QSFer Emma K. Leadley has a new queer sci-fi cyberpunk book out (poly, bi): Telling the Bees.
In the near-future, two strangers interrupt Sarah’s idyllic rural existence, confronting her with knowledge of a life she has entirely forgotten, insisting she’s a missing part of their hivemind. Their appearance leads her to an abandoned beehive and the strange, transparent cube that lies within. The cube contains memories, that much is certain, but are they her memories?
When corporate soldiers invade her home, Sarah is forced to accept that something is going on and that these two strangers – Brea and Blake – know far more about it than she does. Her only option is to decode the cube, reclaim her memories, and rediscover a life she has tried so hard to avoid. But where exactly will that leave her, and why did she run from it in the first place?
Sarah clenched her fists, which hung at her sides. She shouldn’t have said yes to the stranger. And now she’d have to get rid of her, somehow. “So, you’re looking for a Becca who looks similar to me but isn’t me…?” she prompted.
“You are Becca, you just don’t know it. You left me and Blake even though you promised you wouldn’t.”
“So, who are you, then?”
“I’m… I’m Brea, your girlfriend.”
Sarah narrowed her eyes. “And Blake?”
“Your boyfriend.” The woman paused, bringing her hand to her mouth. “Oh. Oh god, you really don’t recall anything, do you?” The colour in her face drained. “We thought… well, we thought you’d disappeared physically, but we never ever considered you’d disappear mentally, too.”
Sarah stared. “Nothing you’ve just said makes any sense. What do you want from me?”
“We were all happy together until your research became too successful and, well…” Brea looked down at the floor, lost in thought. She snapped her head back to stare at Sarah. “Do you really not remember?” Her eyes flashed with anger.
Sarah reached for her phone in the back pocket of her jeans. It had been there just moments before she’d answered the door but wasn’t in its usual place now. She took a small step back towards the kitchen, mentally mapping out the knives, hot sauce, anything that could be a weapon at close range. No, I’m a farmer, not a fighter.
“My name is Sarah,” she said, jaw firm to hide her nerves. “And I live here, with my nice quiet life. I think you should go.” She walked forward resolutely, blocking Brea and forcing her towards the front door.
Emma K. Leadley (they/she) is a UK-based speculative fiction writer and queer, creative geek. They’ve had over 30 pieces of flash fiction and short stories published by independent presses, including Eerie River Publishing, Bag of Bones Press and Fox Spirit Books. Telling the Bees, from NewCon Press, is their first published novella and they have several more in the pipeline. Emma lives in Nottingham and regularly argues with their rescue greyhound for space on the sofa. They can be found online at autoerraticism.com.