Table of Contents and Excerpts
The Black Back-Lands, by Jay Lake
They say the Silent People can hear you talking in your dreams. I guess Ã¢â‚¬Ëœcause the Silent People only speak in dreams, they listen real good there, too. Kind of like the dead, maybe. But I always been told to keep my mouth shut when dreaming comes upon me, soÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not to give away too much of myself and get sewn into some woodspocket, and carried ever more through the fir shadows and pine bays while my body starves and fevers.
Action Team-Up Number Thirty-Seven, by Ken Scholes
Thursday, 3:32 p.m.
The dentures I lost on reconnaissance last week have come back to haunt me. Cavanaugh made a big show of it, waving them beneath my nose in the cafeteria line. Smug bastard. If I were ten years younger or if he were forty years older, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d have shown him completely new uses for tapioca pudding. Regardless, I have my teeth back and that made lunch slightly more tolerable.
Sell Your Soul to the Devil Blues, by Tom Pendergrass
It gets hot in the DeltaÃ¢â‚¬â€evil hotÃ¢â‚¬â€the kind of heat that fills a manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lungs with fire and crushes his breath stillborn. Preacherman came through here, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbout a year ago, and said this is what itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s like in Hell, so you best behave and live straight. Now God forgive me, that preacher had no notion what he was talking Ã¢â‚¬Ëœbout. But I met someone a few years back who does.
Route Nine, by Samantha Henderson
Good to see you, Tex. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a while, I know. HavenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t been out this way since I got my route switched. WouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be here now except there wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t anyone else to drive it.
Why? Well, I guess thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s time to tell you. NothingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gonna happen till the bar clears out. Need another beer, though.
The Goldsmith, by Ian Creasey
Corinne closed the nail-studded door behind her, and walked down the narrow steps. The goldsmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shop was small, full of little cabinets lined with black cloth displaying brooches, earrings, and necklaces of thin golden chain. Corinne got the impression that the entire shop could be stuffed into a bag for a swift getaway from riots, pogroms, or excise men.
Music in D Minor, by Erynn Miles
I awake to the sound of a piano tinkling a low, sleepy melody. It is coming from CharlieÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s body. This melody almost always comes from him as he sleeps. He lies in bed next to me, the sound swelling beneath his skin , seeping out of his pores. I hear it in the saliva dripping from his half-open mouth. His arm shifts a little and I hear a hint of lazy cello.
But it is not time yet.
Interview with Ellen Datlow
Neighbor, by Jason A. D. MacDonald
There it was again!
Water pipes groaned behind the drywall, like alpine horns blown by cockroaches. As I started my dishes, the upstairs neighbor had turned on his kitchen faucet. There was a three second differential between the flow in my sink starting and the echo in the wall. I put the dish soap down, stared moodily at the white stucco ceiling of my one-bedroom apartment, and cut off the hot water. Three seconds later, the mockery above stopped too.
The Persian Box, by Gerald Costlow
Pardon me? Oh, youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re interested in the box. Yes, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s quite beautiful, and quite old.
From Persia, yes.
YouÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not the first stranger to remark upon it. People are attracted to its beauty, but it is rare for someone to recognize its origin. You must be a scholar like myself. I am Angelo Demetrius, by the way. Pleased to meet you. Would you care to sit down? I find drinking goes best with a little conversation.
One-Leaf-Two, by Edo Mor
South Wind was blowing now. All today and all of yesterday as well. Cool and steady and persistent. Clenched in his fist (so that they wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t blow away) were sweet, good things of earth: a sticky husk of anis and three gomabarros, helical and phosphorescent in the night, clay-red like the eyes of culebras. Squeezed together, they smelled tart, sweet, and spicy all at once, and his stomach riffled with expectant notes. But he couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t eat them. He would wait. They were saved things, saved for her.