The Fugitives (20)
October 10, 2014
HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize Morley Roberts’s 1900 novel The Fugitives, an adventure set against the backdrop of the Second Boer War (1899–1902). The author was once known for his novel The Private Life of Henry Maitland (1912), but he quickly passed into obscurity. How obscure? In a 1966 story about plagiarism (“The Longest Science-Fiction Story Ever Told”), Arthur C. Clarke attributed an 1898 sci-fi story of Roberts’s (“The Anticipator”) about the same topic to H.G. Wells; in a 1967 guest editorial in If (“Herbert George Morley Roberts Wells, Esq.”), a contrite Clarke noted that not a single Morley fan had emerged to point out this error. HiLoBooks — in conjunction with the Save the Adventure book club, which under the editorship of HILOBROW’s Joshua Glenn is issuing The Fugitives as an e-book — is rectifying this situation. Enjoy!
It is not at all difficult to understand that all this time Gwen had been longing to hear such news from Gordon Hardy as would justify her in disregarding, not only her stepmother, but that dreadful incarnation of Mrs. Grundy known as “the County.” Though she had sent out her lover (and indeed he was the dear lover by now) to bring home Edward Blake, she did not for long remain under the delusion that he could come home. Sybil Middleton had, of course, been right when she declared that the man would have to go back to duty on the first opportunity. But Gwen felt sure that Hardy, who was so bold a lover, would not lose any chance of inducing her to go to South Africa. He had no reason to consider Mrs. Middleton, and none to think of poor Jim Carruthers.
And Gwen knew that if she went to South Africa she would return from it in the new, strange, and delightfully terrible character of Mrs. Gordon Hardy. Yet to have gone out purposely on that account would have been quite beyond her. Fortunately she had Clare to think of, — Clare was a brilliant excuse, and, to speak the exact truth, Gwen made the very best of her and so far succeeded in deceiving herself that she three-quarters believed she had no other end in view but her sister’s happiness.
“Oh, when shall I hear?” sighed Gwen. “And if I don’t, what shall I do?”
And then she heard. For Gordon Hardy’s cable came to her through Sophia Carew, and it reached her before there was anything in the papers about Blake or Hardy. For just then all the daily journals were full of telegrams about the impending capture of Cronje.
Gwen went straight to Clare. But she did not tell her at once that she had heard from South Africa. She was by no means certain that Clare might not differ, in a point of practice, from her romantic theory. So Gwen, with a feminine cunning not so much beyond her years as might be supposed, proceeded to get Clare to commit herself even to a declaration of principles supposing she heard that Blake was ill or wounded.
“Clare,” she said suddenly, “if you knew that Ned Blake was ill or wounded and wanted to see you, what would you do?”
“Oh, don’t say it,” cried Clare with an appealing glance toward heaven and the ceiling; “what would I do? I would go to him at once.”
Gwen shook her head.
“I don’t believe it,” she replied.
“You cruel girl,” said her sister. “What else could I do? Ah, if I only knew where he was!”
An hour later, at the time of the next post, Gwen came to her with a very solemn face.
“It is time for you to get ready,” she said quietly.
“What do you mean?” shrieked Clare, with her hand on her heart.
“I have heard from South Africa — from Kim berley. And ——”
“He is there?”
“Yes,” said Gwen. “And he is ill and wants you.”
Clare fell in a heap on the sofa and turned as white as a ghost. Gwen ran to her, for she mistook the cause of her sister’s agitation. The real cause was partly theatrical. Clare was well aware of what ought to be expected of her, but there was a deeper cause at work than that.
“Oh, Clarry, Clarry,” said Gwen, “cheer up; I’m sure it is not so bad.”
“Show me the letter,” said Clare, in a hollow voice.
“It’s a telegram,” cried Gwen, as she produced it.
Clare read it under cover of her handkerchief.
“Ah, he is ill, not wounded,” she said. This was obviously wrong of Ned Blake; he should have been wounded.
