Cast of Wonders 285: The Scent that Treason Brings (Staff Picks 2017)
Every year in January, Cast of Wonders takes the month off to recharge, plan the year ahead and highlight some of our favorite episodes. Throughout the month, different members of the Cast of Wonders crew will present their favorite story of 2017.
This week’s episode is hosted by associate editor Amy Brennan.
The Scent That Treason Brings
by Holly Schofield
Wings tightly closed, Scarp bustled around the printing workshop. With smooth, sure strokes, zie inked the wooden blocks of type. The new formulation made from snail mucus and oak bark spread on smoothly. One of zir pincher-like tarsi gripped the printing press’ lever while both zir mid legs slid a sheet of paper over the inked blocks. The large screw creaked as zie lowered the platen and then raised it, releasing the paper. Scarp gave a brief twitch of satisfaction at the clarity of the text, then re-inked the blocks for the next blank sheet.
Slowly the racks of printed and drying pages grew higher. But not fast enough. Every minute counted if a bound copy of the Tract was to accompany each Second Molter on their journey. And Beld had been no help at all in preparation for this molting season. The Head Printer just puttered about in the backroom, working on some special project. What could be more important than the annual printing of the Tract?
Finally, Scarp couldn’t stand it any longer and strode over the cold slate floor to the backroom. Beld’s triangular head was bent over a workbench as she fiddled with some hardwood type. “Head Printer Beld? Can you possibly find time to help? We have dozens more pages to–” Scarp broke off when zie scented Beld’s pheromones. The tang of excitement overlaid by a stink of confusion. What could it mean?