Science Fiction & Fantasy

THE CALL

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Fiction

Fantasy

The West Topeka Triangle

As much as the other kids in my neighborhood like to tell me I’m a know-it-all, I realize just how short the list of things I actually know is one cold winter morning in 1987. I know my vocabulary words, everything that can be known about the Bermuda Triangle, and how well-liked a kid is by who they walk to school with.

Science Fiction

Tracker

The City Man was calling him. Tracker lifted his head from his garden, distracted from the small fears and satisfactions of the black beetles sucking juice from the ruffled cabbages beneath his fingers. The scent of that calling came to him on the soft westerly winds that also carried molecules of ocean, fish, and seagull shit, dying shelled-things and hungry water-living mammals.

Fantasy

Daddy Long Legs of the Evening

It was said that when he was a small child, asleep in his bed one end-of-summer night, a spider crawled into his ear, traversed a maze of canals, eating slowly through membrane and organ, to discover the cavern of the skull. Then that spider burrowed in a spiral pattern through the electric gray cake of the brain to the very center of it all, where it hollowed out a large nest for itself.

Science Fiction

The Whole Crew Hates Me

They hate me. They have told me this, again and again, starting from almost the first day of the mission, and continuing every day since then, carrying their hostility well outside the confines of the solar system and into the realm of bentspace. Their hatred does not quite extend to the realm of murder, at least not yet; but it does include telling me every day, in every possible way, that they find my presence intolerable.

Fantasy

Seven Salt Tears

When I was a child, my mother would tell me stories of the sea. When I couldn’t sleep, when I was restless, when I burned with some childhood fever, she would sit by my side, and conjure something wonderful and strange, something half-magic, from the ocean for me. “Mara,” she would say, smoothing the hair from my forehead as she tucked the covers around me, “did you know that to summon a selkie, you must shed seven tears into the ocean?”

Science Fiction

Rates Of Change

Diana hasn’t seen her son naked before. He floats now in the clear gel bath of the medical bay, the black ceramic casing that holds his brain, the long articulated tail of his spinal column. Like a tadpole, she thinks. Like something young. In all, he hardly masses more than he did as a baby. She has a brief, horrifying image of holding him on her lap, cradling the braincase to her breast.

Fantasy

The Death of Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan has died. Paul Bunyan has died and Johnny Appleseed is heading north. Not for vengeance, like Paul would have wanted. Not to beat the hills red or divert a river over those responsible for killing the legend, but because it finally seems time to revisit old scars, old pains. “We were the fire in the night,” Johnny remembers Paul saying one night, so long ago.

Science Fiction

This Is as I Wish to Be Restored

Every night I come home and I drink. I trade away the hope, the guilt, the fear, even the love—I think it’s love, crazy as it seems. I trade them for oblivion, because otherwise I won’t sleep at all. I drink until there’s no life left in me, until I’m able to forget for just a little while the chrome vessel in the corner and what’s at stake. Sometimes I hope that I’ll dream of her.

Fantasy

Daya and Dharma

Daya opens her eyes to the colors of dusk, though she smells and hears midday. Soft light picks out yellow and turquoise stones and the bright fire of Gul-Mohar flowers; but the heat is Surya at his fiercest, making all else pale before his glory. She turns over, dazed and sluggish, listening to the distant clash of copper pots, breathing in spices cooked in coconut oil.

Science Fiction

The Venus Effect

This is 2015. A party on a westside roof, just before midnight. Some Mia or Mina or throwing it, the white girl with the jean jacket and the headband and the two-bumps-of-molly grin, flitting from friend circle to friend circle, laughing loudly and refilling any empty cup in her eyeline from a bottomless jug of sangria, Maenad Sicagi. There are three kegs, a table of wines and liquor, cake and nachos inside.