For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“The Hortlak”

Kelly Link


The way the All-Night worked at the moment was Batu’s idea. They sized up the customers before they got to the counter—that had always been part of retail. If the customer was the right sort, then Batu or Eric gave the customer what they said they needed, and the customer paid with money sometimes, and sometimes with other things: pot, books on tape, souvenir maple syrup tins. They were near the border. They got a lot of Canadians. Eric suspected someone, maybe a traveling Canadian pajama salesman, was supplying Batu with novelty pajamas.

Siz de mi bekliyorsunuz?

Are you waiting too?

What Batu thought Eric should say to Charley, if he really liked her: “Come live with me. Come live at the All-Night.”

What Eric thought about saying to Charley: “If you’re going away, take me with you. I’m about to be twenty years old, and I’ve never been to college. I sleep days in a storage closet, wearing someone else’s pajamas. I’ve worked retail jobs since I was sixteen. I know people are hateful. If you need to bite someone, you can bite me.”

We read it in Magic for Beginners.