Category: speculative fiction

(WP) The Color of Secrets

               Indigo
was her name, but no one could figure out exactly why she was the way she was.

               As a
baby, and later, a toddler, she’d literally turn blue, either out of frustration
or heat.

               She’d
taken her strangeness, her peculiarity, as a fact of life. All her life she’d
been told she was special by her parents, weird and freaky by her peers. She’d heard
versions of both kinds of comments for so long that they bounced off.

               For a
while, people left her alone; it wasn’t any fun to a bully if you didn’t react.

               Until
this morning, when she’d tripped on the way to her locker and skinned her knee.

               That
all too familiar current of low laughter followed her, spreading through her
classmates like a virus.

               Much to
her own chagrin, she could feel her cheeks heating, darkening to a shade of
sapphire. She tried to cover the wound; it stung like hell. Much to her shock, the
blood that seeped through her fingers was bright, electric blue, the color of a
clear sky.

               For a
moment, she was stunned by the sight; it hit her like a blow to the chest.

               Was she
hallucinating? How was it possible for a normal human being to have blood that
was blue?

               She was
bitterly reminded of her cruel nickname: ‘Blue Blood’. It was ironic,
considering and she and her family were one of the poorest families in town.

               Cruel
laughter and whispers followed her, all the way to the nurse’s office.

               **

               After
an admonition about not running in the halls and watching her step, Indigo walked
out of the office, intending to return to class.

               Instead,
though, there was a pair of people, a boy and a girl, barring her way forward.

               “Hello,
Blue,” said the girl, dressed head to toe in different shades of green.

               “It’s
lovely to see you with my own eyes, at last.”

               She
grinned at Indigo, and her teeth were sharp, pointed. Something stood out livid
against her neck—gills?

               Indigo
was pretty certain that she had hit her knee, not her head. But it felt as if
she were in a movie, or a frightening nightmare.

               “Way to
sound creepy,” The boy murmured, rolling his eyes.

“You realize we’ve never met this
girl before?” He added.

“You don’t want to scare the poor
thing. This is going to be enough of a shock as it is without you intimidating
her, Emma.”

“I’m Porfirio, and this is my
sister, Emerald. Emma for short. It’s a pleasure to meet you. We’ve heard so
much about you.”

“How did you find me?” Indigo replied,
looking in between the two newcomers.

“Our father demanded that we find
you. We have a mission, you see. Emma, you, and I.”

“What are you talking about? This
all sounds like a bunch of nonsense.”

Emma piped up at last, bright eyes
on Indigo.

“Hate to break it to you, Blue, but
this is real life. Sounds like a comic book, though, doesn’t it?”

“We need to see you after school.
We have a lot to explain, Blu—I mean, Indigo.”

**

Author: Yves

Rating: 5/5

This is the biggest surprise of my reading year so far! All I knew about Something’s Not Right was that it’s a collection of magical realism/speculative fiction short stories. What amazed me the most is actually how short these short stories were! Some were less than 3 pages but still packed such emotional and narrative substance. The first story had me utterly hooked into this writer’s imagination – I wish I could take a journey inside their mind just to be able to see the world how they do.

I cannot commend this author enough. Even though we only witness snapshots into these characters, I became so quickly attached to them! They were expertly and genuinely crafted. The voices and grammatical persons were suited to each story, with a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd persons as well as just colloquial dialogue. Some authors struggle to write in one voice, let alone dozens! Finally, the world-building for each story was so smooth and natural that I hadn’t noticed how much information I’d swallowed since it was so seamlessly embedded.

Of course, I had some favourites. don’t feel guilty was so deliciously obscure and ominous; I loved the narrators voice here especially since it was so natural and real, yet still decorative. theoretical robots and the dynamic of love also sticks out in my mind for its exploration of emotion. It had a nostalgic and bitter-sweet ending, which I loved. Another gem was gold-based offerings; I loved the narrator and the cunning cheek of the love interest. My ultimate favourite had to be the butcher, but I can’t explain why! Maybe it was the combination of beauty and darkness.

So if you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

(WP) Independence, Even Unto Death

               Winston saw it on the breaking news, as he was clearing the dinner dishes.

               “This just in from headquarters…” There was a slight pause as the reporter pressed his ear to his mic, and he frowned, nodding silently.

               “Scientists all across the country have joined forces to create a vaccine that can reverse the disease that causes people to exhibit zombie-like symptoms. Our sources tell us that the treatment has already seen positive results in a small test group. The CDC says that the vaccine will be available to the public later on this week, at no cost. I’m Greg Dancer, with RTW, Channel 12, and we’ll be alerting you as soon as we get some more information.”

               Winston had been in the middle of stacking the plates in his hand, but he had to put them down, his hands were trembling so badly.

               This was it. There was hope for him, and the rest of humanity.

