Entertainingly Evil

A MEASURE OF SORROW by Charity Tahmaseb

A wolf seduced her sister and a witch wrapped her bony fingers around her brother’s heart, so when a giant came for her, she told him she wouldn’t go.

He plucked a rose petal from the bushes that grew around his castle, and that was her bed. When the day grew hot, he offered dewy raspberries to quench her thirst. When she refused, a single tear fell from his eye and splashed at her feet. The salt on her lips tasted like sorrow. She was drenched, but unmoved.

Only when he left his almanac out—quite by accident—did she creep from the threshold of her cottage. It took all her strength to turn the pages, but turn them she did. The letters were as tall as she was, but read them, she did.

He caught her reading. If he wanted, he could have slammed the book shut, trapped her—or squashed her. He didn’t.

He looked to the book and then to her. “Will you come with me now?” he asked.

“I am not a pet.”

“Of course not.”

“Or a meal.”

He blew air through his lips, the force ruffling her hair. “You are much too small for that.”

“Then what am I?”

“I need someone to tend to the mice. They are ailing. And the butterflies. My fingers are too clumsy and I cannot mend the rips in their wings.”

“So you have work for me?”

“Good work, with good pay. You can keep your family well.”

“They would feed me to the wolves.”

“Then how am I any worse?”

How indeed? Did she trust this giant and his promises of mice and butterflies?

“Will you?” He extended a hand.

She stepped onto his palm and he her lifted higher and higher—even with his mouth, his nose, his eyes. Then he placed her gently on his shoulder.

“What made you change your mind?” he asked.

“The almanac. Will you read to me sometimes?”

“Would you like that?”

“Very much.”

“I shall read to you every night.”

Mice and butterflies filled her days. On the back of the Mouse King she rode, clutching the soft fur about his neck, racing through the castle to tend to mothers with large broods, crumbs and bits of cheese tucked in a canvas sack. With thread from a silkworm, she repaired butterfly wings, her stitches tiny and neat.

The giant peered at her handiwork through a glass that made his giant’s eye all that much larger. When he laughed his approval, the sound rolled through the countryside. And every night, when he reached for his almanac, she settled on his shoulder and marveled at how someone so colossal could speak words with so much tenderness.

Even when his bones grew old and all he could do was move from bed to chair, he read to her. When his eyesight grew dim, he recited the words from memory, so strong was his desire to keep his promise. Until, at last, the day came when the stories stopped.

A thousand butterflies fluttered into his room, and mice came from fields and forest alike, led by the Mouse King. They bore the giant outside, where they laid him to rest beneath the rose bushes.

It was there she learned that all her tears combined could not rival the sorrow contained in a single giant teardrop.

Charity Tahmaseb has slung corn on the cob for Green Giant and jumped out of airplanes (but not at the same time). She’s worn both Girl Scout and Army green. These days, she writes fiction (short and long) and works as a technical writer.

The story first appeared in Luna Station Quarterly Issue #16.


The Dirty Nest By Sarah Hendrix

I’ve seen that grate more than once. None of those experiences have been pleasant. My brother, Alex, showed me the first time.

“Where’d you get the coin for the bread?” he growled at me. His shadow loomed as he jerked the crust of stale bread out of my hand.

Even at eight I was smart enough not to say I’d stolen a copper from the rag lady who set up her stall near the market. She was careless and left her purse on the counter. I could have taken it all, but instead I filched enough for a stale crust of bread to fill my hungry belly.

Alex glared at me with anger and just a hint of fear in his eyes. He jerked me to my feet and hauled me into the maze of alleys that led deeper into the slum. We ended up behind the remains of an old church. Its skeletal remains still showed fire scars. He shoved me forward and we scrambled through the rubble to the back, where the shadows loomed darker and even the sunlight seemed weak. Alex spun me around before I got more than a look and then shoved me to my knees. In front of me was the grate.

It’s old and rusted, put here sometime when my grandmother was a child. It was a part of the city-wide effort to clean up the city and avoid the inevitable decline into decay. But that had been a long time ago. The city had since turned its head away from stopping the darkness that slowly crawled into the area.

“You don’t dirty your nest, boy,” he snarled as he shook the bread crust under my nose.  “You don’t steal from those around you.”

I expected a beating. It’s what he usually did when I’d done something wrong. I cringed as I waited for his fists to connect with my flesh. Instead he tossed the crust down and pulled at a corner of the grate. It shifted, and he nudged the crust over the edge into the dark hole.

“Watch,” Alex demanded as he grabbed a hand full of greasy hair at the back of my head.

The bread sat down at the bottom of the hole for only a few moments before shapes began to disengage from the shadows. In seconds a swirling mass swarmed as rats devoured the bread down to the last scrap.

“You know what happens to thieves that are caught around here right?” Alex whispered.

His palm came into my line of sight. It was missing a finger. He had told me it was an accident.

“At first it’s a finger,” he told me dispassionately. “Then it’s a hand. Then, it’s something else.”

From his tone, I knew I didn’t want to know what that something else was. “I won’t do it again,” I managed to stammer.

“You’re too smart for this,” Alex said as he let go of my hair. I heard him turn away and climb over the rubble.

I spent the next few days looking over my shoulder wondering when one of the slum bosses would send a goon to take me back to that shadowy corner and drop a finger down the grate. I shook at night with the memories of the rats swarming in that dark hole. It was months before one of them showed up, but he had a very different proposition.

It wasn’t long before I got apprenticed to an apothecary. I spent most of my days grinding, mixing and sorting components for medicines and magics. A few nights a week running errands for the bosses.  It was hard work but I did well. I had a small room all to myself above the shop, hot food, and a few coins in my pocket. For me, it was heaven.

Alex didn’t fare as well. He spent his days working for the bosses in the slums. He was the muscle on the streets, and everyone feared him. On occasion he showed up on my doorstep, broken, bloody, and exhausted. I spent my coin on medicines and bandages to patch him up. He’d disappear for weeks only to show up again. But then, one night he arrived missing his left hand. I didn’t ask. Even though I didn’t live in the slums anymore, I heard the rumors of his temper and drinking. I bandaged him up, let him rest and shared my meals until he was able to take care of himself again.

Alex declined quickly after that. The bosses didn’t trust him anymore. He ended up begging on the streets. It wasn’t long before he started pressuring me about stealing things from the apothecary. It was easy to tell him no at first, I didn’t handle any of the expensive components. But, as the months passed, I was given more responsibilities. My employer wasn’t fond of guests in my little room above the shop. Nor were my other employers happy with my brother’s actions. I was given a choice.

“You don’t steal from where you live,” I reminded my brother as he slumped next to the stone wall. The flask of wine I had given him rolled away from his limp fingers. His snort echoed in the tiny space.

I reached down and pulled at the grate. It was heavier than I thought and I barely managed to slide it a hand width. Pulling as hard as I could, I managed to slide it further, nearly enough for my needs.

The limp weight of his body was awkward, but I managed to slide Alex next to the gaping hole in the ground. Then I nudged him over the edge. I had no fear of him waking; the powders I mixed into his drink would keep him oblivious for several hours. As I began to shove the heavy grate back into place, I heard the eager squeals of the rats below.

Sarah is a queen of Chaos. During the day she holds down a day job where it feels like she is herding cats most of the time, works as a personal assistant for Jennifer Brozek and handles promotions for Apocalypse Ink Productions and Evil Girlfriend Media. Spare time finds her writing, beading, editing and knitting.  To complete her love of all things unorganized, she has 2 cats, 2 teenage boys and a fiancé. You can find her work in  Dagan Books, Lakeside Circus and  Abyss and Apex. You can follow her blog, Twitter or Facebook.


Disconnect By L.R. Bonehill

Emily looked up from the glowing screen of her phone just in time to register the dark shape coming towards her.  She had one foot stretching out into the grime-spattered street as the van grumbled past, its rusted wheels edging dangerously close to the kerb.  Another inch or so and the tyres would have grazed her black plimsoll.  Another two inches and she would have heard the crunch and crack of bones.

She stepped back, heart thrumming wildly in her chest.  The smells of the street market intensified in the rush of slipstream air as the van skimmed by.  The sickly-sweet tang of mouldering waste mingled with the citrus-smack of ripe fruit and the stench of fish laid out on melting ice.  Emily wrinkled her nose behind the face mask strung across her features.

The word ‘mouth’ was scrawled across the muslin in the same black kohl that underscored her eyes.  Yukio had told her it accentuated their allure and made her look dark and mysterious.  Smoky, he’d said in another text before posting a snapshot of her to his social wall.  Emily said he was full of shit, but wore it anyway, applying it with a smile each morning.

Exhaust fumes rose from the back of the van as it bumped down the street, its squat bulk swaying on the cobbles.  The rear doors were ajar, the handles laced together with rope.  A long tube of scaffolding poked out the gap like a dislodged antenna.  It edged further out as the van rumbled on, clanking and jarring against the doors.  Further still as the van turned sharply into an alley just ahead.  Far enough for it to smack down against the cobblestones and bounce and clatter behind the van, scoring a trail in its wake.

Emily walked on, head down, before pulling up short at the sound of a muffled yelp, followed by a dull thud from the alley.  She turned her head to see the rear wheels of the van rise slightly as they bumped over an obstacle in the street.  The length of scaffolding jittered out still more and eventually clattered to the ground and rolled to the gutter.

Rolled away from the little girl lying on the cobbles.  The little girl, bent and twisted.  The little girl, broken.

Emily ran, instinct urging her forward.  She knocked her hip on the corner of a stall where noodles boiled in pans slick with a patina of grease and frying meat sizzled and charred.

The alley walls seemed to narrow, hemming in around her, forming a focal point of the girl as everything else faded to a blur at the edges of her vision.  As she reached the slumped figure she stopped and took a hesitant step back.  The gut instinct that had propelled her forward left in an instant like something wrenched violently from her stomach.  A numbing chill that rendered her cold and empty.

She was distantly aware of the van door opening and footsteps edging towards her.

Ice prickled her skin as she looked down on the girl.  She couldn’t have been more than six or seven, dark hair pulled away from her face and tied with ribbon, small hands reaching out, fingers flexing.

There was a smear of oil on her face mask and the unmistakable pattern of a radiator grille, neat lines etched across the muslin like too many rows of teeth.

