Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fantasy Fiction

The Sun in Exile

I was born the year they put the sun on trial for treason. It was so hot that year the streets boiled like black soup and the air rippled like music and the polar bears all roared together, just once, loud enough that a child in Paraguay turned her head suddenly north and began to weep. Tomatoes simmered on the vine and the wind was full of the smells of them cooking, then of their skins peeling, turning black.

An Old Man Cometh and He Is Overgrown

To Cogadhi Steorran, Gentle Summoner: I understand you are the ward of Udo Steorran, Stark Summoner of the Realm. It is of Steorran’s well-being of which I humbly write to you and request your presence in the town of Berkhammer. Steorran recently lost his spouse, Tillie, to which I offer my greatest condolences. You see, it seems Steorran has summoned souls—against our wishes—to this quiet town.

The Rustle of Growing Things

In the morning, he’s leaving. “All right,” Ana says. Lying, continues: “I understand.” The flat is hollowed out in anticipation of absence. Concrete floors swept cool and bare; dry sink, husk-like cupboards. His boots wait at the threshold, still gray with dust from his last stint in the mountains with the guerrillas. His rifle leans against the doorframe.

The Turnip, or, How the Whole World Was Brought to Peace

I have heard it on the rumors that when the tale-spinner’s guild gathers in their secret places, a full half of them are sworn to never tell the truth, and the other half to never tell a lie, even if it mean their life. Being one of that trade myself, I can tell you that that’s more or less the shape of it, and I tell you so you know that this tale is true, just as it was told to me, for I am one of the ones sworn to the truth.

Broken Record

What Jaden remembered of the wreck was screaming and water drops hanging in the air and the thin white mast at a diagonal and then breathing cold water deep into his chest, shrieky regret about too much stuff at once, and now he was here. A desert island. It was the kind people in single-panel cartoons are always living on. The only difference for Jaden was that there was no tall coconut tree drooping over him, casting a puddle of shadow for him to move with all day.

The Crowning of the Lord Tazenket, Vulture God of the Eye, Part II

It is three days before she dreams a strange prophecy. The Daganites believe prophecy is shrouded in mystery. In truth, it is logical—bound by choice and statistics and a million small things they don’t pay attention to, but that gods do. Mortals love secret and ritual and when they come to her temple with their hundred small choices they don’t look at her. Eyes cast down, watering from the smoke, foreheads pressed to the ground.

Picnic, with Monster

Freedom means walking through the park on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon, instead of being locked up in the hospital or a group home. Caleb was released from the hospital this morning, not because he’s well—he knows he’ll never be what the doctors call well—but because they had nothing left to offer him. He dutifully took their pills when he was locked up, because otherwise, they just get a court order to force you. No freedom in hospitals.

The Cheesemaker and the Undying King

Tana was in a humid cave checking the rind on a round of Tomme when the messenger arrived to tell her that the war was lost and her wife was to be hanged. She took her time rewrapping the cheese before she responded. Still too soft. Another week, she estimated. The rind was a beautiful blue-black shade that would catch a maid’s eye in the market. Ruining a fine wheel wouldn’t save Renae. And she knew what the boy was going to say as soon as she heard his nervous footsteps.

If We Do Not Fly at Sunset

It’s a Sunday morning and the woman in your bed is exactly your type. Turquoise hair, cut perfectly. Full sleeve tattoo in progress; she says she’s adding to it as she gets the money. A smile that makes you want more—and she knows how to use it. When she leaves—hair messy, socks stuffed into her pocket, still smiling, and saying you should text her—you shower, then bind both your chest and your wings.

Magical Girl Burnout Bingo

Ten years ago, I stood on a rooftop alone. In front of me, a many-winged beast clung to the wires between traffic lights, drooling sparks onto the asphalt. I summoned a bright arrow from my wishing star and readied my bow. I had to defeat this false angel, rescue civilians, and heal the injured, and I had to do it all by myself, because nobody else would. When I leapt, my leading ankle struck the roof’s edge and twisted.