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‘Children climb piles of discarded furniture and chunks of collapsed building in the alley. Mud and ashen water streaked across their faces. One stands at the top, holding a broken table leg in place of a scepter, shouting that she is Queen of The Struggle. The others scramble towards her, hoping to steal her spot. My stomach clenches at the sound of her declaration, the pang of guilt like rusted metal on my tongue. They don’t yet understand that no amount of violence or coercion can replace complacency with the religious fervor sovereignty brings. Their hands are still pristine. The streetlamp flickering alternates their faces between playmate and ghoul.’
Rife with political and religious undertones, By the Nails of the Warpriest follows an unnamed thief who steals memories from the elderly—those who have a a vague memory of The City before The Struggle—and sells them to memory-junkies. He ekes out an existence by ruining the very souls he’d tried to save. As a fallen leader of The People, he’s almost thankful that his family is not alive to witness the depths to which he’s sunk.
Then he finds a memory that suggests they weren’t killed in a riot, that someone lied to him. That someone wants to keep him from his family.
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Nik Korpon is the author of Stay God and Old Ghosts. His stories have bloodied the pages and screens of Crime Factory, Shotgun Honey,3:AM, Out of the Gutter, Black Heart, Speedloader, Warmed & Bound and a bunch more. He is an editor for Rotten Leaves Magazine andDirty Noir Magazine, and the co-host of Last Sunday, Last Rites, a monthly reading series. He lives in Baltimore. Give him some danger, little stranger, at http://www.nikkorpon.com.
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