Magazine: Fantasy Scroll #9

Fantasy ScrollFantasy Scroll Magazine

This can’t be the place. I’m looking across a dirty, crowded train station at a magazine stand. My sources tell me this is where I should look for my next magazine, but I’m thinking about looking for new sources instead.

I decide not to approach right away, in case it’s a trap. I walk to a pretzel cart and pay for a soft pretzel. When the vendor hands me my pretzel, I can feel it’s as hard as a rock. I rap it on the edge of the cart, but pretzel man just shrugs. I throw it into the tip box of a street musician, a Chinese man with a karaoke box. He’s singing “Whiter Shade of Pale” using only vowels, and has the volume turned up to eleven.

I’ve had enough of this place. Trap or no trap, it’s time to finish this. I don’t try to hide my intent, heading straight for the magazine stand. Its vendor sits on a stool, but I can’t see much of him behind the newspaper he’s reading.

He looks over the top of his paper as I approach. “Ah, you’re the one who’s looking for a science-fiction magazine.”

“Who told you that?”

He shows me the front page of his paper. There’s a photo of me, and the headline reads “Magazine Quest Continues – No End in Sight”. I don’t catch the name of the paper before he folds it away.

I hold up some cash to show him I can pay. “OK, pal, let me see your sci-fi mags, so I can pick one.”

“Oh, no, friend. You don’t choose the magazine, the magazine chooses you.”

“Listen, buddy, you can’t just move words around in sentences. It changes the meaning.”

A magazine flies off the rack, and I catch it one-handed before it hits me in the face.

The man raises his palms. “Please, read before you buy, mon ami.”

“I’ll do that, amigo.” I sit down on a bench and begin to read, before realizing that the karaoke machine has “Whiter Shade of Pale” on continuous loop.

Short Stories

Thomas Lynne by Jordan Taylor. I liked the 50’s small-town setting and the writing style of this faerie story, but I was expecting something more from its ending.

Sea Found by LR Hieber. A well-written ghost story.

Fountain by Lynda Clark. I found the writing confusing in this space western with a cross-gender main character.

Beneath the Raven’s Wing by Rebecca Birch. This isn’t a bad faerie story, but here are a few quotes:

“Gray wisps of mist … coiled around her, grasping and cold.”
“The voice caressed her earlobe, her spine, …”
“… the voice that turned her blood to mulled brandy.”
“The deep voice thrummed down her spine and nestled in her belly like a hot stone.”

The technical term for this style of writing is “fancy-pants”.

Exit Strategy by Shane Halbech. A nice fantasy story about a heist (from a dragon). I would have liked just a bit more tension in the final resolution.

Where the Millenials Went by Zach Lisabeth. An incredibly silly story.

Scents of Life by Robert Russell. An Alzheimer’s story. If you’ve been around someone with Alzheimer’s, you might find this story heartwarming, or heartbreaking. Unfortunately, the science-fiction content is minimal.

The Parting Gift by Hall Jameson. A story with some cryptids and possibly a space alien.

I toss the magazine back to the vendor. “No sale, dude.”

“Your loss, bro. I’m not the one on a quest.”

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5 comments

  1. I love your framing story. The scene was vivid with an undertone of humor. Too bad about the magazine.

    1. It was actually above the average, but not good enough to make it to round 2.

      I’ll have a post at the end of round 1 which ranks the mags from best to worst.

      1. That’s a great idea. Helps all of us keep up.

  2. This type of storytelling fits into a great dystopian film like the Matrix. For some reason I pictured Neo catching the magazine and Morpheus being the man selling them.

    1. That’s a great take on it, which I hadn’t considered. I was thinking of a kind of reverse Harry Potter, where instead of everything being magical and wonderful, it was mundane and annoying. Most of the elements of the story were, sadly, non-fictional.

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