“But you’ll go — I mean come — with me?” said Gwen.
“Of course,” replied Clare hoarsely. “But the — others!”
“Are they not against you?” asked Gwen. “Do they not hate Ned?”
She accentuated the attitude of those “others,” who indeed only consisted of their stepmother after all. But, without quite realizing it, Gwen did know her sister to a point. She knew that Clare had that gift of obstinacy which makes opposition the fiercest spur. Yet she had no knowledge of how far Clare would go. Nor did she understand that strong persuasion Inspired in her something of the same feelings. Clare was in fact a “jibber.” Pulling and pushing were alike distasteful to her. She now resented Gwen’s attitude and was already within an ace of resenting Blake’s appeal. But then she could not show this; and to have expressed it would not have been in the romantic character she posed for.
But Gwen gave her no time.
“I tell you Dad won’t mind,” she said, “and the Demon won’t care when it’s done. She will be glad to have us — you, I mean — off her hands. Then she can think of onions and the home farm.”
She proposed to pack at once, and swept Clare’s feeble opposition down.
“New things, nonsense,” said Gwen. “We must sail to-morrow, no, the day after!”
“I cannot get ready,” moaned Clare.
“I can get you ready,” said Gwen, “and I will.”
She went about her task with strange nervousness, but although she both loathed and dreaded the domestic uproar which was likely to follow if her plans were discovered, she meant to tell no lies if they seemed in danger of becoming known. The weak point of them she knew to be Clare, for Clare would weep and confess at the first pressure exercised upon her. She did not suspect, however, that Clare was in that state of mind in which confession would not only have been easy, but comforting and comfortable, and far more likely to advance what had become her more real ends than she acknowledged to herself. For by now Clare had ceased to love or even to feel what she would have called love for Edward Blake. This vacillation of mind was not heroic, she knew, and it was that knowledge only which kept her under her younger sister’s thumb. Had she been an iota stronger she would have flatly, or much less feebly, declined to go to South Africa at any price. Why, indeed, should she put herself to such inconvenience for a man who had been weak enough to become a prisoner, and who, on escaping (with help), had fallen sick? She did not care for sick people; they were not nice. Jim Carruthers was never sick. Why was it that he never understood her? And now, by evil chance, he was away for a week, hunting in Leicestershire. She found out from the Demon his exact address.
“I want to ask him about something,” said Clare. And Mrs. Middleton, who was delighted to hear it, purposely refrained from asking questions. By this she lost her opportunity of hearing matters which would have astonished her, and Clare went away thinking that her stepmother was a fool too. But if she was not to be interrogated it might be all the better. Clare conceived a scheme of easy and comfortable romance by which she could spite Gwen, against whom a few hours’ consideration had made her oddly bitter. Go to South Africa, indeed! She would see about it.
Gwen, for her part, worked hard and got her own packing done in the shortest time on record, in order to be able to help Clare in hers. And she was very much surprised to find that Clarry brightened up marvellously, and not only did not interpose obstacles, but really helped and made suggestions which betokened the desire of appearing as smart as possible on the other side of the world.
“I never thought it of her,” said Gwen. And she naturally concluded that the prospect of healthful and helpful activity, with love to aid her, was beginning to make her sister a real human being, not the pale shadow of a bloodless heroine in a book.
“Ah, this does you good,” said Gwen.
“But how are we going away without their knowing?” asked Clare.
“You leave it to me, dear,” said her sister.
“To-morrow morning the Demon is going to Horton and will stay to lunch. I got Mrs. Hurst to ask her!”
“How?” asked Clare.
“Oh, anyhow,” said Gwen carefully. “So she did, and she’s going. Well, I don’t care, I’m grown up and can do as I like.”
This was the result of being looked after by an alien and being regarded as a “domestic detail.”
“And I don’t care what you do!” said Clare spitefully, when Gwen went away. “But I — won’t, so there!”
