Short Fiction

The Karma of Wasps

©2012 Cynthia Rudzis 

The Karma of Wasps
by Patricia Snodgrass, artwork by Cynthia Rudzis 

It was early April when Beverly Martin noticed the polistes wasp queen building her nest high in the pitch of the front porch roof. It was just a small daub of paper carefully smeared along the rafters, but Beverly knew that soon the young queen would lay her first clutch of eggs in the cells she was busy constructing.

Don, Beverly’s husband, was uneasy about allowing a wasp to build her nest there, but Beverly reassured him. “This species isn’t very aggressive,” she told him. “And she’s high up enough in the rafters as not to be a bother. Polistas are quite beneficial, especially when it comes to your garden. They’ll take care of the cabbage loopers and corn bores that you complain about. Besides, if you tear it down, she’ll just rebuild it, and then she really will be irate.”

“They won’t bother your bees?” He asked, frowning up at the queen.

“No, they’re not like yellow jackets and won’t invade the apiary.”

“All right,” he conceded, “but the first time I’m stung, she and her kin are outta here.”

“Fair enough,” Beverly responded as she noted the queen’s progress in her logbook. “If they become a nuisance, we can put up fly strips around the hive. It’s best to do it after sundown when they’re dormant. That way we can get rid of them without starting a war.”

Register to

Valhalla With A Twist Of Lethe

With A Twist Of Lethe
Fiction by Phil Brucato
Illustration by Clayton Preston


hor made his first guitar out of lightning and oak and a few hairs taken from Freya’s head. He strung them together with passion and a little bit of envy. He used Mjollnir as a plectrum and shot sparks from his beard as he played. The sounds he made drove trolls into hiding and cracked the mountain where he stood. Amazed, the god decided to tone things down — Loki’s chains might break and the world might end! So Thor lowered his amps to 98, and the Midgard Serpent retreated to its bed again.

Thor took his guitar to Bifrost. When he played there, the rainbow bridge changed colors to match the music. As he played, Nerids writhed in their watery beds; when they woke hungry, several hundred men were drowned. Yet Thor drew only vague satisfaction from his music. It was, he realized, pale compared to mortal inpiration.

Register to

Lies, Truth, and the Color of Faith


Lies, Truth, and the Color of Faith
short fiction by Gerri Leen, artwork by Gary McClusky

The web changes. Grandmother Spider guides my hand, and I follow the thread as it glides over the course of history, into worlds and out again, tracing the possible paths of our ship, the repercussions of our potential decisions.

Possibility collides with possibility, and one way is strong; it draws me in, takes me over, rushing through the Weaving like the rivers through the mountains in the North-lands.

It has been too long since I have ridden the rivers, and I miss them. For a moment I am there, feeling spray on my face, remembering how my mother took my hand and held on tight.

“Enjoy this, child,” she said, and then laughed, delighted by the immensity of the water. We come from a dry land; our rivers run gently, if at all. Water is never something to take for granted.

The web shifts under my hand, drawing me out of my memories. The pattern sings of conquest, of people who will not fight but have much to lose. “Oh,” I say. Then “Oh,” again as the thread turns red like the Bayeta cloth my ancestors wove.

Register to

Death of a Bull Moose

Death of a Bull Moose

I began thinking about a moose. It didn’t start out so profound, but when I found one near my cabin I would sit and watch it until it wandered away out of boredom or in search of food. I would seek it out in the marsh in early mornings. I stayed whether I found the moose or not, watching the faint movements of the grasses, leaves, and water. I felt the sheer mobility of nature. Now I am the friend of a dead moose.

I walk south from my cabin to a large marsh located about a mile away from a gravel service road. The route to the marsh once brought me through an old growth forest, but the trail this day brings me by a field of stumps and brush. Across the field is a line of machinery — dozers, backhoes, and cats. They smoke and grumble. A solitary grove of maples frame the machines. The black smoke from the machines disappears in the maple’s shadows then reappears, seeping into the sky. Distant voices pulse with baritone cackles while tanned workers hack at fallen trees with chainsaws. I want to say something, but I don’t. I head to the marsh.

Register to

Additional information