Science Fiction & Fantasy

IntheNightWood-Banner_Final_Lightspeed Oct 2018

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Fiction

Fantasy

The Diamond Girl

In your version of the story, the girl is a junkie. She is seventeen, standing on the side of the road with a garbage bag at her feet, and in the bag, she has a teddy bear and a box of Girl Scout cookies she stole from her niece. Her arm is outstretched, palm facing the sky. She’s hitchhiking but not with her thumb. It looks like she’s asking the sky for rain. When a car pulls alongside her, it’s the mother’s boyfriend and he says, Hey, sugar. She begins to run.

Science Fiction

A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Lighthouse of Quvenle the Seer

Your guidebook says: Do not ask which ships the lighthouse guides. It’s the same old joke everyone makes when they come, and the sisters who care for their prophetess Quvenle will not laugh. The other pilgrims will not laugh. You will not feel any less uncomfortable, and you’ll feel silly for selling your house and all the memories left inside to buy your passage. To reach the edge of known space, you have shed it all.

Fantasy

The Quiltbag

Octavia was at the last gate when the alarm sounded. A small army of bristling weapons encircled her. The bag shuddered in her grip, panic rippling through its weave. She gripped it tighter, reassuring it. It’s your hair, it sent tremulously. Told you to straighten it and bind it tight; they don’t like big black hair. She squeezed it tight against her side: Hush, hush. “Step aside, ma’am,” said a man in a grey uniform.

Science Fiction

Tie Goes to the Runner

The alien came to play ball. Or so I thought. It didn’t say so outright. Not exactly. Couldn’t speak English far as we could tell. But every day that summer, it would meet us there at the sandlot. The thing would come and stand behind the dugout, which was a rusty old hope chest Willie stole from his big sister. It would stand out there, the alien, not moving or nothing. Just observing, if that’s even the right word.

Fantasy

The Carpenter and the Beast of Teeth

The carpenter was alone and living out of his truck. He had been out of work for a long time when he found an envelope in his post office box. The envelope was black and coarse as hair. Instead of a seam, it had a mouth. When the carpenter picked it up, the mouth bared iron teeth and told him that he was hired. It would be his job to go to old houses the bank owned, fix them up, and kill their monsters.

Science Fiction

I Sing Against the Silent Sun

In the Principality there rule the Seven Suns. Armored gods, they marched through the universe eons ago, wreathed in subjected angels, and left footprints of conquest on galaxies. They dragged beneath them the corpse-heat from a billion burning worlds. The sixth Sun, the Gray Sun, is a god of silence. There is no voice, no mercy, no music within the Gray Sun.
Beneath the Gray Sun there is only emptiness.

Fantasy

His Artist Wife

You’re far more likely to have heard of my artist wife Lucille Hrade than of me. Her paintings have a way of communicating directly to people. They’re realistic—you can see the subjects of her portraits breathe, feel the heat of her sun-baked landscapes—but at the same time, like Andrew Wyeth’s work, they have just enough of what I call the askew in them to make you think you’re daringly enjoying experimental art.

Science Fiction

A Green Moon Problem

No one had ever seen Tatter D’MaLeon’s face. Even those who thought she was just a legend agreed that she was always masked. That was about all anyone agreed upon. Although the female pronoun was usually applied to “her,” even Tatter’s sex was in doubt, as was her humanity, her age, and whether or not she existed. But believe or not, there was scarce a one who didn’t love the stories. Anthropologists had tried to pin down exactly when the first Tatter D’MaLeon stories had been told.

Fantasy

Our Side of the Door

It isn’t until I realize I can’t find my son—really can’t find him—that I think of all the other things I can’t see in the starlit orchard. “Cruz!” I yell. “Buddy! You win!” There is no moon. The trees are thick with blossoms. I hear Cruz in the tall grasses, rustling, giggling. He is six years old. This wouldn’t bother my wife. Alyssa believes that Cruz should learn to use a knife, to light a match, to walk beside a river without stumbling and drowning.

Science Fiction

The Crystal Spheres

It was just a luckychance that I had been defrosted when I was—the very year that farprobe 992573-aa4 reported back that it had found a goodstar with a shattered crystalsphere. I was one of only twelve deepspacers alivewarm at the time, so naturally I got to take part in the adventure. At first I knew nothing about it. When the flivver came, I was climbing the flanks of the Sicilian plateau, in the great valley a recent ice age had made of the Mediterranean Sea I had once known.