That night Gwen was dutifully and a little sorrowfully affectionate to her father. And John Toller Middleton, who was in his den with his dog Tip, said “Oh, yes — ah!” and so on, for he was constitutionally incapable of displaying fondness for any human being but his young wife, to whom he had delegated all his duties with far more thoroughness and relief of mind than he would have experienced had illness compelled him to relinquish the care of his horses to his head groom. So Gwen kissed him and went off with tears in her eyes, feeling that no one really cared for her but a certain ragged and very brown ineligible then at least seven thousand miles away.
The Demon, who was an early bird, went off to Horton soon after nine o’clock, and by half-past Gwen and Clare were alone in the house. And though Gwen was utterly nervous now that things had come to a head and action lay before her, she yet found enough mind to wonder at Clare, who was in a state that her sister found fpankly unintelligible. For Clare was not so flabby as usual, and showed a little curious hysteric excitement. She laughed, as it seemed, without cause, and looked at Gwen in a way that required a key to understand.
“Well,” said Gwen, “at any rate you won’t be bothered with Jim Carruthers any more.”
Clare burst with laughter, which affected Gwen most unpleasantly.
“After all, I suppose he is fond of you,” she said, with indignation at Clare’s brutality of demeanor.
“Oh, yes, he adores me,” cried Clare, with a half-suppressed giggle.
“Then what are you laughing at?” asked Gwen.
“At everything,” said Clare.
“Then I wish you wouldn’t,” retorted her sister. “I would much rather you cried.”
And Clare did cry, till Gwen wanted to shake her.
At ten o’clock Gwen ordered the carriage for Cowley Road Station, and as all the household knew the strained relations existing between Mrs. Middleton and her youngest stepdaughter, this excited no wonder. But all the household did wonder when Clare came down, and when, from the quantity of luggage, it was evident that both the girls were going to London. The only one who had had any notion that they were going was the girl who acted as maid to both the sisters. But Gwen had made it worth her while to say nothing, and, as Mrs. Middleton was her own housekeeper, there was no one in a position of sufficient authority to succeed in screwing information out of her.
It was not until they were in the train together that Gwen’s nerves assumed their normal, or approximately normal, quietude, and she was better able to see in what a curious state of mind her sister was. Clare kept perpetually on the giggle, if the little thin laughter of so elegant a person can justly be so described, and every now and again Gwen caught a glance which at once puzzled and enraged her.
“What are you laughing at?” she asked with some heat. “I don’t see anything to laugh at.”
“Oh, it is so funny,” said Clare. “How soon shall we get to Bletchley?”
“In half an hour,” replied Gwen, “but I can’t see that there is anything to laugh at. But — there — I suppose you are nervous.”
“How soon shall we be on the sea?” asked Clare.
And then Clare giggled again.
“I don’t seem to think I shall ever, ever be on the sea,” she said from behind her veil.
“Oh, yes, you will,” cried Gwen. “I know you are glad really. I wonder how he is.”
And Clare tossed her head in a way that made Gwen wince.
“I don’t understand you,” she cried.
Whereupon Clare declared with sudden bitterness that no one understood her, and then she smiled to herself and said, “I understand them, and they are all fools, — all but poor Jim.”
The thing that annoyed Clare was that she was now in a position where she could do nothing which would not please someone. If she were to refuse, after all, to take this voyage to the Cape, Gwen, of course, would be furious (a pleasant thing to contemplate), but Mrs. Middleton and Jim Carruthers would be pleased. If she displeased them, or one of them, she would please Gwen, and that by now was by no means a sense of joy to Clare. She did not analyze her own little soul, since by the perpetual contemplation of it that soul now seemed so big, but that is what her cogitations amounted to. The solution of her troubles which she had resolved upon seemed to combine as many advantages as possible. It was, she said, surprising and dramatic, and would cause quite as much talk as any elopement to South Africa, without the disagreeable necessity of a voyage and the inevitable seasickness. It was no wonder that she giggled, for poor Ned Blake was a very far-off, visionary sick man for whom she had had a youthful, foolish fondness. If Gwen could have followed her mind, or could even have fathomed as much of it as Gordon Hardy would have done, there would have been bitter trouble before they reached Bletchley.
