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Fiction

Fantasy

A Conch-Shell’s Notes

This is the story of a conch-shell, and the man who answered its call to adventure. The powerful and mysterious conch resided in a seaside temple on the outskirts of Peacetown. Whenever a resident of the town found themselves at life’s crossroads, wondering which path to take, notes from the conch-shell sounded in their ears and sang of what lay ahead in each direction. When danger lay in the town’s future, it called one of its young men, bright of mind and clean of limb, to fight it. That evening, it sounded in the ears of Kwa, a citrus-seller who was piling fruit upon fruit into neat pyramids, turning the best faces outwards.

Science Fiction

The She-Wolf’s Hidden Grin

When I was a girl, my sister Susanna and I had to get up early whether we were rested or not. In winter particularly, our day often began before sunrise; and because our dormitory was in the south wing of the house, with narrow windows facing the central courtyard and thus facing north, the lurid, pinkish light sometimes was hours late in arriving and we would wash and dress while we were still uncertain whether we were awake or not. Groggy and only half coherent, we would tell each other our dreams.

Fantasy

The Lady of Shalott

As far as she could remember, the Lady had never been outside the tower. She might have been born here. She assumed she had been born, but maybe not. Maybe she just appeared, her complete adult self, flowing red hair and porcelain skin, dressed in a gown of blue trimmed with gold, with no memory of anything outside these rounded walls. All day, every day, she wove a tapestry set on a loom against the wall. She might have been weaving forever, and she didn’t know if she would ever finish.

Science Fiction

Gundark Island, or, Tars Tarkas Needs Your Help

When Tommy Burke took me out to Gundark Island to see the alien, I wasn’t really expecting much. Maybe I was just going because I thought it would be cool to take a ride in Tommy’s canoe. Or maybe I was just hoping Tommy might turn out to be a friend. If there really was an alien there, too, then all the better. After passing a hand-painted sign that said “Please Don’t Feed the Alien,” we came to a clearing in the middle of the island where I saw a lump in the ground. At first it looked like a small boulder, except that it had a grayish-purple tint to it. Upon closer inspection it vaguely appeared to have scales.

Fantasy

The Seeds of War

Hastinaga was ablaze with word of Vrath’s amazing feat. Vrath’s stepmother, Dowager Empress Jilana, while taken aback at the manner in which it had been done, nevertheless bit her tongue when she saw what he had accomplished. That the two daughters of the king of Serapi were beautiful there was no doubt. At the wedding, they were the envy of every woman in the court. Tall, with full heads of thick, lustrous blue-black hair, fingernails and toenails painted blood red, heavy of hip and breast, heart-faced with a glow to rival the moon, they walked like queens already.

Science Fiction

To Market, To Market: The Branding of Billy Bailey

Billy and Principal Andrew Alty went all the way back to kindergarten, when Billy had convinced Mitchell McCoy that the green fingerpaint was Shamrock Shake, and watched with glee as the little babyface had scarfed it all down. Billy knew that Andrew Alty knew his style: refined, controlled, and above all, personal. Billy never would’ve dropped a dozen M-80s down the girls’ toilet. His stuff was always one-on-one, and possessed of a degree of charm and subtlety. But nevertheless, here was Billy, along with the sixth-grade bumper-crop of nasty-come-latelies, called on the carpet in front of Andrew Alty’s massive desk.

Fantasy

Blur

En route to visit my girlfriend in Indiana, I pull over at a rest stop in Illinois to wash my face. It is not my first mistake of the day, but it is the biggest. The bathroom is full of people. I see them before I place my glasses on the sink. I realize I am flinching after my body is already tight with worry; she will be enraged if I am late again. Children with juice-stained mouths are at the sinks on either side of me. A middle-aged woman with a deflated handbag scolds them. They scream, she screams, all of it rising above the rush of the tap. The water smells vaguely sulfurous, like the Fountain of Youth.

Science Fiction

The Archronology of Love

This is a love story, the last of a series of moments when we meet. Saki Jones leaned into the viewport window until her nose nearly touched the glass, staring at the colony planet below. New Mars. From this distance, she could pretend that things were going according to plan—that M.J. was waiting for her in one of the domed cities. A shuttle would take her down to the surface and she and her lifelove would pursue their dream of studying a grand alien civilization. It had been such a beautiful plan.

Fantasy

Those Are Pearls

Elaine broke her curse like a mirror, heedless of the shards that scattered across the floor. The guests at the party laughed, applauded, whooped with delight at her reckless abandon. She offered them an exaggerated curtsy, holding the pose as she held their eyes, reveling in their gaze, in the simple pleasure of being seen. The broken pieces of the curse slid into liquid, shimmering like mercury before fogging into smoke and disappearing.

Science Fiction

My Children’s Home

My children do not dream and neither do I. But that does not mean our sleep is sound. Sometimes they wake in the middle of the night, eyes wide and wet, grasping for a reason they stare into the darkness. I wish I could tell them it was a nightmare, that whatever they are feeling isn’t real, but instead I tell them to close their lids and lay lightly back into sleep, which they always do. My children are good at taking orders.