Aphelion Issue 281, Volume 27
March 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
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by Iain Muir

It had been eighty years since he first heard the call. Eighty years of sneers, of laughter, of people talking in whispers behind his back. They thought he didn’t hear them: his best friend, Charles; his sister Lucy. He could swear he’d even seen Charles’ damned beagle giggling at him from time to time. Stupid mutt.

He’d been a child then, of course, with a child’s understanding and a child’s interpretation of the world. He’d thought the offers of gifts in return for his worship meant toys and candy. It was only as he grew older that he’d truly understood what the voice that whispered to him was offering: power! And as the old cartoons had said: “first you gets the power, then you gets the money, then you gets the wimmin!”

Not that he’d got the women, of course. Not yet. But the time was coming. Oh yes.

It had taken him years of study as well. He had to find the right rituals, the right incantations. The right varieties, if it came to that. No genetically modified seeds, no pesticides: 100% organic was what was required. The time and money spent finding seed! Museums to rob, genetic researchers to bribe, it was a good thing his parents were wealthy. A pity they had to die in that car crash so that he could inherit, but there you have it. Then he had to get Lucy out of the way so that he could control the money, but she was doing well up at Arkham. He should visit her in the asylum sometime. She kept telling the doctors she was sane, of course. They only thought she was more delusional.

He was confident that he had it right now, though. He had the right gourds, just reaching maturity. He had the words, culled from an ancient German text. He had the right athame, taken from a Swedish burial mound and cleansed under the light of the last full moon. He had the right sacrifice: Charles’ granddaughter; a sweet girl, red-haired, and most assuredly still a virgin. No repeats of ’83; now that had been embarrassing!

Linus van Pelt, High Priest of the Vine-God Urzhgamehta, turned and looked out over his pumpkin patch. As the moon rose, he raised the dagger over the terrified girl writhing on the altar and screaming into her gag. He smiled down at her, then raised his arms to the waiting night.

“Arise!” He cried. “Oh Great Pumpkin, ARISE!”


2017 Iain Muir

What can we say about Iain Muir that he hasn't already said himself? Wit, raconteur, soldier of fortune, and heir to the legacy of Munchausen. Rumours of his invention (and subsequent suppression) of the elastic-band-powered FTL 'snap' drive are vehemently denied (until he can get the patent through).

For the last several years, he has been poetry editor at Aphelion. No, we don't know how he gets away with it either.

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