First Story: “The Funeral, Ruined” by Ben Peek
It was the weight that woke Linette. Her weight. The weight of herself.
The flat red sky above Issuer was waiting when she opened her eyes. Five hours before, when she had closed her eyes, it had been a dark, ugly brown-red: the middle of the night. Now it was the clear early morning red, and a thick, muggy warmth was seeping through her open window with the new light. There would be no rain today. Just the heat. Just the sweat. Just that uncomfortable, hot awareness of herself that both brought. The worse was Linette’s short dark hair, dirty with sweat and ash. The ash that had come through the open window during the night. It had streaked her face and settled in her mouth and she could taste it, dry, burnt and unappealing in her gums. Her left arm, with its thick, straight scars across the forearm, felt heavy and ached; but it always ached.
Ben Peek is the Sydney based author of Black Sheep, Twenty-Six Lies/One Truth, Above/Below, and Dead Americans and Other Stories (in which ‘The Funeral, Ruined’, can be found). His most recent novel is the first volume in the Children Trilogy, the Godless.
You can find out more at www.theurbansprawlproject.com
Second Story: “Poison” by Bruce McAllister
In school that day the American boy, whose twelfth birthday was approaching, did just as well as his friends on the Roman history recitation and the spelling test, which included the word stregheria–witchcraft—which could, if you weren’t careful, easily be confused with straggaria, an old-fashioned word for respect.
After school let out, he and his friends celebrated their good fortune by buying new plastic blowguns at the toy store in the fishing village and spending an hour making dozens of little paper cones with sewing needles taped to their points. Every boy in this country had at least one blowgun—they were cheap and no longer than a ruler—so the American boy had one too.
Bruce McAllister’s fantasy and science fiction stories have been published over the years in the science fiction/fantasy/horror field’s major magazines and many “year’s best” volumes (including Best American Short Stories: 2007, Stephen King ed.). His short story “Kin” was a finalist for the Hugo Award; his novelette “Dream Baby” was a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula awards; his novelette “The Crying Child” was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award. His short fiction has been collected in the career-spanning The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories. Four of his short stories—science fiction and horror—are currently under option, in development or in production as films. He is the author of three novels: Humanity Prime, Dream Baby, and most recently The Village Sang to the Sea: A Memoir of Magic. He lives in Orange County, California, with his wife, choreographer Amelie Hunter, and works as a writer, writing coach, and book and screenplay consultant.
Note: “Poison,” in a slightly different form, is from the novel THE VILLAGE SANG TO THE SEA: A MEMOIR OF MAGIC, appeared originally in ASIMOV’S, and was reprinted in the Hartwell/Kramer YEAR’S BEST FANTASY. Learn more at www.thevillagesang.com
About the Narrators:
With a background in theater and an English degree that didn’t lead to teaching or full-time novel writing, Kim Mintz turned to the persuasive arts known as sales and heard multiple clients say, “You have a great voice. I would listen to you all day!” Finally, she decided to marry these skills together and enter the world of professional voice acting. Employing a wide range of voices and expressions in commercial and narrative work, she contributed to the financial, travel, and health insurance industries, utilizing clear, direct articulation. She is currently expanding her repertoire with audio book passages by exhibiting a range of emotions, including warm, sultry, cheerful, sarcastic, and many others. She is also working on scripts with her writing partner for animated projects to which she hopes to give a voice. For more information, please visit her website at www.kimmintzvoiceactor.com
Andrew Leman is a producer, designer, actor, writer and director, not necessarily in that order. He has appeared on professional stages in Chicago and Los Angeles, and is a member of Theatre Banshee in Burbank, California. He has designed graphics and props for numerous films and TV shows, and a number of digital fonts that have been used extensively by graphic designers worldwide. With his friend & collaborator of many years, Sean Branney, Andrew has been running The H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society since 1984, and has developed numerous film, audio, and gaming projects, including the award-winning motion pictures The Call of Cthulhu and The Whisperer in Darkness, musical projects including A Shoggoth on the Roof and Dreams in the Witch House, and several 1930s-style audio dramas in the Dark Adventure Radio Theatre series. He is the author of Lovecraftian Times, a non-scholarly history of the 1920s and ’30s for HPL fans, and is the designer of highly authentic prop documents for Call of Cthulhu gamers. Andrew is pleased also to be a frequent contributor to the H. P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast. And once upon a time he was a fossil preparator for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. You can learn more at www.cthulhulives.org and www.hppodcraft.com