Conspiracy!


Our latest short story is in the NESFA Press anthology, Conspiracy! edited by Judith K. Dial and Thomas Easton.

Buy one! Better still, buy a dozen! They make excellent gifts!

Side-by side comparison, first draft vs. finished story.

The first draft, page one:

“Turtles and Frogs”

The day was pleasant enough; the sort of blue-sky and mild temperatures with which Bavaria is blessed in September. The lookout tower above the Schwansee was cool and gray; against its base a young Briton sat, contemplating the lake. He coughed, delicately, into a linen pocket handkerchief.

Young Cecil Rhodes was on his way from London to Natal, South Africa, for his health. A delicate lad, his parents were sending him to live with his brother for a while in hopes that what appeared to be consumption (a family curse) would not take him. A letter delivered to him as he was boarding ship, a letter stamped with a sigil that he dared not ignore, had directed this detour to the Kingdom of Bavaria. And now, despite his polite reception at Hohenschwangau Castle (where, he was informed, His Majesty was not in residence), he was left cooling his heels. So a walk in the forest, amid the aspens and pines, and a contemplation of the lake, promised to fill his afternoon.

The story as submitted, page one:

“One Night in Bavaria”

The lookout tower above the Schwansee was cool and grey; against its base a slender, fair-haired young Briton sat contemplating the lake. He coughed, delicately, into a linen pocket handkerchief.

The youth’s parents–Francis and Louisa Rhodes, of Hertfordshire–believed their son Cecil to be at that moment on a sailing vessel bound for Natal, South Africa. There he was meant to live for a while with his brother, in hopes that the salubrious air of the Cape would prevent him from being taken by the consumption that was the family curse.

So would he have been, had he not received, in a packet just before his intended departure, a letter in an unknown hand under an unknown seal, greeting him by name and saying you are destined to greatness. It bade him to make his way to the Kingdom of Bavaria, where further knowledge awaited him, and provided letters of credit and introduction sufficient to make the diversion possible.

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