“Too Fatal a Poison” — Krista Hoeppner Leahy

Krista Hoeppner Leahy’s fiction has appeared in Writers of the Future, Vol. XXV, Shimmer, and flashquake. She has an MFA in Theater, and is a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. Her poetry has appeared in Free Lunch, Raritan, and Tin House.

The Odyssey is one of the great stories of Western civilization—an epic tale of one man’s determination to triumph against all odds. By the end of the saga, it’s apparent that those odds are steeper than he could have imagined. After all, Odysseus sets out on his journey with a full complement of warriors and shipmates, but he is the only one to arrive home.

Our next story digs into the untold life of Elpenor, a figure best remembered for his untimely death on Circe’s island. As the author says, “Elpenor, in my opinion, gets kind of a raw deal. Through the ages, his death has been held up as an example of the recklessness and drunken foolery of youth. I asked myself, what might have driven him to drink, to lose himself so completely that he would fall off the roof?”

Her answer to that question takes us into the heart of a man haunted by his experience of war’s hell—and tormented by a sorcery that made his ghosts seem only more real. This tale will make you wonder: What does it really mean to be a beast?