Here’s some background on the stories I’ve had published, complete with brief excerpts to give you a flavor of each story, as well as links to the ones that are online at magazines with websites that are still live.
Another story that appeared in The Fortean Bureau, this one in the December, 2003 edition. It features a mysterious game being played on a post-apocalyptic shoreline.
I’d been a player in my youth, patching together my first drysuit out of old inner tubes, insulating it with hand-me-down sweaters and sealing the seams with wax from the stub ends of a dozen candles. Of course, as soon as I went out, the seals had leaked– so I got wet; I got cold. Darkness seemed forever coming.
Now, years later, I was back for one more game, and regretting it already.
The spiders come and go. They bring me the bricks with which I build the castle. From the silk litter they leave behind on the grass, I knit a dragon. So far, all I’ve got of the castle is a shin-high parapet sketching out the footprint of the walls-to-be. And of the dragon: no more than one clawed and gnarled foreleg. By the time the castle’s finished and furnished, I hope to have the beast complete as well, a giant balloon-skin. I plan to hold it over a bonfire on top of one of the towers I’m envisioning, let the silk swell with hot air and blood-colored light.With any luck, I’ll have all this completed before the king comes back.
This story originally appeared in issue 11 (fall 2001) of the print magazine Conduit. The painting in question is The Temptation of St. Anthony (left panel), a nice large image of which can be found at this online poster store. Our hero is in the lower right corner of the painting, and is the only one of my characters who has been made into an action figure.
I am a small, bird-headed demon, skating.Gliding up a frozen river, I totter from side to side to side; my legs are short and my crotch is low. In my crossed beak, I carry a letter. I have not read the letter.
I am coming to a bridge. I will pass under the bridge and go on.
I pass fields mummified by winter, all snowless rows of frozen mud and broken stalks of grain. A town is nearing on my right, an abandoned place, curtains flapping from the windows. Smells like plague to me. The evening is clouding up, bringing an unhealthy damp, and I skate a little faster.
This story appeared in issue 5 of the print magazine Electric Velocipede. Back in 1995, it appeared in Shadowdance, a magazine that isn’t around any longer. It’s set in the same world– same city, even– as both “Sunfast” (see below) and the novel I’ve been working on for the past couple years.
From the hour of the chase through the hour of the triple queen, I tended the shadow garden. I directed the visitors. I explained the hard to see parts. I kept the children on the paths and out of the mirrors. Between these shepherdings, I pruned and tucked the wild edges, mulched the echoweed and forged a few entries in the guestbook. The hour of the kingdom seemed forever in coming.
Later, I changed. Osier found me and we talked of the day, of Magda, the kite, the morning’s crowd on the common, and the evening’s. He had been trying to understand what he’d written the night before. I’d been there, I’d watched while the muse rode him and I’d felt the frenzy like a storm charge in the air, but I couldn’t help him. I had iced and reasoned; I was not the same.
Set in a rather strange future, this story appears in the chapbook Rabid Transit: Menagerie from Rabid Transit Press.
When she finally got though the door, Moonhead Lunes knew her heart was gone: she could see fragments of broken candy-box still melting into the shag. The jagged blue edges of gluco-glass were only slightly softened, but she doubted she’d find any prints. Someone had been careful enough to carry the box over to the rug before breaking it. Barely a smudge of amnion syrup left– the carpet had soaked up the rest and quivered now with waves of sugar rush. If Moonhead hadn’t happened to come home early, the floor would have digested all the evidence– could have been weeks before she’d missed her heart. Someone had known what they were doing.And they’d taken her soul: that explained the trouble with the door. She could see where they’d trenched into the plaster to find the sensors and then followed the wires, pulling the whole rhizome out of walls, ceiling and floors, leaving a web of slit-trails in the plaster. That left the house deaf to her movements, blind to her body heat and unresponsive to her touch. The air was cold, the lights dim, all the settings defaulted out the way they were when the house thought it was empty. Moonhead felt abandoned, alone, annoyed. She had half a dozen hearts, but only one soul, and she never seemed to back it up often enough.
When editor Dan Braum asked for a different kind of mummy story for his Spirits Unwrapped chapbook, I came up with this tale set at the court of Khubilai Khan.
I mixed historical information about the Khan with images and ideas from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous poem, but the mummy is based on a real one, and you can see some pictures of him at this website.
We reached an immense bubble in the ice, a room floored with rich carpets and hung with lamps and incense braziers which were suspended by long chains so that they would not melt the chamber’s domed ceiling. Still, a slow, quiet rain fell, freezing into instant pearls on our heads and shoulders as we followed Khubilai toward a body that lay on a heap of cushions in the center of the floor.It was a man. A tall man, with some kind of design in yellow paint on his sunken cheeks, just above the line of his red-brown beard. His white deerskin boots seemed to have rotted while he still wore them–the leather had opened up to reveal socks striped in red, blue and yellow, and his wine-purple coat seemed to have hardened into its clumps and folds. The cold air held the smell of warm mare’s milk and fish grease.
