The boy stopped playing after his Mom and Dad chained the iron man to the Kingdom’s heart. The boy used to run alone and brave through the welt within the walls, and even ranged as far as the borders of the wood. He tossed the ball his mother gave him into the sky, gold against blue with the sun behind, and laughing, caught it again. The ball purred in his grip. Sometimes he asked it questions---how to build a puppet, how to open the castle gates, how to change the color of the sky--- and it answered. | Copyright 2016 by Max Gladstone. Originally published in THE GRIMM FUTURE, edited by Erin Underwood. Reprinted by permission of the author. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki.