In celebration of the recently released THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, Tachyon and editors Peter S. Beagle and Jacob Weisman present glimpses into the future of fantasy from several of the volume’s magnificent tales.
Kiss with Teeth
no longer shows his wife his sharp teeth. He keeps them secret in his
gums, waiting for the quickened skip of hunger, for the blood-rush he
almost never feels these days.
teeth he wears instead are blunt as shovels. He coffee-stains them
carefully, soaks them every night in a mug with WORLD’S BEST DAD written on the side. After eight years
of staining, Vlad’s blunt teeth are the burnished yellow of the
keys of an old unplayed piano. If not for the stain they would be
whiter than porcelain. Much, much whiter than bone.
almost, as the sharp teeth he keeps concealed.
wife Sarah has not tried to kill him since they married. She stores
her holy water in a kitchen cabinet behind the spice rack, the silver
bullets in a safe with her gun. She smiles when they make love, the
smile of a woman sinking into a feather bed, a smile of jigsaw
puzzles and blankets over warm laps by the fire. He smiles back, with
his blunt teeth.
have a son, a seven-year-old boy named Paul, straight and brown like
his mother, a growing, springing sapling boy. Paul plays catch, Paul
plays basketball, Paul dreams of growing up to be a football star, or
a tennis star, or a baseball star, depending on the season. Vlad
takes him to games. Vlad wears a baseball cap, and smells the
pitcher’s sweat and the ball’s leather from their seat far up in
the stands. He sees ball strike bat, sees ball and bat deform, and
knows whether the ball will stutter out between third and second, or
arc beautiful and deadly to outfield, fly true or veer across the
foul line. He would tell his son, but Paul cannot hear fast enough.
After each play, Paul explains the action, slow, patient, and
content. Paul smiles like his mother, and the smile sets Vlad on edge
Vlad remembers his youth, sprinting ahead of a cavalry charge to
break like lightning on a stand of pikers. Blood, he remembers,
oceans of it. Screams of the impaled. There is a sound men’s
breaking sterna make when you grab their ribs and pull them out and
in, a bassy nightmare transposition of a wishbone’s snap. Vlad
knows the plural forms of “sternum” and “trachea,” and all
declensions and participles of “flense.”
For more info about THE NEW VOICES OF FANTASY, visit the Tachyon page.
Cover art by Camille André
Cover design by Elizabeth Story