“The Secret of Calling Rabbits” — Wendy N. Wagner

Wendy N. Wagner’s first novel, Her Dark Depths, is forthcoming from the small press Virtual Tales. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology 2012 A.D. and in the online magazine Crossed Genres. In addition to her fiction writing, she has conducted interviews for horror-web.com. She shares her Portland, Oregon, home with one painting husband, one brilliant daughter, and no zombies. Her website is winniewoohoo.com.

When most of us think of dwarves, we think of Snow White’s seven friends, adorable and friendly. Or perhaps the noble lords of the underground that Tolkien portrayed in The Lord of the Rings. But the ancient Norse myths painted an image of a darker, subterranean race, a race firmly linked with stone and greed and evil. Of all the origin-tales, the dwarf in our next story is closest to these ancient dwarves—and yet nothing like them at all.

Rugel is the last of his kind, a dwarf alone in the world and lost from his moorings. He’s a thief and a trickster, a murderer and an unwilling wizard. Now his wanderings have brought him back to his childhood home, where he must confront himself and the shambles of his life.

Wagner says that this story is about a man who spends his whole life running away from incredible pain and loss, a man who is afraid to make a life for himself. “But luckily,” she says, “it’s also about the transformative power of love and the ways it can give even the most desperate person courage and power.”

Now that’s magic.