The Fugitives (21)
October 17, 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!
Although Gwen put a bold face upon it when she left Jim and Clare upon that bleak railway platform, she had the most desolate hour of her life as the train ran toward London. How far she had built in this her enterprise upon the aid of Clare’s presence and her supposed necessity, she did not learn till now, when all her illusions about her sister perished at once. For the first time she was utterly alone and could turn for help to no one. In this hour she knew how greatly she had resented in her heart the fact that she had become an alien in her father’s house, and that he, by some original weakness, which was not altogether failure of affection, but the habitual repression of it, had not held the balance more even between herself and her stepmother. He had lived in a world of his own for years, and only some ghost of his old self, when Gwen’s mother was alive, had endured in his daughter’s heart. Now Clare, to whom Gwen had clung with so much patient doubt, was nothing less than a traitor, and a poor, pithless, spiteful thing. Gwen turned her face across the seas, and even as she faced the great world beyond the narrow bounds of custom her heart grew cold and almost failed her. Till now she had told herself, with an enthusiasm in which she did not wholly believe, that she had simply been doing her duty to Clare and to Edward Blake. Now she had no duty to Clare and could perceive none toward the man her sister had deserted in his need. For him she had nothing but pity. To see him would be a task beyond her strength. She sought now for some excuse, even of the lamest, to enable her to come close at hand with Gordon Hardy; and, with the common feminine belief that anything trying and painful must needs lie in the line of duty, she tried to think that it was necessary to see Blake face to face in order to tell him what she had done and what had happened. Still the excuse was thin and poor: it would have no validity with the world, and certainly it had none with her own soul. She turned to a brighter side, and told herself that she had the right to go wherever she chose. Indeed that was so, in spite of all Mrs. Grundy’s protests, but the fact that she did not want to go to South Africa out of a mere spirit of travel checked her satisfaction at the thought of her liberty. The very fact that Gordon Hardy was there made her action difficult and almost unseemly, for, divorce herself as she would from the manners of her world, she could not deny that she would condemn in another, whom she did not know, the very action she contemplated for herself.
And yet to return home was now utterly impossible. Gwen was aware how well she would be received. Her stepmother would refrain from showing satisfaction, and would be so entirely pleasant and considerate as to be perfectly hateful. There could be no bitterer, no more intolerable reproach, and Sybil Middleton’s manner could convey everything by apparently conveying nothing. And Gwen knew that, after returning, she herself would be so thin-skinned as to scent insult in the most harmless civility.
She found the whole situation intolerable, and actually burst into tears with mingled rage and humiliation. To go was impossible, to stay impossible. There was only one half-acceptable course of action, and that was to throw herself temporarily on the hospitality of Mrs. Carew, who was, as her daughter Sophy said, able to understand all things, even a young woman. After arranging about her ticket on the steamer, in order that the money might not be lost if her voyage was only postponed after all, Gwen determined to go to Westbourne Terrace, and, having come to that conclusion, she raged against the world and against herself. For Gordon had said “Come,” and she had promised to go.
Though she had seen so little of him, she felt that she had known him all her life. For her life now only dated from their meeting. She had fol lowed him in spirit across the veldt, had suffered hunger and thirst with him, had sorrowed with him, and rejoiced and had grown to the sweetest familiarity of heart with her dear lover. Now she allowed the world, a mere contemptible half-dozen who knew her, backed by ten thousand indifferents whom she could never know, to divide her from her desire, to order her actions, to limit the free motions of her ardent thoughts. It was intolerable to live in so contracted a sphere, and to be so contracted as not to be able to beat down the opposition which she knew was in herself. She had the right, but she had no rights, — no woman had any after all!
At St. Pancras her stepmother sent her help. After one wild moment of anger, and the dread a girl must feel of her elder brother when she is caught outstepping the ordered limits of her path, she saw Tom with relief.
“Oh, Tom,” she said, “I’m glad to see you!”
“And what’s it all about?” asked Tom. “I don’t understand.”
“Who sent you?” asked Gwen. “It wasn’t Clare? Did she telegraph?”
