Once upon a time, when you were a little girl, your favorite monster was an ankle-grabber who lived beneath your bed. You met one night when your mother was too tired to escort you to your room. With a child's stumble you stepped toward the threshold before the darkness beneath your mattress. It is there that covers breathe. And you said to a sticky black hand by your toes, "Ha! I can see you, silly."
The Ankle-Grabbing Monster revealed himself, so angry with you for messing up his act that he lectured you on unladylike behavior. He was a small monster with dark skin and an unkind spine that kept him perpetually bent and Sad. The dim shadows were kinder to the theater's dilapidation. A single candle to aid the dirty sheen of the moon through the rent beams of the ancient roof, easier to overlook the worn and warped floorboards, the tattered curtains, the mildew-ridden walls. Easier as well to overlook the dingy skirt with its hem all ragged, once purest white and fine, and her shoes, almost fallen to pieces, the toes cracked and painstakingly re-wrapped with hoarded strips of linen. Once, not long ago, Aisa wouldn't have given this place a first glance, would never have deigned to be seen here in this most ruinous of venues. But times changed. Everything changed.
Aisa pirouetted on one long leg, arms circling her body like gently folded wings. Her muscles gathered and uncoiled in a graceful leap, suspending her in the air with limbs outflung, until gravity summoned her back down. The stained, wooden boards creaked beneath her, but she didn't hear them. She heard only the music in her head, the familiar stanzas from countless rehearsals and performances of Snowbird's Lament. She could hum the complex orchestral score by rote, just as she knew every step by heart. That demi winter night, Thrash stood on the passage stone, a hundred meters from the village walls. During the long hours his eyes had grown accustomed to the dark, and when he glanced at the sky the stars were brighter than he'd ever imagined: dazzling, mocking.
The wind's knife cut at his bare chest, flensing flesh to bone. Thrash longed for the warmth of his wool-lined leather coat. But that was a boy's thought. Men did not wear such things. My world is a pair of photographs. They stand atop a nightstand at my bedside, encased in acrylic frames.
A young woman in an orange jumpsuit smiles from one of the photos. She wears a nametag, but I can't make out what it says, not even when I squint. I am pretty sure that she's me.
by Alisha Mary Tyson
Published on Sep 30, 2014
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Project Goals Between the Dawn of Faerie and the Dominion of Men lies an adventure waiting to be had. We need your help in order to fulfill our destinies.
Published on Sep 29, 2014
by Eugie Foster
Published on Sep 26, 2014
by Edward Ashton
You're peeling back your inner gloves, aching in every muscle after a twelve-hour shift, when you feel a faint pressure against the inside of your left wrist where the thick latex is doubled over. You barely have time to register the sensation before it disappears with a soft pop, and a cloud of tiny motes appears around your hand, sparkling in the harsh white lights of the decontamination room. Your heart lurches and you yank your hand back, but it's a spastic movement, directed by your terrified lizard-brain rather than the part of you that thinks, and those few centimeters of exposed skin at your wrist pass through the cloud before you stagger backward, cradling your arm to your chest. You look down to see a thin dusting of gray specks on your skin, then feel a brief, almost-painful tingling as they disappear, leaving behind an angry-looking scattering of tiny red bumps. You stare at the pattern of spots, frozen, until they begin to form red constellations against your sweat-grimed skin. The burner is less than two meters away. Will charring up to the elbow be enough? You try to think back to your training, but your mind is a howling void. Has it been ten seconds yet? Twenty? How long does it take the nanos to worm their way into an artery? You should probably go all the way to the shoulder now, but you still haven't moved. You've seen what the burner does to an arm or a leg before, and a tiny voice inside your head is whispering that all you need to do is wait. Just a few more seconds now, and there won't be any point. You won't have to do it at all.
Published on Sep 25, 2014
by Deborah Walker
Published on Sep 24, 2014
by Alex Shvartsman
Published on Sep 23, 2014