First off: 59 Beads has been reprinted in ISF #1 and is now free to download. There are some interesting reviews of the issue available through the site. I'm happy to see this story reprinted here. Here's the download link, in case you're interested. I share the TOC with Joyce Chng and Marian Truta.
I'm now in the process of rounding up a roundtable discussion (it's in English and will be published online) with some of the writers and publishers of Dutch-languaged SFF. The discussion has been quite interesting and thought-provoking. Martijn Lindeboom who organizes the Paul Harland Prize put out a questionnaire that was put together with the help of Boukje Balder who is one of the major judges for the PHP. The questionnaire seems to have raised quite a good deal of interest and it will be interesting to see what the results are.
Aside from this work, I've been commissioned to put out a newsletter for the organization I volunteer for and for which I am now Secretary of the Board. Our organization has been chosen as recipient for the Banaag award for the 2012 Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Filipino Organizations Abroad. While we can't all go home to receive this award from the President himself, two of the founding members of the organization will be going and my parents are going to be present at the awarding ceremony which will be held at the Malacanang Palace. (What a thrill for my mom.)
We put a lot of work into this and I spent a lot of weeks intensively engaged in translating documents, newspaper clippings, interviews, features from magazines, and other paperwork from Dutch into English. Phew...at the end of that, I was truly drained. On the plus side, I now know a lot more about the work the organization has done since its establishment 20 years ago. The amount of advocacy work, the lobbying for rights, the mediations, the interventions--I'm sure if we did a case by case study, it would have even been more intense.
But I'm glad we were chosen for this award as it's long overdue. We didn't even know of it until we were told that we'd been nominated for it and this was the paperwork they needed. Of course, everything we have is in Dutch--hence the huge amount of translation that needed to be done in a short time.
In the course of the week, I received word that two of my pieces are being picked up by Our Own Voice. I was so excited, I did a happy dance. :D Days later, I'm still smiling about it. The pieces they picked up were an essay I wrote on the adoption of third world babies and something I called a fractured fiction. I wrote this story sometime ago when I was wrestling with the distance between myself and my husband and how there didn't seem to be any way at that time to bridge it. I tried revising the story, but it seemed to work best in its fractured state. There are no neat resolutions--nothing gets solved and in a certain way, it's more like a poem than a story. I've been told it goes live sometime in December...
While trawling through my twitter feed I came across this article from the Guardian which I really liked and I thought I'd share it in case you hadn't read it yet. I hope you enjoy reading: Endless Fascination: in praise of novels without neat conclusions.
- Current Mood: cheerful
Have been offline as our modem broke and it took a while for our server to help us. Being incommunicado heightened the claustrophia as our phone line is attached to the modem as well and if that's broken we have no way of calling out or being called. Added to all that, I contracted the flu and was down for a good number of days. Can I say argh.
Thankfully, we're no longer cut-off from the world and the flu has receded. I'm left with the residue: an irritating cough and the sniffles. I can go out though and I can get online. :D Yay.
Being offline did mean that I had more time to write--plus I had nothing else to do in the moments when I felt somewhat lucid. So, I finally got around to finishing the Artifact story. 8000+ words. One of the longest short stories I've ever finished and been happy with.
The amazing aliettedb sent me her thoughts on it and I'm going to do a very quick brush-up and its off to the antho it's meant for. *fingers crossed* I did miss the Crossed Genres deadline for the Winterwell theme. Something I really really wanted to send something to. Unfortunately, the story I was working on for that decided to go evil on me and it's turning into a monster of a story. Er...not saying it's a novel until it passes the upper word count for novella.
Came online to some really wonderful stuff. Woot. Lavie Tidhar's Osama won the World Fantasy Award for best novel, The Weird compendium by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer won the World Fantasy Award for best anthology and Ken Liu's Paper Menagerie won in the short story category. It surely does rock when people you know and whose work you love and respect win the big ones. :D Yay.
