Unharmed, otherwise. Your name is Alex and you live in a small town at the edge of the sea. You have a sister and two parents and no pets. In your town, everyone follows their destiny: They cross the street, cook endless meals, stand in the same room, deliver the same mail every day. Kitshan curses. His skill at the helm and hasty patch jobs have kept the engines together, but luck is scarce out here, and his is gone.
The ship is unminded. Lifeless metal, basic programming, and manual flight operations. They were all burned under the Act of Recommitment fifty years ago, when capital punishment was outlawed in favor of MindCleanse procedures. Build your gibbet there. Victory is ours. Holst lowers her railguns, steps back from the blown-apart husks of the birdshells. Her lungs burn. Mech, human, ghost. The first thing he remembers: cold water, silted and salty. Weeds in his mouth, a clay bank under his hands. Yes, he knows the crocodiles and that the great beasts should have eaten him.
Tage lights a cigarette and watches the man in the scarlet fedora come nearer.
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His heartbeat gets quick. The docks are loud, briny, thick with bodies. Storms scrape the horizon, kick up sharp winds. Same difference. PodCastle original , August He sticks to the lee of buildings, smog and shadow wrapping his coat. Melodies of energy sweep her up and spin her into a thousand voices. Colors not yet named and not yet seen paint her mind with joy.
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Your sister has too—large hands and too many teeth. Not in a sense that her gums are crowded or her fingers are long and she might have a career as a concert pianist. No, her hands are massive, thick—boned, tipped in wickedly sharp claws that shine like pearls. And her mouth—well. Her mouth is normal—sized, but it has so many, many teeth.
Still in the hospital. Radiation burns suck. Mom came to see me, though, which was nice. She probably had to argue with that dick of a boss she works for to let her off early. Her eyes are sculpted starlight, holding the sadness of death a million years ago and a million yet to come. When she holds out her hand, I turn and run. The sand has turned to glass and my heels crack the shore in tiny percussions like the breaking of my hearts. Fireside , July The mountain dreams pain.
Cold iron vibrates purple-blue deep in the stone while tongues made from rot and rust bite and gnaw and hunger ever deeper. Byron scribbled crib notes on his wrist the night before he planned to come out to his dads. Fireside , January Daily Science Fiction May 27th, Because memory lasts between life and death, I make lists as my new body grows on the stem. Unit EX comes back online when UV wavelengths activate its solar plating.
Its optics are crusted with red dust; a low-powered system scan concludes that though its left arm is missing and there is excessive oxidation damage along its chassis and helmet, as well as a web spun from several arachnids Nephila clavipes now embedded in its servo stump, EX is functional. At first I saw it in the distance while I prowled the ruins of the once-majestic forest, hunting the men who robbed me. Yet the ghost never approached until now.
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Glossy: from the tips of her supple thigh-high leather boots with heels as thin and sharp as cobra fangs, to the deep orange corset laced with ivory threads. Her eyes are painted radiant poison-green. Her thick lips are glazed in brilliant umber; the tip of a red tongue pokes between her teeth.
The stranger from the sea had skin painted with maps, inked in all the colors known and unknown to the naked eye. When the guards brought him from the shore, he asked to speak with me. Wrought iron fences loop around the gardens: six deep, the outer three progressively higher, more elaborate, and with more spikes atop, while the inner three create a mirror effect.
Say you make it over all six fences without impaling yourself or falling or getting trapped between iron bars that suddenly constrict or twist or move. Say you avoid the fourth fence, the electric one, or the second one with the poisoned varnish, or the sixth one with a taste for blood. Szpara Lethe Press.
The reality I was born in ceased to exist when I was three years old. So Mama and I moved to a different reality. Escape Pod , February And congratulations to J. The novel was also named one of the best science fiction and fantasy novels of by Voya Magazine and the best overall young adult book for by The Huffington Post!
Congratulations to Alex Hughes on the publication of her fourth novel, Vacant , from Roc! Congratulations to Alex Hughes on the publication of her third novel, Marked , from Roc!
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