Emily leaned down, hand outstretched, stopping shy of those small, trembling fingers.

She didn’t want to touch the girl, she realised, not at all.  The thought chilled her further.

The only warmth was in her hands.  The phone: warm and safe and comforting.  She held it out and framed the girl in a neat composition.  There was a white flash in the alley as she took a photograph.

She looked up to see the van driver approaching, lifting his phone in acknowledgment.  It fitted the contours of his hand seamlessly.  He gave a nod of his head before her phone chimed with the jaunty sound of a friend request.

She looked him up and down.  Loose-limbed and lithe, thick veins and taut muscles, close-cropped hair that she could imagine bristling beneath her palm.  Fingers sculpted for the piano, but with the grime of manual labour beneath the nails.

“Like,” she thumbed.

She held the photograph out to him.  He appraised it indifferently, looked down at the girl and did the same.  A rush of wind scattered litter from the gutter as they stared in mutual silence.

He retrieved the length of scaffolding and held it like a spear, grinding it into the cobblestones as he bent down to the girl.  He dipped a finger in the ring of blood that crowned her head.  Poked her twisted leg with the end of the scaffolding and revealed the white glisten of fractured bone.

Smiled a perfect smile for his new friend Emily as she took another photograph.

The girl whimpered, breath hitching in her fragile chest.  Emily could see the shape of her lips moving beneath the face mask, but the words were too faint to hear.  She leaned closer, head tilted.

She heard it then: a low, forlorn whisper.  “Help,” the girl said, “friend?”

Emily looked back at silhouettes passing by the mouth of the alley.  Someone would claim the child, she reasoned, its mother would come sooner or later.  She stepped away, shutting out the animal-like whimper that came from the girl.  Snapped another photograph and studied the image of the broken child.

It felt easier that way; detached, filtered, unreal.  She imagined herself on a screen somewhere in blurred and shaky motion, someone filming her, filming the child.  Unreal, both of them.  Shadows of ghosts and nothing more.

She pinched, panned, flicked as the van driver sauntered away, the scaffolding slung across his shoulder.

“Friend?” she heard the girl say again from another world.

Emily shuddered.  She jabbed ‘dislike’ and moved on, head down, fingers tapping at the screen.

L.R. Bonehill is a writer from the dark heart of England. His short fiction has been published by Dark Fuse, W.W. Norton, Strange Publications, Tales to Terrify, and Pseudopod.  Vent, from Horror without Victims, received an honorable mention in Ellen Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year Volume 6.

This story was originally published by This is Horror.


Draft Letter on Research Potential Suggested by Recent Findings in Gnome Genomics, by Simsoran the Frequently Cited, Reviewed by Artamixiana the Cantankerous by Marissa Lingen

After the discovery of helical silicate genetic structure by Zarfnab the Agar-Stained, Tirinia the Crystallographine, and Chian-Bai the Magnificently Funded [citation needed —A the C], it seemed that the field of gnome genomics would be wide open.  Alas, unfamiliarity with these intriguing test subjects may have slowed work with them, when they are clearly ideal populations if a few small issues [insensitive re: gnome size? —A the C] are handled.  Here follows an outline of suggestions for some of the more tractable of these issues.

The short gnome generation was the first aspect of gnome biology that seemed ripe for a thorough study of the gnome genome.  Other humanoid species have generations nearly twice as long, leading to more difficulty sorting out correlation in phenotype.  However, this promising trait is accompanied by many others that take a more careful hand and population control.  While gnomes have a usefully open attitude toward their own familial relationship, revealing readily to researchers and any other questioners the parentage of a child regardless of the formality of its conception, this openness is of comparatively little use when one begins to consider the disproportionate role of mutation and epigenetic expression in gnome genetic behavior.  For substantially sylvanian humanoids such as elves, these factors can be minimized, but for gnomes they appear to be central.

Further, Gnomes appear to believe that Lamarckism is not nearly far enough, and anyone who does not go so far as to steal the actual traits they find appealing for their descendants is simply not trying.  One will frequently encounter a gnome who will proudly claim that his hands come from Master Gerfan the next workshop over, not through inheritance, but because his mother chopped them off and ran away with them, severing the child’s own hands in favor of the cleverer appendages.  The silicate helical structures appear to adjust to these amendments with equanimity one could hardly expect of mute molecules; the kin and affines are not nearly so sanguine, often chasing after Master Gerfan’s skilled hands with the assiduous attention one would expect to such an heirloom.  Who will be able to pass on the dexterous hands, the strong back, the astute nose, is a source of much dispute in gnome communities, and while this would seem to be a topic for gnome anthropologists, it has an immediate bearing on gnome genomics that cannot be underestimated.  This adjustment means that in a carefully controlled laboratory population, desired traits for study may be propagated almost immediately.

In fact, while we in the harder [not to say geologically proximate! ahem — A the C] sciences are not accustomed to allowing anthropologists and sociologists the first place, some sense of when and how it is not permitted to remove traits from a family member is called for if we are to have any hope of sorting out who has inherited what from whom, under which circumstances and at what age.  That being the case, a wise course of action might be first to fund intensive sociological/anthropological study of gnome communities and their mores, while the silico-biological sciences focus on a more tractable set of problems—say, for example, the kobold populations.  When a thorough mapping of kin-group taboos is available, further study might be more feasible to untangle.  When these problems are solved, the newly founded Gnomish Subjects Board should be entirely sufficient to ensure the fair treatment of these intriguing laboratory specimens.  [Have you ever met the kind of person who is willing to serve on one of those boards? —A the C]

In addition, this kind of attentiveness would prevent unfortunate incidents such as that of Min-Dihar the Incompatible, formerly known as Min-Dihar the Intense [only to himself, but let it pass—A the C], whose gnome study subjects felt that his ears would make a useful contribution to their genetic pool and who were most disconcerted to learn that they could do no such thing.  They did eventually take back the ears they had left him and were even more miffed to discover that he would not (in their view; could not, in his) take back his own.  Independent research in gnome communities is not, for reasons such as this, recommended.  To put it more plainly, among the gnomes, bring research partners and sleep in shifts.  Their lack of malice should not be taken as goodwill.  [This is also true of funding boards.—A the C]

For early research, perhaps a small and fairly isolated community of one or two kin-groups would be the most practicable.  While travel to Farthest Bathmaratar presents its own funding difficulties and is of course difficult to arrange, the gnome community there is extremely small and might just limit the types of problem described herein.  However, exposure to radiation may if anything be more intense, so researchers undertaking such a project should learn well from the example of Togar the Lead-Lined.

[I do not recommend this letter for publication.  It is wrong-headed from start to finish.  Some bright-eyed journeyman will see it as a promising project and go off to make their name.  Journeymen are always trying to organize and unionize these days, and if the gnomes get organized or unionized beyond their clans, their ability to collectively propagate the best of their traits will take over the rest of us in three of their short generations or less.  Keep the journeymen from the gnomes at all costs!!! —Artamixiana the Cantankerous]

Marissa Lingen is a science fiction and fantasy writer. She lives in the Minneapolis area with two large men and one small dog.


MAINTENANCE by Elaine Cunningham

Thunder rumbled as Eva pulled into the nursing home parking lot. A few fat drops splattered her windshield before the skies opened in earnest. She circled the lot in the pouring rain, but no one obligingly vacated a spot close to the entrance.  She sighed and yielded to the inevitable—all the work she’d put into maintaining her appearance, undone by a summer cloudburst.

And it was work—the stylists, the makeup, the surgeries. Eva didn’t begrudge any of it. “Look at her,” Brian used to tell anyone who’d listen. “Forty years a bride, my Eva, and she’s still the prettiest girl in the world. The prettiest girl in the world,” he would repeat proudly, this time just for her ears, “and she’s all mine.”

She stepped out into a puddle and ran for the entrance, shoulders hunched against the rain. The lobby door swung inward. She froze in the threshold, her senses momentarily overwhelmed by the scent of brewing coffee and expensive floral arrangement, the soundtrack of “easy classical” music playing in the background and the soft, conspiratorial laughter of the nurses who’d gathered by the coffee bar. One of them caught sight of her. The others noticed their colleague’s frozen stare and followed the line of her gaze. Silence fell over them.

Eva brushed past them and scrawled her current name in the guest register. She couldn’t bring herself to care about the sidelong glances and muttered speculation that had followed her since she’d stopped maintaining her façade of polished, late-midlife beauty. What did it matter? Brian no longer noticed how she looked. Some days he didn’t know her at all.

Still, she paused outside the door to his room to dash on a coat of lipstick, a bright coral shade that was years out of fashion. Brian had always liked the color.

His eyes lit up with recognition when she entered his room. Eva’s heart lifted. Today would be a good day. She sat on the edge of his bed and took his trembling, age-spotted hand in both of hers.

Brian patted her hands absently, his eyes proud as they took her in. “The prettiest girl in the world, and she’s….”

His old-man’s quaver faded into uncertainty. Slowly, his expression shifted from pleasure to puzzlement to something Eva knew all too well: awe, mingled with longing and touched by fear. It was the look men wore when they faced a reality their intellect had long refused to consider.

Brian’s hand gripped hers with forgotten strength. The monitors beside his bed began to beep and flare.

“What are you?”

“Yours,” she whispered. “I’m the prettiest girl in the world, and I’m all yours.”

A nurse wearing pink scrubs bustled in. Her eyes held things Eva had last seen on the faces of long-dead priests and vengeful peasants.

“I think he’s had enough for one day, Mrs. Hampton.”

Eva fled.

The rain had stopped, but its work was done. The world looked brighter, fresher. Younger. Summer rain had that effect.

She slid into the car and reached for the rear view mirror. When she saw what Brian had seen, she muttered curses in a language mankind had long forgotten.

Her ash-blond hair was longer, thicker, threaded through with bright new strands of gold. Smooth skin surrounded ageless eyes. Taut cheeks bloomed like spring roses. Her earrings were gone–two more diamonds cast aside by ears determined to undo the work of needle and scalpel. Eva smoothed her hair over the persistent, telltale points.

Brian would almost certainly forget what he had seen. Tomorrow he might not know her at all. That knowledge pained her, but she preferred it to the alternative: that Brian might remember he’d seen something impossible. He would regard that memory as yet another betrayal by a once-keen mind, another loss to age and Alzheimer’s.

