The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin

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Cover of The Killing Moon
(Dreamblood #1)
by N.K. Jemisin

~In the dark of waking, a soul has died. Its flesh, however, is still hungrily, savagely alive. The Reaper’s task is not to save.~

~Did you know that writing stories down kills them? Of course it does. Words aren’t meant to be stiff, unchanging things.~

~We retell the stories regardless, because we know: stone is not eternal. Words can be.~ ~Is it not civilized of us to make a madness, magic?~

~I want every moment of my life, pretty man, the painful and the sweet alike. Until the end. If these are all the memories I get for eternity, I want to take as many of them with me as I can.~

~There is nothing to fear in nightmares, so long as you control them.~

http://nkjemisin.com

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Ice Rider by Tiah Marie Beautement

~Maybe we are inside a fairy tale. After all, nobody knows she’s in one until the tale is over.~ Ice Rider

Ice Rider” a fantasy short story written by Tiah Marie Beautement, published by New Myths for their December 2018 issue.

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Girl in ice tunnel

Section 1:

The train whisks its cargo through the ice tunnels. They are narrow; only a motorcycle could slip between the train and the frozen walls. Inside the carriages, children huddle on the bare floor. Despite their short stature, there is not enough room to stand.

Ignacia, back pressed against the sides of the car, ignores the others as she focuses on the vibrations. It is a habit that has outlasted the varnish of hope. One of the new gifts taps her on the knee. Ignacia raises her gaze to meet the young girl’s, no older than seven, with large watchful eyes still wearing a veneer of innocence. “Why are some of the children crying?” she signs.

Ignacia doesn’t peer into the dim light. She’s witnessed this far too many times, as eardrums burst, blood trickles down terrified faces, and worlds go silent. There was a year, near the beginning, when she tried to comfort the new gifts as their inner ears were destroyed. But time has taught her that the hearing-born transition better to their altered state under the care of those who’ve also been through the experience. They have an empathy Ignacia lacks.

The girl taps Ignacia’s knee. “Why?”

Too much magic. High concentrations ruin human ears,” Ignacia signs back.

Will they be deaf, like us?”

Yes,” Ignacia says, with a nod of a fist.

The young gift goes quiet. Ignacia wonders how much the hunter was rewarded for this particular deaf-born. When Ignacia was donated by her kidnappers, it was two thousand Agency dollars. But it must be more now, as rumors claim deaf-borns are becoming harder for the hunters to source. But she doesn’t ask the child beside her about her life before the ice. Such questions tend to bring tears.

The train stops. Small fingers tap her knee. “What now?” signs the girl.

We go to the mines.”

Ignacia doesn’t bother to say more. This one must know what is coming. All of the gifted are put through a week of training before they are sent into the ice. Taught the techniques that best preserves the blue nuggets of magic when they are lifted from their frozen seam.

Will the new-deaf children be okay?” asks the new girl.

Ignacia shrugs, looking away.

It is claimed that Agency workers used to medically deafen the hearing-born during training, rather than allowing nature to take its course. Cost cutting, the rumors say. Ignacia often wonders if the Agency lost as many of the gifted doing it the old way as they do now. In each batch, there are hearing-born who shut down in their new silent world, staring out into the unseen, useless for work. The Agency gives these children one week to awaken before they are “rehomed.”

The carriage door slides open, cold air punching in, revealing dirty ice smeared with brown stains, like the backs of long-used underwear. The children crawl out of the train and line up in front of the arch that guards the entrance to the shafts, wincing under the glare of ice and lights. One by one, they pass through. The sobbing ones have to be given a gentle shove. When it is Ignacia’s turn, she is careful to allow her spine to settle, to keep her knees soft, shoulders slightly rounded. Nothing too obvious that might draw suspicion from the camera’s eyes, only enough to slip under the arch without a single hair brushing against its upper curves and risking a zap.

On the other side, she takes position in front of one of the next set of cameras, peering out of the frozen walls. As she waits a small hand slips into hers. It is the new gift from the train. Ignacia tries to untangle the child’s grasp, but fails.

Words appear on the ice: Permission granted for Gifted Ora to volunteer beside Gifted Ignacia. Donations collected at shaft 01000001.

She looks down at the child. “Ora, that’s me,” the girls signs with her free hand.

Ignacia does not reply as she leads the child away.

