Air Bridge (17)
June 20, 2015
HiLoBooks is pleased to serialize Hammond Innes’s 1951 espionage thriller/Robinsonade Air Bridge. Set in England during the Berlin blockade and airlift of 1948–49 (during which time the British RAF and other aircrews frustrated the Soviet Union’s attempt to gain practical control of that city), the novel’s protagonist is a mercenary pilot… but is he a traitor? Hammond Innes wrote over 30 adventures, many of them set in hostile natural environments. Enjoy!
To have no friends, no sense of security, in a city occupied by one’s own people is not pleasant. There was no one I could turn to. I thought of Diana’s brother — Harry Culyer. Maybe he was still in Berlin. But would he believe me when my own people didn’t? And to contact any of the Allied headquarters and clubs would only be putting me back into the situation from which I had just been at such pains to escape.
I don’t know what made me think of it. Maybe it was the prostitute who murmured an English, “Hallo, darling,” from the shadowy gloom of the sidewalk. The soft warmth of her voice came like the nuzzling of a friendly bitch. And when I didn’t turn away the dim shadow of her slunk to my side. “You are American?” she asked. The power of the dollar was strong on the Kurfurstendamm.
“No. English,” I answered.
I saw her eyes, soft and hungry in the darkness, looking me over and noting my clothes. Probably she thought I was a deserter. Deserters would be bound to make for the Kurfurstendamm. But she asked no questions. All she said was, “You come with me, honey? I have a room only two blocks away and it is comfortable.”
I didn’t answer because her German accent had started a train of thought in my mind.
“Please come.” Her voice was suddenly desperate. “I have been here all evening and I am hungry. You take me to a café. I know somewhere is cheap, very cheap.” Her hand reached out and slid along my arm. “Please, honey. I sing for you, too, perhaps. I was in opera once. I only do this when my baby and I are hungry and nobody will pay to hear me sing. My name is Helga. You like me? I give you love and music — you forget everything. Come on, honey.” She dragged at my arm. “Please, honey.”
“Where is the Fassenenstrasse?” I asked.
“It is just near here. You wish to go? I take you if you wish.” The voice was harder now, desperately urgent. “Please. It is cold standing here. Please, honey.”
“All right,” I said. “Take me there.”
We moved off together up the wide cleft of the Kurfurstendamm, her hand clutching my arm. She was tall and her hip was level with mine, pressing against it. She hummed a little aria, something from Verdi. “Where is this place you wish to go, honey?” she said, stopping at a corner. “Here is the Fassenenstrasse. It runs right across the Kurfurstendamm. Which part do you wish?”
“I want Number 52,” I said. “It’s near the Savoy Hotel.”
“Ach. So! Das Savoy. It is this way.”
She took me down a tram-lined street and underneath the iron girders of a railway bridge, and then we passed the Hotel Savoy and were at Number 52. She stared at the blank face of the closed door. “Why you bring me here?” she asked. “This is not a club. We cannot eat here. Why you bring me, eh?”
“I have a friend here,” I said and tugged at the old-fashioned bell-pull. Then I pulled out my Deutschmark and gave her twenty. She stared at them. “Go and get something to eat,” I said. “And thank you for showing me the way.”
Her eyes looked up into my face unbelievingly. “You do not want me?” She evidently saw that I didn’t for she made no protest. Instead she reached up and kissed me. “Dankeschön.” She turned away quickly and as the sound of her high heels faded away into the darkness I wondered whether perhaps she really was an opera singer with a baby and no job.
There was the rattle of a chain from the other side of the heavy door and then it opened, just a crack, and a woman’s voice, old and hoarse and rather frightened, asked me what I wanted.
“I am a friend of Fraulein Langen,” I answered in German. “I wish to.see her please.”
“I do not know any Fraulein Langen.”
The door was closing and I put my foot against it.
“Fraulein Meyer, then.” And I added quickly, “I have come all the way from England to see her.”
