Thomas Fitzpatrick McAllister’s life was the very essence of boring and uneventful, to the extent that even his goldfish, who up until recently had always been a veritable fountain of excitement, had taken up the hobby of listening to dial tones while staring listlessly at the wall. It wasn’t even a particularly interesting wall, though it must be noted that it was painted a rather vibrant shade of ecru, and was quite possibly the most vibrant shade of anything in the entire apartment. Though Tom never entertained guests, whenever a plumber or handyman happened to complement the ecru wall, Tom was quick to point out that it had been that color when he moved in, and that the previous residents had probably been wild, uninhibited hippies who had bought the paint in the middle of a psychedelic trip.
Though his life had consisted of undressed salads, unscented deodorant, and a vast variety of other un-things for as long as he could remember (which was nearly everything since his traumatic fourth birthday, when some well-meaning but ill-informed aunt had attempted to give him a box of crayons), his comfortably dull, quiet life would soon be violently thrust into a world of excitement. And not a moment too soon, or this might have been an incredibly uninteresting story.
It had been just over a year since the second coming of Jesus and, like most atheists, I couldn’t say it had been a particularly good year for me.
Sure, the Lord’s first bit of business had included clearing up some of the more vague parts of the Bible, including some mistranslations and things his father had, in his words, “gotten wrong.” That put an end to a lot of bigotry. The lack of world hunger and the new commandments about littering were incredible, of course, more positive change than I’d hoped to see in my lifetime.
But it’s just… having proof that my entire belief system (or lack thereof) was absolutely backwards, and having every holier-than-thou relative constantly sending passive-aggressive emails filled with selfies of them and His Holiness…
My fellow non-believers converted, and one even became a priest. I think I’m one of the few who refused to do so.
My colleagues will note that in writing this paper I have not attempted to divide the research from myself, as can be noted here with my use of “I” and “my.” Unlike some individuals whom I will not name, I have never attempted to pass blame; I take full responsibility whenever it is deserved. Therefore, and because the use of the third person and passive speech loses the vibrancy and verve the subject of tyromancy deserves, I have elected to forgo the more pedantic and tedious tone such works more frequently employ.
This report discusses whether tyromancy, divination using cheese, might be more effective and accurate in its predictions than the more popular methods of scrying through reflective surfaces, such as mirrors or bodies of water. Specifically, the report considers whether tyromancy is more effective at divining colleagues’ misfortunes. While the literature on tyromancy must be greatly expanded, this study’s results indicate that indeed, cheese might tell us more than the average crystal ball, mirror, or pool of water.
He warned his wife the villagers would come. With their pitchforks, their fire. Their hateful ignorance.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “We have to leave. They saw beneath my mask.”
She did not listen. This was their home. Their little cottage by the burbling mountain stream. Their hard-won resting place after years of rootless travel, where they kept their lovingly tended garden with its fragrant roses and flowering vines, where she eschewed her strange abilities and practiced only mortal skill. An ideal place for a family, though they knew they could never have children now.
When he began to protest her lack of urgency she forced him into stillness and silence. She had that power.
At sunrise, I spy on the humans as they arrive. They mill around on the black sand beach; their children splash in the pea-green waves. So many children, born of their brief lives, shorter than those of the elves, shorter by far than mine. The humans clutch their schematics rolled in their fists. They await … Continue reading DP FICTION #71B: “Unstoned” by Jason Gruber
written by David Steffen Hello! This is one of those posts where I declare what is eligible for speculative fiction awards (such as the Hugo and Nebula and Locus) and in what category from Diabolical Plots offerings. Semiprozine Diabolical Plots itself is eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. Editor (Short Form) David Steffen … Continue reading Diabolical Plots 2020 Award Eligibility
It’s Tony Roomba’s last day on Earth. After two years of working undercover as a vacuum cleaner bot on this boondock planet, he is finally heading home to the Gamma Sector, but his final day is full of challenges. He has to get out of the apartment undetected; has to reach the extraction point in … Continue reading DP FICTION #70B: “Tony Roomba’s Last Day on Earth” by Maria Haskins
Something took a bite out of Mama’s hand. Well, worse than that. Tried to eat it, and judging by the puddle of vomit on the floor, couldn’t keep it down. “Oh, Mama,” I said, not even thinking about how she couldn’t hear me, “I’m so sorry.” Mama’s hand normally stayed inside the dining room cabinet, … Continue reading DP FICTION #69B: “Mama’s Hand of Glory” by Douglas Ford
So I’ve been at the dog park going on three hours now, and even some of the newbies have started looking at me funny. I’m used to it, though. I long ago got written off as one of the crazies, so far as the regulars are concerned. Every park has a couple—the folks who show … Continue reading DP FICTION #67A: “The Last Great Rumpus” by Brian Winfrey
The dancer spins, one limb upraised, precision-bevelled pointe toe poised against the place where a human knee would be. Cassia works leg-like appendages below its central chassis, tossing a frilly grey tutu out in a jellyfish whorl. It has a choice now: it could approximate anthropomorphic performance, occasionally wobbling, rotating its abdominal segment in concert … Continue reading DP FICTION #64B: “The Automatic Ballerina” by Michael Milne