Science Fiction & Fantasy

IntheNightWood-Banner_Final_Lightspeed Oct 2018

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Fiction

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.

Fantasy

Night Journey of the Dragon-Horse

The dragon-horse awakens in moonlight. Drops of cold dew drip onto his forehead, where they meander down the curve of his steel nose. Plink. He struggles to open his eyes, rusted eyelids grinding against eyelashes. A pair of silvery specks reflects from those giant, dark red pupils. At first, he thinks it’s the moon, but a careful examination reveals it to be a clump of white flowers blooming vibrantly in a crack in the cement, irrigated by the dew dripping from his nose.

Science Fiction

We Will Be All Right

Tomorrow is Easter, and I will have to welcome into my home the woman who is going to murder my son. I need to prepare side dishes in advance. Take a heaping bowl of injustice, mash it to a pulp, season with tears of rage, bake, and serve in a dish speckled with four-leaf clovers. The question is, should I put the rat poison in hers alone, or would it be better for all of us to go together?

Fantasy

Godmeat

The godmeat stank of hibiscus and saltwater. Its noxious divinity threaded through the kitchen, the air itself feeling suddenly buoyant in its wake. If Hark closed his eyes, he could almost imagine himself on the beach where Spear had killed the Sea Mother; pale green water lapping at his feet, miles of white sand stretching into the distance, while pink blossoms bobbed in the surf. He could almost see Spear standing on top of the godthing, her weapon shimmering with the blue blood of the dying Beast.

Science Fiction

Sunset

The starship crash-landed somewhere in the dark and early hours of morning. The thunderclap sound of it striking the East Bay woke Tamuel up, heart racing and confused. He glanced out his window, but didn’t see anything. He stumbled out into the common room to see if he could see anything different from the balcony. “What was that?” One of his siblings also was apparently out and looking around for the cause of the sound. “There’s no storm.”

Fantasy

Nitrate Nocturnes

Fiona’s timer read 40 33 04 21 53 08. Years, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. Her first girlfriend had done the math one day in bed. “You’ll be sixty-four when you meet your soul mate. I’ll be twenty-two,” the girl said with a gesture that revealed her frail, luminous wrist, which was lit from within, like a lightning bug. Fiona watched her own timer tick down through her girlfriend’s hair, feeling as though she were trying to catch up to the world.

Science Fiction

Mozart on the Kalahari

It took Michael “Meek” Prouder half an hour to magtube from Claremont to the Coachella Valley desert, near the Nestlé Reservoir entertainment pier. In this oasis of hot dogs, pinwheel fireworks, and whirlygigs, he could lounge and marinate himself, soak up rays as he listened to the music radiating from the dam wall, and sink under the rhythmic roar of artificial waves crashing against the artificial shore. He could walk out into the desert away from the city lights.

Fantasy

The Snow Train

School was canceled; the governor announced a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm, and told everyone to stay home or go home early. “We don’t need to have cars stuck on the highways. Be safe.” Manoj’s foster mother was complaining again. “The landlord said he’s going to fine us if you don’t take that blanket down.” She was referring to the woven rectangle hanging over his window: dark blue, with red and yellow concentric diamonds formed from the weft yarn.

Science Fiction

The Elephants’ Crematorium

Liyana had seen elephants form into protective circles when calves were threatened, but this was different. These days, animal behavior was all but impossible to predict, of course—prey turning to predator; trees turning to stone in moonlight—but this didn’t feel random. There was intent in the way the elephants moved. The seven of them—she counted three juvenile males, two juvenile females, and two adult females—plodded into a loose formation.