To finish reading the story, click HERE

The Cat That Played The Tombola by Fiona Snyckers

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Cover of The Cat That Played The Tombola by Fiona Snyckers

~Fay looked like a cross between a candy cane and a carnival barker.~

~Mother could be very abrasive.~

~How do you feel about lions, Miss Penrose?~

~There was no such thing as an ‘honest face’. People lied and deceived and committed horrible acts and then looked you straight in the eye and swore that it wasn’t them.~

http://www.fionasnyckers.com

Carnevale by M. R. Lovric

Cover to  Carnevale
by Michelle Lovric. Sheet-white woman's face, red lips, with eye mask on that depicts a Venice canal.

~Have you ever noticed how often, in a painting, a cat lends it ironic subtly to a scene? By its mere presence, a cat gives a cometary, adds dignity and humanity to the direst of poor hovels, and pathos to the ridiculous deaths of gentle saints. Dogs and lions do merely what dogs and lions do, but a cat –his every gesture is there to be read.~

~What people want to see in their portraits is what they want to know, but cannot see in their own faces: some kind of inner truth behind their own eyes. The truth they seek is always this: How much shall I be loved?~

~Locked inside the portrait is the story of the subject, and the story of the painter, and the story of their relationship.~

~When [cats] dislike one of our kind, or if he becomes old, or damaged, we kill him. Humans are more cruel.~

~Remember that in this world the word ‘artist’ automatically denotes a male, unless ‘female’ is additionally specified. Every woman artist is accustomed to be celebrated as an exceptional member of her species; she is a curiosity.~

~I know this all now because Love made me a spy.~

http://www.michellelovric.com

The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman

Cover of The Mortal Word by Genevieve Cogman is pale blue with a cat, rat, woman and man set into the corners. Below the author's name is a knife.

~Walking through a library – any library – as they made their way to the exterior had its usual comforting, balancing effect on Irene. It was a reassurance that such places existed, and that they would continue, even if she herself was as temporary as any other human.~

~Most of the crowd were more morbidly interested in the morgue’s main attraction.
The corpses.
Personally, Irene would rather spend her time with a good book.~

~Practicality is a great help when it comes to getting things achieved…If I were going on a heroic quest, I’d probably start off by making a list of things I’d need on the journey. Including some books to read during the dull bits.~

~Irene looked around the table, and for a moment allowed herself the luxury of imagining that she could walk away from the current situation. She was good at stealing books. She was good at reading books. She was by no stretch of the imagination remotely qualified to organize this team and handle diplomacy.
Unfortunately it seemed that everyone else was even less qualified or interested than she was.~

~If you’re going to threaten me, please be original about it.~

~Just because a dragon was polite didn’t mean that a dragon was safe.~

~You can’t trust people in power, dearie. They’ll say whatever they want, all the witnesses will be paid to agree, and then you’re behind bars till the end of your days. Or worse.~

http://www.grcogman.com/

The Night Weaver by Monique Snyman

Cover image of The Night Weaver by Monique Snyman. Background: forest scene. Foreground: profile of redheaded 17 year old girl, wearing tunic and boots, caught in tree vines.

~When I struggle to understand the present, I tend to study the past. I try to piece things together by shifting through the chaos.~

~Well, it won’t be a worthy adventure if there isn’t some danger.~

~In some cases, family is an overrated concept.~

~She’s just been so obsessed with the symptoms, she hasn’t diagnosed the cause.~

~What’s the point of talking to people, of forging friendships and cultivating relationships, when everyone’s always keeping secrets?~

~Death isn’t a clean affair, and sorrow doesn’t disappear as soon as the headstone is engraved.~

http://www.moniquesnyman.com/

Past Tense by Lee Child

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Cover img: Past Tense by Lee Child

~’I grew up thinking it was small than this.’
‘Most people remember things bigger.’~

~A wise man never counted all the way to three.~

~She balled up the tissue and lobbed it toward the trash can. She missed. She bent down to correct her error. She was Canadian.~

~That’s the problem with denial. Reality doesn’t care what you think. It just keeps rolling along. This is the road. Always was. Still is.~

~’Don’t let ego get in the way of a good decision.’
‘You just trashed ever general in our nation’s history.’~

~They were welcomed at the reception desk by a cheerful woman who spoke to them as she would to the bereaved, except not exactly. A little livelier. A unique tone….As if visitors to an old people’s home made up a unique demographic. Not the recently bereaved. The soon to be. The pre-bereaved.~

https://www.leechild.com/

Code Name Wiki by Tiah Marie Beautement

Wiki and her gang of friends are back. She is one of my all time favourite characters: smart, friendly, gullible – a high functioning autistic (although neither story states this, as she is undiagnosed, as most girls in this formally-Aspie part of the spectrum are not). So when FunDza needed a story about divisions – this one on the digital divide – who best to talk about CODE and ROBOTS than Wiki? (Psst – and hear how her first high school romance is progressing.)

binary

Chapter 1:

“Winile,” Mrs Ngema says, holding up a piece of paper. “Would you please explain this?”

