Flash Fiction: “Myriam” by Jay Lake & Ruth Nestvold
(“Tales of the Rose Knights” #11, originally published at Daily Science Fiction.)
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: “Heavy Sulfur” by Ari Marmell
(Originally published in Operation: Arcana.)
Late autumn, 1916
The Western Front
Amidst the roiling clouds of mustard gas, bilious and billowing, I could just make out the alchemancer positioned atop the hillock.
He stood tall, arms spread, apparently untroubled by the fusillades filling the air with lead, the bursting ordnance raising geysers of shrapnel and mud across the field of no man’s land. Ritual robes of rusty hue hung open over an officer’s uniform of the German Empire; unseen eyes glared through the lenses of a heavy gas mask, a hideous insectile thing that looked to have taken the place of the man’s head. The carbine strapped to one shoulder hung unused, for his right hand was occupied by a rune-carved staff of oak, from which the impossible banks of flesh-searing gas flowed. He directed them, as an orchestra conductor, sending them against the wind, positioning them where he would. They rolled toward the trenches and the brave British defenders; far behind the alchemancer, I could see multiple squads of German soldiers preparing to rush any breach the mustard gas might open.
I wasn’t meant to have spotted the poison-witch, none of us were. His occult defenses were far too strong. That, however, was why men such as I fought on the front lines. I could feel the faint wetness of the oil with which I’d anointed my own brow and eyelids, the charm that permitted me to overcome such protections.
Ari Marmell would love to tell you all about the various esoteric jobs he held and the wacky adventures he had on the way to becoming an author, since that’s what other authors seem to do in these sections. Unfortunately, he doesn’t actually have any, because real life is boring — hence the focus on fiction. His published work includes fully original novels, such as Hot Lead, Cold Iron, and Thief’s Covenant; licensed/tie-in novels for multiple properties; and role-playing game material for games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Vampire: The Masquerade. He has worked with publishers such as Del Rey, Pyr Books, Titan Books, and Wizards of the Coast.
Ari currently lives in an apartment that’s almost as cluttered as his subconscious, which he shares (the apartment, not the subconscious, though sometimes it seems like it) with George — his wife — and two cats who really, really think it’s dinner time. You can find Ari online at mouseferatu.com and on Twitter as @mouseferatu.
About the Narrators:
Jen R. Albert is an entomologist, writer, editor, narrator, wife, dog-mom, game-player, reader of all the things, and haver of too many hobbies from Toronto. She is a regular narrator at the Escape Artists podcasts and is co-editor of Podcastle.
Jack Calverley lives in Central London where he watches a very small patch of land struggle into gardenhood. In even quieter moments he has been known to narrate science fiction stories for Starship Sofa and horror stories for Tales to Terrify, and also hosted the now defunct Crime City Central podcast for its entire two-year run. He is a member of the T-Party genre writers’ group, another group called WINOS, and critters.org, and (having attended two online classes from the Odyssey Writing Workshops) is a member of the Odyssey online critique group. A testament to perseverance if nothing else. He lives online at jackcalverley.com where he watches a very small patch of website struggle into nethood.