“Aus England?” There was a moment’s pause. “You are English?” The old woman spoke the words, slowly as though she had learned the language at school.
“Yes,” I said, “I am an English flier. Neil Fraser, tell her.”
The door opened to the full extent of the securing chain. Beady eyes stared at me through the crack. “You do not look to be very English,” she said suspiciously. “Where in England do you meet Fraulein Meyer?”
“At Membury,” I answered. “I have had an accident. That’s why I’m dressed like this.”
“Membury! So! It is very late, but come in. Kommen Sie herein.” The door opened. She closed it hastily behind me and in the darkness I heard the rattle of bolts and chain. “We must be very careful. The Russians, you know. It is terrible. They come and take people away.” An electric torch gleamed faintly. “Poor Fraulein Meyer. So pretty, so clever! And all this trouble over her papers.” I followed the old woman’s shapeless figure up the stairs. The sound of our footsteps on the bare boards was very loud in the stillness of the house. “I do not like to think what the Russians do to her if the English send her to the East Sector police. The Russians are brutes — schweinehunde. They rape everyone.” A door opened as the torch finally gave out. A match spurted and rose in a steady flame as a candle was lit.
“Was ist los, Anna?” It was Else. Though I couldn’t see her I recognized her voice.
“Ein Mann aus England. Herr Fraser. Er sagt er kennt Sie von Membury her.”
“Herr Fraser?” Else’s tone, was suspicious. The flame of the candle was lifted to my face. Through it I saw that she was peering at me with wide, frightened eyes, her dressing-gown clutched tightly round her. “Neil! It is you?” She began to laugh then. I think it was relief at finding it really was me. “You look so funny. Why are you in Berlin? And why do you dress yourself up in the uniform of the Wehrmacht?”
“It’s a long story,” I said.
She smiled. “Another long story? That is what you say before. Remember?”
“May I come in? I want to talk to you.”
“Yes, of course. I have only a bedroom now, but —” She glanced uncertainly at the old woman. “So many peoples in Berlin have no homes,” she murmured. Then she glanced up at my face again and saw the bandages. “You have hurt yourself again also.”
“I had an accident,” I said.
“Come in then,” she said and pushed open the door of her room. “Anna. Have we any of that coffee left?”
“Ja, but for two cups only,” the old woman answered. “It is so difficult now in Berlin. This blockade — it is worse than —” She shrugged her shoulders. “Let us have the coffee, Anna. When it is finish, it is finish.”
“Schön.” The old woman tapped her torch on the banisters and it flickered into doubtful life. As she hobbled off down the stairs Else led me into her room and shut the door. It was a big room, furnished as part bedroom and part sitting-room, with a couch under the window, a dressing-table covered with photographs and a big double bed in the corner. It had the fierce, penetrating cold of a room that has had no heat in it for a long time.
“Is your head all right?” she asked. “Can I do anything for it?”
“No, it’s all right,” I said. “They fixed it for me at Gatow.”
“Gatow! When do you arrive at Gatow?”
“So! It is you I see standing outside the Malcolm Club.”
I stared at her, remembering the girl checker with her face covered in coal dust. “Are you working with the German Labor Organization?” I asked.
“Ja.” She laughed. “It is what you peoples call a very small world, eh?”
“But why?” I asked.
She shrugged her shoulders. “I must work. Also I wish to be at Gatow to see if Mr. Saeton get on to the airlift. It is most important that I find this thing out.”
“Well, he is. I’ve seen him today.”
She nodded. “He make the first flight two days ago. And he has my father’s engines. I know them by the sound. Tell me something, please. How does he manage to fly again so quickly? His own plane is crashed. It was finished. This cannot be the same airplane.”
“It isn’t,” I said.
“But how does he get another? He have no money. You tell me so yourself. Did you get it for him?”
“Yes,” I said. She stared at me angrily and I added, “Do you know what the word blackmail means?”
“Well, he blackmailed me into getting him another plane. I stole it off the airlift for him.”
“You stole it? I do not understand.”