               But of all people, his parents were anti-vaxxers. They’d been against them, and traditional medicine in general, sent before he was born. His childhood had been peppered by phrases like ‘herd immunity’ and ‘vaccines cause autism’ and ‘we know what’s best for our son, you can shove your candy-ass medical degrees and PHDs up your ass’.

               To say it was embarrassing would have been a vast understatement. He was no stranger to what other people thought of him and his crazy hippie-dippy parents. He heard the neighbors.

               “Those people next door… Never even went to a community college and is just convinced that they know everything… As if doctors don’t have any idea what they’re talking about!”

               “That poor boy of theirs… Can you even imagine? Not even getting vaccinated against chicken pox, or measles, or polio! The nerve of them! They’re putting everyone around them at risk. What about the kids around here? The elderly! It’s not they don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

               Just thinking about it made his cheeks, neck, and ears flush; his stomach churned with the indignity of it all. They thought they were protecting him from chemical-laced additives that were supposedly in vaccines, but he’d been doing his research on his laptop when everyone else was asleep.

               Everything he had ever been told was a lie, all an elaborate farce cooked up by his parents, who seemed to think that he could not even manage his own health.

               Anyway, it mattered little now. Just as the vaccine would be made public, he would turn eighteen, and their hold on him, legal and otherwise, would officially dissolve.

               But he hadn’t broken the news yet. Though he knew that it was irrational, he was frightened by what his parents would say. Even though he knew for a fact that they were wrong, he found no pleasuring in breaking the news to them.

               But he’d learned long ago that there was no getting through to people that could not see reason, so perhaps it wasn’t even worth it.

               Winston made his decision: he would take the car first thing, right after his birthday, and get the vaccine.

               It was his decision and he would see it through.

               **

(WP) The Lonely Reflection

               I couldn’t remember any time of my life without the mirror.

               It had been passed down in our family for generations, and it looked like something out of a fairy tale. I’d always been told that if you didn’t look at it, its wrath was unleashed, and the way always changed. There had always been mysterious deaths, sure, but I figured it was nothing but superstition, creepy stories told to children to make them behave, or to haunt their dreams before they fell asleep.

               It was framed with wood so dark that it looked almost black, like trees shrouded in the cloak of night, with bright green vines climbing all around it. It was beautiful, and it reminded me of Snow White and Grimhilde’s mirror, though this one was not crowned with a blank, speaking face, mouth yawning wide. I always had a weird feeling about it, and I’d made a point not to look at it, no matter who it belonged to.

               It always filled me with something strange: a sense of dread and anticipation all at once.

               Little did I know, it was soon going to be my turn to inherit the object, which I’d begun to suspect was cursed.

               **

               The last person to possess the mirror had passed away, and the coroner had said it was from a heart attack. But I wasn’t so sure.

               My mother called me in the middle of running errands, and I pulled over, into a parking lot, to answer.

               “Calliope? What are you doing?” My mother’s voice came through at the other end of the line, without so much as a hello.

               “I’m running errands, Mom. What’s up? Is everything okay?”

               “We read Uncle Clay’s will today, and he left you The Mirror. Can you come over to the house and pick it up?”

               That’s the way she said it, The Mirror. I could hear it in her inflection.

               “Give me a few hours, and once my errands are finished, I’ll be right over.”

               “Okay, honey. Would you like to stay for dinner? We have plenty, and I worry about you, living in that tiny apartment by yourself. I’m making pot roast.”

               As tempting as that sounded, I had to decline. “I already have plans, Mom. Thanks. I’ll be there later. I love you.”

               “At least take some home,” She replied, seeming not to notice that I was hanging up.

               I continued my errands, but my mind churned. I didn’t know why, but I didn’t want that mirror, however beautifully crafted it was. Bad luck seemed to be attached to it, and I didn’t like the way it seemed to be following everyone; like it was watching. It gave me the creeps.

               **

               After I ran my errands, I drove to my mother’s house and knocked on the door, eager to take my unwanted heirloom and leave. Though I was hungry, having not eaten since early afternoon, I was tired and eager to go home, throw a sheet over the mirror, and call it a day.

               My mother answered the door, smiling and giving me a hug; the scents of garlic, rosemary, and roasting meat greeted me like an old friend.

               “The mirror is in our room. If you need help loading it in your car, I can get your dad from his study.”

               “No, Mom, I should be all right,” I said, smiling at her and walking down the hall, toward my parents’ bedroom.

               “Are you quite sure you can’t stay for dinner, dear?” She called after me, and I laughed.

               The mirror was lying on the bed, faceup, reflecting the ceiling, and I found myself wishing, perhaps unkindly, that Uncle Clay hadn’t passed away.

               I walked to the bed and went to pick it up, trying not to look straight into the looking-glass proper. But when I peered into it, almost on accident, I could see my face out of the corner of my eye.

               And it was smiling.

               **