Flash Fiction: “Black Baccara” by Jay Lake & Ruth Nestvold
(“Tales of the Rose Knights” #6, originally published in Daily Science Fiction.)
Baccara is one of the dark ones from among the ranks of the Rose Knights. She is a pale woman, needle-thin with large eyes dark as bruises. She always goes clad in satin of a color that falls somewhere between maroon and leaf mold. Baccara follows battle rather than leading it like most of her fellows, always in the service of the Armies of the Moon.
Baccara can hear the whispers of the departing souls of the dead. From them she bargains for secrets. And the Velvet Knight always keeps her bargains.
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: “In the Quiet and In the Dark” by Alison Littlewood
(Originally published in The Best British Fantasy 2013.)
The street was dead. Steph looked up and down it and saw honey-coloured houses, a quiet church, and behind everything, sleeping fields. She wrinkled her nose. ‘Street’ didn’t seem the right word for it, not really; she didn’t know what was. ‘Lane’ was too small – this was the centre of Long Compton – and ‘road’ implied it was going somewhere. Anywhere.
She thought again of the way her mother had said goodbye, walking down the platform after the train as if she hadn’t wanted Steph to go. Then she’d turned before she was quite out of sight, taken her new husband’s arm and walked away, a spring to her step, off to live in some cheap bar on an unfashionable stretch of Italian coastline. Steph scowled. She had asked if she could go too – just once – and she didn’t really remember the words her mother had used, but she remembered the look in her eyes. Steph knew, when she saw that look, that it wasn’t any use. The flat in London was already sold – the one that lay on a street, a proper street – and now she was here in the Cotswolds with her dad, nowhere to go and nothing to do, in the far reaches of the back of beyond.
Alison Littlewood is the author of A Cold Season (published by Jo Fletcher Books), which was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, where it was described as “perfect reading for a dark winter’s night”. Her sequel, A Cold Silence, has recently been published. Her next book, The Hidden People, is about the little folk and the fate of a suspected changeling. Alison won the 2014 Shirley Jackson Award for Short Fiction and her short stories have been picked for several Year’s Best anthologies. Alison lives with her partner Fergus in Yorkshire, England, in a house of creaking doors and crooked walls. She has a penchant for books on folklore and weird history, Earl Grey tea, and semicolons. You can talk to her on Twitter via @Ali__L, find her on Facebook, or visit her at alisonlittlewood.co.uk.
About the Narrators:
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.
Catherine Logan had many years of training in theatre and voice in her youth, and then many years of teaching acting, drama, writing, and English literature as a grown-up. She has taken plenty of workshops and has studio experience in narration, commercial and animation voiceover work. Catherine is now involved in a second career which takes her back to her first love. She can be reached at catherineloganvoice.com.