Aimee has a circus trick. A bathtub is hoisted ten feet above the stage, 26 monkeys climb into it via a ladder and vanish. Aimee has no idea how the trick works, just that the monkeys come back to the tour bus later. But the trick works, and the monkeys know how to do the routine, so she just goes along with it.
That’s it. Yes, Aimee has increasing concerns about how long her living situation with the circus and the monkeys is going to last, but for the most part the story’s about exploring the banality of her life with 26 disappearing monkeys. It’s a wonderfully timed piece of comedic magic realism.
26 Monkeys, Also the Abyss by Kij Johnson
Availability: free online, print, e-book, audio book
Word count: 3,600
Awards: World Fantasy Award winner, nominated for a Nebula Award, #1 in Asimov’s Reader’s Poll
First published: Asimov’s, July 2008
Where to find it: It’s available for free on Kij Johnson’s website here
Audio book available for free from Starship Sofa here
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The Hugo Award Showcase: 2010 Volume, edited by Mary Robinette Kowal, 2010, Prime Books (e-book available from Weightless Books here)
The Secret History of Fantasy, edited by Peter S. Beagle, 2010, Tachyon Publications
At the Mouth of the River of Bees, collection, 2012, Small Beer Press (e-book available from Weightless Books here)
Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top, edited by Ekaterina Sedia, 2012, Prime Books (e-book available from Weightless Books here)