Size / / /
Hot

The dragon orders an iced caramel mocha,
tapping her foot impatiently
while she waits in line.
After a too-long pause,
she gives a fake name to the gum-chewing barista—
true names are powerful,
and they'd just spell it wrong anyway—
and moves down the counter to pay.

It's hard to get wifi in the cave,
and she likes to keep up with the news,
with her friends,
with some of her enemies,
with the latest season of her favorite show.
But first she has to get out of this line.

This should not be so hard.

She wants to do all these things:
tip over the register and stuff tempting coins into her purse,
suffuse the cramped room with fire, filling it with heat and light,
stomp flat the man arguing about the price of his skinny grande latte
with the frustrated kid working for minimum wage,
roar,
and roar some more,
and stretch out of this thin skin
to show herself as she really is
scaly and intimidating and gloriously large.

Instead,
she practices her breathing,
maintains the social construct
(worn thin though it may be),
tips generously,
and finally
retreats to a seat in the corner
where she can see more without being seen.

There are too many would-be heroes,
too many knights errant eager to err against her.
She tells herself it isn't worth the trouble
for a double fistful of dirty coins,
a soot stain on her favorite purse of holding,
and the loss of the best free hotspot in town.

Still...she casts a dweomer,
just the tiniest of tiny spells
on the ungrateful jerk who left no gratuity
despite his free upgrade from the manager—
just a little something
so that later tonight
while the drink sloshes in his belly,
he'll dream of dragonfire
and know fear
even if he won't know why.

Satisfied, the dragon turns to her email,
frowning at forum notifications
and great deals on bulk-bought meat.
She is fiercely determined
to be at inbox zero
by closing time.



Cislyn Smith likes playing pretend, playing games, and playing with words. She calls Madison, Wisconsin home. She has been known to crochet tentacles, write stories and poems at odd hours, and gallivant.  Her work has appeared in Star*Line, Diabolical Plots, and Flash Fiction Online.

Current Issue
10 Jan 2022

Angela says if I want to film the rituals, I cannot do so as an outsider or a guest. The rituals are private, she says, and a secret. That is the problem, I say, I want to film them because they are a secret.
Before she knew it, she was falling out of the sky like a waterfall and through a canopy of thick, wet leaves. Fell hard into the soil.
There is a djinn for everything: every act of forgetting, every act of remembering. Every act of oppression, every act of protest. Every act of civil resistance, every arrest, every injury, every death. There is a selfish djinn, and a selfless djinn. There is a djinn for beauty, a djinn for zakhm, a djinn for kindness, a djinn for empathy. A djinn for absence, a djinn for inaction; a djinn for climate, a djinn for crisis, a djinn for war, a djinn for peace. What are words but
Issue 3 Jan 2022
Strange Horizons
By: Antonio Funches
By: Lev Mirov
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 20 Dec 2021
By: Merie Kirby
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 13 Dec 2021
By: Freydís Moon
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 6 Dec 2021
By: C. S. E. Cooney
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: C. S. E. Cooney
Issue 29 Nov 2021
Issue 22 Nov 2021
Issue 15 Nov 2021
By: Madeline Grigg
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 8 Nov 2021
By: Allison Parrish
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 1 Nov 2021
By: Liam Corley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Liam Corley
Issue 25 Oct 2021
Strange Horizons
Load More
%d bloggers like this: