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Clumso

“Clumso is very sorry about the dishes,” says Clumso.

“It’s fine,” says Maya.

“Also the car. And the little puppy.” Clumso heaves a sigh and tries to lean on a column, misses, stumbles, and smashes a flower pot. “Oh no!”

“It’s fine,” Maya repeats.

“Clumso is so bad at this!” he sniffles, wiping his nose with one enormous, grubby hand. “Clumso never means to break things!”

“Intent isn’t magic,” says Maya, with the slightest strain in her voice.

“But MAGIC is!” shouts Madame Zaganza, bursting in with stars showering from her wand. “Correcto tremundis!

And that fixes everything!

It’s all better!!

Holly

A gust through one open window, and the tarot goes whipping away out the other. Madame Zaganza yelps; Holly clears the sill like a hurdler. The scar on her hand barely bothers to ache.

She finds cards in gutters and tree branches, but a good deck is waxed to protect the inks, and these have all washed blank. She wipes wet hair from her forehead. Then she realizes what that means.

The storm pounds like the pulse of a giant, and Holly opens her arms: soaked to the skin, cold and laughing. She drinks the rain until her heart is full.

Azalea

“It doesn’t have to be personal correspondence,” says the Great Zaganza, Philatelogist, “you just want a general forecast, yes?”

“Yes,” says Azalea, who is going to war.

“Then junk mail will do,” says Zaganza. He sifts it out of her bag, then cuts out its corners: they scrape up the self-adhesives with razors and soak out the lick-and-sticks. Soon they’re poring over nine stamps, arranged by price, blurred by postmark.

“You’re going to get a lot more junk mail,” says Zaganza at last.

“That’s good!” says Azalea, swelling.

“But that doesn’t,” frowns Zaganza, “really change when you die.”

Holly

“Please, sit down,” croons Madam Zaganza, Personal Readings.

Holly stands. Her hand’s still bandaged. “My friend Rowan,” she says, “she did this.”

“Good! Then you know to shuffle–”

“I caused the drought,” Holly blurts. “I killed all those people.”

“Oh, honey,” says Zaganza. She pulls off the turban and becomes a tired man in lipstick. “Sit down. You know how many people have told me that?”

“I’m different,” Holly whispers. “I was–Rose and Roger–and the rain doesn’t fall–”

“It falls on the just and the unjust.” Zaganza smiles sadly. “You don’t change the weather, honey. The weather changes you.”

Rita

The Great Zaganza furrows his brow, stretches out one hand and says “Nothing’s jumping out at me,” and then something does. It gives an impression of mostly teeth.

Rita tackles him hard as Sandra pivots in, hammering the thing down with one arm. It bounds up, snarling, high-pitched. Rita throws Zaganza aside and scrambles for her holster, too slow–

Zip. Zip. Mary’s silencer jerks twice; it hits the floor with a wet thud.

“Corticophore,” she says. “Smells psychoactivity. Guess you’re the real deal, Z.”

Zaganza’s cheek twitches. He’s very pale. Rita has difficulty getting an exact count of the creature’s mouths.

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