Science Fiction & Fantasy

Seasonal Fears

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Podcasts

Science Fiction

Miss the Zen, but Miss You More

“Welcome to Float Isolation Therapy, an intensive twelve-day experience. You will become one with the stars. During your time in your personalized FIT pod, we encourage you to explore the deepest recesses of your mind.” Bei Bei floated in mid-air and felt the strain in her lower back, but she didn’t care. The picture had to be perfect. The lighting in the egg-shaped pod was excellent.

Science Fiction

Do Nothing

From where she lay on her back, on the grass of the Presidio in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge with all its painted trusses strung from tower to tower seemed most like a red haired boy running along a jetty. She tried, objectively, to see it as they might. A span or a wing. It connected two land masses; of course it would be seen as connective. But there was no ‘of course.’ However they perceived the thing—anchored and cabled and suspended; material hung from more material—would not be objective.

Fantasy

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.

Fantasy

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.

Science Fiction

Hypnopompic Circumstance

Thomas’s first encounter with the alien was terrifying. It happened in his bedroom. Thom was attempting to get to sleep at the time, after a long Friday night that had extended into early Saturday morning. Alcohol was involved, and a little pot, but nothing natively hallucinogenic, not unless someone slipped him something. Nothing that could explain the appearance of someone who wasn’t supposed to be there.

Fantasy

Blood, Ash, Braids

It didn’t take them long to find a name for us; almost as soon as they knew it was women inside the rickety biplanes they couldn’t catch, the Germans called us witches. It was because of the sounds our idling planes made from the ground, the story went, as if the German soldiers had spent a lot of time with brooms and knew what they sounded like, engineless and gliding fifty feet above them in the dark. (The wires holding the wings in place made the whistle.)

Science Fiction

The Equations of the Dead

The boyo working the transmitter doesn’t look like much, except his face is radiant. Radiant, like one of those pooka upworld adverts for neural templates. Dopamine-druggy, but lucid. Like he’s in love. Boyo also looks like he hasn’t spoken to a human in days, and like aside from the food allotments he doesn’t have a lick of capital. His clothes have that washed-while-wearing look, and they’re homespun; no fancy imported fabrics or styles. You’d walk away from this jondo in the market.

Fantasy

Brightly, Undiminished

Witchcraft is a gift. Imelda would wave her steel spoon at Mercer and insist on this as he measured ingredients for her, whether she was boiling potions or a pot of farfalle pasta. Watch the salt, a teaspoon only, never pour too much. Don’t overheat the sauce. Bottle the hawks’ gizzards separate from the basilisks’Never half-ass a gift, Mercy. Her perpetual imperative. Mercer is alone now. His hands are unsteady—they’ve shaken like a drunkard’s since they held Imelda as she passed—and he is no witch.

Science Fiction

Homecoming

Only when Marlo and her mother have followed the attendants through the faux-marble foyer and into the room filled with diffusers and soft jazz and laid down on the massage tables covered in crisp, clean-smelling sheets; only when someone has placed a cool gel pack over Marlo’s eyes and set something against her skin that starts kneading, a familiar, needling motion that ignites a distant spark of recognition within her; only then does Marlo understand where her mother has taken her. She pushes back her eye mask and sits up.

Fantasy

Destinations of Beauty

It has become increasingly clear to your guidebook writers that the beauty of any destination should be measured not simply by the magnificence of its architecture or the lushness of its landscape, but by the splendor that its citizens collectively produce. In cities where mayors make sure flowers are planted every spring and the baker sends us off with a free roll, the streetlamps are bound to burn brightly with the warmth of welcome. In fact, the wonderful time we’ve had in any destination was due almost entirely to the kindness of those we encountered along the way.