QSFer ‘Nathan Burgoine has a new modern fantasy story out:
With one diagnosis, editor James Daniels learns that he’s literally running out of time. Looking at his life, he sees one regret: Andy, the one that got away. Andy was the first man that James ever loved, but Andy has been gone for years, and might not want to be found.
But as his cancer progresses and James starts to lose his grip on time and memory, it might just be that time and memory are losing their grip on James, too.
It’s the biggest and most important re-write of his life. Restoring love from nothing but memory might be possible, if the past isn’t too far gone to fix.
In Memoriam is also just out in audio!
MY SISTER CALLED three times while I was cooling in the bath, taking stock of my finances, my expected outline and major turning points. I couldn’t help but think in terms of editing a novel. I had a second beer, which had gone down better than the first and finally erased my thirst.
After towelling off, putting on shorts, and sitting on my couch with Whisper purring beside me, I called her back.
“I can’t believe you just dropped that on mom.”
“Love you, too,” I said. “And yes, it’s awful.”
She clicked her tongue. “Are you drunk?”
“Not yet, but give me an hour.”
“You really think that’s a good idea?”
I laughed. “Seriously? Janie, I don’t know if mom gave you the run-down, but hangovers are the last thing I’m worried about.” I paused, rubbing Whisper’s head and looking around my apartment. “Right now, what’s bugging me most is this apartment. Cheap rent, sure, but it’s still that awful off-white from when I moved in nine years ago.”
“Are you going to talk to me, or at me?”
I sighed. “Short version? Brain tumors. Bad places to have them, bad prognosis, and the oncologist wasn’t even cute. Or a man.”
“And you yelled at mom because?”
“See above, re: brain tumours. She trotted out her ‘Everything happens for a reason’ shit, and I just couldn’t.”
“It’s how she copes.”
“How she doesn’t cope.”
“You know what? I’ll work up an apology later. I suddenly find myself with a lot on my to-do list.”
“Chemo?” Jane asked. “Or surgery? What’s the best option?”
I flinched. Mom hadn’t told Jane, or had told her I was refusing to take an option that could work out for me.
“Like so much had.
I cleared my throat. “Neither. Do you know the joke about why stage four cancer is better than stage five?”
“No.” She sounded like she was counting to ten in her head.
“Because there is no stage five.”
“That’s not funny.”
“No.” I was grinning. “But I keep laughing anyway.”
“You can’t let this get you,” Jane said, and for the first time she sounded affected. Sad. I wondered if she’d have to reapply mascara after the call, then chastised myself. I was being uncharitable. Jane spent far too much on makeup to wear something that would run.
“Janie, believe me, if this was up for debate, I’d debate. The tumors are hitting my memory, my sight, my ability to breathe—or, will be. And… reading. I might not be able to read much longer.”
“Mom said surgery—”
“Less than ten percent, and it would likely mean a respirator, severe memory trouble, seizures, and almost certainly other major issues.”
I waited while her accountant mind added up those numbers. The silence stretched on.
I said, “Well, there’s my first positive. You’re speechless.”
“You’re such an asshole.”
“Runs in the family.” I looked down at my lap, and a sick coldness spread up and down my spine, despite the heat. There was… something… My hands shook. I looked around, but nothing was right. This apartment wasn’t right. I swallowed. This wasn’t where I lived.
Just like that it ended. I exhaled. Not anywhere near as bad as the first time, but it was still frightening.
“Janie,” I said, regaining composure. “I’m going to go.” I laughed. “I mean hang up, but I guess also the other way. I’m not going to be on a machine like dad.”
“You need to apologize to mom.”
“I’ll add it to my list.”
“Seriously, James. She’s really upset.”
“Aren’t we all?”
‘Nathan Burgoine grew up a reader and studied literature in university while making a living as a bookseller. His first published short story was “Heart” in the collection Fool for Love: New Gay Fiction. Since then, he has had dozens of short stories published, including This is How You Die (the second Machine of Death anthology).
His first novel, Light, is available from Bold Strokes Books and was a finalist for both the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT SF/Fantasy/Horror, and the BOTYA 2013 Gay & Lesbian (Adult Fiction) ForeWord award. His second novel, Triad Blood, is available now from Bold Strokes Books. His first novella-length work, “In Memoriam,” is included in the collection On the Run, by Wilde City Press, and available as a solo e-novella through Lethe Press.
A cat lover, ‘Nathan managed to fall in love and marry Daniel, who is a confirmed dog person. Their ongoing “cat or dog?” détente ended with the adoption of Coach, a six-year old husky. They live in Ottawa, Canada, where socialized health care and gay marriage have yet to cause the sky to cave in.
You can find ‘Nathan on the web at nathanburgoine.com.