Flash Fiction: “Under the Bed” by Effie Seiberg
(Originally published in Crossed Genres.)
I keep it clean under the bed. I go swoosh swoosh swoosh and suck the dust away. Jimmy can’t have a dusty bed. It would make him sick. I don’t want Jimmy to get sick. I love Jimmy. So I keep it clean.
Jimmy’s been gone for three nights.
Every night, we used to do our special thing. I’d slooooowly start to move. Make the whisperiest of sounds. And Jimmy would pretend to be frightened and he’d scream. His mom would come back into his room and look under the bed. “There’s nothing there, honey,” she’d say. But Jimmy and I would know different. It’s our secret, even though he can’t keep the secret even the littlest bit. But that’s OK. I always forgive him, because I love Jimmy.
Effie Seiberg is a fantasy and science fiction writer. Her stories can be found in the Women Destroy Science Fiction! special edition of Lightspeed magazine (winner of the 2015 British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology), Galaxy’s Edge, Analog, Fireside Fiction, and PodCastle, among others. She is a graduate of Taos Toolbox 2013, a member of SFWA and Codex, and a reader at Tor.com. Effie lives in San Francisco, recently and upcoming (but not presently) near a giant sculpture of a pink bunny head with a skull in its mouth. She likes to make sculpted cakes and bad puns. You can follow her on Twitter via @effies or on effieseiberg.com.
Main Story: “The Adventures of Petal the Paper Doll Pirate” by Paul Jessup
(Originally published in Fantasy Magazine.)
The candle in the sky warmed their skin, making all too crisp the vellum of their bones. This was the Water Colored Tropics, far south from the harsh and acrylic snowlands that her Jotuns called home. Petal liked it here, this land of single hatch beaches and popup book natives in grass skirts.
The papier-mâché Jotuns were grumpy and tired and sick. They did not like the heat, did not like being so close to the candle sun. They were afraid of burning up, of their paper-thin clothes curling black and catching flame, scattering the ash of their corpse in the static waves of the painted sea.
They whispered behind Petal’s back. Talked of mutiny, written down in hidden parts of the ship. They made no secret of their disgust. When the Jotuns came brandishing clumsily drawn chains Petal had already stowed away on a brown cardboard boat, peddling straight towards a distant shore. She had copied the map on her flesh, inking the memory of the treasure she searched for into her skin with a large silver point pen.
Paul Jessup is a critically acclaimed and award winning author, poet, and playwright. He’s been published in numerous anthologies and magazines, and has three books out by various small presses.
About the Narrators:
Fran Carris is whatever she decides to be when she wakes up each morning. She has also been known to be a voice talent, performance artist, and poet, and professional dabbler in other arts that express. You can find her online at misfran.com.
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three children. By day she works as a breast oncology nurse. At all other times she juggles, none too successfully, writing, reading, gaming, and gardening. She has been published at Escape Pod, An Alphabet of Embers, and People of Color Destroy Science Fiction!. She’s also penned a novel titled An Unproductive Woman which can be found on Amazon. Khaalidah is also a narrator and you may have heard her voice at Strange Horizons and all four of the Escape Artists podcasts. Khaalidah is guest editor for Artemis Rising 3 over at PodCastle and is also guest editing Truancy magazine‘s fourth issue.
Khaalidah is on a mission to encourage more women and people of color to write and publish science fiction stories. Of her alter ego, “K” from the planet Vega, it is rumored that she owns a time machine and knows the secret to immorality. You can catch up to her posts at her website, khaalidah.com and follow her on Twitter, @khaalidah.