For, very naturally, Gwen, who of course deceived herself, was doing all this on behalf of that same sick man in South Africa. It would have been utterly impossible for her to go out there without so good an excuse as her sister’s passion for one who was perhaps dying and might (who knows?) only recover when he heard the voice of his beloved. She even made up portions of little restrained conversations with Gordon Hardy which indicated that she had been dragged to South Africa by Clare, who had been driven to flight after making her last stand against all the combined powers at Cowley. She hardly knew yet, though she was to know very soon, that without Clare’s cover she would be driven to acknowledge to herself that she now meant going to South Africa at any price. She got no further than saying that she had the right to do it. She was over twenty-one, indeed nearly twenty-two, and had the firm ground to go on of having her own money at her own disposal. If she was entitled to spend five hundred a year she was quite entitled to say where she should spend it, even though the County “stood up on its hind legs and howled.”
After Gwen had mentioned that she did not understand her sister, there was no more said until the train ran into Bletchley. Then Gwen put out her head, and presently withdrew it as if she had been shot.
“I believe I saw Jim Carruthers on the platform,” she said in alarm.
“The fool,” cried Clare. “I mean you couldn’t have seen him,” she added hastily; “I know he’s hunting.”
“Well, I thought I did,” said Gwen, without any suspicion of an underplot. “However, I don’t care if I did! Who’s Jim, any way?”
Clare could have told her, but did not, and only laughed a little harshly.
“How long do we wait here?” she asked.
“Ten minutes,” said Gwen, as the train came to a standstill. “You go into the waiting-room and I will arrange everything.”
Clare got out of the carriage with astounding alacrity and cheerfulness.
“There’s the first-class waiting-room,” said Gwen. “I’ll look after the luggage. Of course, if you should see anyone we know, we are just going up to town.”
“We are just going up to town,” repeated Clare, with an exceedingly curious intonation. As she walked away Gwen stared after her in bewilderment.
“She’s quite, quite different,” she said. “I don’t understand.”
But when she walked down the platform, Clare, who had watched her through the window, came out and walked right out of the first-class waiting-room into the third-class one, and, what is more, right into the arms of Jim Carruthers. There was not another soul in the room, which was a pity, for eye-witnesses would have seen a very tender love-scene, in which a persecuted heroine at last came to a long-sought harbor of refuge.
“Oh, save me, you will save me!” said Clare, as she leant for the first time against Jim’s waistcoat.
“Of course I will,” cried Jim fiercely, while his heart beat like a forging hammer. But, after all, the only enemy was poor Gwen, whom Clare proceeded to defame in a breathless sentence.
“Oh, I always loved you best, Jim,” she said, ”but Gwen was so cruel and would never under stand it, or me, and — and — I never cared for — him, only you didn’t speak, and I wanted you to, and I was so foolish as to try to make you, and then I was — engaged. And all the time I’ve been — miserable, Jim. And Gwen has been so savage with me, and said I was to go to South Africa — and I don’t want to —— oh, must I, must I?”
And poor Jim swore by all his gods she wasn’t to and shouldn’t, and on the contrary was to be married to him at once by a special conveyance, or license, or mortgage, or something of the kind, which he then had in his pocket, and he blessed her dear face and did not know that in the letters she had written to him at Market Harboro’ she had suggested this very idea.
“Then take me away from them all, Jim,” she cried, “from Gwen and from my stepmother, who doesn’t understand me either, but especially from Gwen. For she said being seasick would do me good!”
Jim smote one hand into the other.
“Why, what a creature she is,” he cried in utter astonishment, “I could never have thought it.”
“Oh, but she is deceitful,” said Clare. ” Just look how she’s planned this. I couldn’t have done it.”
“I’m sure you couldn’t, my darling,” said Jim. “I’m positive you couldn’t.”