I told her briefly what had happened then and when I had finished she stood there staring down at the flame of the candle. “He is mad, that one,” she breathed. She turned to look at me and the corners of her mouth turned up momentarily in a smile. “I think perhaps you are a little mad also.”
“Perhaps I was,” I said. “You’ve no idea how glad I was to find that Tubby was alive.”
She nodded slowly.
“The trouble is Saeton won’t do anything to get him out. He can’t think of anything but the engines.”
She swung round on me. “He is crazy. He is crazy, I tell you. It is as though — as though when he steal my father’s work he start somethings and now he cannot stop.”
Her words were an echo of my own thoughts. My mind was on Tubby and I was wondering what Saeton would do when he discovered I had made a written report. He would brazen it out, say that I was suffering from delusions as a result of the crash, but all the time he would be thinking of Tubby out there in that farmhouse, the one man who by his mere existence threatened the whole future of what he was striving for. And as I thought about this, Saeton loomed in my mind as a sort of monster — a man who, as Else said, had started something that he could not stop. “I must get Tubby out,” I said.
“Is that why you come to see me?”
I nodded, dimly aware that she wanted some other explanation of my visit. But I was too tired to pretend. Everything I had done since waking up in Gatow sick bay had been done because of Tubby. I was responsible for what had happened. I had to get him out. “You’ve got to help me,” I said.
“Why should I?” Her voice was harder now. “His wife work at the Malcolm Club. Let her help him.”
“But she thinks he’s dead. I told you that.”
“If his wife think he is dead, why should not I?”
I stepped forward and caught her by the shoulders. “You’ve got to help me, Else.”
“Why?” She was staring up at me, her eyes wide, almost calculating.
Why? I dropped my hands to my side and turned away. Why should this German girl I had met two or three times help me? “I don’t know why,” I said. There was a knock at the door and the old woman came in with the coffee on a tray and a small oil lamp. “Hier ist Ihr Kaffe, Fraulein Else.”
“Do you keep some for yourself, Anna?” Else asked.
The old woman moved her head from side to side awkwardly. “Just a little. Just for one cup.” Her beady eyes fastened on me. “Soil ich aufbleiben um den Herrn hinauszulassen?” Else spoke quickly to her in German and the old woman laughed. “So!” She stared at me as though I were some strange animal. “I do not meet one like that” And still laughing to herself she sidled out and closed the door.
“What was all that about?” I asked.
Else looked across at me. “She is worried for me, that is all. I tell her you are quite safe, but —” She turned
away to hide her smile.
Her smile made me angry. “Why didn’t you tell her what happened when you took me to listen to the frogs?” I demanded.
“If I tell her that,” she said over her shoulder as she poured out the coffee, “then she will want to see you go. And you must sleep. You look tired. I also am tired. I have to be up at six to catch the lorry to Gatow.”
I brushed my hand across my face. I was tired. “Can you really put me up for the night?”
“Of course. If you do not mind the couch there. It is hard, but it is all right I have to sleep there myself several times. Now, drink this please while it is hot.”
“But —” I stared at her. “You mean sleep here — in this room?”
She looked up at me quickly. “Have you some place in Berlin you can go then?”
“No,” I said. “No, I’ve no place I can go now.”
“Very well then. It is settled. You sleep on the couch and I go back to my bed.” She went over to the bed and ripped off two of the blankets. “There. We share the bedclothes. All right?” She put them on the couch. “I am sorry I am not able to give you a room for yourself. Once we have the whole floor — seven rooms with bathroom, kitchen, everything. But part of the house is destroyed and there are many families homeless. So now, all I have is this one room.” She shrugged her shoulders. “It is all right. But I do not like to share my kitchen with other peoples. Please, you will excuse me, but I am cold.” She slipped into the bed and reached for her coffee cup. “Do you have a cigarette?”
