Behind the pulpit the air smells like sawdust and the dry bitter odor of the snakes. From the darkness underneath their cages, you listen to the slow, purposeful rustlings in the straw and count time by the color of the sunlight spilling past the cross painted on the window.
Now it’s lemon-gold and slanting low. He ought to be here in the next few breaths. You grin, testing the newness of your mouth. The long sullen night is behind you now. When he walks through that door, you’ll be ready.
My fantasy/horror story “let the Serpent Judge” is appearing in “Criminal Variations,” the fall issue of Orthogonal Magazine. Orthogonal is a nifty new addition to the fantasy publishing sphere, with a lovely (and disturbing) webpage that features the first issue, themed “The War At Home.”
Orthogonal bills itself as the “pop-up restaurant of literary speculative fiction.” With five strange stories by Sara L. Johnson, Michael J. Deluca and other gifted authors, “The War at Home” ranges across time and space, lingering in the mind long after you’re done reading.
I’m thrilled that “Serpent,” a tale of abuse, treachery and retribution set among the snake handling cults of Appalachia, will (I hope) be one of those stories too.