by José González Vargas
The chiripas came with the rain season. They were small, bean-sized insects the color of coffee that ran and hid whenever they felt seen and followed. At first, nobody paid any attention to them. Why would we? They were bugs. There are bugs everywhere. Most living organisms on Earth are bugs. It’s no big deal.
Ordinary fathers lead ordinary lives. They go to work, they raise the kid, they open their homes for the weekly mahjong and meal that rotates from one family to the next in their circle of Chinese immigrants. When they text their daughters, the cell phone vibrates discreetly. If the phone is buried in a backpack, the buzzing might not be noticeable at all. Katie’s father, however, is a physical manifestation of Order and Chaos.
“Blur” by Carmen Maria Machado in Lightspeed
I can barely see without my glasses; in the absence of corrective lenses, my vision is a blur. And so what happens to the protagonist of this story is a true nightmare to me: she loses her glasses when she sets them down for a moment in the bathroom of a highway rest stop. And then she’s helpless, far from home, alone. Until a man approaches, offering help. . .
Khadija Singh lifted the window shade and looked down at what had become of Billings. She saw the remains of the big mid-century developments, paid for with out-of-state developer money in the years when everyone thought the Deluge Bowl migration would lead right across the Rockies into Montana and Idaho and the unburned parts of the Pacific Northwest, the high sheltered places.
This Way to Paradise
But she wondered about that as her aunt unslung the bag from her shoulders and opened a packet of stale chapatis. Would Tamar be fine? Would any of them ever be fine again? Even if the war stopped and soldiers retreated from the borders and the UN made them all sign another treaty. As if they were naughty children, India and China and Pakistan. Naughty, deadly children who could burn down the whole world if they didn’t stop their games.
Bedtime Snacks for Baby
Once more before bedtime, my sweet. Snuggle up here in the rocking [item used for sitting], and I’ll tell you how it happened.
The Bone Flute Quartet
You have heard all the tales about Myrra Ferrinn, I’m sure—she of the ink-dark skies, she of the high places where men may not follow—and, of course, you have heard the tale of her gruesome end.
Fury at the Crossroads By Troy L. Wiggins
Furious Jackson reclined on the banks of the BlackDog river and strummed her guitar for an audience of dead cypress. The trees stretched their dark fingers toward the pinkening sky, swaying seemingly in time with her deep-bellied twang.
She drifted along the natal notes of the music, reconnecting to the dear, dead presence, the protector innate to her skin and her soul and the souls of her dead ancestors. Awash in memories that weren’t all hers, Fury lost her footing in the world and broke off her song for a moment to hum, her vibrato dark and mournful, her song laced with a power both ancient and fresh.
Why I Spared the One Brave Soul Between Me and My Undead Army
by Setsu Uzume
I am loathe to admit that the ambush was masterful. Not only had the bounty hunters slain my contacts, but they had done so in the right order — dispatching the Ritualist before she had any corpses to animate. Had I come on horseback, they would have had me, too.
Mars stands in the middle of the highway, knees locked, head tipped back. The sky overhead is choked with harmattan dust. There is so much dust he can stare directly at the rising sun, a lemon-yellow smear in the dull gray. There is so much dust it looks like everything—the scraggly trees, the sandy fields, the road itself—is disappearing, as he often wishes to disappear.
I am elbows-deep in dishwater and morning sunlight when Lily brings me the news.
“Gray-Granna’s down by the river,” Lily says. “She’s turning into butterflies.” She delivers this with a mixed air of authority and awe.