by Mari Ness
He had replaced his hands with wands, one tipped with amethyst and lined in silver, the other dotted with emeralds and lined with gold, spraying a continuous fountain of golden sparks. When the wands came together, carelessly or deliberately, the resulting clash of colors and sparks stung the eyes. People whispered that he had been a poet once. A failed poet. A very failed poet, sniffed some. His work had lacked rhyme, meter, meaning, beauty, sophistication, experimentation: he'd been begged never to recite again, never to bother the learned journals with his pained and ugly words. That explained the missing hands, the glowing wands, although others protested this explanation. No poetry, however ghastly, could bring anyone to that. No, it must have been some other obsession playing on him: a lover, a child, a demon.