Stories

The Monster

Was the monster created or discovered? There’s no easy answer to that. We dragged it screaming from The Stew, that unknowable portal that the eggheads at Oak Ridge cobbled together from quantum physics and sheer hubris.

published by Daily Science Fiction (October 2016)


Come-from-Aways

Come-from-aways think it’s the tides that bring the wreckage in, but any local child will tell you the truth of the matter. You can have fifty fine days in a row, and the beaches will be clean and empty, except for the usual haul of rockweed, driftwood, and old plastic bottles. Fifty fine days, and then there’ll come a thick, foggy night of the sort we do so well around here, and the next morning there it’ll be—a rocket engine from an alien spaceship, or a cracked satellite dish as big as a bus, half-buried in the sand down on Bartlett’s Beach.

published by Asimov’s Science Fiction (December 2015)


World of Dew

You’d be surprised how many bad apples turn good in the Brotherhood, “get their crunch back,” as I like to say. We’ve become something like a religion, and you can sort of see why. The name fits, for a start. Like an order of monks or something. And then there’s the bit about being absolved of all your sins. Your sins grow old, whither away and die, but you stay young thanks to the relativistic effects of FTL travel. And, like a religion, we tend to attract the downtrodden, the desperate and the just plain crazy. People who want to leave their lives behind. People who want to disappear. People who are legally prohibited from entering a spaceport.

And that’s why I never scan our ship before blastoff. Lax security is our recruiting strategy.

published by Pulp Literature (Autumn 2015)


Practice

I bring my fiddle to Central Park on a blustery day. The trees are noisy and writhing. Traffic on 5th Avenue honks and blares.

But as I start to play, the world falls still and all is silent, save for my violin.

Over by the benches, a pigeon hangs in the air, mid-takeoff. It looks startled and ridiculous, a foot from the ground, its legs dangling uselessly beneath it.

published by AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review (Sept 2015)


The Hospice

The banshee is wailing. There’s going to be a death tonight.

We never know for sure who it’s going to be, but my money’s on Mrs. Johnson. Over the last few days something’s felt different about her. She’s already elsewhere, no longer present in her crumbling body.

Some of the other staff complain about the banshee, blaming her for headaches and nightmares, but I appreciate her service. A death takes a lot out of you, no matter how many you’ve seen before, and her warning gives me time to get ready, to prepare the paperwork and armor my heart.

published by Daily Science Fiction (Aug 2015)


Headshot

As you know, things went kinda crazy after I made that kill. I’m pushing 12k followers now. At the time the most I’d ever had online at once was… maybe a couple dozen? Fact is, there were only two people with me when it happened—@PatriotRiot2000 and @FrendliGhost. This was the night of the assault on Peshawar, remember? So half the nation was following the boys from First Airborne. No one wanted to miss a jump like that. I appreciate all the fans who’ve been with me since the beginning, but I want to give credit where it’s due. It was just me, Riot, and Ghost that night.

published by Terraform (March 2015)


Cabaret Obscuro

Last month I was assaulted by a group of proudscum outside the Rialto, men in sleeveless jackets with thick, hairy arms tattooed with the logo of their affinity group. Men I recognized. Men who had been in the audience that evening. One held a length of sewer pipe in his fist. They crowded around me, stinking of liquor and bad temper, standing much too close, their eyes wide with indignation. I tried to back away, but they moved with me, using their sheer volume to force me into one of the covered closes that act as tributaries to Old Maker Street, feeding customers in from the surrounding neighborhoods and the Warrens.

published by Crossed Genres Magazine (January 2015)


The Fumblers Alley Risk Emporium

Mr. Handlesropes’s stock included wonders from all over the world, things I obsessed over, things I lusted after. There was a heavy skillet with gunpowder mixed into the iron that would pop and spark as you cooked, searing your meat with a thousand tiny explosions, flavouring it with the acrid smoke. There was an umbrella with spokes as sharp as razors and grooves to channel rain or other liquids into a small reservoir inside the handle. There was a wallet with three secret compartments—one for liquids, one for powders and one for spiders—each carefully designed and unmistakable in its purpose. There was a corkboard with a hundred insects pinned to it—insects that did not exist in nature, did not exist anywhere outside of the Emporium.