“Such deceit would have made me sick. It does make me sick,” said Clare virtuously and viciously. “And now she’ll have to go home!”
She spoke with a spiteful joy which made her feel warm, and the next moment she went cold as ice, for Gwen ran into the waiting-room and met them face to face.
“Oh,” said Gwen, with a catch of the breath, “what’s this? What does it mean?”
Jim Carruthers now looked upon her as the incarnation of all evil, and was ready to tell her so.
“It means I’ve saved her — from — from ——”
“From what?” asked Gwen, with a sudden snap.
“From a — oh! — ah! — from going away,” said Jim weakly. He turned round to Clare, who had not anticipated this scene and was not prepared for it.
“Take me away,” she said to Jim. And then Gwen saw the whole plot, and, as she saw it, she saw, too, her sister’s character almost as it was, and she wondered that she had never known it before. Her eyes blazed with such scorn that Clare wilted like mown grass before an August sun, and wriggled like a mean thing that is suddenly exposed to the light. She hated Gwen at that moment with all her little heart and could have screamed at her. And just then a country-woman with eggs in a basket came into the waiting-room, and the three actors there put on their masks and walked out upon the platform.
But all the while Gwen stared at her sister with merciless and contemptuously wondering scrutiny. What manner of woman was it, after all? And yet she was consistent, for Gwen ran back over all her life, and saw that it was a tissue of small deceits and petty play-acting that no real passion had ever infused with blood. She had been all things to all men and all women, and had but held up the mean mirror of herself to those she was with. So with Gwen she had been a faint reflection of Gwen’s straightforwardness and simplicity. She had seemed stronger to her sister, more noble, even if weak, than she ever could have been. And now Jim (poor Jim, as Gwen called him now and always) saw her in the color and form of his own foolish, simple mind, tinged with his own passion for something which did not exist and was only that ideal imagination that lives with the simplest nature.
So they stood on the platform for a moment, and Clare saw how she had miserably failed in her own miserable little plot of surprise. Had she seen Gwen no more until she had returned to Cowley as a married woman, she could have told her sister that she understood nothing and was only a child after all. But now she saw that Gwen was analyzing her to her very marrow, and she resented it viciously. Yet no one said a word, and outwardly they showed no sign of emotion to the world. Jim, indeed, had a curious suspicion, which came upon him like a chill wind, that Clare was wanting in some indefinable way, and his enthusiasm for her seemed to lose its heat. For Gwen looked at him with a pity which was not altogether contemptuous, as she turned away without another word.
“What is she going to do? Ask her,” said Clare, and Jim followed the younger girl down the platform. Gwen turned.
“Yes?” she said.
“What are you going to do?” he asked half-stupidly. For indeed he was afraid of her, and was loath to see in her eyes what he appeared to her. Gwen laughed. It was not a pleasant laugh, nor a childlike one, for she had received the first great disillusioning about human nature, and it made her feel old.
“I am going to London,” she said. And tears sprang into her eyes and blinded her. She wiped them away impatiently.
“You should go back home,” said Jim.
“I haven’t one,” answered Gwen. “Good-by, Jim. Poor Jim!”
And Jim Carruthers flushed a hard and painful red.
“Why do you say that?” he asked, with an attempt at self-assertion which was only a feeble apology after all.
“Very well,” said Gwen, “I won’t say it. I’ll say ‘Good Jim,’ if you like it better.”
And that seemed like hidden satire to the man. He flushed again, and Gwen knew that her pity and contempt had got hold of him and she was sorry. For he was a very good fellow after all, and deserved a better woman than Clare was ever likely to be.
“You can put me into the train if you will,” she said, and as Clare saw them walk away together she wondered uneasily of what they were talking.
“I suppose you will marry her?” said Gwen, without looking at him.
“Yes,” he said stiffly, “yes — of course. She has always been fond of me.”
“Ah,” said Gwen wearily, “has she?”
And Jim did not answer.
