The Virtue Retreats from the Land of Snow and Sky
What remained of the Virtue’s army marched into the Gates of Ice at sunset. In their red uniforms, the soldiers were a trickle of dirty blood on the flank of the mountain. A few rode skinny, stumbling horses. Others rested in clattering mule carts, with bandaged-wrapped limbs steadied between sacks of moldering grain. The army had once been tens of thousands strong, but now there were only three or four thousand hollow-cheeked survivors.
A Song for Ocotillo
She had stopped watering the rose bush. Luisa had not thought about it in weeks, but she remembered it now, as she looked past the porch railing toward where the yellow blossoms drooped in the sun. It was the middle of July, but there hadn’t yet been a single afternoon thunderstorm to crack the skies open. Luisa had taken it as a sign: The roses were not meant to survive.
The Cold Side of the Island
Lacie missed the funeral. She overslept and didn't get out of Providence until after ten, and any chance she had of making up the time vanished when the storm turned I-95 north of Portsmouth into a skating rink. A pile-up slammed traffic to a crawl for the better part of the afternoon. Snow whipped across the road in horizontal streaks, scouring the windshield like sand, rocking the car with sudden gusts.
First Light at Mistaken Point
科幻世界 (Science Fiction World) | November 2016
A low mist clung to the river and laced through the trees, thinning as dawn washed the forest from gray to gold to green. The road dipped into a hollow, lifted again into sunlight. Charlie was reaching for her sunglasses when her phone rang. She started, fumbled through her purse, but by the time she unearthed the phone it was quiet.
Caroline at Dusk
The gun was still on the table when Caroline returned from her walk.
She stopped short in the doorway. A gust of wind shoved at her back, whipped a spray of rain around her. She fumbled until she found the handle and pulled the door closed behind her.
The gun was still on the table.
The Proper Motion of Extraordinary Stars
Smoke rose from the center of Asunder Island, marring a sky so blue and so clear it made Aurelia’s eyes ache. The sailors had been insisting for days she would see the Atrox swooping and turning overhead, if only she watched long enough, but there was no sign of the great birds.
The Tablets of Nhing
There are as many tales about the Tablets of Nhing as there are unfamiliar stars on the first stone, unknown words on the second. How long they lay buried on the banks of the Euphrates in the Great Syrian Desert, how ancient their origin, what hands carved them, if they were hands at all, these questions remain unanswered since Almahdi al-Rashid, court astronomer for the Abbasid Caliphate, discovered the stones in 873.
Second Counselor Azo is the last to leave. As Fatima seals her into a silver coffin, Azo asks, “Will you follow?”
The decades fade from her face, the lines soften, and she is young again, as frightened and uncertain as when she came to the prison as a novice.
Fatima smoothes a curl of hair from her brow. “Soon.”
Water in Springtime
I woke in the darkness. My mother was leaning over me.
“We have to leave,” she said. Her breath was warm on my face.
The scent of dried flowers and wood-smoke drifted after her. She had spent the night by the fire, singing for a young mother and her sickly child. The child had not survived.
Seven Wooden Toys
LORE 2.3. | April 2013
Constanta lets the child sleep beside her until she wakes one night to find him chewing on the soft flesh at the base of her thumb. Her fingers are slick with blood, her skin stinging and hot. She pries open his jaw, detaches his small, sharp teeth from her hand, and wipes the blood from his chin.
No Portraits on the Sky
The stranger fell from the sky just after dawn.
Rela heard the snap of branches and looked up. The sun was rising in a gray haze beyond the forest’s eastern edge, and the mist was retreating from the aerie. In the canopy above, a dark figure tumbled through the fog, bouncing from branches and whipping past leaves.
Last Train to Jubilee Bay
Lucy stood at the window and watched the sun set dull and red behind the clouds west of the city. Seven stories below, sweet smoke from burning garbage and cooking fires settled over the streets of Morningtown. The window glass had been broken out and traded away long ago and there was a cold, damp bite in the air, but Lucy didn’t close the shutters.
The Widdershins Clock
My grandmother disappeared on a Sunday afternoon in 1953. It was late May, sunny and warm, and a soft breeze carried the scents of cut grass and damp soil through the open windows. I was ironing and folding laundry in the living room when the telephone rang.
The Day They Came
You remember the day they came.
The shady corner behind the store smelled of Lou’s cigarettes and the dumpster down the alley, just shy of pick-up day and overflowing already. You chewed your sandwich and stared at the weeds growing through the asphalt. The day was stifled by summer heat and suffocating humidity, too bright and too hazy all at once.
A shadow passed overhead. You looked up.
On the hill above the broken victory arch, Francisco picked his way through the rough talus, choosing each step with care. Sunken holes and gravel pits pockmarked the slope, the filled-in remains of what had once been openings to the tunnels below. The old officers still muttered about whispering caverns and scrabbling claws in the darkness, but the garrison hadn’t seen an enemy incursion in years.
Botanical Exercises for Curious Girls
Если | June 2011
The first leaves of spring unfurled as the morning sun touched the garden. Holding the velvet curtains for balance, Rosalie pulled herself out of bed, slid into her chair and rolled to the window. The window didn't open and Rosalie had never been outside, but she imagined morning in the garden was sweet and damp, clamorous with birdsong. The newly hatched robins in the black oak would soon be learning to fly.
Microfiction: "Human Skeleton, Irregular," in The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (ed. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer), Harper Voyager, 2011.