No, forgetting was better. Perhaps it would be better if she were forgotten entirely–if all her kind were forgotten.

Even as the thought formed, Eva knew it was impossible. Aging and death were inexorable foes, but so was immortality.

She reached for her cell phone and keyed in a number from memory. When the receptionist answered, Eva gave her True Name.

A short silence followed. “We thought you’d moved on. You really should, you know.”

“I know,” Eva said. “And I will, soon. But I need a little more time.”

Pages rustled as the receptionist checked the schedule. Their kind had little fondness for computers. “You’ll need more than the usual maintenance, but I think the doctors can fit you in this afternoon. How much time should we plan to give you?”

Eva glanced at her too young, too beautiful reflection. ”Thirty years should do it.”

Elaine Cunningham is a New York Times bestselling author best known for her work in licensed settings such as Forgotten Realms, Star Wars, Everquest, and Pathfinder Tales. Her publications include 20 novels, over three dozen short stories, and a graphic novel. For more information, please visit www.elainecunningham.com.

This story was previously published on www.elainecunningham.com.


NOCTURNUS by Jess Landry

I am awake, yet barely.

My heavy eyes are open just enough to see blurred figures of monochrome horses galloping in circles around my bedroom, emanating softly from my guardian: my carousel of light. One after another, over and over, the horses follow the same path; every shape is a beacon of white light, washing the room in its amiable glow—a glow that casts away the menace of the shadows and whatever creature may lurk in them. I hear the soft, yet reassuring, sounds of my carousel’s music box, sweet tings and hushed dings, lightly coaxing me into the dream world with their melodies, making my heavy eyes heavier.

But somewhere beneath the harmony, I hear the harsh click of an old door slowly creaking open.

I rub my tired eyes and sit up in bed. Everything looks as it should: my carousel nightlight shines and spins in the far corner; my teddy bear is snug by my side; my closet door is wide open.

But Daddy closed the door before bed.

I strain my eyes to the darkness of the closet. A long, pale hand slowly snakes out of obscurity and grips the trim of the door.

I am not so tired anymore; my eyes are not so heavy. I grab my bear and fling myself down, bringing my blanket over my head to create a cocooned refuge underneath bulky flannel sheets. My breath is hot under the weight of the sheets and my little heart races. I cling to Bear.

Bulky steps drag across the carpet. They don’t seem to be coming my way.

Then, the reassuring sounds of my carousel stops. I hear the plug drop to the floor.

I grip Bear tight as the heavy steps creep my way. I am scared, but my childish curiosity overpowers my emotions. I make a hole small enough for one eye to peek through and make Bear look first.

Nothing happens.

I take my time.

I can only see the floor, but the room is dark; barely illuminated by the faint light of the moon desperately trying to pierce my window’s blinds. The horses have stopped their roundabout.

Feet suddenly step into view.

My little eyes widen.

White, nearly translucent feet, not of a man, but of a monster. White like the bed-sheet ghost I cut holes in for Halloween and Mommy got mad at me.

I can’t move, I can only stare and clutch onto Bear and the blankets. The monster doesn’t move, either. It just stands there with thin, boney feet.

Deep silence sweeps the room, pounding in my ears, squeezing against my skull.

Just as I exhale as softly as I can, the blankets are ripped out of my terrified hands.


I wake up. A dream of my childhood; memories of that first night I cannot seem to forget. I sigh and sit up, grabbing the tall glass of water off my nightstand.

The room is dark with only the faint glow of moonlight seeping in through the window blinds.

The room is empty.

A part of me, my lost childhood, still yearns for my carousel of light, for the blurred shapes of horses galloping endlessly around my room; for the warm white light it radiated, keeping the shadows at bay for as long as it could; and for its hushed melodies. Anything to help me sleep better at night.

Then, from the darkest corner, my closet door slowly creaks open.

Frantically, I throw myself down and bring my blanket over my head. I have no teddy bear to grip tonight or any other night. Bear now sleeps with my daughter in the room down the hall.

Bulky steps pound against the carpet.

There is nothing to unplug this time, so they come straight my way.

I make a small hole and peek from under the security of my blanket; my childish curiosity never left me.

Thin, boney feet come into view.

Silence sweeps the room, but the air above me is unsettled.

It’s hovering over me.

It’s breathing in my ear.

I exhale as quietly as I can. The blankets are ripped out of my hands.

Our eyes lock; green eyes on black.

I smile. I can’t tell if he’s smiling, he has no discernible features safe his eyes—jawbreaker black holes flushed against translucent skin. He hovers over me, his branch-like fingers resting on either side of me, all highlighted in the faint glow of the autumn moon.

After all these years of playing his game, this version of hide-and-seek, I have convinced myself it’s his favourite.

I have convinced myself he smiles.

Our steady gaze remains for a moment more, then my monster lumbers back to his closet and closes the door behind him. I pull my sheets back up in an attempt to feel warmth again; those last bitter nights of autumn always send a chill through the house.

I lie awake for a moment more, reminiscing on that first night. I thought my carousel nightlight was my saviour, my knight with a music box.

He doesn’t like the light, but my daughter does. I can hear the sweet and hushed sounds of the carousel carelessly spilling out from her bedroom and faintly into mine.

Then, somewhere beneath the distant harmony, I hear the click of an old door slowly creaking open from inside her room.

Jess Landry is a graphic designer by day and a writer by night. A lover of all things spooky, you can usually find her scribbling down story ideas or watching obscure horror movies. She currently resides in the icy wastelands of Winnipeg, Manitoba with her husband and two cats.


Evil Girlfriend Media Closed to Novel Submissions Until January 2016

If you love dark fantasy, science fiction and horror, you might find something to fall in love with here at Evil Girlfriend Media. Go check out our book page for more information on what we publish.

If you are shopping around a manuscript at this time, unfortunately EGM will be closed to ALL MANUSCRIPT SUBMISSIONS until January of 2016. This means we will not accept any unsolicited novel, novella or novelette works at this time. No exceptions. Any submissions received will be deleted unread.

Although we are closed to manuscript submissions, Evil Girlfriend Media is still accepting flash fiction for the EGM Shorts. Please read the latest “From the Editor’s Lair,” to see what our editor, Jennifer Brozek, would like to see more of.

Good luck and we hope to see your finished manuscript in January.


From the Editor’s Lair by Jennifer Brozek

I love you guys. I’ve gotten such good stuff in the slush pile. I hope you all are enjoying EGM.Shorts as much as I am.

Thoughts about the slush pile:
1. Please do not send me stories about “gypsies.” If you mean the Romani, or Travelers, please use that term.

2. I would love to see more reprints. I have almost none in my queue and half of what I buy is reprints. This means you have an excellent shot at making the sale. In particular, I’d like to see reprints from 2014 or before. I won’t accept reprints from 2015.

3. I still would love to see more science fiction and supernatural horror. (Though, remember no stories where women are brutalized, then they turn into a variety of monsters, then they kill their abuser. I don’t like them.)

4. I’m putting the minimum word count at 500. I really want to see stuff closer to 1000 words.

Here is what we have for July. I’m particularly pleased to personally know some of these authors and to have been able to accept their stories. This month also includes the longest title I’ve ever seen in a flash fiction piece.

“Nocturnus” by Jess Landry
“Maintenance” by Elaine Cunningham
“Draft Letter on Research Potential Suggested by Recent Findings in Gnome Genomics, by Simsoran the Frequently Cited, Reviewed by Artamixiana the Cantankerous” by Marissa Lingen
“Disconnect” by L.R. Bonehill
“The Dirty Nest” by Sarah Hendrix
“A Measure of Sorrow” by Charity Tahmaseb
“Boundless Restraint” by Jeremiah Murphy
“Elizabeth’s Pirate Army” by Caroline M. Yoachim

You can read all of our previous flash fiction at the EGM.Shorts Archive page.


EGM Shorts Begin


14348_10205360261945867_6771847705215246005_nWelcome to EGM Shorts, our new flash fiction feature. I’m Jennifer. I’m the Editor-in-Chief of this little endeavor. EGM Shorts is an ongoing, open market for genre fiction. Read the call for submissions if you are interested. I do want to note that all horror stories must have a speculative element to them.

The general plan is to have a new or reprint piece of flash twice a week. However, as schedules change, this may change. We’ll see. I already have an archive page set up. This is where you can go if you miss the blog posting.

For the month of April, we have a series of shorts that made me smile. And, really, that’s all I’m asking for.

“Mistakes Were Made” by Premee Mohammed
“In the Beginning” by Alisha A. Knaff
“Aunt Merkel” (Reprint) by Deborah Walker
“The Invaders” by Eric Guignard
“The Two Pickpockets” (Reprint) by M. Todd Gallowglas

See you next time around.



Jennifer Brozek is a Hugo Award-nominated editor and an award winning author. When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW. Read more about her at her blog or follow her on Twitter at @JenniferBrozek


2015 Publication Schedule

Evil Girlfriend Media is excited to announce our 2015 publication schedule. In the next couple of months, we will bring you interviews with authors, excerpts, and opportunities to obtain advanced copies of books.


Apocalypse Girl Dreaming by Jennifer Brozek




The Archivist by Tom D Wright


Rachel by Dobromir Harrison



Murder Girls by Christine Morgan

(Cover Coming Soon)


Naughty or Nice: A Christmas Anthology edited by Jennifer Brozek with Jon Del Arroz

(Cover Coming Soon)


There Are No Heroes In This Book by Timothy W. Long

(Cover Coming Soon)




Coming January 2015 Jennifer Brozek’s Apocalypse Girl Dreaming



Evil Girlfriend Media is pleased to release the cover of Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, a short story collection, by Jennifer Brozek. This collection features dark speculative fiction ranging from tie-in stories in the Valdemar and Elemental Masters worlds, weird west horror to satirical science fiction to urban fantasy with a horrific bent. Cover art by Fernando Cortes with graphic design by Matt Youngmark.

Apocalypse Girl Dreaming is out January 16, 2015 in e-book and paperback.




An Interview with Seanan McGuire

By Jen West 




Seanan McGuire’s “The Lambs” kicks off the Bless Your Mechanical Heart anthology from Evil Girlfriend Media with a near-future story of covert surveillance used as a tool for deterring school bullying. Beven is a “lamb”, a robot disguised as a human teenager who has been embedded within the local school system since first grade. Designed to be an easy target for intimidation and harassment, she interacts with her fellow students as if she were human, all the while monitoring and recording any abusive behavior for public playback at graduation. But when a former friend falls in with a group of bullies, her desire to protect her friend conflicts with her programming to be a snitch.