“You are not going to Africa?” he asked. “I’m half responsible for you.”
Gwen looked at him half like the child she had once been, and half like the woman that was hardly yet born.
“Don’t trouble to think so,” she said. “I don’t think anyone need be responsible for me since I have ceased to be ‘a domestic detail.’”
Jim did not understand how greatly her father’s attitude to her had made her what she was, and the phrase she used carried no implications with it.
“But you can’t go to Africa ——” he began.
“I can go to London,” she answered, and then she reached her compartment.
“Good-by,” she said. And as she was getting in she turned.
“You are going to be my brother-in-law. Then you can kiss me,” she said. “Good-by, Jim.”
And Clare saw that he kissed her, and by it knew at once that he had not succeeded in inducing her to return to Cowley. She came down toward them as the train moved, and saw Jim lift his hat.
“What, has she gone?” she asked breathlessly.
“Yes, she would go!”
“Then where are my things?” cried Clare.
“What things?” asked Jim, in bewilderment.
“My luggage,” she almost screamed. “Did you not get them?”
“I didn’t think about it,” said Jim helplessly. “You never told me.”
And he saw rage rise in her, he saw it with something like fear and something half akin to abhorrence. For without knowing how it happened he saw her almost as she was. Gwen, who had refrained from saying any direct word against her sister, had done her the deadliest harm by calling him “poor Jim.”
“You fool,” said Clare, whose little mind was in her boxes. She assumed the airs of a wife of the very worst kind. In Jim’s sudden enlightenment he resented this as much as she regretted it when she saw its effect.
“She’s putting on the spurs before I’m haltered,” said Jim, and for a moment he contemplated freedom. But Clare wept, and he apologized for his sins and resigned himself to her orders. She had him haltered sure enough.
He wrote telegrams at her orders. One was to Gwen, commanding her to leave the luggage in the cloak-room at St. Pancras, and the other was to Mrs. Middleton, announcing that they were going to be married, and that Gwen was on her way to South Africa by that afternoon’s steamer from Southampton, if she was not stopped.
When that telegram reached the Demon she did what she thought best on the spur of the moment, and telegraphed to Tom, at his chambers in town, to meet Gwen and persuade her to do nothing foolish. But having in regard Sybil Middleton’s object, what she thought best turned out to be the worst. And the telegram which found Gwen at St. Pancras was torn up as soon as it was read.
“I’ll do nothing of the kind,” said Gwen, with a savagery that only women can appreciate justly. For Gwen was very feminine and by no means a perfect character after all.
RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION: “Radium Age” is HILOBROW’s name for the 1904–33 era, which saw the discovery of radioactivity, the revelation that matter itself is constantly in movement — a fitting metaphor for the first decades of the 20th century, during which old scientific, religious, political, and social certainties were shattered. This era also saw the publication of genre-shattering writing by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Sax Rohmer, E.E. “Doc” Smith, Jack London, Arthur Conan Doyle, Aldous Huxley, Olaf Stapledon, Karel Čapek, H.P. Lovecraft, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Philip Gordon Wylie, and other pioneers of post-Verne/Wells, pre-Golden Age “science fiction.” More info here.
READ GORGEOUS PAPERBACKS: HiLoBooks has reissued the following 10 obscure but amazing Radium Age science fiction novels in beautiful print editions: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague, Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”), Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt, H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook, Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins, William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, J.D. Beresford’s Goslings, E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man, Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage, and Muriel Jaeger’s The Man with Six Senses. For more information, visit the HiLoBooks homepage.
