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art by Junior McLean

N is for Nevermore Nevermore Land

Tim Pratt's stories have appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror, and other nice places. He's won a Hugo for his short fiction (and lost Sturgeon, Stoker, World Fantasy, and Nebula Awards). He lives in Berkeley CA with his wife and son. Find him online at timpratt.org

Jenn Reese lives in Los Angeles and is currently writing a middle-grade adventure series for Candlewick Press. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons and the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology Paper Cities, among others. Follow her adventures at jennreese.com.

Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, gardener and aikidoka living in Berkeley, California with her husband and son. She's had fiction in Strange Horizons, Polyphony, The Year's Best Fantasy, Escape Pod and other nice places. She just finished her first middle-grade novel, "Keaton T., Junior Gene Hacker" and is looking for representation. For more, visit heathershaw.org

Greg van Eekhout's fiction for adults and children includes the novels Norse Code and Kid vs. Squid and stories published in Asimov's, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, and other places. He lives in San Diego, CA. For more information, visit writingandsnacks.com.
The young woman sitting on Ember's windowsill was dressed in a black tinkerbellish leotard. A black raven perched on her shoulder. Ember regarded her with suspicion. The sun had finally set after a hot day in San Francisco, and she'd made an executive decision to leave her window open while she slept, despite the potential for her parents to freak if they found out. Now there was this chick ruining her theory that no one would climb up to the third floor just to screw with her.
"I guess you're going to take my laptop."
"What? No! Oh, no, Ember! I'm here to take you to Nevermore Nevermore Land, where you will stay eternally young."
"Uh-huh. So you're a crazy person. Great. If you're not going to steal anything or threaten to hurt me, would you mind climbing back down and letting me get some sleep?"
"Nevermore!" the raven said.
A crazy person with a confused literary identity, Ember thought.
"I don't climb, I fly," the girl said, and demonstrated with a quick flight around Ember's bedroom ceiling, the raven flapping right behind her. A black feather fell on the covers near Ember's hands.
"If you hold the feather in one hand, and my hand in the other, you, too can fly away with me to Nevermore Nevermore Land, where Raven and I live in a cave below a crypt with other lost goth children whose parents don't understand them."
"And I'll never grow old."
"Yes!"
"Look, Fairy Goth Mother or whoever you are. I'm not a goth--I just wear lots of black. It's slimming. And my parents are pretty cool, actually. And, honestly, I'm looking forward to growing up and getting to do my own thing in this world; I get a sweet trust fund in five years. And, finally, why in the hell would I want to live in a dank crypt in some strange world when I have a pretty nice bedroom with a view of the Golden Gate Bridge? Do you have any idea what my parents paid for this view?"
The young woman stood on the windowsill, the raven perched on her shoulder. She looked confused.
"So, you're not interested?"
"Not really, no. Sorry."
And with that, the woman flew away. Ember sighed, then got out of bed and closed and locked the window. She hated it when her parents were right about things like this.
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

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