Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fantasy

Family Teeth (Part 6): St. Polycarp’s Home For Happy Wanderers

Sheila Halpern got her looks from her Momma, who died pushing her out. Died before, even, but still kept pushing. “You’re the prettiest thing in the whole darn world,” her daddy told her the day he put her on the train for the St. Polycarp’s Home for Happy Wanderers, his age-soft teeth all chipped so everything sounded muffled. She was eight years old, lice riddled, and 90% liar like her daddy.

Fantasy

Family Teeth (Part 5): American Jackal

He watched her legs approach in the mirror and smiled down at the butter melting on his pancakes when she sat on the stool beside him. “You’re free to sit anywhere you like, but I can’t much promise to be good company,” he said.

Fantasy

La Alma Perdida de Marguerite Espinoza

Marguerite Espinoza took her last breath as the sun slipped behind the Salt Mountains outside the expansive windows of her third floor bedchamber. Alvardo nearly missed the moment, eavesdropping to the gathered family’s whispered conversations. He had falsely predicted her passing four times in the past three days, but the passing was unmistakable. As Maestro Eusebio had said many times, “When the moment comes, you will know.” And he did.

Fantasy

The Suicide’s Guide to the Absinthe of Perdition

You cannot stop an angel who truly wants to fall. This is the first thing you learn in Pandemonium. The second thing you learn in Pandemonium is how to drink absinthe.

Fantasy

Monster, Finder, Shifter

My father’s family had produced monster-finders for several generations. More monsters were being born than ever; our village didn’t have enough finder power to track them all, or shaper power to abort or fix those the finders found, so many people had to offer their offspring to the Shadows.

Fantasy

The Seven Samovars

“The first samovar, the silver one at the end with the little bird perched atop the key, is filled to the top with Life,” she says, “freshly brewed each morning at sunrise exactly. A few drops will perk up most customers on a Monday morning, to be sure. And most of them need it, don’t you think?”

Fantasy

Breaking the Frame

The photograph is of a woman at the center of a forest. She is slim and tall and pale as the birches she stands among. The shadows turn her ribs and spine into branches, into knots in the wood. Around her arms, the peeling white bark of the birches, curved in bracelets. Between her thighs, the hair is dense and springy like moss. She is turning into a tree.

Fantasy

A Moment Before It Struck

He felt death coming a moment before it struck. In the lingering gray twilight, Smoke lay on his bedding, eyes not quite closed and mind adrift, only half-aware of the sounds of the encampment around him: steel on whetstone, the rattle of dice, a soft song, and loud bragging.

Fantasy

Give Her Honey When You Hear Her Scream

In the middle of the maze, there’s always a monster. If there were no monster, people would happily set up house where it’s warm and windowless and comfortable. The monster is required. The monster is a real estate disclosure.

Fantasy

My Teacher, My Enemy

My enemy’s body is still warm when I take my knife to him. Stripped to his skin and lain upon his back, he looks much less frightening than he had when he was alive, armed, and desperate to kill me. But there is still power in the shape of his relaxing muscles and the size of his cooling frame, and, as he is a foot taller than I am, I feel a surge of pride in my accomplishment that is even greater than the hot pleasure of the kill.