Saturday, September 24, 2016

Excerpt from "Horologium" by Sarah Ellen Rogers

Our final excerpt is from Sarah Ellen Rogers's story "Horologium".

Martha did not come today. Instead ’twas a maiden much resembling her but fairer, lissomer, with a waist drawn in like a wasp’s, and more of a sharpness about the eyes.
“I am Malkin,” said she, bowing her golden head, and lifted her basket through the window in the wall of my cell. “Martha’s sister.”
I crossed myself before the altar and rose from my knees. “Is Martha sick-a-bed?”
Malkin’s eyes lowered and roamed back and forth, then nodded she her head. “Her child twists and pains her belly.”
“I will pray for her,” said I, taking the basket. Inside were two loaves of barley bread and a rind of blue-marled cheese, and a bottle of wine stopped up with wax.
Malkin fell silent for a little while. Then she sucked the air through her teeth and said, all at once, “D’ye ever see our Lord Jesu when you pray? I have heard that holy anchoresses sometimes have visions. D’ye ever see him?”
I smiled. It is the best reproof. My mother taught me that.
Malkin cast down her eyes again. “I would know what he looks like.”
“Look for him when you look on the faces of your fellow Christians,” said I, “and there you will find him, for we are all members of the body of Christ; that is, the Church.”

She nodded, and departed without looking on me again. Only when I turned back from pulling the lattice to did I see that she had forgotten to take the basket with her. Perchance ’twas sin, but I did not call her to retrieve it.

Sarah Ellen Rogers grew up in a small town in northeastern North Carolina. She studied English at Duke University, where she first encountered the medieval literature that inspired "Horologium". Inspired in part by the writings of the anchoress Julian of Norwich, "Horologium" is set around and after the first outbreak of the Black Death, a time of great social, economic, and technological change. Other influences include the Ancrene Wisse, Augustine’s Confessions, Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale, and Middle English lyrics. In her spare time, Sarah writes both speculative fiction and creative nonfiction. She lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her cat, Dante.

We hope you've enjoyed sampling the stories we selected for Mysterion! If you'd like to read more, you can buy the anthology in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace; and as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo. And if you've already read it, reviews, especially at Amazon and Goodreads, are always welcome.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Excerpt from "Cracked Reflections" by Joanna Michal Hoyt

Our excerpt this week is from "Cracked Reflections" by Joanna Michal Hoyt.

Kass is fifteen, finally done with school and able to wait tables full-time at Herr Schramm’s diner. She’s glad to be earning her share, and she doesn’t miss school. After the war started in Europe, stories about German atrocities appeared in the newspapers, and then sometimes in civics class, and then in the taunts of the students who speak English at home. “Lies,” Kass’s father said. “Germans don’t behave like that.” “Who knows?” Pastor Baum said. “When men are trained to kill, who can know that they will not behave like that? Likely the English soldiers are no better.” “Don’t argue at school,” her father told her. She didn’t. She’s good at not saying things. She’s mostly learned to hide her nightmares and her daytime fears so her father won’t know she’s crazy like her grandmother. He guesses, he worries, but he doesn’t know. She hopes no one else guesses.

Joanna Michal Hoyt, a Quaker, lives and works with her family on a Catholic Worker farm in upstate NY. She’s learning to deal constructively with her irrational anxieties, and she wonders what could heal the irrational fear of immigrants and “others” which afflicts so many of her fellow citizens. Writing “Cracked Reflections” allowed her to explore these issues, and the role of religion, in a different context. Robert Murray’s Red Scare and Ann Bausum’s Unraveling Freedom provided historical background.

Mysterion is available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as an ebook from AmazonBarnes & NobleiTunes, and Kobo.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Excerpt from "The Physics of Faith" by Mike Barretta

In our latest excerpt, from Mike Barretta's dystopian near-future tale "The Physics of Faith", Dave and Jesús are looking for corpses to cart away from an abandoned church turned drug den.

Dave stepped over an emaciated gray skeleton. The man’s eyes fluttered. His brain was deep in a supercharged dream state, consuming every available bodily nutrient at many times the natural metabolic rate. His eyes opened into mean slits and he hissed and went back to his dream, pulling a collection of rags and soggy E-print with him as he rolled over. The E-print flashed faded old news and went dead.
Jesús stopped and looked down at a girl. Her clothes were sodden rags, her mouth twisted into a skull grin. Her breath was ragged. “Didja ever?
“Ever what?”
“Want to try. I mean, really look at them. What do they see? What do they know?”
“They don’t know shit.” Dave looked around the church in disgust. “These people walked in here and surrendered.”
“These people got faith. Faith in the dream. No different than the ones that used to be here. I mean look, they even hold hands. I heard it makes the dreams better. Maybe they know something you don’t. It has got to be some good dreaming. Just wondering, that’s all.”
“Well, stop wondering.”
“I hear they live a whole life . . . a beautiful life in their heads and then when they are done . . . they are done.”

Mike Barretta is a retired U.S. Naval Aviator who currently works for a defense contractor as a pilot. He holds a Master’s degree in Strategic Planning and International Negotiation from the Naval Post-Graduate School and a Master’s in English from the University of West Florida. His wife, Mary, to whom he has been married for 26 years, is living proof that he is not such a bad guy once you get to know him. His stories have appeared in Baen’s Universe, Redstone, New Scientist, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show and various anthologies.

Mysterion is available in paperback from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and as an ebook from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Excerpt from "Ascension" by Laurel Amberdine

This week's excerpt is from Laurel Amberdine's story "Ascension".  Marina is visiting Jerusalem with a Catholic tour group because of a promise she made to her dying grandmother, and having the worst time of her life.  She's just abandoned the tour for the day and is setting out on her own in search of a fun adventure.

Marina pulled out the hotel’s tourist map, but after a few turns she lost track. The cab kept lurching into motion and stopping hard, the sun glared harsh through the glass, and everyone kept honking. She closed her eyes and leaned against the window, thinking back to what she’d promised Grandma. This excursion was probably breaking both the word and the spirit of that promise. Not that Grandma was around to care anymore. For all Grandma’s rosaries and masses, Marina didn’t feel the slightest hope that any of it mattered. Marina didn’t have anything against religion. It seemed nice. She liked the art. But Grandma wasn’t anything but dead and gone.

Even if grandma was, improbably, somewhere else, it didn’t help Marina any. She was still alone with no one to count on, just her drunk, flakey mom, pushy step-dad, and lying cheat of a real father.

By the time the cab lurched to its final stop, Marina was curled up on the back seat, sobbing.

“Hey girl, stop that.”

Marina sat up and scrubbed her face. “Sorry, how much?” She fumbled at the unfamiliar bills in her purse.

The driver’s scowl deepened, which hadn’t seemed possible. “How can you Americans be so stupid? Did you see me touch this meter? No, I didn’t. It’s off. I could charge you anything. Then you spend the whole ride crying in my car. How do you think that makes me feel? My day is ruined. Get out.” He gestured at the window. “There are your buses.” One of the bus drivers misunderstood and gestured rudely back.
Marina tried to hand a few bills to the driver, but he told her to get out again. Possibly this was his attempt to be nice? She would never understand this place.

Laurel Amberdine works for Locus Magazine and helps out with Lightspeed Magazine. Raised without any particular religion, she converted to Catholicism at age 21. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and one big dumb cat, where she enjoys visiting the ocean, taking naps, and trying to teach herself quantum mechanics. Such study prompted her to wonder about the nature of glorified matter, and inspired her story “Ascension.” Her debut YA fantasy novel Luminator is forthcoming from Reuts Publishing in 2017.

Mysterion can now be purchased as an ebook and paperback at Amazon, and as an ebook at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. The paperback is $16.99, the ebook $9.99.