The Worme Bridge

For the past few weeks, Short Story Day Africa, in conjunction with Books Live South Africa, has been sharing the three winning stories of the SSDA anthology for 2016, WATER.

First was Mark Winkler’s Ink

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I thought you were only supposed to see one thing, but apparently you’re allowed to find more. You should see a bat or a butterfly or a moth, and also the figure of a woman in the centre, if you’re “normal”. If you’re not, you might see breasts, vaginas, perhaps a penis. I cannot see any of those things. I suppose it’s mostly the men that do.

and Alex Latimer’s A Fierce Symmetry

Two bodies arrived at our house a year apart. The first was my mother’s, 
in an ambulance, for us to see. My aunt came into my room. I had my head resting against the wall and my eyes closed. She sat on my bed.
        “Do you want to see her?”
        “No, I don’t.”
        “Are you sure? I’ll come outside with you and we can just see her and say goodbye.”
        “I don’t want to.”

Then Alex, Mark, and myself met up with the wonderful people behind SSDA for the soft press launch of the anthology Water, so here’s us looking a little like literary rabbits.

picture by Helené Prinsloo for Books Live

picture by Helené Prinsloo for Books Live

 

And today my story The Worme Bridge was put up on Books Live, so if you would like to read it, clickenzee.

When I was old enough to walk by myself to the shops to buy my mother her cigarettes, she decided I was too old to believe in rubbish like Santa Claus and the tooth mouse and fairies that live at the bottom of the garden. Instead, I would learn the real stuff, like what really happened to Pa and my older brother Matty, and what was going to happen to her.
        Why ever since Pa had died she’d made me take him as medicine, ground up into my food to ward off the sickness.

THE HOUSE IMAGINARY

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The House Imaginary

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We end up on the storeroom couch, still fully clothed. We only kiss when the doors are closed. Perhaps, like me, he is still embarrassed by this sudden silent confession. Jannik presses me down onto the thick covers. His weight is comforting. He’s heavier than Dash was, a little taller, and he kisses differently. There’s something almost subversive about the way he kisses, something sly and sharp and fox-like that makes me feel like I am charged with static. I match my kisses to his, my breathing, then pause to gently take his lower lip between my teeth. This is me, saying mine.

Continue reading THE HOUSE IMAGINARY

Award-Eligible 2015 Short Stories

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With various 2016 fiction awards gearing up, here’s a quick post detailing my 2015 short story sales that are eligible for nominations.

Serein, published in Shimmer #26, July 2015

I’m Only Going Over, published in Daily Science Fiction, Dec 11 2015

Mouse Teeth, included in the 2014 Short Story Day Africa anthology, Terra Incognita, published by Modjaji Books (February 17, 2015)

Golden Wing, Silver Eye, included in the steampunk anthology Ghost in the Cogs, published by Broken Eye Books (October 31, 2015)

 

If you’ve read them and feel they’re award worthy, you have my thanks for any nominations.

 

(I’ve been asked to also include links to the awards my works would be eligible for, which is, like, obvious, but I am slow and need this kind of gentle prodding, so I will update this post with the various awards I know of as they open to nominations.)

Hugos (and information about eligibility and process)

 

 

 

A SMALL TRUTH

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We head back to Harun with the news. I wonder how much he knows through the bond. He was confused enough when we left him, and there’s also a chance he’s done himself permanent mental damage. And now here we come to inform him his prize belongs to someone else. Sold. “You tell him,” I say.

Jannik has been deep in thought, frowning. He jerks up. “What – he already hates me.”

“Exactly.”

He tips his head back. “Ah,” he says with a sigh. “You do realize when this is all done we will never be welcome there again. We know too many of their dirty little secrets.”

Continue reading A SMALL TRUTH

SEVEN-FOLD FUTURES

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The house on Ivy is still standing.

Well that’s a good sign.I look up at the wide, darkened windows.I suppose.

Jannik gives me a dubious glance before climbing the wide stairs and rapping the brass knocker several times. The thuds have barely died away when Isidro opens for us.

He looks dreadfulpanicked and sweaty, and even his cold beauty can’t hold up under his obvious fear. While he’s not spent the night putting out the flames on his own home, he somehow manages to look worse than Jannik and I combined. His flawless mask finally crumbling.

Continue reading SEVEN-FOLD FUTURES

FIRE, ASH, SKIN

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The carriage scrapes to a sudden halt, and a few moments later the coachman’s boots are rapping against the cobbles. The unis bleat nervously. The carriage shifts from side to side as the animals dance in their traces.What’s going on?” An autumnal smell of bonfires drifts from up ahead, though the season has not turned.

Jannik shakes his head.I’ve no more idea than you.

Ma’am.The door is opened and Master Sallow stares in, his dark brown face glistening with sweat. The night is unusually hot.

And bright.

What–I clamber down, my chest tight with fear.

Ash drifts down onto my shoulders, warm and powdery. The air is perfumed with wood fire. From what’s left of the Pelim apartments comes a resounding crack as a roof beam gives in and sends a shower of fairy sparks whirling into the night.

Continue reading FIRE, ASH, SKIN

PRETTY COLLARS

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Tell me about the wray your mother recovered.We’re walking up the wide steps to Harun’s door. The marble planters on either side have been left to dry in the sun, the plants desiccated and given over to weeds. At least this time there are no scrawled obscenities, no hurled excrement. “Not all of them were bought out from the rookeries, I take it?

Jannik pauses before the door, but doesn’t touch the brass knocker.She stopped all that when I was still very young. There’s little I remember.

Were they runaways?

Some of them, I suppose.

So what Houses did they run from?

He’s being purposefully sulky and unresponsive, as if I am somehow to blame for his infidelity and it’s beginning to wear on my nerves.

Mata,he says, finally.

I raise one brow.They kept their own–I’m about to say whores, before I remember that the Houses who like to keep vampires mostly use them as untouchablesthe servants who do the most revolting work.I see. Only them?

Eline.

Of course.

Continue reading PRETTY COLLARS

TWO CROWS

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“My lady?” The coachman wants to close the door and take me back to my house and to a set of rooms where my loneliness will be thrown back in my face a thousand times over. Master Sallow’s face, so paternal in its worry, is set in lines. The darkness only makes them look deeper.

“No,” I put my hand to the door to stop him from closing it. “Wait.” Jannik has disappeared into the Guyin house and right now he is making plans without me. What will he and Isidro do? Will he turn back to his family and beg for their involvement? He will have to. If this law finds footing in MallenIve, it will surely filter downriver to Pelimburg.

I leap down from the carriage step. The night is still warm and scented with green leaves and damp earth. Morning cannot be far off. Above us the stars are growing dimmer and sliding down to meet the edge of the world. I should be heading to my empty bed, the covers turned down in readiness for me. The dawn could creep up on me while I lie on my back, watching the ceiling and wishing I knew what to do.

Continue reading TWO CROWS

PROPOSALS

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I‘m meeting Eline Garret in a set of comfortable offices on a tree-lined avenue on the Mallen side of the river. Everything about the area is lushly understated. The grandeur of the buildings is subtle, even the tree branches that meet overhead seem to have been pruned just so, to give them a look of effortless elegance.

A secretary leads me to a small waiting room lined with bookshelves and leaves me there to wait. A time piece ticks out the minutes, and I am brought a pot of tea to show me my place. Of course Garret will make me sit as long as possible. It’s traditional. All part of the bloodless war between the Houses.

Continue reading PROPOSALS