Seanan McGuire’s prolific works include two popular urban fantasy series: October Daye series and Incryptid series, both from DAW. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of anthologies, magazines and websites. She also writes horror as Mira Grant, and her novel Blackout earned a 2013 Hugo nomination.

Seanan is no stranger to the Hugo ballot or breaking records. In 2012, she became the first woman to have her name listed 4 times on the same Hugo Ballot. Then in 2013, she became the first writer, male or female, to have her name listed 5 times on the same Hugo ballot. In 2013, she and her colleagues at SF Squeecast took home the Hugo for Best Fancast.

Writing is not Seanan’s only tool in her bag of tricks. She is also an avid cartoonist and a seasoned filker having released several albums of original music since 2009.

J: In “The Lambs,” you address a growing public concern around school bullying. How big a problem do you think school bullying is today?

S: I think it’s a huge problem. When I was in school, the bullies couldn’t follow you home without revealing themselves to your parents. Now, thanks to social media and cellphones, there’s no getting away. It’s terrifying. I’m not surprised that we’ve seen a rise in teen and preteen suicides; I’m surprised it hasn’t been more extreme.

J: Did you draw on any of your own personal experiences from high school to write this? What was high school like for you?

S: High school was fine. Middle school was where the monsters were.

J: There was a line in “The Lambs” that jumped out at me: “Pretty girls were more likely to inspire outright rage when they hovered at the bottom of the pack, while girls who were considered unattractive inspired pity and disgust, but would eventually be allowed to fade into the background.” Do you think that is a universal truth in high schools? And where do you think teenagers learn this kind of pack behavior?

S: I don’t think there’s any one “universal truth” to bullying. If there were, there would be one right way to end it, and we would live in a kinder world now. I do think that we learn very quickly that the world is supposed to be easier for pretty people, and that this can inspire negative responses when we see that this truth is being denied. Pack mentality is a terrifying thing.

J: The “lambs” are inserted into schools like spies, which evokes a feeling of “Big Brother” is watching them. Do you think a bullying surveillance system is the answer to today’s real life bullying problem?

S: I don’t think we have the ability to set up this sort of passively positive monitoring, no. It would be the baby NSA, and kids would wind up being used to report on their parents. That’s the nice thing about fiction: I only have to focus on what I want to.

J: Why did you choose to have the robots disclose the bullying at graduation rather than immediately after it happened?

S: Bullies have always balanced action with risk. “I can attack that kid, but maybe she’ll tell.” By making bullying a big reveal at graduation, from what is seen as an unassailable source, they know that they can’t hide their actions from either their parents or authority figures. That’s much scarier than one detention they can forget about in a week.

J: In 2012, you were the first woman to appear on the Hugo Ballot four times. In 2013, you were the first person, regardless of gender, to appear on the Hugo Ballot FIVE times. Can you describe what that feels like from both the perspective of a writer and also as a woman in a generally male-dominated genre?

S: It feels like an inbox full of death and rape threats. It feels like people accusing me of excessive self-promotion while ignoring my male peers who did three times as much self-promoting. It feels like crying myself to sleep every night over something that should have been a joy and a delight. So yeah, it’s great.

J: That sounds very disheartening when you’ve put so much effort into your work. It almost sounds like being bullied. What keeps you writing and publishing amidst all the negativity?

S: I feel like we throw the word “bully” around so much these days that it’s losing all meaning. I do think there’s a lot of resistance to women breaking into certain areas, and that the backlash we face is much greater than it ought to be. But I am a grown woman who can step away from her computer. I have felt attacked. I have felt singled out. I have not been bullied. As for why I keep going, why would I start letting people tell me how to live my life now? I never let them before.

J: Do you have any advice to give other women trying to break into writing science fiction and fantasy writing?

S: Be kind. We are all in this together, and it’s not a zero-sum game. Make friends, take advice, and stand up for other women; you’re going to want them to stand up for you. Don’t let anyone walk all over you, but don’t attack for the sake of attacking, either.

J: What projects do you have in the hopper that we can look forward to?

S: The next October Daye book will be out in September; Sparrow Hill Road is coming out this May; and Symbiont comes out in November, under the Mira Grant byline.

J: Thank you for spending some time with us.






Seanan McGuire writes a lot of things, sometimes under the name “Mira Grant,” but mostly as herself. She does not sleep very much. In high school, she was once pushed into moving traffic by some kids who thought it was funny. This, among other things, inspired her story for this book. Seanan likes cats and Diet Dr Pepper and corn mazes, not in that order. Learn more about Seanan here: http://www.seananmcguire.com/.


photo (1)




Jen is a freelance writer in constant search for the next interesting character or story. Her interviews have appeared in such venues as Tor.com, Shimmer, Internet Review of Science Fiction, The Nebula Awards web site and Fairwood Press’s interview collection, Human Visions. She currently resides with her brilliant writer husband, Ken Scholes; the Wonder Twins, Lizzy and Rachel; two pudgy cats, and an intellectually ambiguous dog in St. Helens, OR.




Mr. Roboto, Or: How Peter Clines Learned to Stop

Worrying and Keep Loving Robots


gammaI grew up with robots.  They surrounded me.  In movies and television shows, on cartoons, in books.  I had robot toys and models.  Androids, astromechs, Orbots, Shogun Warriors.  I was one of those kids who couldn’t wait to be an adult, because all the available literature (comics) told me by then I’d be able to have a robot best friend.  At the very least, a robot dog.  I also had rather extensive plans to build giant robots for the Army.  Which I would pilot, of course.

My childhood, it turns out, was a complete lie.

But I never did get past my fascination with robots.  It doesn’t matter if they’re  clockwork men, android cops, or just snap-together Gundam models.  Robots will always get my attention.

One of my favorite real-life historical robots was the Mechanical Turk.  I first discovered it sometime around third or fourth grade, and it reinforced the belief that a robot best friend had to be just around the corner.  It was a late 18th century automaton that could play chess at master levels, and it played games against Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin.  Decades letter it was revealed to be a fraud, but the idea of a chess-playing robot stuck with me.  Some people imagine dogs playing poker.  I imagine robots playing chess.

I also always liked “the parlor scene,” that bit in many turn of the century stories where the characters would gather around a fire, have drinks, and talk.  Perhaps some of them would play cards or checkers.  The Time Machine by H.G. Wells opens this way, with the characters discussing time travel with their host after dinner.

And at some point—I’m not even really sure when—the image in my mind became Victorian robots in smoking jackets and vests, some with bow ties while others wore ascots. Maybe one with a pipe and another with a glass of some robot-beneficial liquid.  And, naturally, they played chess.

So when Evil Girlfriend asked me about a robot anthology, well… it wasn’t hard to come up with something.




peterclinesPeter Clines is the author of the Ex-Heroes series and the acclaimed, genre-blending -14-. He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine and made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper. His first screenplay got him an open door to pitch stories at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Voyager. He is the writer of countless film articles, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, and the poorly-named website Writer on Writing.

He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California, where he has been known to relax by doing basic maintenance on robot vacuums. So take that, Mrs. Goodell—he did become a robot repairman. “The Apocrypha of Gamma-202” is his homage to classic ‘50s sci-fi with a steampunk twist. He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California.


GUEST POST: Lillian Cohen-Moore

We Get By With A Little Help From Our Friends

(Katie’s Impromptu Title For This Guest Post)



Defining personhood, the concept of when we legally and biologically recognize the sentience and autonomy of another being, is one of those concepts I can’t set down. In The Imperial Companion, it’s one of the essential challenges of the story. Two humans from different worlds are helping an android, only one of which accepts androids as equal to humanity. I had a lot of other stuff on my mind while I was writing the story; faery tales, Western colonialism, recent advancements in emotions of artificial intelligences.

The android Imperial Companion Aleksei is seen by his designers as equal to any human adviser of the man he called his dearest friend. After a mysterious attack on the man he has faithfully served, the two are separated. He has to function on a world full of human/android tension to find him. Though his problems are about species, technology, and faith, I think Aleksei’s problems are as human as our own. We all struggle to be recognized as people; intelligent, and possessed of autonomy. Moving heaven and earth to help our loved ones is something we want to do to keep them safe, because the alternatives are unimaginable.

And, like Aleksei, we often need help from those around us to navigate an increasingly complex world.







Lillian Cohen-Moore is an award winning editor, and devotes her writing to fiction, journalism and roleplaying games. Influenced by the work of Jewish authors and horror movies, she draws on bubbe meises (grandmother’s tales) and horror classics for inspiration. The Imperial Companion came from a confluence of topics; current research related to the emotional range of artificial intelligence, colonialism in Western history, and dangerous faery tale journeys. 



Mechanicals and Wizards and Gypsies,

Oh My,

Or Round-Up at the Robot Rodeo


Image copyright Allen Douglas.
Used with permission of the artist.


“Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise” was one of those accidents of story that I fell into and had no idea how important it was.  In 2005, just after learning I’d won the Writers of the Future contest, I saw that a small press ‘zine was calling for stories for a special “mechanical oddity” issue.  Back in those days, I was dashing off stories left and right with little thought other than to land yet another tale in the boat and then find it a home out in the world.  I had been playing with a bit of lyric:  “Rudolfo rode to Glimmerglam in the Age of Laughing Madness” and it was laying around the factory floor when Leroy, my redneck muse, started twisting it up with whatever else he could find to fashion a mechanical oddity story.  The first line showed up fast and easy:  Rudolfo’s Gypsy Scouts found the metal man sobbing in an impact crater deep in the roiling smoke and glowing ruins of Windwir.