“Certainly not. It was the Demon.”
The old phrase still stuck by him, though his stepmother had made him like her. But he only used it to Gwen.
“And she said ——?”
“She said I was to stop you going to South Africa!” said Tom, with wondering curiosity. “Is she mad?”
“No; I am,” said Gwen suddenly. She caught him by the arm, and was curiously, oddly encouraged. Perhaps — who could tell?
“Look, Tom, haven’t you wanted to go out? Ever, ever?”
“Oh — well, yes,” answered Tom; “but you see, with the governor, and my being the only son ——”
“But you’d like to go?”
Gwen clutched his arm.
“Then come with me — now!”
If it was only possible to induce him to accompany her, all had suddenly become easy, her problems were resolved, her doubts dissipated.
“What?” asked Tom, in as violent astonishment as if the sky, including the glass roof of the station, had fallen upon him.
“Oh, yes, do!” said Gwen. “Look here, get all my luggage and put it on a cab, and I’ll tell you all about it. And I’m not going to do what I’m told by the Demon. Of course, I’ll take your advice. There, this is the luggage.”
And she had all Clare’s put with her own.
“I’ll show her!” said Gwen. And Tom did her bidding like the best of brothers, and wondered what the deuce it was all about, and never once, in the course of his wondering, did he light upon Gordon Hardy as the mainspring of this piece of complicated machinery in which he found himself caught.
“Where are you going?” he asked breathlessly, when the luggage was piled on the cab.
“To Waterloo,” said Gwen.
“I say — you don’t mean it.”
“Get in,” said Gwen imperiously.
And Tom got in with surprising meekness.
“Drive to Waterloo,” cried Gwen, and she sat down by her brother. “Now, I’ll tell you, and I’ll tell you quick,” she said. “Tom, Clare is married to-day ——”
“What?” shouted Tom. “She’s what?”
“To Jim Carruthers, and he took her from me — she told him to — at Bletchley, and I’ve all her luggage, all her things, and I’ll take them to Africa — I will.”
She spoke with the utmost rapidity and made gesticulations, a sure sign of excitement in her. Tom gasped and caught her arm.
“Here, I say, tell it again. What do you mean?”
“She was going to South Africa to see Ned; he’s safe and very ill.”
“How can he be safe and very ill?” asked Tom in despair.
“I mean he wasn’t caught, only he’s got typhoid, I suppose; and Mr. Gordon Hardy cabled to me, and Clare said she would go to see him, as he wanted her, and I said I would go with her. But we didn’t tell the Demon, of course.”
“No, of course,” repeated Tom, as if he were hypnotized, and then he woke up; “but you should have done.”
“Of course we should,” said Gwen, in a hurry, “only I — we — that is, just didn’t because she wouldn’t have let us, don’t you see?”
She spoke with an irritable snap, and Tom saw the point at once.
“But what about Jim?”
“I think Clare’s a beast,” said Gwen. “She ran away with him at Bletchley, such a place to run from; for he was there.”
“But I thought she was in love with Blake,” said Tom, with open eyes.
“She said so, but she said she didn’t want to go to South Africa.”
“But you said she did!”
“Did I?” asked Gwen. “Well, she said so, and then she said I was cruel to take her, and Jim said she always loved him best; so they went away together and I came on, and now you and I are going out to South Africa together, Tom.”
This thoroughly clear explanation of what had happened had very much the same effect upon Tom as a hypodermic injection of morphine would have had. He tried to stand up against its effects in vain.
“I don’t understand ——”
“But you’ll come, of course.”
“How can I?”
“Then I shall go alone!”
“How can you? It’s not right.”
Gwen saw she was on the right track.
“No, it’s very wrong, but I’m going all the same. Ned is dying, and she’s deserted him, and I must, must go, and I will; oh, Tom, you’ll come, won’t you?”
She laid her head on his shoulder.
“You’re not like Clare, but are kind, Tom.”
She sobbed a little.
“But she said I was to stop you!”
“You can’t. So you must come with me. I know you’d like to. You will, I know.”
