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Edition 19: The Meet by Geoffrey Collins

flag Ausralia

This is the place where it will go down. Where back-up is not a precaution; it’s a requirement. Lines are drawn in the sand, in the face of oncoming darkness and despair. SY

In every evening there is a time when the city takes a stops to take a breath. The five o’clock exodus is over and the workers are home deciding what to be instead. Shop doors are closed and locked, streetlights blink on. As the tide of the day runs out, in the ebb of its last waves, you can find things that are always there but usually hidden.

I had found a neon sign with a name in Bauhaus script that pulsed red in the puddles on the sidewalk below. The sign fronted a bar, a sub-street level affair with a grey-stone office block squatting on top of it, a narrow courtyard in front with dwarf hemlocks in terracotta pots and some wrought iron settings with the sunshades dropped, chairs resting against the tables.

For a week I had been watching the place like a hunter in a blind, subsisting on coffee and bagels from the kosher delicatessen on the corner, skulking back to a bolt-hole hotel room before dawn. People came, people went; I watched. After a few days I had called for back-up, hoping I wouldn’t be thought overly cautious. When I saw who had been sent, I knew I needn’t have worried.

“You’ve become soft,” said a voice in my ear. “I could never have come up on you before.”

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Edition 19: Riding a Runaway by Andrew Knighton

flag UKA runaway train hurtling toward the imperial palace. Dirk Dynamo and Timothy Blaze-Simms have to run the gauntlet of automated foot soldiers of a madman bent on vengeance. This pulp-fiction style steampunk was another finalist in 2014’s Story Quest competition. SY

Dirk Dynamo braced himself as the train roared towards him out of the darkness, the cacophony of its wheels and the harsh light from its lamps filling the tunnel. The air was thick with coal smoke and the smell of deep earth. He was tense, coiled, ready for action.

“What a splendid sound!” Timothy Blaze-Simms shouted to be heard.

“Get ready.” Dirk’s hand dropped instinctively to his belt. The reassuring cold steel of the Gravemaker was secure in its holster beneath his fur coat. Down here he was sweating like a Prussian in the sunshine, but he’d be glad of the warmth when they got back up into the Moscow snow.

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