Saturday, November 09, 2019

This Week's Oz Short Story

The final story from Oziana 2006—the "Haunted" themed issue—is "The Axman's Arm" by J. L. Bell, with illustrations by David Lee Ingersoll. Jair and Wenni are two Munchkin kids who, thanks to their mother's job, are often left on their own for days at a time. But they're good kids, even if they dan't want to do all their chores or lessons. But when they find a disembodied arm that likes chopping wood, Jair takes it in and takes care of it. Before long, thanks to the arm's help, all the chopping is done. Jair washes the arm and finds a tattoo on it: Nimmie Amee. Every time they mention Nimmie Amee, the arm gets excited, so Jair decides to help the arm find her. They find Nimmmie's old home in ruins, but also find another disembodied arm, this one holding a sword! Sure enough, the new arm is also looking for her, and the two arms start to fight. Jair breaks them up and takes the axman's arm home, but eventually the soldier's arm finds them and tries to break in. When attempting to stop them fighting, the arms strangle Jair. Only quick thinking from Wenni and the local wildlife prevent the arms from causing even more trouble.

This one starts off amusingly enough—after all, who wouldn't like to have an extra arm around to help with the chores? But things quickly turn dark. After all, it's doubtful an arm on its own has enough wits to reason and understand all that's going on around it. The introduction of the second, rival arm really opens things up. Of course, Jair and Wenni have no way of knowing this, but I'm sure most readers are able to figure out that the arms used to belong to the Tin Woodman and the Tin Soldier! So, that's one little Oz mystery solved.


J. L. Bell said...

This was probably the darkest story I've ever written. The kids' mother is working in the underground economy of Oz, and there's no suggestion of rescue from the Emerald City at the end. But when you're dealing with a couple of lopped-off arms in a deep forest, it's bound to be scary.

David Lee Ingersoll said...

I recently posted the illustrations I did for this story on my website. They can be found as part of my weekly newsletter.