In celebration of the release of Kameron Hurley’s MEET ME IN THE FUTURE, Tachyon presents glimpses from “one of the best story collections of the past few years.” (Booklist)
The Corpse Archives
by Kameron Hurley
bodies you speak of, those that existed before the world was silenced
and unmade, the bodies of my first memory, are those that danced
naked on the hard, black earth around the fires our keepers allowed
us. Our fires threw coals into the thick, hot air; coals that flared
and darkened and died and drifted down upon us, coating our hands,
our faces, our brown bodies, in black soot that made us darker than
I tried to join the dancers, the woman who called herself my mother
would clutch me to her with her claws.
here, keep here, Anish,” she would say. The lids never closed over
her bulging eyes. Her mouth was cut wide, so wide that her face was
all mouth and lips and teeth. I dream about her still, about her
devouring me whole.
was so beautiful.
you join that, don’t dance that,” she would say. “You dance
that and you’ll be like the rest of us. A mistake, a burned thing.
Not made, not used, just nothing.”
the stack of synthetic logs burned down to a fine black dust, the
woman who called herself my mother released me. I ran across the
earth to join the dancers outside the covered sleeping pens. Here,
they told me the stories of their bodies.
I think of my first conception of a written record of the past, I
think of a body called Senna who had a burn-scarred face with
burned-shut eyes. It was this body that showed us how the sky burned
when the keepers came; the rivers ran red as the ripple of welts that
ran down across the body’s throat, over the breasts, ending in a
pool of scarred flesh that was once the navel. Senna went mad before
the keepers finished writing on her. She screamed and cried and
begged to be taken to the pens, to live out her life among the other
partially perfected texts that the keepers could not bear to throw
was the most hideous of these texts. I knew it even then, when the
woman who called herself my mother could still carry me in her arms.
The other texts had traces of unwritten flesh—smooth, incomplete,
ugly—but I, I was completely untouched. The whole of my body
remained as it had been birthed. I was grotesque, obscene. They were
incomplete texts told me I was placed there because the woman who
birthed me was a violent body, a mad thing that marked her own
history upon her body. She cut open the contents of her self and
spilled them onto the cold metal floor of the birthing center …
including me. She died in her own blood and entrails and my
was the living text of my mother’s existence, the other bodies
said. That was why the keepers saved me … But knowing that did
not make me any more beautiful.
For info on MEET ME IN THE FUTURE, visit the Tachyon page.