Fiction

Fables, yarns, tales, fantasies, science fiction, magic realism and other fantastical flavors.

The Rattlesnake

I smash mirrors everywhere. In my wake, shards of reflected sunlight litter ruined streets. Until they are splattered with red. Mothers hide their baby boys from me and when I root them out from cellars, ...

‘The Wedding Exit’ & Others

[Author's note: The following pieces are excerpted from Palace of Rubble, a collection of one-page stories composed primarily from single words culled each day from the front page of The New York Times, among other ...

The Girl Beneath

My world is darkness.  No. It’s dark beneath the water, but it’s unjust to say there is only darkness. There is also cold, and the slithering company of eels, and there is waiting: time stretching ...

Worse Than Wolves

It wasn't a frequent habit, but James started this day by sneaking a splash or two of vodka — as colorless as cyanide — into his coffee.  His mother had always said that drinking before ...

The Siege

The fighting lasted for years, perhaps decades.  Buildings were reduced to gravel, bullet by bullet. Neighbors were starved or raped or humiliated. Children played peacekeeper and sniper. Their parents’ hair had gone white or fallen ...

Non Ego Te Absolvo

That first half year in the parish of Santo Sebástian, Father Ambrose was afraid.  He feared the vast New Mexican spaces beyond the church door; he feared the scorpions he was told might sometimes hide ...

Nobody Ever Has Before

A little puddle of cooled aluminum sits on the mantelpiece above the sandstone fireplace in Baca’s living room. It’s a piece of melted engine from a 1976 Volkswagen camper van that crashed head on with ...

A Dark Sage

The boy follows a wake of crows; their shadows cast by moonlight are reflections in dark glass.  His mother has disappeared into the sky, carried away by a parliament of owls. Now the boy is ...

On a Thursday

She met me on the bank of a river where the earth turns soft, land melding into water, solid and fading. And not far away, the sound of the ocean. I had been traveling. Far ...

The Age of the Cuttlefish

In the living room of a small house on the corner of Elm and Grove, the mournful pastor sat before the saltwater aquarium and brooded on the cuttlefish sleeping silent in the sands.   The pastor ...

The Basque Wind

Iker first came to her on a day out with friends, stopping in Durango to admire the Lariz Tower, taking the bus to Atxondo, then walking through the valley, past the nestling hamlet of San ...

I Will Work for Love

Tall houses scrape at the blue, white-cloudy sky. The neighborhood grass glows green. This doesn’t look at all like the cyborg farm. My boyfriend is driving. I sit in the backseat with the laundry. I ...

Shoppingtown (My Fantasy America III)

[Author’s note: Italo Calvino’s masterpiece “Invisible Cities” finds the explorer Marco Polo describing to Emperor Kublai Khan various fantastical cities he’s encountered in his travels. Here I describe three fantastical cities I’ve encountered in my ...

Snake Shanties

Briana took her snake carefully from the cool cave, cooing while he hissed softly. He was by far the favorite of her jump ropes. Not too long, beautiful stripes, smart and devoted completely to her. ...

Listen: A Fable

From my morning-quiet field I heard those martial trumpets — oh, I heard them well. I stood on my farm among my wheat in the wind, the stalks rubbing together with the whispers of bedsheets. ...

Mother’s Fine Crockery in Shards

Amsterdam-based writer Susan Carey's preposterous and somewhat bawdy yarn concerns a woman, a man and a talking horse. Will the marriage survive? “You need to work on your Double Buffalo,” Colombia said to the skewbald ...

St. Dymphna’s Quartet

Pennsylvania author Tom Charles Bair III brings a sense of gleeful, disjointed absurdity and determination to real-life issues of emotional and mental illness in the meandering, everyday surreality of "St. Dymphna's Quartet." So named for ...

Drone

Melissa wants badly to fly the drone, but Jeff might get mad. It rests on top of the fridge, like one of those giant insects she’s seen in her oldest son’s books about the Jurassic, ...

Zenith (My Fantasy America II)

[Author’s note: Italo Calvino’s masterpiece “Invisible Cities” finds the explorer Marco Polo describing to Emperor Kublai Khan various fantastical cities he’s encountered in his travels. Here I describe three fantastical cities I’ve encountered in my ...

Previous Pilgrims

I am walking down a broad, stony, rocky riverbed that is almost dry. A tiny stream runs circuitously in the deepest part of the riverbed. It is hardly more than a foot wide. My brother ...

When Your House Shares a Property Line With Another Realm

OneThere is a circle of mushrooms in the yard, and sometimes, after days of rain, there are two circles next to each other, like conjoined soap bubbles. The dog on her long leash will decapitate ...

Tree Worship

"When He aims for something to be always a-moving, He makes it long ways, like a road or a horse, or a wagon, but when He aims for something to stay put, He makes it ...

‘Fire on the Mountain’: Three Excerpts

In Terry Bisson's provocative counterfactual novel "Fire on the Mountain," a Black socialist utopia rises in the Deep South after John Brown's 1859 raid on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry succeeds in setting off ...

Chardonnay (My Fantasy America I)

[Author’s note: Italo Calvino’s masterpiece “Invisible Cities” finds the explorer Marco Polo describing to Emperor Kublai Khan various fantastical cities he’s encountered in his travels. Here I describe three fantastical cities I’ve encountered in my ...