Educator, writer and documentarian based out of central China. Catch the full story at www.findthefabulist.com.
The Queen of Night
Yes, yes, I remember the song, every beast that scavenges knows the song by heart: Scurry home, ere moonrise comes; The Queen of Night, her world becomes. Scurry home, to hole and haunt; Her knives can find you in the dark, Her knives will claim the flesh she wants.
The Ocean Unseen
The inhabitants of Detriti had always held a certain romantic fixation with the gloomy shell of dense ice that defined the upper limits of their world. Ahine was not unusual in this regard, except perhaps for the depths of her obsession. As a child, she joined with many others in their gleeful attempts to break through the barrier, digging at the dark surface with broken harpoon points, old hand drills and jagged shards of flint. It was a ritual of sorts, a tradition going back a hundred generations to the earliest Detritan explorers and mythmakers. There was something primeval about it, a connection to the planetary heritage that drew Ahine back even after she deduced that the effort was futile. And when she finally set aside those childish implements for good, she did not turn her thoughts back inward as most of the others did. Rather, her own fascination only became more intellectual.
There Aren't Any Quiet Places Anymore
Jimmy never agreed to swallow those pills that the quack gave him, but they put them into his body all the same, and then Jimmy wasn't Jimmy anymore. He was a thinker and they made him a talker, one of those types who speaks to fill space and hedge out all those nasty thoughts. There aren't any thinkers anymore, not really, not since we decided as a people that weird was a problem in need of solving. We need normal, and Jimmy wasn't normal, so they made him normal, like it or not. Now he fits better, and they're all happy, and Jimmy's happy, except that I get this hint of something in his eyes like he lost something.
A Dirge for the Prairie
Out on the high prairie on a brightly moonlit night, there's no sound more ominous than the sharp keen of the coyote's howl. The raspy shudder of a rattlesnake is a terrifying sound, but an experienced trailhand can push down his fears and deal with the danger - not so with the coyote song. Don't compare it to a wolf's howl, either. The song of the wolfpack is this strong and muscular wail, an intimidating sound that speaks to the beast's primitive need to stake out its territory. It is a fearsome sound, while the coyote song is a sound of sorrow. It is all dissonant and haunted and it calls out to the dead to rise and dance to its eerie tune, and if you’re in the wrong place when you hear it, that could be what comes next.
I Go Where the Universe Wants Me
The day I discovered that I could travel around without crossing through space, it was raining like the end of the world and I had a craving for ice cream. Is that weird? Most people want ice cream when it's hot, but I think it's best when the sky's coming down, and you're inside and can...that's not the important part, is it? Point is, I was sitting there quite peacefully, thinking that I could go for some ice cream but couldn't justify going outside, and then I was standing under the awning at the ice cream place down the street. Nothing really dramatic, no loud pop or flash of light, I was just there! So I walked inside for a swirl cone - is that weird, that I still got the ice cream? - and then when I walked out the door, I was back in my place, and the cone hadn't even dripped a bit.
The Path in the Dragon's Wake
Entry 1 Grandfather always told us that the people living in the mountains were closer to the dragon and that's why they were spared the horrors of the Burning. They never surrendered that sense of fate and awe and majesty that we shed when we reached the apex of civilization and strove, in our arrogance, to kill the dragon. We decided that we had no need of such a being and decreed that it had passed to its grave; then, on realizing our error, we tried to build a new dragon, recreating its powers without any understanding of its place in the natural order, and this mindless copy turned on us. That was what he said, and for years people brushed aside such sentiments as the muddled superstitions of the old, until that day when the elders began ordering the expeditions. My day is soon, which means my death is soon.
Woeful Gifts in Gilt Boxes
Wasn't like it was the first time someone tried to rob me. It's all part of that same package – when you live your life barreling down those Teyach highways, and you're known to give a wanderer a lift for the company, and you're also known to carry other people's precious belongings with you for a fee, then you can't bee too surprised when one of those wanderers waves a weapon in your face and tries to help himself to those precious things.
The Liar's Club
The guy said that he’d been held and interrogated in Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War – sure he’d been drinking, but enough to fabricate something like that? The whole reason you go to an expatriate bar on Christmas is to hear the bullshit. It’s less a matter of lies than degrees of truth, because everyone here is a storyteller, which is to say that they deal in truths that fall short of being factual. I bet he was there in Belarus on the Russian front in some capacity, maybe even a shady one. How he ended up in China after the fall was a mystery in itself.
Eight Indie Games That Don't Get Enough Love
I am, from top to bottom, an indie snob, the type that doesn't get excited about any game with mainstream popularity. It's been a boom time for independent developers in the world of electronic entertainment, but also a very challenging one. The biggest hurdle for indie devs is discovery - they depend on the press to get noticed at all. That's why it saddens me to see so many "best of" lists featuring the same mega-sellers over and over again. Seriously, Stardew Valley doesn't need the boost.
The Nostalgia Cabinet
Was that a Galaga cabinet? I did an earnest double take as I crossed in front of the pizza place. It was my usual joint, one I patronized at least once a week and passed by so frequently that it blurred neatly into its surroundings. Any other day, I'd only have acknowledged it as a minor landmark on my walk home, barely perceived over the pages of my latest library acquisition.