I felt in my pocket. The nurse had given me a packet. “Yes, here we are.” She took one and I lit it for her. Her eyes watched me over the flame and then she blew out a long streamer of smoke. “Oh, it is so good to have a cigarette. I do not have one since I leave England.” “Don’t you get any at Gatow?” I asked.
“No. They do not give us any. I do not think there are very many for your own people.”
“Is the work hard?”
“No. Just checking the manifest of the cargo, so that nothing is missing. But it is a long time I am there and it is very cold on the airfield.”
I had sat down on the edge of the bed to drink my coffee. Perhaps it was the closeness — maybe it was just the strangeness of the circumstances, the two of us sharing that one room. At any rate that was the end of our small talk. There seemed nothing really to say and I sat there staring at her and absorbing the warmth of the coffee. Tired though I was I found the blood hammering in my veins. I suddenly found I wanted her. I wanted her more than I’d wanted anything in my life before. For the moment it seemed as though her competence and self-sufficiency was swept aside. She was just a rather pathetic, very attractive girl, sitting up in a double bed — and I wished to God she was sitting there waiting for me. But somehow I could do nothing about it. I didn’t want to do anything to break the mood of that moment. If I had touched her I think she would have responded. But if that had happened then something would have gone that I desperately wanted. Instead of touching her, I said, “Else, you’ve got to help me.”
She frowned and pulled her dressing-gown closer round her. “To find your friend Carter?” she asked with a queer lift of the eyebrows that gave her face a puzzled look.
I nodded. “I’ve got to get him out of the Russian Zone.”
“It means so much to you?” The softness disappeared from her face. “What happens if we do not get your friend out?”
“He may die,” I said.
“And if he die, what happens then?”
“There’ll be no evidence to support my report of what happened.”
“And Saeton will go on flying my father’s engines?”
“Yes. He’ll get away with the whole thing.”
She nodded as though that were the answer she had expected, “All right. I will do what I can.”
I started to thank her, but she cut me short. “I do not do this thing for you, Neil. I do it because I wish to destroy Saeton.” Her hands refastened tightly on the bedclothes, the cigarette burning unheeded in the saucer as she stared past me to the lamp. “He has taken everything that is left of my father — the work we do together. I hate him. I hate him, I tell you.” She spat the words out through clenched teeth in the intensity of her feeling. “He has no soul. He is a monster. That night you come to Membury, I offer him — I offer him myself. I know he want me. I do not love him. But I think I will barter my body for the recognition I want of my father’s work. Do you know what he do? He laugh in my face.” She relaxed slowly and picked up her cigarette. “Then you come into the hangar. After that I telephone to Reinbaum to go ahead and smash his company.” She gave a bitter little laugh. “But you save it for him. Then he crash and I think that is the end of him. But you save him again.” She gave me a wry little smile. “And now you wish me to help you. That is very funny.” She sat for a moment, quite still. Then with a quick movement of her fingers she stubbed out the cigarette. “Okay, Neil. I do what I can. Now we must get some sleep. If I find somebody to take us into the Russian Zone it will be at night because it will be for the black market — perhaps tomorrow night.”
“You think you can find somebody?” I asked.
She nodded. “Ja. I think so. I have many friends among the drivers at Gatow. I will find someone who goes near Hollmind. There are many trucks going from the Western sectors into the Russian Zone. The Russians do not mind because they get things they want that way. I shall find someone.”
“I can’t thank you enough,” I began, but she stopped me. “You do not have to thank me. I do not do this for you. Good-night.”
She snuggled down into the bedclothes. I had got to my feet and for a moment I stood there, hesitating, staring down at her. It seemed to me there were two Elses — the girl who excited me and was sweet and gentle, and the German who was revengeful and who would stop at nothing to do what she thought was right for her country and her father. “Good-night” I turned heavily away and blew the lamp out.
In the heavy curtained darkness of the room I undressed to my underclothes and curled myself up on the couch under the blankets. It was bitterly cold in that room. It ate right into my bones. But then I thought of Tubby alone out there in that German farmhouse, desperately hurt, and the cold didn’t seem so bad. I prayed that Else would find some means of getting me there so that I could bring him back, so that I could prove that what I had said was true.