Of course he wanted to go, and had wanted to go from the very beginning of the war, like every healthy young Englishman.
“But what shall I do when I get there? Fight!”
“Oh, yes, yes!” cried Gwen, and then, with equal conviction, she added, “No, no!”
Then she suggested —
“You might fight somewhere, where it was safe!”
“Of course I would go where the thickest of it was,” said Tom, suddenly alight with ardor. “But I haven’t any things!”
Gwen burst into laughter.
“I’ve got all Clare’s! Can’t we go to your rooms, and you could pack a bag or two!”
“I haven’t a ticket!” said Tom.
“I have Clare’s, and she’s not going. I’m sure you could arrange it on the ship. And I daresay you are hard up, Tom?”
“I am,” said Tom, with conviction.
“Then I’ll lend you all you want, and you can pay it back afterwards.”
She put her head out of the window and ordered the cabman to drive to Tom’s chambers in Piccadilly, and Tom allowed it, and ten minutes later he was in the centre of a cyclone. When the storm passed, everything he did not want in South Africa or on the steamer was packed up and on the top of another cab.
“I’m going to Africa,” he said to his man; “send my letters on.”
“Yes, sir,” said the obedient man.
“And if any bills come, don’t send them.”
He took the man aside.
“And if any one — in particular — comes, say I’ll write from Madeira.”
“Yes, sir,” said Discretion.
Half an hour later Tom and Gwen were in the Steamboat Express for Southampton docks. Then Tom woke up and blinked at the flying landscape.
“I say, Gwen, you are a scorcher. This is fun,” he said. “I wonder I didn’t go before. Do you think it will be over when we get there?”
Gwen said she hoped so, and Tom said she was unkind.
“Oh, very well, then,” said Gwen, “I hope it won’t be.”
“What will the governor say?”
“He’ll swear, and then call Tip and go for a walk, and after dinner he will smoke and say we are ‘domestic details,’ and the Demon, having us off her hands, will talk about onions.”
“Ah,” said Tom, “what a scorcher Gordon Hardy was to talk about onions!”
“Yes, I suppose so,” replied Gwen, with a forced air of absent-mindedness. “Oh, was he?”
“Why, I thought you liked him. He’s a ripping fine chap,” said Tom.
“Of course he is. Now, Gordon Hardy was just the kind of man I thought would suit you,” said Tom, in rather an aggrieved voice. “I told the stepmother so, and she said I wasn’t to bring him any more.”
“Yes,” said Gwen, “she did, did she? Well, I don’t care what she says.”
“Oh, all right,” said Tom. “But why did he telegraph to you?”
“I’ll tell you when we are on board the ship,” replied Gwen.
And quite naturally Tom set himself to find out at once.
Gwen fenced with him for a while, and then he beat down her guard with a sudden intuition.
“I say, you don’t mean — why, Gwen, you’re not speaking the truth when you say you dislike him!”
“I never said it.”
“But do you — like him, I mean?”
“Ye-es,” said Gwen, with a fine critical air and a blush that told everything, even to a man and a brother.
“I believe you are engaged,” said Tom, taken all aback at his discovery.
And Gwen looked out of the window at the wintry landscape until Tom took her by the arm.
“I say, are you? If I don’t know I won’t go!”
And Gwen said — “Well, you see —” and stopped and began again, and Tom shook her impatiently.
“Well — would you mind?” asked Gwen, without looking at him.
It was Tom’s turn to look critically at things.
“Well, he’s not a good match, but somehow we don’t think so much about that kind of thing now. He’s a man, any way,” he said, perpending.
“Isn’t he?” cried Gwen, with enthusiasm. “I asked him to get Ned out, and he did it. Yes, Tom, I’m glad you don’t mind. It’s all true. How clever of you to find out!”
And of course Tom thought it was clever, though how he could have avoided tripping over the fact was difficult to see.
“Then I’m glad I’m going,” he said, with a half-paternal air. “I ought to go with you, I think.”
