As the Wheel Turns
by Aliette de Bodard
Prologue: The Wheel
In the Tenth Court of Hell stands the Wheel of Rebirth. Its spokes are of red lacquered wood; it creaks as demons pull it, dragging its load of souls back into the world.
And before the Wheel stands the Lady.
Every soul who goes to the Wheel must endure her gaze.
Every soul must stop by her, and take from her pale hands the celadon cup, and drink.
The drink is herbs gathered from the surfaces of ponds, tears taken from the eyes of children, scales shed from old, wise dragons. To drink is to forget, for no soul can come back into the
world remembering past lives, or the punishments meted out to it within the other Courts of Hell.
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"As the Wheel Turns" is roughly 6600 words.
Aliette de Bodard lives in Paris, where she has a job as a computer engineer. In her spare time, she writes speculative fiction: her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, and Gardner Dozois's The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection. She is a Campbell Award finalist for 2009. Visit www.aliettedebodard.com for more information.