Science Fiction & Fantasy

Seasonal Fears

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Fantasy Fiction

Innocent Bird

It began with Shoko finding feathers in her bed. It was her third year of high school. She’d just turned seventeen. She was falling in love, and her wings were coming in. At first, there were not so many feathers, but soon there were more and more. She’d assumed they’d be white; in drawings, most people with wings had feathers like swans or doves. Hers were like a sparrow’s.

How to Become an Ancestor

First, die. The girl had fulfilled that initial requirement, though not willingly. And yet she found herself on the side of a block of rowhouses surrounded by five or six faces, both familiar and unfamiliar. A graffitied kingdom of the slain. The girl had achieved a royalty she never aspired to in life. And it was boring. Boring to preside over a North Philadelphia courtyard.

How to Become a Witch-Queen

You look at the coffin as it is lowered into the rectangular opening in the cathedral floor, that was made specifically to contain it. Inside is your husband, the man to whom you have been married for more than twenty years, you’ve forgotten exactly how many. The man with whom you have three children. The oldest, Gerhard, will inherit the throne. He will be called Gerhard IV after his grandfather, who was Gerhard III or, to his enemies, Gerhard the Drunkard.

When You Die on the Radio

Everyone hears Hunger die on the radio, and no one can do anything about it. His mayday is admirably calm for someone who is burning. He’s breathing heavily, but he doesn’t betray any fear. It’s a textbook radio transmission, the kind the other firefighters hope they could make if they were trapped and blind in […]

Wolf Tones

. . . and then the second tone enters, high and fierce, the waves rising, a sudden spasm of hail scattering across the deck like a shower of pearls . . . a tone like a moan that vibrates through the ship, down through the cabins lined in red like satin jewelry boxes, those elegant little coffins, and down again through the vessel’s bowels and down through the vast imponderable weight of water its icy knifelike blackness just on the edge of freezing . . . 

A Tableau of Things That Are

When they ordered me down off my pedestal, I had nowhere else to go. Life as a statue is easy. They make you ascend the pedestal, turn you to stone, remove your ability to move, and leave you to watch the turn of the seasons in a world you cannot touch or care about, anymore. You can only stand in the public garden where all the convicted are placed, and you watch with dull and distant interest at the visitors who stroll past.

Bones in It

Besides the vedma who lived behind the stove in steam room three, the banya in Grand Lake Plaza was the same as any other budget day spa on Chicago’s West Side. It had deep-tissue massages and signature facials, plus day passes for the communal baths and steam rooms. There was a cucumber water dispenser in the lobby, and a little sign on the front desk that invited guests to “nama-stay a while.” The robes and slippers were cheap, scratchy polyester.

Dead Men in Central City

Horses were the most unreliable, most unfortunate creatures ever to walk the Earth. And yet, Ricardo was immensely sad that his was gone. He and his pretty tamed Mustang mare, Bandita, had been back and forth across the west for six years, and now she’d taken a bad step—a hole, a sharp rock, he hadn’t been able to figure out which—fallen down a hillside, and broken not one but two legs. Traveling on horseback through the Rockies at night, accidents happened.

The Palace in the Moonlight

Dabir and I shrouded the Syrian in his saddle blanket and spent a few hours digging a hole for him in that lonely land. He had been the last of our companions. Bandits and desertion and, finally, illness, had whittled our numbers down from the score of warriors and porters with whom we had begun our journey so that only we two were left. We finished the burial and our prayers and stood to contemplate the high scrubby brown hills that stretched before and behind us.

An Invitation to a Burning

Merrinvale was a town that needed witches. Most places do—witches, after all, are the ones who make sure the small and large magics work. Things like the rising of bread and the turning of the seasons and safe passage through birth and death, all the work of witches. Some places accept this, and so they welcome their witches the same as they welcome any others and life moves in harmony. Merrinvale was not one such place.