Six weeks before the end of the world, a new bar opens on Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown. The proprietors are a middle-aged West Coast couple, evacuees from Seattle or Portland, Beth can’t remember which. The bar is on the first floor of the building where Beth’s favorite bookstore used to be, but the familiar smells are gone—dust, vegetable glue and old, acidic paper, all drawn out by the pair of sleek Blueair filters that add their silvery humming to the murmur of the television and the small Wednesday night crowd.
"The Sons of Zeruiah" in King David and the Spiders from Mars, an anthology of Biblical horror.
Today is your fourteenth birthday, and your godfather is coming to visit. You know because your mother is wearing a dress, a frilly lime-colored affair that certain magazine editors would refer to as a “confection,” and attempting to bake a pie.
Well, mother? Is this the story you wanted to hear?
It begins with my brothers arguing—arguing like starving tigers - Asahel flat on his back at the edge of camp, dust in his glossy black curls. Abishai straddles him, white hands closing around his throat, blood from his split lip staining Abi’s lace cuffs. The old accusations cloud the air - the like gunpowder, like cannon smoke, like the din of carrion birds and the moist stench of rot.
“Ungrateful fledgling,” Abishai growls. “Your impatience will ruin us!”
After sunset, my reflection appears in the black depths of the kitchen window, thin and pale and drunk. The ruins of the gas station are burning in the hills, a sheet of wet gold floating on my chest. I can almost smell the smoke. My eyebrows are dark and straight with frowning, my lips black with the dry, expensive wine I've spent these last four hours sipping from a plastic cup. I can almost see Michael in the angles of my face, the tipping back of my heavy-legged chair, my nervous fingers crumpling the thin red plastic, fingernails black with grease.
Four of my poems are featured in the first issue of the resurrected Flytrap.
I'm beginning the new year by returning to the pages of two fantastic 'zines, with reprints of two long out-of-print stories.
I wasn’t liking the look of her—that smokey dark skin, those full hard lips, those big eyes as bright and hot as coals—but she was a lady, and the gents and me, we know how to treat ladies. “Name’s Sham,” I said, and I even let her shake my hand, which I generally don’t on account of some broken fingers that never healed right. I had Crow and Anny Pryce to thank for that, just like I did for a lot of things.
The Ford died with a hiccup and a puff of smoke two miles out of Naxos, Wisconsin. I looked over at Ari in the passenger seat, she looked at me, and we said oh shit pretty much simultaneously.
The crowgirl decided they would set up camp on a low hill at the eastern edge of a cornfield. There was a dark copse of trees to the south and a slow muddy stream, its shore sharp and crunching with crayfish corpses. To the north was the roofless barn, pale brown beneath the red and purple clouds; the stench of rotting horses was so strong that even the crows avoided the place as they darted between the dry cornstalks, looking for mice. From the camp on the hill they could see everything, the river and the barn with its silos of molding grain, the hunting crows, and far to the west, in the square white farmhouse with its padlocked cellar door, the congregation of the Dead.
(One for sorrow, two for joy.)
New Poetry and Translated Fiction
Two of my poems placed in this year's SFPA poetry contest. "We Pay Our Fare in Apples Here" won first place and "Wolf's Four Questions" won third place, both in the short poem category.
"Final Exam" has been reprinted - and translated into Japanese! - in the November 2013 issue of SF Magazine.