From there, the story took off and wrote itself over several lunch breaks spent nibbling tuna fish sandwiches at the Big Town Hero near my day-job office in downtown Portland, Oregon.  Robots.  An ancient wizard.  A dashing Gypsy king and his Wandering Army.  A fallen city.  When I finished “Of Metal Men…”, I learned that the magazine calling for those mechanical oddity stories had received their fill early and closed to submissions.  But that was okay, I told myself, because it really wasn’t that great of a tale.  It felt a little different and the world and characters seemed a little different from my norm.  But all in all, “Of Metal Men…” just slid off my to-do list and into my done pile with little fanfare and no expectations for it.  It found its way out the door in search of a market and was largely forgotten about until the next fall when Doug Cohen pulled it out of the Realms of Fantasy slush pile, passed it along to Shawna McCarthy, and turned it my first pro-level sale after Writers of the Future.  Still, until Allen Douglas hit me in the head with his art for the story, I had no clue of the story’s importance.

Writers are weird.  Ask any of us.  I’d gotten in the habit of occasionally Googling the titles of my short stories.  Sometimes it led to nice reviews I’d not seen while Googling my name.  Yes.  Weird.  Fortunately, you run out of time for that kind of stuff later.  Mostly.  But anyway.  On a lark, for no good reason at all, in the deep of winter with the story not coming out until spring at the soonest, I plugged in the title of my story while sitting in my cubicle at work.

 This is what came up.

If you know me at all, you can guess what I did.  Yep.  I cried.  Right there in my cubicle.

Art has always moved me, even before my stories started connecting up with artists.  It was especially surreal and powerful to see what an artist did with my words and I have several examples here in my house now.  What Allen Douglas did changed my life.  Because when I saw that image of Isaak, kneeling in the crater, weeping as the smoke poured off his back, I knew there was much, much more to that metal man’s tale.  My short story turned into…wait for it…four short stories!

I knew it in an instant.

Four interconnected stories about this survivor of Windwir and the impact of his programming upon Rudolfo’s world.  Of course, from there – a story too long to tell here – it evolved slowly into my series, The Psalms of Isaak.  The first two short stories comprised the beginning and end of the first volume, Lamentation.  And then the third and fourth stories (unwritten) became anchoring ideas in the second and fourth volumes.  The rest just kind of grew to fit the size of story bucket Leroy had in mind.  As I write this post, I’m now within a few months of finishing the final volume after a nine year journey with Isaak, Rudolfo and the Gang.  That first novel led to an agent and a five book contract with Tor within thirteen months of sitting down to write it.  And it led to the books coming out here and overseas to a lot of nice words and even a few awards.  From short story to writing career in thirty seconds, so to speak.

Part of the series’ success – and the story’s success, I think – is Isaak himself.  I’m often told by fans that he is their favorite character.  He’s also a character whose point-of-view we never experience.  We see him only through the eyes of the humans he’s met along the way.  I’ve been told how clever I was to honor Dr. Asimov with the name of my robot and maybe Leroy really was being clever.  I actually chose the name because it means ‘laughter’ (approximately) and I thought a weeping robot named laughter was a nice twist.  Leroy, obviously, is vastly more clever than me.

And Isaak weeps for what he’s done.  A mechanical who had no ambition for becoming human, he’s thrust into an innocent, awkward humanity from his first entrance onto the page and becomes a central figure over the course of five books.  At the time, I thought nothing of it.  Now, I can see clearly the homage I was paying to all of the metal men who’d influenced me.  Baum’s Tin Woodman grabbed me first, followed closely by Lester Del Rey’s Max in Runaway Robot,  C3PO (Star Wars), and Twiki (Buck Rogers)  showed up soon after.  There were more over the course of decades of science fiction but those are the first that leap to mind.  They were the ones I laid awake at night wishing I could build and then take to school with me.

So when Katie Cord decided she also wanted to pay homage to all the robots she’s loved and turned Jennifer Brozek loose to round up stories for Evil Girlfriend Media’s Bless Your Mechanical Heart,  I was thrilled to be invited to that rodeo.  I hope you’ll pick up your copy today and see what they’ve put together for you!





Ken “Trailer Boy” Scholes is the critically acclaimed author of four novels and over forty short stories. His series, The Psalm of Isaak, is being published both at home and abroad to award nominations and rave reviews. Publisher’s Weekly hails the series as a “towering storytelling tour de force.”

He is a winner of the ALA’s RUSA Reading List award for best fantasy novel, France’s Prix Imaginales for best foreign novel, and the Writers of the Future contest.

Ken is a native of the Pacific Northwest and makes his home in Saint Helens, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and twin daughters. You can learn more about Ken by visiting www.kenscholes.com.





Artist Larry Dixon tells us about his design for BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART:

I used the scale of the heart compared to the droid to represent a problem that was too big to fix.  The heart’s interior and the frayed circuitry are extremely delicate, and bright and beautiful, and a tangle.  The heart’s centerline is a visual play on the classic “broken heart” design of a jagged break, except of course, this bifurcation is part of that heart’s intended styling, a statement that hearts are in fact designed to appear broken, and be deeply accessible, as part of their function.

The droid’s lighting is red while the heart is blue, indicating incompatibility.  The droid’s 1950s-styled chromework has a patina like untended trim on a classic car, and is dented up, to represent that the droid’s been through a lot, but aside from that there’s no visible damage. Love’s like that.  I also went with the droid’s “skin” as black silicone rubber because, call me crazy, but I’d want my droids to be waterproofed.

The background has a zoom blur, a lot like a camera pull, to draw the eye more to the figure’s head.  There’s also a shadowy image of a ruined building behind it to give the impression that something’s gone badly, shown corner-on to bring to mind a cathedral by its symmetry.  It’s a strong vertical, to push the eye down (from where a title block will no doubt be) to an unseen, but felt, horizon line that grounds it. Lastly, though, the whole thing is engulfed from the sides by utter blackness, not to show dread or evil, but rather, a lack of information while the droid ponders the heart.

Find out more about Larry Dixon at  http://www.gryphonking.com/.


We are excited to release this anthology mid-April. If you are in the Seattle, WA area, plan to attend our book release party at NORWESCON 37.


Best Always,





Don’t make us eat your heart out, get over to the event page!



Yeah, it is a day for many that represents love, candy, flowers, and if you’re lucky… some really other great stuff. But for some of us, it represents other things: zombies, vampires, psychological terror, and really great stories. So, whether you’re looking for an inexpensive gift for your significant other, or something to distract yourself from all those people celebrating a holiday you could care less about. Come on over to the Facebook event, EAT YOUR HEART OUT: AN AUTHOR EXTRAVAGANZA. It is a great place to talk with some of the hottest indie authors and publishers (including us).





Rachel Aukes-100 Days in Deadland
A. Carina Barry-The Under-Circus and Other Tales
Owen Baillie-Aftermath (Invasion of the Dead, Book 1)
Jake Bible: Z-Burbia
Tonia Brown-Devouring Milo
Jason Christie-Zombie Killa
Joseph A. Coley-Six Feet From Hell: Crisis
Eli Constant-Dead Trees
Ricky Cooper-Designated Infected
Evil Girlfriend Media-Stamps, Vamps & Tramps
Craig DiLouie-The Retreat, Episode #1: Pandemic
Jackie Druga-Zombie Battle: Complete (5 books)
Dan Eagles-The Last Venture Capitalist
Kurt Fawver-Forever, In Pieces
Sarah Lyons Fleming-Until the End of the World
Rhiannon Frater-The Untold Tales Omnibus: Zombie Stories From the As The World Dies Universe (3 volumes)
Michael S Gardner-Downfall
Josh Hilden-The Shores of the Dead Book 1: The Rising
Michelle Kilmer-When the Dead & The Spread (2 books)
Eloise J. Knapp-Pulse
Sb Knight-Game of Straws, Game of Straws Origins, and Volume One of the Saga of Straws (trilogy)
Timothy Long-At the Behest of the Dead
Keith Milstead-Fish To Die For
Ripley Patton-Ghost Hold
Claire C. Riley-Odium: The Dead Saga
Damir Salkovic-The Black Ziggurat Double Feature
Randy Spears-Forget the Alamo: A Zombie Novella
Rachel Tsoumbakos-Emeline and the Mutants
Jack Wallen-I Zombie I
Darren Wearmouth-First Activation





Click here for some vampire goodness!

On the day of lovers and lonely hearts, we will be releasing our third Three Little Words anthology. It is a sweet, sweet gift to ourselves. The tone of this antho, like the other two, not only reflects the theme but also the editor. Shannon Page and Monique Snyman both came to their anthologies with a different world view which included their location, personal belief system, and the type of story they enjoy. Shannon Robinson is no different. Shannon R. is born out of a literary world that enjoys telling, play on words, long paragraphs, and beautiful metaphors. We at EGM look at our anthos and think, “Wow”.  We have stories from all over the world in these books. In our third anthology, it is an honor and privilege to publish stories by best-selling authors, award winners, and a couple newcomers that are on the rise. We hope that you purchase this anthology, leave us a review, and give us a bloody good Valentine’s Day.

What a talented lineup!

What a talented lineup!

Don’t get your heart ripped out.

Best Always,





In the summer of 2012, I attended the Cascade Writer’s Workshop in Vancouver, WA. It is a Milford Style Workshop geared mostly towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror writers. In my group, a tall guy who dressed in a black suit wrote the most amazing old-school science fiction story. I sort of gushed over it. In the end, I felt myself saying, Bless your mechanical heart, regarding the main character. The story had all of the things I love: deep character, ethical and moral dilemmas, and the feel of a time in science fiction from before I was born.

Forward to 2013, I’m at one of the biggest comic book conventions in the world with a fellow writer. I’d recently met him at another con (he’s sort of weird, likes zombies and superhero stuff, what a concept).  He loves Gundam robots and to see his face light up as we passed display after display was such a treat.

A week later, I met Jennifer Brozek, an editor I’d followed on Facebook for years. She seemed sharp, liked the same things as me, and then the idea hit me. Let’s make an anthology of robot stories together and use a phrase ingrained in the Wernicke’s area of every southern woman’s brain, “Bless your heart”.

According to the urban dictionary, the phrase “Bless your heart” can mean anything from calling someone an idiot without being harsh, to a polite way to tell someone to go to hell, or even for them to f— off.  For me, this held true as I grew up as a child. As the nerdy overweight girl who wore thick glasses and read way too many books, “Bless your heart” was said constantly to me. I use it now for all of the above and even to tell people how sorry I am about a situation they may be going through without making them feel uncomfortable.