But that night I was not there for wonders. I was there because I wasdesperate. And Mr. Handlesropes preys on desperation.

published by Urban Fantasy Magazine (December 2014)


The Washerwoman & the Troll

Bunchunkle was magnificently ugly. The trollmothers said there hadn’t been such an ugly child since Grimshik’s day, and Bunchunkle wore it with the pride and mirth befitting a troll. He could pull a face to make you void your bowels and howl with terror. He had a genius for mischief that rivaled even that of old Quillibim, the Arch Rascal of Moldy Stumps. There was much speculation about what would happen if a human ever laid eyes on Bunchunkle, but as far as anyone knew it had never happened, for Bunchunkle was as quick and sly as he was ugly.

originally published by Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (May 2013)
audio version broadcast by PodCastle (June 2015)


The Mugger’s Hymn

John Gunn crept down Fumblers Alley all jagged nerves and awkward stealth. He hadn’t slept a wink in a week. He had kept himself awake with hits of pirate nicotine and splintery, shivery adrenaline. He knew that if he slept he would lose the tune, that better-than-certainty, that unthinking faith in the world. If he let himself fall asleep he would wake up late the next morning hung over, groggy and miserable, with nothing but fragments of random sound in his head. Nothing would be worth doing any more. Who knew how long the depression would last this time?

published by AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review (Nov 2012)


 Professor Jennifer Magda-Chichester’s Time Machine

“My near-perfect happiness on this day is tainted by the tiniest speck of regret. I am an old woman and, as you all know by now, the device can only travel backwards through time. I therefore stand here before you today in the full knowledge that I will never live to see my invention reach its full potential. I can only imagine all the wonderful uses that future generations will find for the thing. Did Alan Turing imagine all the benefits of today’s sentient quantum computers? Did Neil Armstrong imagine the wonders of Luna Colony Alpha?”

published at Daily Science Fiction (Sept 2012)


 

Joey LeRath’s Rocketship

Billy met Joey LeRath the same day he lost his family in Crouchtree market. His parents had gotten into one of their rows over at the nuclear weapons stand and his little sister had started to cry, so Billy had run off, not really paying attention to where he was going. He hated hearing his parents fight and his little sister cry. These last few days he had heard little else, and he was sick of it. So he ran until they were drowned in the market hubbub, and never found them again.

published at Daily Science Fiction (Feb 2012)


 The Visible Spectrum

You’ll have to ask your grandfather to tell you what it was like to see. From what I could gather, everybody thought of it as direct, unmediated experience of reality. Of course it was really just photons bouncing around — but there was a precision to it that was awfully impressive. With sight, you could easily jump from rock to rock in a river without getting your feet wet. I guess it was like having proximity sensors built right into your brain.

published at AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review (Sept 2011)


 Barb-the-Bomb and the Yesterday Boy

I have a crush on a boy from yesterday.
He’s a small, lean boy, about my age. A beggar-child. I first see him sitting in a boarded-up doorway in Fumblers Alley. He holds a cloth cap out in front of him, shaking it so that the coins tink-tink together. He has a piece of slate with words scratched onto its face: “Spare a thought. Spare a coin. Thank you from yesterday.”

published at Daily Science Fiction (May 2011)


The Malifaux Orphanage for Sick Children

Mrs. Birchbark and Mr. Grievous met us at the station. Mr. Grievous had a long length of chain with him. At first I thought he was going to tie us up with it, but he didn’t do that. He untangled the chain and stretched it out into a long line. Then Mrs. Birchbark told us to line up along the chain and she counted us and ticked our names off her list. We all had to hold onto the chain so that we didn’t get separated while we marched to the orphanage. We were like a big, long snake, each of us holding onto that chain for dear life.

“Don’t let go,” said Mrs. Birchbark, “or you’ll get lost, and Malifaux is not kind to lost little children.”

published in Storm of Shadows, a manual for Wyrd Miniatures’ game Malifaux (August 2012)


 Mr. Magpie’s Cemetery Circus

They parked their caravans in the Bonemarket district and put up the big top in Creepstone Cemetery. They tied guy ropes to tombstones and raised the red-and-purple tent over the wide, unmarked plots where paupers and vagrants were buried. They installed seating atop crypts and mausoleums. They set up a concession stand in the crematorium. A swarm of smaller tents sprang up around the big top where games could be played and fortunes could be won or lost or read or changed.

an ongoing story arc set in the world of Malifaux. You can listen to these stories read by actor Ian Travis at our podcast The Aethervox