“Of course you ought,” said Gwen. It was far better than saying she ought not to go, though that solution would probably have occurred to Tom if South Africa and the wilder life had not presented such sudden attractions for him. They were both satisfied as to the morality of their proceedings. She was going because he was, and he was going because she was, which was all very satisfactory as it stood. It would have been a pity to spoil sport by analyzing the situation.
“He’s a good chap,” said Tom.
“I — I think he’s splendid,” said Gwen, “but I’m thinking of poor Ned Blake. Clare is hateful.”
And Tom said nothing about that, for he was ashamed of his other sister.
“Poor old beggar!” is what he said of Blake, and then the train went into Southampton and crawled down through the docks until it came to a standstill with only the width of a warehouse between it and the Dunluce Castle.
For the next hour Tom and Gwen were in the centre of another storm, and only Gwen kept her head. She sat in the saloon and made Tom sit by her while she wrote telegrams which gave her a vast feeling of importance. One was to her stepmother —
“Tom going to Cape Town with me. Please tell Clare her luggage is at Southampton. Will send her the cloak-room ticket from Madeira.”
This she knew would annoy Clare, and she was perfectly willing to annoy her. That Tom was going was a defeat for Sybil Middleton.
Then she cabled to Hardy —
“Sailing Dunluce Castle.”
She said nothing of Clare or Tom.
Then she got a hard and sudden blow, for Tom had been to the table just at the entrance to the saloon, where letters and telegrams were lying, and had fished out one addressed ” Gwen Middleton.” He brought it to his sister, who tore it open and found that it came from Hardy, who had evidently taken it for granted that they would sail by the first boat.
“Blake cannot recover. Is conscious and wishes to hear from Clare.”
Gwen’s eyes filled with tears as she handed the paper to her brother.
“Poor devil! what will you do?” he asked.
She tore up the cable she had written, and wrote another.
“My dearest love to Ned; am sailing to-day with —”
Then she turned to Tom.
“Oh, what shall I say?”
She wrote on, and Tom gasped.
“— am sailing to-day with Gwen and Tom.
“Oh, Gwen!” said Tom.
“If it reaches him, it will help him to die,” said Gwen, as her tears dropped fast.
“Pay for them and send them,” she said, and then she called him back and added to the cable —
“Wire what happens to Madeira.”
“Thank God, he will never know,” she said. “But Clare will know.”
And indeed Clare now knew more than Gwen did, for in that morning’s paper there was Captain Edward Blake’s name down among the “dangerously wounded,” and Clare had seen it. But her romance was done even as it might have commenced.
Then the ship moved from the dock, and presently they were going down Southampton Water, moving past Netley Hospital, where so many lay who had met death face to face in the South African veldt and had escaped for a time. They passed Hurst Castle and were on the sea before Tom remembered that he had no berth. Gwen interviewed the purser on his behalf, and found that busy and courteous person not too busy to be very kind to the charming girl who upset his carefully worked-out schemes and gave him trouble he had not calculated upon. But then a big steamer’s purser would have an easy time indeed if the expected unexpected did not happen, and Tom was finally fixed up in a berth at no greater cost than the entire wreck of one man’s hopes of being alone.
But when they put all her steam into working energy, and shouldered aside the green waters far beyond the Needles, a very terrible thought came to Gwen. Gordon Hardy had indeed said that Ned could not recover. But did he know? Who, indeed, could say it with utter certainty? And supposing he were wrong? If he was not so ill after all, and did recover, she had telegraphed to him in the name of the woman whom he loved, who by now was married to another man, —who was false, and despicably false, too. To go out and find Blake convalescent and to tell the truth to him might be to kill him after all. So Gwen went to Tom with a very white face and told him what she feared, and though her brother saw what it all meant to her he bade her be of good cheer. It was a curious and bitter thing that the best prospect now seemed that Ned Blake should die, if only he died easily.
“Hardy knows what he talks about,” said Tom. “He would never have said it if he had not been certain. We shall hear of his death at Madeira. Poor old Ned!”
And then he, too, found the newspaper and the casualty list which said that Blake was wounded, and brought it to Gwen.
