Take me to a...
Enter any portion of the author name or story title:
For more options, try our:
Sign up for free daily sci-fi!
your email will be kept private
Get a copy of Not Just Rockets and Robots: Daily Science Fiction Year One. 260 adventures into new worlds, fantastical and science fictional. Rocket Dragons Ignite: the anthology for year two, is also available!
Publish your stories or art on Daily Science Fiction:
If you've already submitted a story, you may check its:
Not just rockets & robots...
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

Art by Melissa Mead

L is for Luminous

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 main problem was, she got more and more luminous.
My wife and I were one of the great husband-and-wife burglar teams: she circumvented locks and alarms, using social engineering to find codes for the simpler security systems, and composing devastating verbal logic bombs to make the newer AI systems go into a recursive loop of insanity and shut down.
And me? I could tell a fake diamond from a real one at a glance, calculate the current value of a bar of gold just by hefting it in my hands, and sweep through a luxury townhouse as fast and efficiently as a swarm of locusts tearing through a field.
Everything was going great--we were stealing mostly because it kept the marriage lively, not because we needed more money--until one night we were interrupted during our invasion of a vacation home whose occupants were passed out drunk around the hot tub. Just as we opened the back door, an angel appeared, in the usual coruscating whirlwind of light, with that celestial hum that makes your tongue go numb. We think it was Pammon, who was angel of the sixth hour of the night before he went wild. My wife and I did all the things you're supposed to do to scare wild angels away--blasphemies, imitation glossolalia, barking like a three-headed dog, spitting--but none of those are really much good, and Pammon bit my wife on the arm with one of the ten thousand mouths on one of his ten thousand faces before scurrying off into the night sky.
I hurried my wife home, keeping an eye on her arm, because the effects of angel bites are so unpredictable--there was a chance the limb might turn to salt, or drop off and pursue its own destiny. Or the wound might become an opening to the Pit, providing a point of escape for very small demons. The infection might spread, driving my wife mad, or giving her the terrible clarity of the totally sane. Or the angel-sickness might send her on a weirdly specific crusade--to kiss every fish in the sea, or provide a full catalogue of the clouds, or eat every kind of sausage in the British Isles--before healing.
But I watched her through the night, and none of those things happened. Instead, she just became... more luminous. Radiant. Effulgent. Her skin emitted a glow that was at first rosy, then bright, then incandescent, and then, eventually, became the kind of light you have to wear smoked glasses to look upon even sideways. She didn't feel any different, and she could see just fine from within her radiance, and she didn't scorch the couch (though she did frighten the cats). But it was pretty clear her career as a burglar was done: it's hard to be inconspicuous when you're putting out a hundred thousand lumens.
We had a rocky couple of weeks. The doctors didn't have any advice--the effects of angel bites are irreversible--and our relationship suffered. I went out and robbed a few places alone, but it just depressed me, and made my wife jealous, so I stopped. Our whole dynamic was off. It got so she couldn't even look at me anymore, and, of course, I couldn't really look at her, not the way I used to.
And then, one night, my wife shook me on the shoulder, and I lifted the outer visor of my light-tight sleep helmet and looked at her through the smoky inner visor. "Yeah, hon?" I said.
"I had an idea," she said, and I could almost tell she was smiling. She always had the brightest smile.
The next night I crashed a posh party in my best tuxedo and started scoping out the place. Lots of nice portable art objects scattered around. I mingled for a while... until the French doors leading to the terraced back gardens flew open and a pillar of blinding light swept in, accompanied by that tooth-grinding angelic hum. The invading angel lurched around, knocking over caterers and punchbowls, and the guests practically stampeded over themselves in their haste to get away. Meanwhile, I filled a pillowcase with Fabergé eggs and similar lovelies, then slipped out an unattended side entrance.
I met up with my wife at home. She wasn't inconspicuous, but nobody comes close to a wild angel, so she made it back from the party just fine. I put on my visor and helped take off the speakers we'd attached to her back to blast out the recorded angel-noise we'd downloaded from the Internet.
With my visor down, I could see enough of her face to tell how anxious she was. "Well?" she said. "How was it? Is this going to work?" She swallowed. "Are we going to be okay?"
"Our marriage," I said, kissing her glowing lips, "is a marriage made in heaven."
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011
Become a Member!

We hope you're enjoying L is for Luminous by Tim Pratt, Jenn Reese, Heather Shaw, Greg van Eekhout.

Please support Daily Science Fiction by becoming a member.

Daily Science Fiction is not accepting memberships or donations at this time.

Rate This Story
Please click to rate this story from 1 (ho-hum) to 7 (excellent!):

Please don't read too much into these ratings. For many reasons, a superior story may not get a superior score.

5.8 Rocket Dragons Average
Share This Story
Join Mailing list
Please join our mailing list and receive free daily sci-fi (your email address will be kept 100% private):