Neither the cold nor the constant racket of the airlift overhead kept me awake for long. I slept and in a moment it seemed the lamp was lit again and the old woman was in the room, talking to Else. I turned over and opened my eyes. Else was already up, brushing her hair. The old woman was standing by the door, a sputtering candle in her hand. “I hope you are not too cold, Herr Fraser?” she said in German. It may have been my fancy but I thought her gnarled features had an expression of contempt as she said something very rapidly to Else.
“What did she say?” I asked as the bundle of old clothes disappeared through the door.
Else was giggling to herself. “Nothing,” she said.
“She made some crack,” I said.
“You really wish to know?” She was smiling. “She say you are not much like our boys, that if you are typical English then she do not understand how you win the war. Did you sleep well?”
“I slept all right,” I said curtly, wondering why the hell I hadn’t shared Else’s bed since that was apparently what had been expected of me.
“You were not cold?”
“It didn’t stop me sleeping.”
“Now you are sulking. You do not want to pay any attention to Anna. She is old-fashioned, that is all. Now, please will you turn the other way. I have to wash.”
I turned over and faced the heavy curtains that covered the window. “What time is it?” I asked.
“A quarter past five.”
“Good God!” I lay there feeling the cold numbing my body, thinking how tough Else must be. The room was icy and I could hear her splashing about with the water. “Is that hot water —” I asked, thinking I would feel a lot better if I could have a shave.
“Of course not. We cannot heat water. Our fuel is for cooking only. If you stay here long you will get used to it.”
“Stay here long?” The problem of the future suddenly faced me. I was a fugitive in Berlin. I could not go back to my own people, not until Tubby was out of the Russian Zone. “You must find some transport going to Hollmind tonight,” I said urgently. “If I don’t get him out soon he may —” Without thinking I had turned towards her and
then the future and Tubby was driven out of my mind by the sight of Else leaning over the basin washing herself. She was naked to the waist, and her firm breasts looked big and warm in the soft lamplight.
She turned her head, conscious of my stillness, and for a moment her hands were still, holding the flannel, as she met my gaze. Water ran from her neck down her breasts and poured from her nipples into the basin. “I thought I told you to turn the other way?” She laughed. It was an unselfconscious laugh. “Do not stare at me as though you are hungry. Have you never seen a girl washing herself before?” She dipped the flannel into the water and began washing the soap from her face. It might have been the most natural thing in the world for her to have a man in her room watching her as she washed.
“Has this happened before?” I asked thickly.
“What?” Her words were half-obscured by the flannel.
“I didn’t mean that,” I said quickly and turned to face the curtains again, the sight of her still a vivid picture on the retina of my brain.
She came and stood over me. I didn’t hear her come across the room, for her feet were bare. I just sensed her standing there, looking down at me. Her fingers touched my hair.
“Sometimes I think you are very young, Neil. You do not know much about life. Or perhaps it is because we live among the ruins and when you do that you have not many conventions left. Life is very primitive in Berlin — like when we are in a yacht or up in the mountains.” She turned away with a little sigh. “You would have liked it here in Germany before the war.”
She was dressed by the time the old woman brought breakfast up. “It is not much,” Else said, as she handed me a plate of dark bread with a small piece of butter. “But you will become accustomed to that if you stay here long.”
I hardly recognized her as the same person. She wore no make-up and she was padded out underneath a dirty raincoat so that she had no shape. Only her hair looked the same, golden silk in the soft glow of the lamp.
At ten to six she pulled on an old brown beret. “Now I must go to catch the truck in the Kurfurstendamm. I think it is best if you do not go out. You have no papers and your shoes do not go with your Wehrmacht coat. Our police are very suspicious.” I held the door open for her, huddled against the cold in my borrowed greatcoat. “Do not worry. I will find some way to get your friend out.”
I touched her hand. It was very cold. “Thank you,” I said. “You’ve been very kind and understanding.”
