From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism



Playing with Spades

She’s tried. Tried heading to random stores, and just grabbing decks with her eyes closed. Tried asking other people to grab the decks for her. They look at her strangely when she asks this, but she’s pretty enough, and manages a nervous smile, so they do. “Arthritis,” she says, to anyone who appears particularly uneasy. They grab the decks for her, take them to the counter, where the cashier places them into a plastic bag. She takes the bag home, touching only the handles, and shakes out the card decks, opening them slowly, carefully.

She never finds the Queen of Spades.

The Integrity of the Chain

Someone beside the television, a shaggy man Noy identified at last as Sip Pan Joe, said, “Heard the first baby was born yesterday on the Chinese moon colony.” They called him Sip Pan Joe because he always charged ten thousand kip for a city journey. “Sip pan! Sip pan!” he would say, losing money every time he took a fare. They called him Joe because of some character in a Thai soap. Sip Pan Joe wasn’t all there, but he had a way of getting news. Noy said, “I want to go to the moon,” and Sip Pan Joe cackled and said, “No tuk-tuks on the moon! No air!”

The Water Tower

“There’s an alien in the water tower.” Jeremy Posey stood at the front door of Heather’s trailer, dressed in camouflage fatigues, glasses crooked on his sunburned nose. Above him, the sun passed its zenith and hung lazily in the western sky. His dirty-blonde hair caught the light and filtered it towards Heather in soft hues. […]

Trench Foot

Scary Sandra loitered on the stairs. Her shoulder bones poked through a faded yellow cardigan as she sat hunched on the top stair. “I’m bored. I’ve picked all the nits out of my hair and licked all of the dead skin off my dressing table and all the ghosts have gone to have tea with the Queen.”

Lake Tahoe’s Lover

When the lake chose Els, everyone was surprised. So was Els. She was nothing aquatic, barely anything at all — Aries-born, Capricorn ascendant, a mishmash of air and earth, a harsh dust storm, the one they feared would not be chosen by any of the Family of Landforms. They had shown Els to lonely deserts and old mountains and they all said no; they all said, “what is that?” And those were the dregs of the Landforms.

An Excerpt From Phantastes

They were just like the glowworms of our own land, for they are fairies everywhere; worms in the day, and glowworms at night, when their own can appear, and they can be themselves to others as well as themselves. But they had their enemies here.

Woman in Abaya with Onion

Blood. Blood everywhere, blood and screams. Cries for help, Hilfe, tasoketeh, au secours. A little boy, crying, begging for his life in German, gunned down by men in Egyptian police uniforms. At her feet, a blonde woman, dead eyes staring into the bright morning sky, a round, red hole in her forehead …

Superhero Girl

Ofelia was a superhero. She told me so without reserve. “It’s safe for me to tell you,” she said. “I can sense you’re not a villain. Besides, it would be unfair to keep it from you. It won’t be easy, you know, being involved with a superhero girl.”

People of Leaf and Branch

Before time began there was only one tree. Her leaves were as the fields of the land, her branches as the arches of the sky, her roots as the bones of the world. Her bole was as wide as the circle of night and day, her flowers as bright and numberless as the stars in the winter sky.


After the dogs chewed the hands off the clock, we had only the chimes to remind us of time. If we were engrossed in our work and missed the sound of them, we lost the hour. This occurred often, as you might imagine. Winding the clock became the most crucial task of our day.