Issue 4 cover


by Nik Houser

Issue 4 :: Spring 2009 (stories)

Standing over the corpse of the letter Q, no one knew quite what to say. The Q’s and A’s had lived in peace for years.

The Q had been found dead in its apartment, its curved body mangled, its glossy black ink smudged across the living-room walls. It was unspeakable. Unpronounceable.

“Jesus,” murmured Amos. The deputy had only just arrived, five minutes behind Forensics. “What happened?”

“See for yourself.” Sheriff Abernathy gestured without looking up. The victim’s body had been broken apart, its round sides straightened, the tail at its base torn off and stuffed into its midsection. An inkblot test would be needed to reveal its sex. It was hard to tell with Q’s. The fact that there was only one way to pronounce them was just one reason their presence in the town of Great Faith had always made some A’s uncomfortable. “What’s it look like?”

“It looks like....” Deputy Amos coughed into his sleeve. He couldn’t finish the thought aloud.

“...turned it into an A,” the sheriff finished.

“You think an A did this? You think it was one of us?”

Sheriff Abernathy nodded to the wall behind the deputy, at the murderer’s message written in the victim’s own ink:

No Vacancy.


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"Q&A" is roughly 3105 words.

Nik Houser grew up in Texas. He went to school far from there. He now lives even farther from where he went to school than from where he grew up. His work has recently appeared in Year's Best Fantasy and Horror and Best American Fantasy.