Regardless, Bless Your Mechanical Heart is what happens when an excellent editor and a southern gal who loves classic science fiction get together.  Jennifer and I love this concept and are excited to have the opportunity to publish the authors involved. We have pulled together a wide range of voices from urban fantasy authors, game writers, and pop culture sensations.  We hope you enjoy what we’ve cooked up.



 Edited and Introduction by

Jennifer Brozek

by Seanan McGuire

by Fiona Patton

by Lucy A. Snyder

by Jean Rabe

by M. Todd Gallowglas

by Mae Empson

by Sarah Hans

by Dylan Birtolo

by Lillian Cohen-Moore

by Christopher Kellen

by Jason Sanford

by Kerrie Hughes

by Minerva Zimmerman

by Mark Andrew Edwards

by Ken Scholes

by Jody Lynn Nye

by Peter Clines



Keep watching for the full cover by Larry Dixon.


Year Two Begins

Happy Anniversary

Today is our one year anniversary of opening and we are so proud to have published three books. The talent we’ve brought in includes: Clarion graduates, Writers of the Future winners, Nebula nominees and winners, and rising stars in both traditional and indie publishing.  Our editors, Shannon Robinson, Shannon Page, and Monique Snyman worked diligently with our authors to provide work that we could all be proud of. This is one of our major goals in 2014, continue to provide readers with high quality entertaining books


So, to start the new year out right, here is a little bit of what we have coming up. Some of the information is vague for a reason, but we are excited to share.


February 14th, we’ll release our third THREE LITTLE WORDS anthology, STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS at the event EAT YOUR HEART OUT: An Author Extravangza.



Poster by Eloise Knapp


If you haven’t seen the Table of Contents for STAMPS, VAMPS & TRAMPS on our social media, we are very pleased with this collaboration of talent. We plan to release the cover within the next two weeks and a couple of advanced e-books for review. If you’re interested in reviewing, contact us at info@evilgirlfriendmedia.com.



A Three Little Words Anthology

by Shannon Robinson

By Kella Campbell

By Lily Hoang 

By Cat Rambo

By Paul Witcover

By Adam Callaway

By Nancy Kilpatrick 

By Barbara Barnett

By Carrie Laben

By Gemma Files

By Mary Turzillo 

By Megan Beals

By Dan Parseliti

By Christine Morgan 

By Sandra Kasturi 

By Rachel Caine

By Joshua Gage

We hope that you’ll join the event on February 14th and purchase this anthology packed with ink, fangs, and wanderers.

In other news, Jennifer Brozek’s anthology, BLESS YOUR MECHANICAL HEART is on course to be released mid-April and we hope to have the table of contents by February. This anthology was not open to unsolicited submissions.


Katie has also made an executive decision to only produce one THREE LITTLE WORDS anthology each fall. As much as she loves anthologies and highlighting new talent, we want to focus on e-novellas and full length manuscripts for fans.


We will open again to submissions on January 7, 2014.  Please keep in mind, we have a 90-120 day turn around on submissions.




A Christmas Gift from Evil Girlfriend Media and Ken Scholes

ken story

What Child is This I Ask the Midnight Clear


Ken Scholes


It could have been snow, gently drifting down.  It could have been virgin white and cold as cold.  But it wasn’t.

It was ash and the night wind was hot upon me.

That’s what I remember now when I go out.

That first year when the world was on fire and we slipped over the broiling skin of it, we brave nine.  We ran the course all night but found nowhere to land.  For the first time ever I did not stop.  Not one place.  And all the while, as we slid through that broiling night, I kept humming that song.  The one about the star, the star.  Dancing in the night.

Tail big as a kite.

The end had come suddenly and they’d managed to do it to themselves.  I’d always known they would.


I’m airborne now and the past falls away.  The ash has long settled and it’s really snowing again.  We’re not as loaded down as we’ve been in the past but that will come in handy later.  Times have changed.  The list has changed, too.  And so has my work.  Naughty and nice are blurrier now so I’m less meticulous in checking.  I do the right thing, instead.

I don’t have to crack any whips or give any whistles.  We build speed to bend time around us.  We’ll do a year’s work this night and then we’ll sleep a while.  I check the ammunition in my assault rifle and loosen the strings on my sack.

Then we start landing here and there and I’m out doing the right thing.  Books for a library in Vancouver.  Needles and a whetstone for a circuit rider in Laramie.  We haul a starving family out of a dead mountain town in Oregon and assassinate a white supremacist who was building a skinhead army in Maine.  A handful of twelve-gauge shells for Leonard in Saskatoon.  A bottle of aspirin in Bo Phut, Thailand.  And so on.

We’re just turning north for home when we see the light.

A star, a star, dancing in the night.  Tail as big as a kite.

It builds and then blooms, a piercing white over the horizon to the east.  I shield my eyes and look homeward, then back into the light.  Is it a bomb?  Another crazy moving the world deeper into the hole it has fallen in?  Or a satellite falling from orbit?  Either way, it’s worth looking into.

I steer east and take us low.  As I draw closer, the light shrinks to a concentrated point of brilliance and I aim for it.  We pick up speed and rip open space-time for a split second.  Then, we bear down upon the town that sleeps beneath that unexplainable, spontaneous star.

There in the glory of that bright light, a child screams.


She is not on my list.  I’ve made no stops in this feral country in over a decade.  But I hear her screaming and it is as piercing as the star above.  I unsling my rifle and we drop right there to hover over what used to be a schoolyard.  I don’t know what I was expecting.  Someone being harmed.  Someone being carved up into pieces by primates gone horribly wrong.  I work the lever and feel the solid clunk of a chambered round.  Slipping my gloved finger around the trigger, I use my thumb to move the switch to three-round-burst and then I hit ground with a thud.  I race across the open concrete, stepping over the frozen clumps of gray weed and watching my breath billow into the cold night air.  The screaming stops.  I hear heavy breathing instead now.  Panting.

What are they doing to her?  I feel a rage coming on as the screams start again.  I push it down and use it to feed my focus.

Do you hear what I hear, the song asks.

I hear it, I answer.

They rape the world the same way they rape each other.

They kill the world the same way they kill each other.

No list to make or check here.  I am bent on violent righteousness when I kick down the makeshift plywood door propped up to keep the wind out.

Someone has turned the old lavatory into shelter but it has gone badly for them.  The boy lies cold and still and bloody.  The girl’s screams change from pain to terror when I storm into the cluttered room and I suddenly know that things were not what they seem.  I see her, in the corner, squatting in a nest of blankets.  Her brown hair is long and dirty.  Her brown eyes are wild and frantic.  The blankets are stained with blood and I understand why.  Pale and shaking, her eyes go wide as she sees me standing over the cold body of her dead mate, light spilling around me into the room.

Another contraction and she screams again.  I turn, run for the medical kit beneath the driver’s bench.  When I return, I go in slowly with my rifle slung and my hands up showing the kit.  “I can help you,” I tell the girl.

Her eyes roll and she tries backing away from me but falls back into the corner.  Her breath heaves out in ragged gasps.

“I’m a friend.”  I keep my voice low and assuring, just like in the old days.  Only this time, it’s not a frightened child approaching me from a long line in the mall, nervous at the presence the myth of me has become.  This frightened child huddles in a frozen elementary restroom  at the end of her tether, trying to shove life into a dead, cold place.  “I can help you,” I say again but this time I hear the doubt in my own voice.  There is too much blood.

I crouch and move closer, opening the kit and finding nothing at all that I can use.

Then behind me, in the schoolyard, a clatter arises.

The eight snort and stomp and when the howling starts outside, the light winks out.  The moon, hidden behind a layer of clouds, offers little visibility.

Pushing the first aid kit towards the girl, I draw my rifle again, thumb off the safety once more.  I never unchambered the round.  Too smart for that.

More stamping and snorting but no ringing.  I took the bells off their harnesses a long time ago.

“Dashing through the snow,” a voice whispers from the edge of the schoolyard.

“O come all ye faithful,” another says.

“We wish you a merry Christmas,” sings a third.

I look over my shoulder at the girl panting in the corner.  “Just stay put and keep quiet.”

Donder screams and bucks.  Dasher bleats and kicks.  I hear the whir of stones in slings, the distant clatters of shots gone wide.

Then, I’m outside and running at a low crouch.  I’m fast for a big man, even without laying my finger to the side of my nose.  I whistle and I hear the eight lifting off; I hear the labored breathing of the two who’ve been hurt.  I hear the disappointed grunts and hungry sighs.  I don’t wait; when one of them takes shape in the darkness, large and wide, I put a three-round burst into the center of its mass and listen to the rush of escaping air as that rush twists itself into a shriek of surprise.

Another shape forms beside it, this one bending to see to its friend.  I put another burst there.  I’ve done this before.  I do the right thing.

Then I stop.  I smell the burning powder on the midnight air.  I listen for my eight, moving in a slow, widening circle above me.

A third takes shape near the others.  I move closer, rifle raised.  It moves to the left and I tap the concrete with bullets near his foot.  “Hold,” I tell him.

I can see him now and he might’ve been human once but the traces of it have left his face and eyes.  He’s wearing a red hat like mine, only tattered and dirty.  He’s dropped his sling and one of his suspenders is loose and dangling.  Barefoot with wet trousers, he trembles before a vision he may have dim memory of, from a childhood spent before the world heaved its last sigh.

“Remove the hat,” I say, “and look to me.”

He pulls it off slowly.  Our eyes meet and I’m pleased at the fear I see there.  “Life is your gift this year,” I tell him through gritted teeth, “but it comes with a string.  Tell the others what you have seen and tell them to be afraid.  Every other night belongs to you but this one.  I ride on this night with justice and grace.”  I raise myself to full height.  I fire the rifle over his head.  “Now, run like a rabbit.”

He does and as he fades, the night becomes silent and holy for a heartbeat before a new cry, muffled and straining, greets its new home in a broken world.

I turn back and enter the lavatory and in that I am both too late and just in time.  The girl is fading fast and in her arms she holds a sticky, bloody bundle packed into dirty cloth pulled from her makeshift nest.  I see the cord that still connects them.  Her eyes are wide and her nostrils flare when I draw closer but she doesn’t flinch.

She points to me.  “Ho, ho, ho,” she says in a quiet voice before making the sign of the cross.  She passes the squirming bundle to me and says one final word:  “Charis.”

Slinging my rifle, I take the baby.  I do the best I can with the tools I have, cutting the cord, closing the mother’s glassy eyes.  I remove my jacket.  Then I clean the baby and wrap her carefully in it.

