The characters in this week’s stories find themselves at the end of life as they know it, and at least one of them intends to get a bunch of stuff done before everything changes. What would you want to get done in the days, weeks, months before a life-altering upheaval?

Bucket List Found in the Locker of Maddie Price, Age 14, Written Two Weeks Before the Great Uplifting of All Mankind By Erica L. Satifka | Lightspeed Magazine Queers Destroy SF!

Kiss a girl.

Fall in love.

Get a tattoo, because Dad says that after we all go into the Sing nobody on Earth is going to have a body anymore. I don’t care if it hurts.

Advertisement

Smoke a joint.

Egg Principal Novak’s house.

See a solar eclipse. This one time, Sandra’s family was going to drive us down to California to see an eclipse, but then her mom called my dad at the last minute and said it was off. I wonder why?

Advertisement

Go to the zoo and make fun of the animals.

Dye my hair blue. Mom says they’ll have to shave our hair to get the electrodes in, the ones that will transmit our minds up to the Sing while our bodies stay behind. So it’s kind of my final shot.

Advertisement

I’m a sucker for stories written as lists. What strikes me about this piece is how seemingly normal and now-like the world is on the cusp of something as game changing as uploading all our consciousnesses to the cloud. Maybe it’s just that teenagers will always be teenagers, no matter the circumstance, time period, or reality-altering technological advancement.

image credit: sunshinecity “the list” on Flickr

Advertisement

In the Rustle of Pages by Cassandra Khaw | Shimmer Magazine

“Auntie, are you ready to come home with us?”

...

“Live with you?” Li Jing says, abrupt, when her thoughts empty enough to allow space for the present. “But this is my home. And — “

Advertisement

“It’s the best solution. And we’ve discussed it for weeks already, talked it over with the whole family.”

The gentleness bites chunks from Li Jing’s patience. It’s a familiar softness, a delicacy of speech reserved only for the invalid or the very young, a lilt that declares its recipient incapable. Arrogance, Li Jing thinks, but again says nothing.

Advertisement

The younger woman, barely a larva of a thing, lowers to her knees, hands piled over Li Jing’s own. “Your husband–we don’t want you to be alone when he — you know.”

Li Jing looks to where her husband lies snoring, already more monument than man, a pleasing arrangement of dark oak and book titles, elegant calligraphy travelling his skin like a road map. Li Jing allows herself a melancholy smile. The ache of loss-to-come is immutable, enormous. But there is pride, too.

Advertisement

In the armoire beside the marital bed sleeps a chronology of her husband’s metamorphosis: scans inventorizing the tiling on the walls of his heart, the stairwells budding in his arteries. For all of the hurt it conjures, Li Jing thinks his metamorphosis beautiful, too.

This story broke my heart a little (in a good way). Yes, there are a million stories about older people who don’t want to go off to whatever terrible place the younger people want to send them, but that’s not really what this story is about at its deepest level.

Advertisement

image credit: Picton Library Liverpool on Flickr

Advertisement

The Walking Thing by Marlee Jane Ward | Interfictions Online

“Have you heard about this walking thing?” Mum called, knocking on the door. Brian Sloan looked up from between my legs with alarm.

Advertisement

“Shit,” I said. He shot up like a piston, sheets flying as he scrambled for his clothes. My hoodie was crammed up around my armpits, so I yanked it down and pulled my trackies up real quick. Brian looked at me helplessly, dressed only in a t-shirt and a sock. I pushed him down on the bed, chucked the blanket over him, straightened my hair and opened the door.

“What?”

“Don’t ‘what’ me. Manners, Nita.”

“I beg your pardon?”

“That’s better. This walking thing, have you heard of it?”

I shook my head.

“I’ve seen a few cases of it at the hospital tonight…” Her voice trailed as she walked off down the hallway towards the kitchen. I wondered why she always did that, started talking and then walked away, expecting me to follow her. Maybe because I always did.

Advertisement

Did you go read the latest issue of Interfictions Online last week? if not, what are you waiting for? It’s kind of amazing. Especially if you like fiction that doesn’t slot solidly into one specific genre. This story has a touch of the zombie/pandemic apocalypse feel to it without the zombies or pandemic. It left me wondering what Nita wishes she had crossed off her bucket list, before the events of the story.


K. Tempest Bradford is a speculative fiction author, media critic, and issuer of the Tempest Challenge. Follow her on Twitter, G+, Tumblr, or her blog.

Advertisement