Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions - By Neil Gaiman

For Ellen Datlow and Steve Jones

But where there’s a monster there’s a miracle.

— OGDEN NASH, DRAGONS ARE TOO SELDOM

Contents

SMOKE AND MIRRORS

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HARPERCOLLINS E-BOOK SPECIAL FEATURE:

Three stories not available in the print edition of this book

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EPIGRAPH

But where there’s a monster there’s a miracle.

READING THE ENTRAILS: A RONDEL

They’ll call it chance, or luck, or call it Fate…

AN INTRODUCTION

They do it with mirrors. It’s a cliché, of course, but it’s also…

CHIVALRY

Mrs. Whitaker found the Holy Grail; it was under a fur coat.

NICHOLAS WAS…

older than sin, and his beard could grow no whiter.

THE PRICE

Tramps and vagabonds have marks they make on gate posts…

TROLL BRIDGE

They pulled up most of the railway tracks in the early sixties…

DON’T ASK JACK

Nobody knew where the toy had come from…

THE GOLDFISH POOL AND OTHER STORIES

It was raining when I arrived in L.A….

THE WHITE ROAD

“…I wish that you would visit me one day…”

QUEEN OF KNIVES

When I was a boy, from time to time…

CHANGES

Later, they would point to his sister’s death, the cancer…

THE DAUGHTER OF OWLS

I had this story from my friend Edmund Wyld Esq….

SHOGGOTH’S OLD PECULIAR

Benjamin Lassiter was coming to the unavoidable conclusion…

VIRUS

There was a computer game, I was given it…

LOOKING FOR THE GIRL

I was nineteen in 1965, in my drainpipe trousers…

ONLY THE END OF THE WORLD AGAIN

It was a bad day: I woke up naked in the bed with a cramp…

BAY WOLF

Listen, Talbot. Somebody’s killing my people…

WE CAN GET THEM FOR YOU WHOLESALE

Peter Pinter had never heard of Aristippus of the Cyrenaics…

ONE LIFE, FURNISHED IN EARLY MOORCOCK

The Pale albino prince lofted on high his great black sword…

COLD COLORS

Woken at nine o’clock by the postman…

THE SWEEPER OF DREAMS

After all the dreaming is over, after you wake, and leave…

FOREIGN PARTS

Simon Powers didn’t like sex. Not really…

VAMPIRE SESTINA

I wait here at the boundaries of dream…

MOUSE

They had a number of devices that would kill the mouse fast…

THE SEA CHANGE

Now is a good time to write this down…

WHEN WE WENT TO SEE THE END OF THE WORLD

BY DAWNIE MORNINGSIDE, AGE 11 ¼

What I did on the founders day holiday was, my dad said…

DESERT WIND

There was an old man with skin baked black by the desert sun…

TASTINGS

He had a tattoo on his upper arm, of a small heart…

BABYCAKES

A few years back all the animals went away.

MURDER MYSTERIES

This is true.

SNOW, GLASS, APPLES

I do not know what manner of things she is. None of us do.

BONUS STORIES

FIFTEEN PAINTED CARDS FROM A VAMPIRE TAROT

“What do you want?”

EATEN

INT. WEBSTER’S OFFICE. DAY

APPLE

In the end, the Lord gave Mankind the world.

About the Author

Credits

About the Publisher

READING THE ENTRAILS:

A RONDEL

“I mean,” she said, “that one can’t help growing older.”

“One can’t perhaps,” said Humpty Dumpty, “but two can. With proper assistance, you might have left off at seven.”

— LEWIS CARROLL, THROUGH THE LOOKING-GLASS

They’ll call it chance, or luck, or call it Fate—

The cards and stars that tumble as they will.

Tomorrow manifests and brings the bill

For every kiss and kill, the small and great.

You want to know the future, love? Then wait:

I’ll answer your impatient questions. Still—

They’ll call it chance, or luck, or call it Fate,

The cards and stars that tumble as they will.

I’ll come to you tonight, dear, when it’s late,

You will not see me; you may feel a chill.

I’ll wait until you sleep, then take my fill,

And that will be your future on a plate.

They’ll call it chance, or luck, or call it Fate.

AN INTRODUCTION

Writing is flying in dreams.

When you remember. When you can. When it works.

It’s that easy.

— AUTHOR’S NOTEBOOK, FEBRUARY 1992

They do it with mirrors. It’s a cliché, of course, but it’s also true. Magicians have been using mirrors, usually set at a forty-five-degree angle, ever since the Victorians began to manufacture reliable, clear mirrors in quantity, well over a hundred years ago. John Nevil Maskelyne began it, in 1862, with a wardrobe that, thanks to a cunningly placed mirror, concealed more than it revealed.

Mirrors are wonderful things. They appear to tell the truth, to reflect life back out at us; but set a mirror correctly and it will lie so convincingly you’ll believe that something has vanished into thin air, that a box filled with doves and flags and spiders is actually empty, that people hidden in the wings or the pit are floating ghosts upon the stage. Angle it right and a mirror becomes a magic casement; it can show you anything you can imagine and maybe a few things you can’t.

(The smoke blurs the edges of things.)

Stories are, in one way or another, mirrors. We use them to explain to ourselves how the world works or how

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