Fiction: Marked

An essay by Rhiann, as provided by M A Smith
Art by Luke Spooner

Life as a pick-pocket is much easier when you are in possession of six arms.

I followed in the family business, so to speak, and relocated to the Second City as soon as my spines had parted. Plenty of humans there, you see. Or, as Mother calls them: marks. It’s a long journey via cross country train, swamp ferry, and, finally, fusion-chopper to the heights of the Second. I’m not the best traveler; I haven’t got the stomachs for it.

Two of my cousins were already out there, and one of them, Kez, met me at the pad.

“Rhiann!” he yelled, his voice a high-pitched buzz amidst the humanoid bass rumble.

“Here,” I called, nudging my way through the throng, keeping all my arms tucked respectfully tightly against my upper body. Even so, I was on the receiving end of some “accidental” shoves; the Second City is not known for its tolerance, whatever the local rags would have you believe. Someone hissed, “Go home, goddamn termite,” in my aural cavity–annoying to be lumped in (erroneously) with those uncivilized folks, worse still to feel the thin spatter of someone else’s saliva on my skin. We have particularly sensitive skins. Again, pretty handy in my line of work.

Kez wanted to hit a bar as soon as I’d dumped my stuff in his nest, but I wanted to hit the ground running and get out on the streets, plying my trade, as it were.

“Are you sure?” he said. “There’s this place in the Colonies that you’re not going to believe.”

“Next time,” I said.

“Your call,” my cousin shrugged. He tossed me a set of keys.

Life as a pick-pocket is much easier when you are in possession of six arms.

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Summer 2019 collection.

Rhiann has six arms and some very sticky fingers. Born and raised somewhere in the marshes that lick the borders of the civilized world, she is believed to have operated in the Second City before using a Solar Bonded Card to move off planet. Legislative Officials seeking her whereabouts have cautioned System Citizens: be wary of unknown Hexapods…and keep your hands out of your pockets.

M A Smith writes from Gloucestershire, UK, where she lives with her family.

Her fiction has appeared (or is due to appear) in publications including Mythic, Gathering Storm Magazine, Outposts of Beyond, and Dark Moon Digest. Her flash fiction tale, “Plain Sight” was selected as a finalist for Havok Magazine‘s Monsters v Robots contest issue, and featured in the July edition.

Smith’s novella Severance (published by Fantasia Divinity) is available now on Amazon or via the publisher’s online store.

Luke Spooner, a.k.a. ‘Carrion House,’ currently lives and works in the South of England. Having recently graduated from the University of Portsmouth with a first class degree, he is now a full time illustrator for just about any project that piques his interest. Despite regular forays into children’s books and fairy tales, his true love lies in anything macabre, melancholy, or dark in nature and essence. He believes that the job of putting someone else’s words into a visual form, to accompany and support their text, is a massive responsibility, as well as being something he truly treasures. You can visit his web site at

“Marked” is © 2019 M A Smith
Art accompanying story is © 2019 Luke Spooner

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