Cover art for this month is by Kassandra Leigh, a photographer, model, and self-professed dweeb with no social skills, chronic ailments, and a supreme appreciation of “me” time. She likes to take peectures of pretty, sexy, and creepy things, soft tacos with no lettuce, spooky supernatural anything, playing mages in Smite, heavy metal, the Sith Code, and things that start with the letter “C”: cats, camera gear, cold weather, cosmetics, clothing, and caffeine — but not candids.
Flash Fiction: “Osiana” by Jay Lake & Ruth Nestvold
She did not come to her life with intention. Few do, but less so for Osiana. She had been born a bondswoman in a time and place where freedwomen were rarer than talking hens. That she had good hands and clear eyes was apparent even in her extreme youth, so when the Proctors came to winnow the girl-children in her third summer, Osiana was taken aside to be raised on red meat and rough exercise, to see if she could grow into the Kingsguard.
Jay Lake lived in Portland, Oregon until his death in 2014, shortly before his 50th birthday. His books include Kalimpura from Tor and Love in the Time of Metal and Flesh from Prime. His short fiction appeared regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay was a winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards. In 2015, he posthumously received the Locus Award for his collection Last Plane to Heaven.
Learn more about him and his work at jlake.com.
Ruth Nestvold has published widely in science fiction and fantasy, her fiction appearing in such markets as Asimov’s, F&SF, and Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her work has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella Looking Through Lace won the Premio Italia award for best international work. She maintains a web site at ruthnestvold.com and blogs at ruthnestvold.wordpress.com.
Main Story: “Salt and Sand” by Kate O’Connor
(Originally published in Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show #39.)
The blood orange sun was slumping towards the western horizon when the funeral boat came ashore, groaning in defeat as it crested onto the sand. Saesa had watched the boat throughout the day, tracking its slow progress in between settling her other visitors. The little boat had teased her, coming close and then drifting back out with the tide, but it had finally arrived.
Saesa held still, savoring the moment before she went to peel back flesh and crack bones to reveal this next visitor’s story. Her pointed teeth ached with wanting and her mouth watered. There was a lifetime of thought and emotion that would be waiting just beneath the skin of the next corpse.
A board creaked and Saesa froze. There shouldn’t be any noise. Funeral ships only brought one thing. The sound had been sharp and immediate – too sudden for Saesa’s beach and the long line of empty vessels left by her day’s work.
Something shifted just beyond the boat’s railing. Before Saesa had time to react, a thin figure lurched upwards, sprawling over the rail and tumbling down onto the hot sand. Saesa jumped back, her heart thundering in her chest. She had seen living people countless times in memories, but to have one in front of her was another matter entirely.
Kate O’Connor has written science fiction and fantasy since 2011. In between telling stories, she flies airplanes, digs up artifacts, and manages a dog kennel. Her short fiction has most recently appeared in StarShip Sofa, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and Escape Pod.
About the Narrators:
Nicola Seaton-Clark lives in the wilds of (almost) Eastern Europe with her long-suffering husband, phenomenal children and a grumpy cat. Trained as an actress and singer, she has worked in entertainment for over 20 years and currently splits her time between writing speculative fiction, helping her husband run their voice-over company, Offstimme, and voicing everything from commercials and documentaries to public transport announcements. She also hosts this podcast…
Nikolle Doolin is a writer and a voice actor. Her fiction, poetry, and plays have been published and presented; and her voice has appeared in various mediums. Nikolle has performed numerous narrations for a number of popular and award-winning podcasts, such as The NoSleep Podcast, Tales to Terrify, and Far-Fetched Fables. She also narrates classic literature by the likes of Austen, Poe, James, and more in her own podcast, Audio Literature Odyssey. To learn more about Nikolle, visit her website at nikolledoolin.com.
The Audio Fantasy Fiction Magazine