Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

Answering the Questions You Might Have About the Kharbat

You have just been attacked by a Kharbat. It has sprung on you from hiding, in some place where you foolishly imagined yourself safe; and even as its many glittering fangs sink deep into the flesh and bone of your shoulder, you know that any attempt to save yourself is futile, that you were always fated to perish in this way, and this beast was always fated to usher you screaming into the world of the dead. What is a Kharbat? I don’t know. Why am I asking you? I am the world’s leading expert.

Science Fiction

The Hard Spot in the Glacier

Ayo lost all sense of time: The white roaring was her world, the avalanche was her only orientation, and every heartbeat came as a surprise. When the world stopped moving, it was like being born to a new reality. Slowly, she came back to herself, and the world turned to sense again. She was on her back. At an angle—steep. Most of her view up was obscured by glacier, luminous with reflected Saturnlight. The black sky beyond it was a ribbon, whereas before it had been a wide plane.

Fantasy

The Orange Tree

Since the beginning of the world, there’ve been a thousand ways invented to be lonely. In a market stall, surrounded by speechless wooden wares, or banished to a black rock in the center of the sea. In a tower, feet forced into standing, floor too small for kneeling down, the only view a high window, the world below made of fire. On a road, parched, nothing but horizon. In the dark, visited by spirits jealous with their leavings. At the tops of certain mountains there are places for those the world refuses, and at the bottoms of other mountains there are prisons for those the world regrets.

Science Fiction

The Incorruptible World

That first autumn it felt as if the whole world had been made for them—which, of course, it had. They walked down the avenue of oaks that reached above their heads like Gothic arches, red leaves drifting lazily down to collect at their feet. Ashwin was pleased as anything and couldn’t say enough about the designers, how it was worth spending more sometimes, how you got what you paid for. Everything was just as he’d imagined it: roseate light, unseasonal butterflies, crisp air with a faint waft of frost in it. To Jade, the place was beautiful without having any special charm.

Fantasy

Ann-of-Rags

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’ll know that this tale I tell you is true, just as I heard it and just as it happened, for I am one of the ones sworn to the truth. The name I’m called is Dusty Boots, I come from the valley of Erwhile, and I am in love with a girl that I can never have.

Science Fiction

The Woman Who Destroyed Us

I know what they say. They say she was a pioneer. They say she helped millions of people live a normal life. They say she created the next stage of evolution for humanityI need you to understand how wrong that is. To understand what she is: a killerShe’s destroying people’s minds, molding them into her image of what the human brain should be. And none of them complain afterward, because of course they wouldn’t. Their brains are made to be happy—and so they are. She’s washing out the human species into mindless automatons.

Fantasy

An Account of the Land of Witches

I arrived in the Land of Witches at the end of the season of furs. The sun shone, banks of chilly foam lay piled up in the streets, and the river emitted groans day and night as the ice broke into pieces, setting free the witches’ colorful winged boats. My master took a room in the Lean Hotel. This building consists of a single spire that twists up into the greenish, iridescent sky. Ascending to our room presented no difficulties, however, for the steps were endowed with a charm that eroded time. This shaping of time is one of the marvels of the Land of Witches.

Science Fiction

PARTY TIME!

All I wanted to do, at the end of the day, was make sure Larry had a nice birthday. I know, I know: Nobody likes Larry. But honestly? I’ve always felt like the fellas down in Dissident Thought Suppression get kind of a bad rap, you know what I mean? Okay, so Larry isn’t the smiliest face around the water cooler, but geez Louise—if you spent all your time scissoring open other folks’ mail in search of words or phrases indicative of anti-Party thought patterns, would you be Little Miss Sally Gumdrops?

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.