“This is going to be good,” Baka snickers.

“Sssh,” Nomhle says, which is kind of her.”What do you need to know?” I say to the teacher.

“I need to know why you have turned in a paper full of numbers.”

I nod. “Yes, I wrote that after Monday’s class. You had informed us that South African Sign Language, known by the acronym SASL, is now considered an official home language. You then told the class the school may be able to offer an additional language next year and asked us to write a short piece on which new language we believe would be beneficial to our education. I did the assignment and turned it in, which you now have in your hand.”

Mrs Ngema looks at the paper and back at me. “Winile, I can’t read it.”

“It’s code.”

Baka shoves his fist in his mouth and his belly heaves. I don’t know why; nothing funny is happening. Meanwhile Mrs Ngema is shaking her head. “Winile, it is unlike you to have a smart mouth and I do not understand why you are choosing to do so now. I have asked you a question and would like you to explain yourself.”

“It’s binary code, which computers and other electronic devices use. May I show you?”

Mrs Ngema holds out a white board pen and I walk to the front of the room and take it. At the board I write:

01010100 01100101 01100001 01100011 01101000 00100000 01110101 01110011 00100000 01101000 01101111 01110111 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01100011 01101111 01100100 01100101 00101110
[Teach us how to code.]

01001001 01110100 00100000 01101001 01110011 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01101100 01100001 01101110 01100111 01110101 01100001 01100111 01100101 00100000 01101111 01100110 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100101 00100000 01100110 01110101 01110100 01110101 01110010 01100101 00101110
[It is the language of the future.]

“Call me impressed,” Robyn says, as many of my other classmates nod.

Mrs Ngema, however, only looks confused. “Why do you think schools should teach binary code? It appears to me like you already know it.”

Frustration builds, but I don’t want to get in trouble. I’m never in trouble. So I say, “No, I don’t want the school to teach binary code. That would be like teaching ancient Morse code. You know … dots and dashes. We should be learning programming languages, such as Java, HTML, Python, C#, and C++. But I don’t have a computer, just my phone, and that is the situation for most of my friends.”

Mrs Ngema’s eyebrows draw together as she takes a deep breath. “Winile, that is an interesting opinion. But I still do not understand why you did not write it in English.”

“Because,” I say, “I wanted to illustrate how not being able to code in some capacity will make us illiterate in the future job market. According to experts like Ryan Bubinski, coding will no longer be a job in itself, but considered a basic job skill. He said, ‘The future of coding is really the future of work.’”

Mrs Ngema gestures to my desk. “Thank you, Winile. That was … interesting.”

“It always is,” Baka laughs.

The rest of the class joins in.

I can’t tell if I’m a joke or if people really did find it interesting.

 

Click to read Chapter 2

And if you missed Wiki’s first story, you can read it HERE

The Cat That Got Your Tongue by Fiona Snyckers

 

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Cover img: The Cat That Got Your Tongue by Fiona Snyckers

~The past has more reality for them than the present. They get so caught up in ancient conspiracy theories that they can hardly tell what’s real and what’s fake anymore.~

~He might not have been a cat person, but he was doing a convincing imitation of one.~

~Desmond always believed he was on the trail of something hot, and it always turned out to be nothing. That was his pattern.~

~People were falling in love with math all over again.~

~Look for the sign of the queen.~

~As a true Englishwoman, Morwen couldn’t let a Sunday go past without producing an elaborate roast lunch with all the trimmings.~

@FionaSnyckers

The Theory of Flight by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

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Img: Cover of The Theory of Flight
by Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu

~Prudence raised her children to have character, to be proud and strong, to not be afraid of humility and vulnerability, to hold their heads at a particular angle and never feel or look defeated by whatever life dealt them.~

~He understood that in the grander scheme of things he was but a speck…a tiny speck…and that that was enough. There was freedom, beauty even, in that kind of knowledge. It was the kind of knowledge that finally quieted you. It was the kind of knowledge that allowed you to fly.~

~Without a name something does not, cannot, will not exist. With a name, something cannot help but exist.~

~There is something highly intimate about smelling another human being. It is a taking-in of sorts – a sharing, an absorbing, a consuming of another. It is just one step away from taste.~

~She discovered that an absence, like a presence, occupies space – it has proportions, parameters and a sense of permanence. Because of him she had realised that an absence is actually more steadfast than a presence: you cannot take another’s presence with you wherever you go, but another’s absence need never leave you. . .absence, like a presence, is something you could come to know intimately.~

Read an excerpt here