I want to stay and bury my dead but I know better.  I have not prayed in years but I manage one there beside the fallen mother and father, victims of a nativity gone wrong in a world that struggles between death and birth.

Then, I whistle for my eight.  We lift off into the night and I hold Charis close to me, giving the reindeer their heads to take us north and home.

As we fly, I ponder — I wonder as I wander — and I call up my list to see who on this night had wanted the gift of a child.  I weep at what I find.

“It’s no place for a child,” I tell the eight as we soar.

“I’m far too old for this work,” I say to them again.

“I am afraid,” I finally admit.

But a vision unfolds to me of a tiny girl in red with elves for her friends and family, raised up with the deer and the sleigh as humanity’s orphan, taught from their books and their art and the better parts of a species tremendously blessed and terribly flawed, trained to go out into that broken world and do the right thing.

And in that moment, the light returns but it is inside me and inside of the baby in my arms, and that light threatens to swallow me whole and I beg it to because within that light is hope and promise and I recognize that tonight was the night upon which the universe — or whomever ran it — gave back to me and did so with a holy charge.

Home arises to the north and we pound sky for it.  As we fly, the clouds lift and the starshine falls like a mantle of jewels over the crown of the world.

I feel the peace on earth within my chest.

Goodwill towards men lay sleeping in my arms.

“What child is this?” I ask the midnight clear.

“Yours,” it says, and weeping, we fly home.


Copyright Ken Scholes, 2007 – www.kenscholes.com

First print, Shimmer Magazine’s Christmas 2007, Volume 2, Bonus Issue #4

Second  (current) print, Fairwood Press, “Diving Mimes, Weeping Czars and Other Unusual Suspects


Feed the Zombies! An All You Can Read Event

Our good friend, Tim W. Long is hosting an event of epic zombie proportion, and we just couldn’t pass up the chance to share in such a great deal for zombie fans. On November 27th, we’ll be offering Roms, Bombs & Zoms for 99 cents along with books by some of the best names in the zombie genre.


Come over to Facebook to share in a day of laughter, zombie talk, and some great deals.






First Activation – D. A. Wearmouth 

Autumn: The Human Condition – David Moody

Last Bastion of the Living – Rhiannon Frater

The Infection – Craig DiLouie

Domain of the Dead- Iain McKinnon

Downfall and Betrayal – Michael S Gardner

The Forgotten – Jackie Druga

Six Feet From Hell: Crisis – Joseph A. Coley

Game of Straws Origins – SB Knight

Beyond the Barriers – Tim W. Long 

Fish to Die For (666 Fish) – Keith Milstead

The Undead Situation – Eloise J. Knapp

Roms, Bombs & Zoms (A Three Little Words Anthology) – Katie Cord (Evil Girlfriend Media)

Epic Apocalypse – Apocalyptic Box Set ($1.99) James Cook, John O’Brien, Joe McKinney, Armand Rosamilia, Heath Stallcup, Shawn Chesser, and Mark Tufo



A little about EGM’s submission for the event:


Roms, Bombs & Zoms cover

When hearts rot, fu

ses ignite.Super geek gets the girl, a righteous preacher and his undead wife, fantastical zombies, the tantric art of zubbing, mindless hive workers, and traditional flesh eating walkers, this anthology has a bit of everything. Our twisted tales pull you into the darkest of darks, where hope is lost, and sustaining life is no simple feat.

Twenty-one authors congealed romance, bombs, and zombies into stories that are diverse, witty, and occasionally gut-wrenching. Travel through time to walk in alternate histories, visit magical realms, and face down pestilence that will literally rot your insides. This collection is sure to warm your cold, dead, heart.

Stories by Ken MacGregor, Patrick D’Orazio, Randy Henderson, and Kriscinda Lee Everitt, among others.


Even if you are not a zombie fan, you can get ahead on your holiday shopping by purchasing gift certificates for the zombie lover in your life. They make great stocking stuffers. 
Best Always,




Eat Your Heart Out or Our Brains

We released Roms, Bombs & Zoms on November 1, 2013 to the Kindle and Createspace. The book has an absolutely amazing cover with Michelle Kilmer and Aaron Sheagley modeling the imminent destruction of two lovers. The stories included in this anthology are varied and entertaining.

Roms, Bombs & Zoms cover

 From the dedication page:

Dedicated to all those who are clueless in romance,

dropping bombs without intent,

and for those brave zombies of heartache,

who rise and love again. 

Editor Monique Snyman chose stories varied in their themes from the lover back from the grave to the zombie drug addict. We are extremely pleased to offer this collection to our fans.


Best Wishes,

Evil Girlfriend Media


Hard Realities, True Words

Hard Realities, True Words

   (guest post by Shannon Page)


When I eagerly accepted Katie’s invitation to edit Witches, Stitches & Bitches, I knew it was going to be an amazing book. And when the stories started pouring in, they were even more fantastic than I’d hoped.

It was an open-call anthology, and I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what kinds of stories I was looking for. The “witch, stitch, bitch” theme can be interpreted in so many ways. In making my choices, I did look for a balance in the overall book—several layers of variety. Though they are mostly stories for adults, there are a few with YA themes. The length varies from just over flash to novelette. And as far as tone goes, we have light, silly stories as well as some very dark and disturbing ones. But what they all had in common was this: they were great stories. They held my attention all the way through; I couldn’t wait to see what happened next. They let me stop being “editor” and slip into being “reader”. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did.

I want to talk here about one story in particular. One of the darker stories (though, I believe, an ultimately hopeful and redemptive one). Gabrielle Harbowy’s “Blood Magic” gripped me from the start, and made me sigh with delight when I put the pages down. It’s a gorgeous, deftly written tale with some very dark happenings. (See Gabrielle’s thoughts on the choices she made in writing the story, in the guest post to follow this one). I knew I wanted it for the anthology; I knew I wanted it as the lead story.

But, as I mentioned, the subject matter is hard. All of us at Evil Girlfriend Media grappled with this, several times during the editorial process. We want to be sensitive to our audience even as we strive to bring you the best in evil entertainment. After much consideration, we ultimately came to the conclusion that, difficult though certain aspects of this story may be, the language is not graphic, and the situation drives the narrative action. Toning it down would remove its power, and would be playing false with the characters and the world.

And we did want to publish the story. It was just too brilliant to leave out, or to bury behind lighter stories. True words are not easy; the world is not a safe place—neither Aya’s world nor ours.

Thank you so much, dear readers, for giving us a chance—to entertain you, to challenge you, to delight you. We hope to continue doing so for a long, long time.

Purchase on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble


Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Cover

We are proud to release our first Three Little Words cover.




From the Back Cover:


Exquisite revenge and knitted doppelgängers; heartbreak and happy endings; unicorns, doomed dogs, and penitent frogs; steampunk fairies, conflicted stepmothers, and baseball—you’ll find it all here. Our literary alchemists weave a spell of fascination, drawing you deeper and deeper, tale by tale, until escape is impossible. But you’ll enjoy every minute of the plunge.

These sixteen deft and delightful stories involving witches, stitches, and bitches run the gamut from darkly disturbing to just plain fun. They will each take you out of the ordinary and into the world of magic, where older, weirder, or merely other rules apply. And just when you think things are all sewn up… some bitch may have a surprise for you.

Includes stories by Gabrielle Harbowy, Caren Gussoff, Kodiak Julian, and Christine Morgan, among others.



Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Announced

When Shannon Page handed over the final compilation for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches, we couldn’t stop reading all of the intriguing stories. It is with great excitement that we deliver this dark, devilish anthology to our readers. From the very first story, you’ll be “woven” into the worlds our authors created with themes ranging from revenge to unicorns. The witching, stitching, and bitching commences on Friday, September 13th, 2013.






A Three Little Words Anthology

by Shannon Page

By Gabrielle Harbowy

By Christine Morgan

By Bo Balder

By Stephanie Bissette-Roark

By Tom Howard

By Kate Brandt

By Caren Gussoff

By Bob Brown

By Garth Upshaw

By Kodiak Julian

By Julie McGalliard

By J. H. Fleming

By Eva Langston

By Camille Griep

By Alaina Ewing

By Rebecca Fung

Like the Witches, Stitches, and Bitches Facebook page for more information about authors and giveaways.


Table of Contents released for Roms, Bombs, and Zoms

On November 1, 2013, Evil Girlfriend Media plans to release a romantic, explosive, and incredibly undead anthology that will have you laughing, crying, and possibly gagging through out.  Our editor, Monique Snyman, chose stories that entertained her while bringing all three of the elements of the title together in unique ways. We are so proud of this talented team of individuals. They are as diverse as their stories ranging from screenwriters, indie authors, musicians, and traditionally published authors. You’ll find stories about zombie STDs, a female soldier who left her lover behind, a righteous preacher and the dilemma of an undead wife, a boy and his dog, plus many more.

Zombie Collage



A Three Little Words Anthology

By Monique Snyman

By Katie Jones

By Patrick D’Orazio

By Dana Wright

By Michelle Kilmer

By Ken MacGregor

By Kriscinda Lee Everitt

By Jay Wilburn

By Tom D Wright

By Michele Roger

By Randy Henderson

By Paul S. Huggins

By Katie Cord

By Joshua Brown

By Matt Youngmark and Dawn Marie Pares

By Kris Freestone

By John Edward Betancourt

By Killion Slade

By Anthony J. Rapino and Monique Snyman

Watch for the Table of Contents for Witches, Stitches, and Bitches edited by Shannon Page coming soon!



Our First Novel

Evil Girlfriend Media would not be on its current path without our first novel, The Heart-Shaped Emblor.  I met the author, Alaina Ewing, in the summer of 2011 at the Cascade Writers Workshop. We were both assigned to the same critique group. Her story resonated through me, there was only one slight problem, I wanted to shake some sense into her main character, Aislinn Moore. However, this powerful emotion created a friendship.  After several years, and a couple of rewrites, Alaina planned to self-publish the book. Instead, I offered to let her use a LLC  I created to self-publish my own work. She agreed.