SERIALIZED BY HILOBOOKS: Jack London’s The Scarlet Plague | Rudyard Kipling’s With the Night Mail (and “As Easy as A.B.C.”) | Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Poison Belt | H. Rider Haggard’s When the World Shook | Edward Shanks’ The People of the Ruins | William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land | J.D. Beresford’s Goslings | E.V. Odle’s The Clockwork Man | Cicely Hamilton’s Theodore Savage | Muriel Jaeger’s The Man With Six Senses | Jack London’s “The Red One” | Philip Francis Nowlan’s Armageddon 2419 A.D. | Homer Eon Flint’s The Devolutionist | W.E.B. DuBois’s “The Comet” | Edgar Rice Burroughs’s The Moon Men | Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland | Sax Rohmer’s “The Zayat Kiss” | Eimar O’Duffy’s King Goshawk and the Birds | Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Lost Prince | Morley Roberts’s The Fugitives | Helen MacInnes’s The Unconquerable |
Geoffrey Household’s Watcher in the Shadows | William Haggard’s The High Wire | Hammond Innes’s Air Bridge | James Branch Cabell’s Jurgen | John Buchan’s “No Man’s Land” | John Russell’s “The Fourth Man” | E.M. Forster’s “The Machine Stops” | John Buchan’s Huntingtower | Arthur Conan Doyle’s When the World Screamed | Victor Bridges’ A Rogue By Compulsion | Jack London’s The Iron Heel | H. De Vere Stacpoole’s The Man Who Lost Himself | P.G. Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith | Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” | Houdini and Lovecraft’s “Imprisoned with the Pharaohs” | Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Sussex Vampire.”
ORIGINAL FICTION: HILOBROW has serialized three novels: James Parker’s The Ballad of Cocky The Fox (“a proof-of-concept that serialization can work on the Internet” — The Atlantic); Karinne Keithley Syers’s Linda Linda Linda (which includes original music); and Robert Waldron’s roman à clef The School on the Fens. We also publish original stories and comics. These include: Matthew Battles’s stories “Gita Nova“, “Makes the Man,” “Imago,” “Camera Lucida,” “A Simple Message”, “Children of the Volcano”, “The Gnomon”, “Billable Memories”, “For Provisional Description of Superficial Features”, “The Dogs in the Trees”, “The Sovereignties of Invention”, and “Survivor: The Island of Dr. Moreau”; several of these later appeared in the collection The Sovereignties of Invention | Peggy Nelson’s “Mood Indigo“, “Top Kill Fail“, and “Mercerism” | Annalee Newitz’s “The Great Oxygen Race” | Flourish Klink’s Star Trek fanfic “Conference Comms” | Charlie Mitchell’s “A Fantasy Land” | Charlie Mitchell’s “Sentinels” | Joshua Glenn’s “The Lawless One”, and the mashup story “Zarathustra vs. Swamp Thing” | Adam McGovern and Paolo Leandri’s Idoru Jones comics | John Holbo’s “Sugarplum Squeampunk” | “Another Corporate Death” (1) and “Another Corporate Death” (2) by Mike Fleisch | Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer and Frank Fiorentino’s graphic novel “The Song of Otto” (excerpt) | John Holbo’s graphic novel On Beyond Zarathustra (excerpt) | “Manoj” and “Josh” by Vijay Balakrishnan | “Verge” by Chris Rossi, and his audio novel Low Priority Hero | EPIC WINS: THE ILIAD (1.408-415) by Flourish Klink | EPIC WINS: THE KALEVALA (3.1-278) by James Parker | EPIC WINS: THE ARGONAUTICA (2.815-834) by Joshua Glenn | EPIC WINS: THE MYTH OF THE ELK by Matthew Battles | TROUBLED SUPERHUMAN CONTEST: Charles Pappas, “The Law” | CATASTROPHE CONTEST: Timothy Raymond, “Hem and the Flood” | TELEPATHY CONTEST: Rachel Ellis Adams, “Fatima, Can You Hear Me?” | OIL SPILL CONTEST: A.E. Smith, “Sound Thinking | LITTLE NEMO CAPTION CONTEST: Joe Lyons, “Necronomicon” | SPOOKY-KOOKY CONTEST: Tucker Cummings, “Well Marbled” | INVENT-A-HERO CONTEST: TG Gibbon, “The Firefly” | FANFICTION CONTEST: Lyette Mercier’s “Sex and the Single Superhero”