“I am not being kind,” she said almost sharply. “I am doing this for myself. I would like to say differently, but —” She stared at me, her eyes very wide and troubled- looking. “But it is the truth.” Her hand tightened on mine. ”One thing I wish you to know, however, I am glad it is something you want also. I am glad we both want this.” She said it quite fiercely as though she were angry with herself for what had gone before. Then she reached up and kissed me, pressing her lips to mine as though this alliance were something she had wanted badly. “Do not worry. I fix something.”
“For tonight?” I asked.
“I hope so.”
She smiled and slipped out through the door. “Do not go out — please.” Her footsteps sounded, quick and light on the stairs, disappearing into the dark vault of the house. I heard the front door open and close. Then there was silence and I shut the door and went back into the lamplit room that was so full of the girl who had just left me.
For some time I wandered round it, conscious of the alien heaviness of the furniture, of the photographs and particularly of her things that lay strewn about — clothes, books, sewing, an empty silver cigarette box, hair brushes, washing things, old papers, the tumbled bedclothes, her nightdress and the slippers she’d worn, all the litter of things that were Else when she herself was not there.
It was the photographs that I returned to. They were mostly of a big man with a short pointed beard and a high, domed forehead curving back to a mane of white hair. It was her father and the quiet, serious features with the slight droop at the corners of the mouth, the rather blunt nose and the lines of thought that furrowed the broad forehead reminded me of Else when she was puzzled by something. There was the suggestion of a twinkle in the lines at the corners of the eyes. But the face had none of Else’s fierceness and passion. That she had got from her mother. Professor Meyer was a deeper, more thoughtful person than his daughter. This was particularly noticeable in the photographs of the two of them together. These were holiday snaps taken while climbing or on skis. But though the photographs showed her faults more clearly, I was glad of the opportunity to study her father. It explained so much of her that had puzzled me and I could understand more clearly her passionate loyalty to the work that she and this old man who was now dead had done together.
Very conscious of Else’s presence in that room I returned to the couch and for a long time lay huddled under the blankets thinking about her and the peculiar relationship that was developing between the two of us. I tried to analyze my feelings, but I couldn’t and in the end I went to sleep.
I didn’t get up until past midday. The sky was overcast, the battered buildings opposite black in the bitter cold. Overhead the airlift planes droned steadily, but I could not see them. The old woman brought me some food — bread and some soup that was chiefly potatoes. She didn’t attempt to talk to me. There was a barrier between us that was something more than a question of race. I found the answer in an old photograph album tucked away in a bookshelf, a picture of a little girl and an attractive, middle-aged nurse; underneath was written in an awkward, childish hand — Ich and Anna.
By five o’clock the light was fading and I could no longer decipher the unaccustomed German print of the book I was reading. I began to pace the room, wondering whether Else would have found transport to take me into the Russian Zone. My mood was a queer mixture of impatience and fear. It was bitterly cold.
Just after six I heard the sound of footsteps on the stairs. I checked in my pacing and listened. This wasn’t the clumsy sound of wooden clogs on bare boards. It was a man’s tread and he wore shoes. He didn’t belong to the building.
The footsteps stopped on the landing outside and the old woman’s clogs shuffled to the bedroom door. “I do not know why she is not back already,” she said in German. “But you can wait for her in her room.”
“Will she be long?” the man asked. His German was too lazy, too soft. In a panic I looked round for some place to conceal myself. But I was still standing in the middle of the room when the door opened.
“She always return at five. I do not know what has happened.” There was a knock at the door and the old woman opened it without waiting for permission. “The gentleman here speaks your language. Perhaps you can talk to him while you are waiting for Fraulein Meyer.”
I had backed away towards the window. The old woman stood aside and Else’s visitor came in. I saw his brown boots and the olive khaki of his trousers — an American. And then I looked at his face. “Good God!” I exclaimed. It was Harry Culyer — Diana’s brother “How did you know where I was?”
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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”