I had almost convinced myself that he was a corpse, when he lifted his eyes and opened his smoky-pupilled eyes.
This story is set in the Blackstone River Valley early in an industrial revolution somewhat different from our own. It appeared in the October 2004 issue of the print magazine Realms of Fantasy.
One September morning, Sophie and her father found a clockwork man in their courtyard, curled up in the far corner where the iron fence met the house wall. His ceramic skin was wet with last night’s rain and cold to the touch. He wore two heavy cloth coats and had a note pinned to his shirt: If found dead or wound-down, please place body in a Firedrake Model IV Furnace for two hours. He had barely enough energy left to hold up his own head when they brought him inside and laid him on the fire. They piled wood on and around him and left him to bake for a few hours.He sat up around lunchtime.
This novella is a new age gangster story. It appeared in two parts in the online magazine The Fortean Bureau, in the September and October 2004 issues.
The beach along that stretch is shallow for a long ways out, and at low tide you can walk on the wet, packed sand like you’re walking on a mirror. So we’d stand on our reflections and we’d tell Johnny N. how the day’s errands had gone, and he’d tell us our assignments for the next day– all petty stuff, mostly he was just running a protection racket, nothing heavy, and it’d been years since anybody challenged anybody else’s turf. Hell, most of the local bosses were married to each other’s sisters and would trade off who had whom over to dinner on Sunday afternoons. It was real quiet, a sleepy scene. Course all that would change when the next generation stepped in– and it’d get pretty bloody ’til one of the cousins finally came out on top. Bodies washing up under the arcade piers, that kind of thing. Bad scene, and very bad for business, once the papers got a hold of it and the tourists started staying away. But that was years away– the summer I’m talking about, those cousins were still tearing up and down the boardwalk on their banana-seat bikes. Meanwhile, me and Dean and Neptune Slim and Johnny Nemo, we were taking our evening constitutional up the beach in our snap-brims and wide ties and baggy suits, looking like old-time forties gangsters even though it was 1977.
A short story about visiting interesting, faraway places appeared in the second issue of the print magazine Flytrap. It prompted one reviewer to go so far as referring to the author as being “like some new avatar of Lewis Carroll,” which is a lot to live up to.
When I woke to find my clothes almost entirely unraveled, I knew it was time to leave the Labyrinth City. The thread traced my previous night’s path: from the ragged edge of my robes to the thoroughly be-gargoyled bedpost; from the bedpost to the chipped enamel washbasin; from the washbasin to the doorway where Nerville, my visitors-bureau-appointed guide stood, the smugness of his smile not quite lost in the whorls of his tattoo; from the doorway out through the hostel’s corridors and beyond, through the city’s streets and parks and alleys, all the way back to the city’s only gate. When I’d nailed the far end of the thread to the gate’s time-bleached gray wood, Nerville had said I’d have about a week, if I went slowly, if I considered and conserved my steps. That was seven days ago.In that week, I’d done all the tourist things. I’d seen new colors invented in trendy little galleries near the Lunarium, whispered mobius-loop conversations to myself in the Soliloquy dome, launched over-complicated origami lotuses on the stagnant waters of the reflecting canals. My tourist robes had unwound behind me all the while, Nerville supplying the occasional tug whenever the line snagged. He’d watched me with an unlimited, if forced, patience, making suggestions whenever I seemed ready to wander in a particularly foolish direction.
“Sunfast, Shadowplay and Saintswalk,” appeared in the September 8, 2003 edition of the online magazine Strange Horizons. It’s set in the same world– same city, even– as both “Moonless” (see above) and the novel I’ve been working on for the past couple years.
On the second day before the sunfast, we gathered rose hips and angelbane out on the dunes between the river’s last bend and the beach. Sand in my clogs, I followed Philomella up and down through the thickets and the long grass. The wind was cold, and colder still with all the dampness off the water. I had to put my hands in my pockets every few minutes. We each filled two big canvas bags before the sun was completely down. We headed back to the city, talking about what kind of saint she might become.”Maybe you’ll be one of the slinky ones, in the long dresses, breaking candy-glass jars in the street,” I said. “Or maybe you’ll get to be one of the lonely ones, and you’ll holler around outside of town, and you’ll get to sing in the evening.”
“I don’t know,” said my sister. “I’m not sure what I’d want to be.”
“Maybe the Saint of Coins and Candles or maybe the Saint of Hands and Thunder. . . .”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I won’t really have any choice in it, so I don’t know if I should try too much to guess.”