QSFer Martha Allard has a new queer fantasy collection out: Psychic Surgery.
This is a collection of stories about being lost, and being found. They are myths retold through the lens of a new century. Here you’ll find a koi-girl and her grandfather, living in a stream in the mountains of Tennessee, waiting to become more.
There are a pair of bickering celestials in a dive bar that exists in any city in the world, at any given time. A guardian of the moon, out of a job, and trying to care for his daughter the best he can on the streets of Flint Michigan.
Angels, fairies, vampires, and junkies fill these pages, but most of all, magic.
Aside from my other duties, I enjoy the bartending gig. The evil people share with a bartender is better than what they tell a barber, hairdresser. Sometimes it’s better than what they tell a priest.
The drinks I serve deaden remorse, repentance, and they tell me, because they look into my eyes, the color of cigarette smoke–yeah, their real color–and know I understand.
I get a lot of “Frank, I swear to God, the little bitch was askin’ for it.” That kinda thing.
I always smile, because I do understand. It’s like a light to warm myself with. They all come to me and I love them for it.
All but Ithuriel, my brother and adversary. For as long as Dark’s has been open, Ithuriel has been here. Back when Heaven held the lease, he had my job. Then I had to hunt the pack of mortals, and other things that fill the place. The new management has reversed our positions.
But Ithuriel doesn’t hunt. He sits at the end of the bar, wrapped in a cloak of wings that do him no good and something else he has no name for. If he were mortal, or demon, he would call it misery.
Still, he is the one piece of purity in this place. His goodness is always a threat. There’s that danger it will spill out of him and raze Dark’s like a cleansing fire.
I watch him shake his last cigarette out to light. Crushing the cellophane and paper, he tosses it to the bar. The motion is graceful and intimate. I smile and tease a fresh pack from the carton I keep below and send it skittering across to him.
“Fuck.” Ithuriel breathes out the word like he’s savoring it, tasting it. As though it gives him the same pleasure nicotine once did. It won’t last, sensations fade so quickly here, but he doesn’t need me to tell him that.
A cold wind sweeps the bar and Ithuriel’s wings twitch. He knows something has entered Darks’ that he needs to attend to.
Martha J Allard is a writer of contemporary and dark fantasy. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines like “Talebones” and “Not One of Us.” Her story “Dust” won an honorable mention in “Year’s Best Science Fiction,” 19th edition, edited by Gardener Dozois and her story,”Phase” was nominated for a British Science Fiction Award.
She was the editor of “Nice Tattoo, the Magazine of Shadow Fiction,” and co-editor of the short story collection “Out Of The Green, Tales From Fairyland.” Her nonfiction has appeared in the anthologies “Lend the Eye a Terrible Aspect” and “Deaths Garden.” Her novel, “Black Light” is a tale of love, sacrifice and rock and roll in the 1980’s. Her short story collection, “Psychic Surgery” is about love and magic in unexpected places. Look for the “Black Light” prequel, “Your Cruel Fingers Will Close My Eyes,” soon. You can find her at marthajallard.com.