Letter From The Editor - Issue 69 - June 2019

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Issue 69
To Know and Be Known
by Aimee Ogden
The Chaos Crushers' Day Off
by Alethea Kontis
Long Hair
by Stefan Slater
IGMS Audio
Long Hair
Read by Kaitlin Bellamy
Vintage Fiction
by Eric James Stone
Bonus Material
The Story Behind the Stories
by Jared Oliver Adams

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To Know and Be Known
    by Aimee Ogden

To Know and Be Known
Artwork by M. Wayne Miller

Before the explosion, Rrela is enjoying a productive day on the tower.

All around her, stone grinds against stone, and the caustic clouds rising off the lime mortar sting her eyes and nose. The winds at this altitude whip from side to side, threatening to pull her hair free from its gathered knot. Some of the young stonelayers on the level below have their voices raised in song. Not a hymn; the latest ballad making its way up the tower from the teahouses and bathing pools in the city below. She closes her eyes to drink it in, and for a moment it is as if the tower beneath her is rising, rising, bearing her heavenward. Not with the slow grind of her thirty years' work, but on the swift wings of a storm-cloud. She imagines the reception that awaits humankind in the unknowable heavens . . . and the dream dissolves, then, for she cannot picture herself being welcomed into the halls of the gods. Rrela believes the gods want to be known. Just not by her.

The spell broken, Rrela opens her eyes. Her stylus finishes a stroke already begun, without a mark awry to show its interruption. More figures join the first on the tablet: calculations for how much fresh lime must be brought up from the tower's base, the margin for error she can afford to lose to wind or accident, when the climbers can fit in such a shipment in between the stone and food that must come up, the waste that must come down. She pauses only once, to draw her monocular for a peek down the tower. She sizes up the current stoneload being raised by the climbers strung along down the outside of the tower, and works that estimate into her calculations.

The stonelayers have finished their song by the time she has a satisfactory answer. Her stylus doesn't yet still, checking and rechecking her numbers before she passes them off to her assistant, Miiryes, for one last pass of validation. There are no second chances at these heights of human daring and ingenuity.

She tucks the tablet into her pouch and tilts her head back. Strands of glittering gold drape between the stars, and where these strands cross, the palaces of heaven are suspended like beads of liquid light. She looks up so rarely these days, her eyes forever pinned to her tablet and her tower. Perhaps the tower will not make those who will come after her worthy of entry to the strange domain above. But if humankind is a looking glass, made to reflect the best of the gods back up to them? Then those who live in that world above must be curious, too.

Vibrations hum through the thin soles of her boots.

The tower groans and Rrela recognizes its pain. She is already moving, between the pairs of frightened stonelayers, past Miiryes who is trying to rein in the cadre of panicking assistants. The only question in Rrela's heart is how to alleviate the damage.

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