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Edition 25: Mwah by S Marston

Andy can program like a demon and his black bots are the scourge of the web. But Andy has a dark past of his own, one he thought buried and gone, right up until that one private message. SY

Watch Andy’s fingers skip deftly across the keyboard. Notice the speed, their steady rhythm, how each fingertip uses a little more force than is needed, implying anger or frustration of a sort. Now draw back and look at him, all of him, hunched and heavy over the laptop with his eyes fixated on the screen, a focus that would put Buddhists to shame. He’ll stay like that, in that very position, coding and calculating until he passes out, when the need to dream finally surpasses the coke and ephedrine. That smell is of Andy’s making. That’s weeks of sweat coating his body, from the mismanagement of the thermostat and an aversion to showering. The urine stagnating in the nearby toilet isn’t helping. Last week’s milk, in those unfinished bowls of cereal, might be long-life but it’s not immortal.

Normally he makes it to his bed, though sometimes he’ll go down right there at the desk to a restless sleep. He works for the logic, the kindest distraction that the world will offer him. When he wakes, he remembers her; then he returns to his computer. He sits and scripts new features for his creations and years have passed like this.

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Edition 4: The Mermithergate Grin by S. Marston

flag RSAThere is very old magic in Africa that only the isangoma know. Lloyd, in his quest for science, discovers viruses can create astounding influence when used in a particular way. Lloyd’s work begins in pure curiosity, but even the best of intentions can be perverted. SY

Part 1

Before the NASDAQ and the dollar; before the Dutch took their first wind; before credit, paper, gold; this currency was traded and it was old even then.

In Africa, a ten dollar bill as the last page in your passport will get you across a border, but it will not sway the darkness. The original darkness. That one that was on the face of the abyss, at the beginning of all of this; for that entity, there is only one thing with which to trade. Now a goat’s blood will suffice as the price to remove a wart, or cure cramps. But for the big ticket items, for life or wealth, love or freedom, it won’t be a goat bleeding at your feet. The price takes the form of an organ. A small piece of someone. And that object, the soft tissue in itself is not the issue, but rather the act, the means, the bleeding. As was the lesson taught to Shakespeare’s merchant.

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