It occurred to me over a couple of weeks, that maybe I should treat this as a chance to make my own dreams come true. I’ve always wanted my own business and love making ideas happen. One night over coffee and snacks at another writer’s house, we joked about me making Evil Girlfriend Media a real entity. I’d recently received encouragement from a pretty successful zombie writer to push it to the next level. There at our friend’s kitchen table, a book deal was born. It wasn’t long after that, I pitched to my writers group a collection of anthology ideas that I’d initially wanted to write as short story collections. I don’t want to get off topic too much, this is a blog about Alaina Ewing and The Heart-Shaped Emblor. However, I wanted everyone to know the importance of this first full length novel presented by our company.

So without further ado, here is the cover for The Heart-Shaped Emblor:


Should she choose the life of a normal college student or something else entirely?

Despite her best efforts, Aislinn Moore is not a typical teenager. She sees ethereal beings, has prophetic dreams, and knows far too many intimate details of her friends’ darkest secrets. She tries to avoid her supernatural abilities by focusing on her early entry college courses, sculpting, and relationship with the affluent older Cooper Greene.

When her abilities cause her to be alienated from friends and destroys her relationship with her boyfriend, it feels like she may have to face life with her abilities alone. Just when she thinks things couldn’t get worse, she sees a mysterious guy from her dreams working on her college campus.

Alexander Welch is everything she ever imagined him to be; sexy, protective, intelligent, and his dimple sends chills through her every time she thinks of him. There is only one problem… He is not human. He is a Ewlishash, a hope bringer, and despite the fact that she is falling hard for him, his touch feels like electrified razors slicing into her skin.

 As Aislinn grows closer to her dream guy, a world she never knew existed opens before her. There are battling forces at work, and Alexander is there for a reason, to protect and guide her. The closer Aislinn and Alexander become, the less his touch hurts and the more her powers increase. Leaving Aislinn wondering how they tie to one another. Before she can truly understand her gifts, she must unfurl the truth about him, the motivations of the Ewlishash, and decide who she really wants to be.



The cover was created by Mark Ferrari, a science fiction and fantasy artist as well as writer. He published his first book, The Book of Joby with Tor in 2007. Our cover model is medium Cassidy Rae, a teenager who really can see ethereal beings.  Then there is Alaina Ewing, a science fiction and fantasy author who puts elements of truth in all of her work. We will be adding the page for the book in the coming weeks. Tentative release date is September 22, 2013.


Best Always,

Katie Cord
President, Evil Girlfriend Media


Border by Jennifer R. Povey

You pick up all kinds of interesting stories when you guard the border. That’s the basic truth of it. You also learn that they aren’t really bad people.

I know. It’s a heresy to admit that the Lorians might be anything other than utterly evil people. You know… babies on sword blades. That’s the image people have of them.

Well, I’ll tell you what. I was on night patrol. That’s never fun, as you probably know. I was out with Marek Lin, who’s a good man, but not always the most perceptive. He always left me thinking I needed to watch for both of us.

So, he didn’t see somebody coming across the border. I did. I raised my crossbow, then I realized it was a woman.

The Lorians don’t let women fight. Not that we do, much… there are a few women in the guard, but not that many. Most people think… wrongly, in my opinion… that women are less aggressive.

None of them have pissed off a matron in her kitchen. I got chased out of a few when I was a kid, believe me. But few fathers will let their daughters go to war. Even this kind of war, the kind that is fought in skirmishes and intel.

Of course, rumor has it some of our top spies are female. Wouldn’t surprise me. The Lorians tend to think women are less intelligent.

However, when I saw the woman, I lowered my bow. She did not seem to be armed, and even in the darkness I could see the edge of her beauty. Then our eyes met.

She tried to run, but she was not dressed for it. She wore silks and slippers. She should not have been out there at night. She tripped over the hem of her gown and lay there in the mud.

I was at her side in seconds, offering her my hand. She looked startled, as if not expecting such gallantry from a border guard. Once she took it, of course, I pulled her to her feet, then kept a firm grip on her wrist.

“You’re on the wrong side of the border, lady.”

“Good.” She met my eyes evenly. “I request asylum.”

It happened every so often. In both directions. People defected. You’re thinking, I know, that this is leading to that story. You know, the one where the beautiful woman flees a loveless marriage into the arms of the soldier.

I wish. Her hair was, even in that darkness, brilliant, the yellow of spun gold. Her features were shadowed, yet elegant. All that came out was. “Why?”

I did not really have a right to ask.

“To save my people.”

Not an answer I had expected. The Lorian women I had seen, where and when trade was allowed across the border, walked three steps behind their men with their heads down. This woman met my eyes and gaze evenly.

I knew then that she was a princess. “Well. Come.”

Marek was staring. I gave him a look.

“Hush. She’s a woman of rank.” Whatever she planned, it could not be that bad… as long as we did not let her get past the guard post until a mage had read her aura.

The worst case scenario was that she would kill both of us. I doubted she would. “Save your people? From what?”

“Ourselves. The war we plan would damage Ilmoor. It would destroy Lorian.”

Yeah. It’s that story. Not the one where she comes for love, but the one where she defects in the belief that it is the truest loyalty. “I can’t help. I’m a common soldier.”

She laughed. “There is, I have found, no such thing.”

She was a Lorian woman, nothing. A chattel to be given in marriage. “How do you intend to stop the war.”

“I intend to stop the war for good with the only coin I have to offer.”

They gave me leave to travel to the capital with her. I wish they had not. I truly wish they had not. She was the only daughter of the king of Lorian, yet she could not be heir by their laws. Her husband would inherit.

Yeah. It’s not the story where she collapses in the arms of the common soldier. She was for the prince… and by the time Lorian realized what had happened, their royal families were united in matrimony.

That doesn’t mean its not the story in which the common soldier loves her.

Jennifer R. Povey is in her early forties, and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband. She writes a variety of speculative fiction, whilst following current affairs and occasionally indulging in horse riding and role playing games. She has sold fiction to a number of markets including Analog and is the author of the space opera Transpecial and the Silent Years novella series.



The night is dark, the wind blowing hard and wet. The guy clutching his gut and staggering down the street needs help. I’m a woman alone, in a new town, and pretty sure that this isn’t the safest neighborhood.

So, stop me if you’ve heard this one. Nice girl moves to the big city, tries to be a Good Samaritan for one of the natives. Gets chopped up for it, maybe shot, probably worse happening in between her trying to help and her dying.

We’ve all heard this one, right?

I help anyway. It’s what I do, who I am. Or it is now. I know: the road to hell and all, paved with good intentions, but there was a day my intentions weren’t so good, and let’s just say things have been weird for me ever since. So now I help.

I sort of have a quota.

Weird, like I said.

“Hey, mister.”

He turns around and throws up. I’m glad it’s night; the vomit smells less like vomit and more like whiskey and blood, and I’m not in the mood to see that particular spin art. I’m also glad I didn’t get too close. These are new shoes, a light gray python and I really love them.

“What the hell you want, lady?”

“I want to help you.” It’s not even a lie. I don’t give a rat’s ass about this guy, but I do want to help him. Whether I like it or not.

And in his case, it’s really, really not.

I grab his arm, muttering, “Dude, hygiene. Lost art, I know, but man.” I sort of hustle him down the street toward the emergency clinic, which I’m sure was not where he was going.

“What’re you doing?” He swings at me and grunts in pain, spitting more blood as he wheezes. I’m pretty sure he’s got something wrong on the inside because I’m not smelling blood draining from any external holes.

Yes, smell. Did I mention I’m not human? Oh, don’t worry, I’m not some damn vampire. Trust me. That life would be a walk in the park.

Yes, I’m actually jealous of bloodsuckers.

The man stops and grabs my hand. “Give me all your money or I’ll cut your face up.” He slurs it together, but the blade in his hand is a pretty good indication he’s serious.

See, I don’t get any points if they aren’t actually dangerous. Points, can you believe that?

I don’t reach for my purse fast enough apparently, and he slices down my arm. If he could see in the dark, he’d notice the blood coming out is sort of a purplish-green. It’d make a great nail polish color. But even he can tell the smell is off.

“What the—?”

“Okay, here we go.” The cut is stinging like hell, but I ignore it and push him down the street and through the door of the clinic. I take his knife away for good measure. I lose massive points if he hurts someone else on my watch.

“Think he has something nasty going on inside him. He’s vomiting blood,” I tell the attendant at reception. “Also, he’s violent and likes to play with sharp objects.”

“Good to know. Leon, get your butt out here.”

Leon is massive. He takes the drunk from me, then glances at my arm. “What’s that?”

I look down at my arm. The blood is shining iridescent, like fish scales winking jade and violet. “I was at a party.”

He nods. It’s amazing how many things that excuse can explain away.

“You took a risk bringing him here.” He’s got the drunk face-up against the wall as he leans against him, which can’t be that great for my project’s insides, but it’s definitely limiting the trouble he can make.

“Seemed the right thing to do.” I smile and head for the door.

“Hey,” Leon calls out. “What’s your name?”


“Pretty name.”

“Thanks.” I walk out, take three steps, and immediately sense I’m not alone. “Gabe?”

“Hey, sis.” He leans out a darkened doorway. He’s wearing a black trench coat and fedora.

I look down at my winter white coat—ruined now thanks to the drunk and his knife—and gray pants, and laugh. We’re so anti-stereotype, my big bro and me.

“Whatcha doing, Luz?”

“Good works. What do you think I’m doing?”

“You’re never going to make it.”

His confidence in me is disappointingly low, as usual. Then again I don’t see him out mingling with the dregs of humanity. He leaves that for the lesser angels. So how would he know if I’m getting close or not?

Close being a relative term when you’re immortal.

Because for me, you see, the road out of hell is paved with good intentions. With a smile, I walk away from him.

“Lucifer?” he says, his voice soft.

I turn.

“We miss you.”

“I miss you, too. And home.”

“I hope you make it.” He smiles, then turns and walks down the street, a sad whistle accompanying the slip slap of his shoes.

I watch him till he’s out of sight. “I hope so, too, Gabriel.”

Gerri Leen lives in Northern Virginia and originally hails from Seattle. She has stories published or accepted in: Daily Science Fiction, Escape Pod, Grimdark, She Nailed a Stake Through His Head: Tales of Biblical Terror and others. She is editing an anthology, A Quiet Shelter There, for Hadley Rille Books, which will benefit homeless animals. See more at http://www.gerrileen.com.

This story was previously published in 10Flash webzine.