There are no obsidian blades in the camp. The Dawncomer guards have learned enough to make sure that no ritual knives get smuggled in. Without obsidian, Quineltoc can’t spill blood properly—he can’t keep the law, can’t observe the rites of the Living Lord as a man of God must. The ghost-colored invaders who came from beyond the rising sun trust in their vigilance and in their cold technology to protect them. It does. The People make do. They’ve had to, for over a decade now.
The women have gathered around Mr. Hubert, their eyes shining in the candlelight, their expressions eager. The hoops of their skirts bump and crinolines rustle as they jockey for position; looks containing entire conversations are exchanged. In spite of the lateness of the hour, the parlor is very hot. Sweat beads at the edges of their elaborate hairdos and trickles down more than one white-powdered cheek. Mr. Hubert, the celebrated toymaker, is just as turned out as the women who surround him.
Gopal knew before he booted up the game—a Christmas present from his dad—that his character would be some form of elf or human, because the other races were all ugly, and he didn’t play games to be ugly. And he knew too, although he didn’t say it, that his character would be a girl. He always played girls online, although he’d be ashamed if anyone knew it, precisely because it played into the online belief that most girls in most games were “really” men.
The Grand Philosopher Ancient Leaf once expounded that a man who kills another out of passion or greed is condemned as a murderer, and one who kills ten people is reviled as a maniac, but one who causes the death of hundreds of thousands in pursuit of personal glory is often revered as a great personage. The Grand Historian Silver Mirror utilized the quote in describing the senseless nature of the Wars of the Four Princes and the Six Grand Lords.
The village of Kovácspéter was plagued by a vampire, which was increasingly embarrassing. The year was 1873 and Hungary was on the march to modernity. They had their own prime minister, their own constitution, and their own economic development plan. Rails were being laid and industry was being developed. The future was industrial, prosperous and, most importantly, happening right now.
My parents’ farm has shrunk, as old things tend to do. The shed, the workshop, the paddock with its doubled wire fences and chicken coop—all squat and rain-blackened, coming into focus as I step from the car as if I have put on glasses or wiped rain from a window. The house itself stands straight-spined beyond the pear tree, gray in the drizzle, more withdrawn than the last time I visited. The tree has not changed.
I never met my father, the sea monster, but my mother told me about him: eight raging tentacles that felt, when she stroked them, like finest silk, the deep calm ocean blue of him, the round eyes that revealed secrets in their reflections. The first time she looked into them, she saw an image of herself in her future, and she was kind and full of joy. They met on a dating app. There weren’t that many options. | Copyright 2020 by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam.
Isabelle Winters once saw a fairy. For real. It was little, like a hummingbird, with a hummingbird’s frantic wings, and it was moving through the garden, shaking the rosebuds open for the bees. She’s just told this to Polly, though not exactly in those words. The sarcastic for real, for instance, is all Polly. If there was ever a girl primed to see fairies, Isabelle Winters is that girl.
In compiling a guidebook to the Eighth Continent, it’s been a common observation by our writers that all travel involves a painful amount of waiting. There’s the time spent waiting for a taxi to arrive, the time wasted waiting in line at the airport, and a seemingly endless amount of hours waiting in concourses and bus terminals, train stations and hotel lobbies.
Moses is not dreaming. She is remembering. She is twelve, standing drenched on the blacktop, all heaving, nervous breaths and frustrated tears blending with the rain. The air around her begins to pulse. She should have been home by now. A dozen things need doing before her mother gets home, and her little sister stands on the sidewalk, fidgeting beneath a plastic umbrella.