd tried blocking the bathroom door the last time he opened one, but an abrasive woman with sharp elbows forced her way past. The screams still echoed in Marge's nightmares.

This time she heard only the soft thump of a body falling as the door swung shut. A slow, cold grin spread over Margery's face.
Win-win indeed.


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