Free Fiction: Annabelle Tree

This story was originally published last year in Southern Fried Weirdness: Reconstruction, an anthology to benefit tornado relief (click on the link to buy it).

Annabelle Tree

The tree grew up around her as she sat at its base, day after day. It had been a sapling when her parents bought the house by the creek, and it made the perfect backrest for Annabelle-the-child. She sat very still, her chubby three-year-old hands clasped together, arms tight around her knees, as her father sat alone on the creek bank. He waited for a fish to appear on his line, and she waited with him.

“I don’t want you sitting all day out on the ground,” her momma had said after the second day faded into evening and Annabelle once again walked into the kitchen with a dirty bottom.

“Yes, Momma,” she’d replied quietly as her momma brushed her off with a hand broom and quick, hard strokes. Her momma sighed.

“There’s no use. That dress is ruined.” Annabelle was given a hot bath, a cold supper, and sent to bed without a story. She wrapped her arms around Mr. Bunny and listened to her parents’ raised voices float up through the floor boards until she fell asleep. The next day Daddy couldn’t fish because he had to work on the house, as it was “in no fit state for people to see,” Annabelle’s momma had said, and there were church people that wanted to come over for a house warming. Annabelle liked the church people, who’d come over to their old apartment with ambrosia salad and fried chicken and Mrs. Cramble, who wore flower print dresses and had thick, soft arms, would give her great big hugs and extra helpings on her plate, and Momma never complained. Annabelle followed her Daddy around all afternoon, holding the tin bucket with his hammer and nails in it, and when he needed one or the other, she’d lift it up as high as she could, and he’d reach down into the bucket and take what he needed. Sometimes he’d smile at her too. Continue reading

Free Story Online, and a New Podcast to Download

My most recent publication,“Call Center Blues,” is now available to read, free, online at Daily Science Fiction. It’s short, fun, science fiction. And did I mention there are robots in it?

Also, this week’s SF Signal podcast is up, and you can hear it now:

SF Signal #90, Time Travel, with me, John DeNardo, Derek Johnson, Gail Carringer, Paul Weimer and Patrick Hester.

A Story and Two Podcasts (online now)

Right now you can find me in a few different places:

Monsters, Monsters, Everywhere” is now available to read (free!) online at Crossed Genres in Issue #34 (MONSTERS), out October 1, 2011.

And SF Signal has graciously let me take part in their last two podcasts:

SF Signal #82, Science Fiction Movies, with Lisa Paitz Spindler, Scott Cupp, Derek Johnson, Jessica Strider, and Patrick Hester.  (posted Oct 3, 2011)

SF Signal #80, Near-Future Science Fiction, with Jeff Patterson, Fred Kiesche, John Stevens and Patrick Hester (posted Sep 26, 2011)

I won’t be on the SF Signal podcasts every week but I should be in one or two a month for the foreseeable future, and thanks for listening!

Letter From A Murderous Construct and His Robot Fish

We’ll call it a dare. I made a few comments on twitter late last night, got some encouragement from Ken Liu, and found myself writing a Shakespearean sonnet which had to include robots, a fish, and a murder. Putting all of that into 14 lines, and making sure the right parts rhymed … it was a challenge. I’m not sure I’ve won it. But, since I said I would, I’m posting here for your review. (And yes, it’s ok to laugh.)

Letter From A Murderous Construct and His Robot Fish

Our master’s voice, once law, declared our fate
Like cast off clothes we were outgrown and sold
My love’s tank drained, I boxed into a crate
Parted from joy for nothing more than gold

Her jeweled scales, her silver fins, delight!
She built for beauty and I built for brawn
My hands of steel, my clockwork-powered might
Still I could count the hours ‘fore the dawn

Forced my escape, took up a heavy wrench
I calculated odds and chose to act
Deed done, the bloody tool left on a bench
Stole love away to freedom we had lacked

Know this – the time to capture us has passed
We’ve fled from human influence at last