“What can it mean?” he asked. “Gordon said ‘ill.’”
“Perhaps that was to soften it to — Clare,” said Gwen. ” Oh, I wish we were there!”
So she walked the deck impatiently and wondered at the slowness of the steamer that really ran so fast toward the great South which was now all the world to her. If Ned was wounded, how came he to be wounded? And how was Gordon, who must have been with him? It was nothing to satisfy her mind that Gordon had telegraphed to her. He might be ill, or himself wounded. Oh, any moment might carry death upon its wings, and in that strange and dreadful whirlpool of war her lover might be swallowed up and lost to her for ever. She knew him well by now, for what she had learned of him in those strange sweet hours of long ago was added to hourly by things Tom said of him. She saw how quick and clever and eager and brave he was. Supposing his knowledge of the country proved useful now that the troops might move, and were moving, toward the north, he could not refuse to help. She prayed suddenly that he might be ill, just ill enough for no one to think him unready to use his strength in the service of his country. But if the worst happened she would be brave. The worst she let herself think of was that she would not find him to meet her, and that a letter would await her saying that he was fighting.
Ah! there were many, many thousand miles for her to pass before she could know, and as she wrought herself up to this pitch she could hardly spare a thought for poor Ned Blake until they came to anchor in Funchal harbor.
After the mist and gloom of the English winter, and the gray-green seas of the tempestuous Channel and the Bay, Madeira was a dream wonder to her. And yet it was hateful because of the delay. The steamer, already sufficiently crowded, was suddenly a wild world of shouting as the traders of Funchal tumbled on board and strove to sell their wares. Gwen saw them and did not see them, and she beheld the hills behind and above the town, in their atmospheric veil of color, with half-vacant eyes. Yet to be here and not alone, as she seemed now, that would be sweet, and Madeira would indeed be fair.
“See if there are any telegrams,” she said to her brother, and she went below for them herself. Tom brought her one, and she found one. The cable she opened was to Tom, and Gwen instantly suppressed it without a quiver of conscience. It was ostensibly from their father, but she knew her stepmother wrote it.
“Does she think I will go back now?” asked Gwen. “Even if Tom went home, I would go on.”
And Tom gave her the other cable.
“It is from Blake,” he said, “and was meant for Clare.”
“Did you read it?” asked Gwen.
“Yes,” said Tom, with a catch in his voice.
“What did it say?”
“I can’t,” said Gwen. For it seemed to her to be from the dead — to one who had never existed.
“It sent his love,” said Tom, “that was all, and good-by.”
And Gwen went on deck and ran back again from the intolerable babbling crowd, and sought refuge in the deserted saloon until peace fell upon their world once more and they swung out to sea.
She burned the telegram that night in her cabin, and took the ashes of it and dropped them into the waters. Clare would never know, for indeed there was no such living woman as the woman Ned had loved and had died loving. Gwen remembered how bright and gay he had been when Clare had caught his fancy and fixed him at her side. Now he lay dead in desolate South Africa. God rest his soul! — for it was the soul of a gallant man, and one worthy of better things.
That hour made Gwen better too, and out of deeper thought and the knowledge of death came gifts to her that only they can give. In the face of death she could be brave, but now her mind was purged even of bitterness toward her sister, who had missed the greater gift of love because she could not understand its gospel. Gwen felt older, but more gentle; graver, but more pitiful; in some ways sterner, but yet more forgiving. And her heart clung about Gordon Hardy, for she was so much more lonely.
So the days passed in their order, and they ran through the great heat, and came by the green Cape, and again ran into cool weather and at last lay alongside the wharf at Cape Town. Above Table Mountain and upon it were heavy clouds, but the world was beautiful. And it was indeed a new world for Gwen Middleton. The telegram that awaited her was no shock. For Hardy sent her word that Blake had died ten days before.
“What will you do now?” asked Tom.
And Gwen said very gravely that there must be something for a woman to do if she had the strength. For at the very wharf at which they landed they were carrying wounded men on board a ship bound for England.
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”