Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

The Salt Warrior

Angela found the saint at the base of the cliffs beneath the old watchtower. She had followed his trail from the village: a line of footprints braided with the chaotic, black-stained tracks of the raiders, leading to the cliffs. There he must have fallen, or leapt away in fear. The crumbling stones of the watchtower were marred with scars from the raiders’ lashing claws and teeth, striped with their fetid black ichor, but there was no sign of them on the switchbacks that wound down to the beach.

Science Fiction

The Executioner

The day of the execution was the first and only time I’d ever been in a prison. It was a lot bigger than I expected it to be. There was more light in it, too. I thought it would be a dark place with screaming inmates yelling at me as I passed through. But that’s not how it was at all. Everyone fell silent when they saw me. My path opened like Moses parting the Red Sea as people moved out of my way. There were guards on every side of me as I walked through the prison. They guided my way to the death house in the backyard.

Fantasy

Ah Been Buked

It’s best to leave some things forgotten. Lord have mercy on my soul. Have mercy, have mercy, have mercy. I don’t know why you want me to talk about all this in the first place. This here’s a spirit stone, and I come out here to make sure it ain’t been covered up. Things need tending to. No, I suppose not all things ought to be forgotten. Feels like I done been around here some thousand years or some such; moving, settling down, and moving again. ’Course I ain’t been around quite that long, it just seemed that way when I got to thinking back.

Science Fiction

Your Mind is the Superfund Site

“Ever consider killing yourself?” the gecko said. “It’ll save you one hundred percent on your car insurance.” I was alone, but not. I tried to step on the creature, but my foot wasn’t there. I clenched my teeth, which felt like water. Alleyah’s Southie accent crackled a reminder of radio. “Tracey, are you paralucid yet? Need another poke of DMT?” I was back in high school—or somebody’s high school. The classrooms were vintage Sears catalogs and a spruce tree that grew sideways—not in a directional sense but just with a profound association with the concept of sideways. I climbed the tree and then fell.

Fantasy

Magnificent Maurice, or the Flowers of Immortality

The tree has many names, in many languages: Yggdrasil, Kalpavriksha, Jian-Mu, Ashvattha. It stands at the nexus of worlds, dark matter coiling around its roots, the rim of the universe held aloft by its ever-expanding crown. Its branches bend spacetime, its cordate leaves uphold the laws of physics, and its tiny white flowers grant immortality. Let us be more specific. One flower grants immortality, two flowers cause a prolonged and painful death, three flowers the obliteration of an entire species.

Science Fiction

Three Speeches about Billy Grainger

Thank you. Now shut the fuck up. I know you’re comedians, but we’re here to honor our own, so I swear to God if I hear one more tinkling glass I’ll shove it so far up your ass you’ll be able to toast after you finish your drink. That’s better. Now where was I? Oh yeah, we’re a classy fucking group, and this is our distinguished fucking hall. So, what can I say about Billy Grainger? Not a whole lot. He’s a fucking chemist. Ted called me and was like, “We’d like you to give an induction speech at the Hall of Fame ceremony, but it’s a posthumous award.”

Fantasy

The Lachrymist

It is not the dust that brings her tears. The Lachrymist’s house is dusty, fragments of time and memory fallen everywhere, a living blanket that drapes itself over tables and chairs and things even stranger. But time and memory are to be expected anywhere the dead gather, and even in this abundance, they do not drive her to weeping. Neither is her weeping caused by the voices, calling to each other from shadowy ceiling corners, memories still embodied, repeating phrases into the cold air.

Science Fiction

Seven Ways to Fall in Love with an Astronaut

We met on Mars. You had been there for two years already; I was fresh out of rehabilitation. We already knew about each other, had read each other’s files. You were an expert in highly optimized tolerance. I had seen your picture, but I had never realized you were handsome until I saw you in person. You weren’t clean-shaven, but neither did you have a beard. This is supposed to be the mark of a man who makes a good boyfriend but a bad husband.

Fantasy

Burn the Ships

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.

Science Fiction

Schrödinger’s Catastrophe [Part 2]

It took twice as long to get to the third deck from the first as it did to get to the first deck from the fifth. Alice was quite certain there was no mechanism in existence capable of adding fractional decks to the ship, and so was chalking this up to another aspect of the ongoing computer malfunction. She supposed a way to validate this was to ask that the elevator stop at, say, deck two-and-five-sixteenths, but she also didn’t want to encourage the computer’s departures from reality any more than necessary.