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Edition 20: A Song For First Hours by Kirstyn McDermott

Making pacts with supernatural beings can be a dangerous practice. Hespa, whose connection with her young daughter is at stake, must suffer uncertainty for many years before the reckoning… SY

The baby monitor was silent. It wasn’t the soft ambience of a sleeping infant but rather a cold, plastic void. Wishing they’d paid extra for the model with an inbuilt camera, Hespa rolled out of bed. She didn’t bother to wake Martin; a dead battery in the transmitter was the likely culprit and there was no use both of them losing sleep over it.

Halfway down the hall, she paused, breath catching in her throat. As usual, the door to Lisel’s room stood generously ajar but from beyond it there came a faint glow, almost a shimmer in the air, like the play of summer heat on a long bitumen road.

She all but ran the rest of the way.

Bending over the crib was a thin, pale figure who straightened swiftly as Hespa lurched into the room. The slippery, shimmery light seemed to emanate from that strange frosted skin, or perhaps it was the spider-silk hair that glowed, or the robes that fell in spangled waves from shoulders narrow and sharp.

“Get away from her!” Hespa gasped, hastening over to where Lisel lay sleeping with little hands curled loose into fists.

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