I also found out that Strange Horizons made their fundraising goal. Something I was thinking about before our modem went bonkers on us. I am very pleased they made it because Strange Horizons is one of the few professional publications that really goes out of its way to encourage diverse work.
Also, because I can sometimes be so out of it...I want to say thanks again to Aliette for pointing out that my first column has been published. I called the column Movements because well...I rather like the musical idea behind it: presenting a theme, variations on a theme, the aba, abbca, abca...you know what I mean...the way themes come and go and return in music. Also because movements has another meaning pertaining to revolutions which I'm rather obsessed about at the moment. <G>
My first Movements column is titled, Identity and Indigenous Thought. Yes...I am kind of nervous about what people will think of it. It's also something that I feel needs to be said. And yes, I am working on the next column already. <G>
If you have time to drop by and read, I'd love to know what you thought of it.
The news I was talking about (which I've already tweeted about): I recently signed a contract with Strange Horizons to write regular non-fiction columns for them. I just sent off my first column and received good word on it, so I'm really really pleased about that. I have to say thank you to Niall Harrison for giving me this opportunity and to Rebecca Cross, non-fiction editor at Strange Horizons. :D
I've been looking through my old files--good heavens, did I write all those things? These are files that got transferred to the external drive when our old computer crashed and I never revisited the files because I was busy writing new things. And all the while, I thought I'd only written a bunch of stories. Hahaha. Apparently, I've written more than a bunch, they were just all in another place.
Anyway, I've been hard at work--tinkering away at my way outdated website and now it looks much fresher and also reads better. I'm not sure what else I can do to make it more appealing or easier to navigate. I do want to put together a free sampler (as per aliettedb's advice). Hah. My tech skills are being put to test here.
Almost forgot to post my website address: It's http://rcloenenruiz.com (hehehe...I have a domain name now. How cool is that?)
In other news, fellow VD'er Gwen Ellery has written a romantic fun romp novella and she's offering it for free on Amazon.com. The title of the novella is Paris Brats and it's available here.
I was looking for an old story that had been published in Flash Me Magazine, but which I can't find anywhere on the web. I wanted to post that story on here for a free read, but it's kind of late now as the story is sort of all-soul's day themed and it's November 2nd. Also, I haven't found my copy of it yet. But I will--once I go through the external drive. I seem to have had a penchant for awarding stories file names that are not the end name of the story. Way to go, Rochita.
In the meantime, I came across this one which I may or may not have posted before, but if I have I'm posting it again because my kids love Star Wars and Darth Vader in particular.
Grandfather moves through the house
on silent feet.
He is Shadow Ninja
on the prowl
is a trusty sword
and the shawl he wears
is his disguise.
Grandfather dances in the night
he evades searchlights
he flings his cape across his shoulder
the national anthem out loud
and tells us
the fight for freedom
is not yet over.
Grandfather writes a letter to Darth Vader:
“Come if you dare,”
“My sword is ready
I am eager for a fight.
Enclosed please find
Everyday, he checks the mailbox.
he has been robbed.
- Current Mood: busy
I'm having to adjust certain things on my agenda. I had planned to be at Bristolcon and my membership is all paid for, but a family-related emergency has come up and I've lost all hope of making it this year. I emailed Joey Hall with my regrets and I feel really really bad about missing Bristolcon as I've been looking forward to going since Joey first blogged about it. I console myself with the thought that there is always a next year.
On the writing front: am I the only writer who gets all happy and excited when a story returns with a rejection? I'll admit I've been praying for this one story to return to me. I tried to forget all about it while we were in France, but when I returned home, I kept thinking of it and wishing I hadn't mailed it out because I really really wanted to do something more with it.
So when it came back, I actually cheered. Hahaha.
I'm a bit superstitious about unfinished stuff, so I won't talk about it until it's done. :D
I also have some nice lovely news, but I won't let out a peep about it because again I'm superstitious in certain ways. But I will certainly post and tweet and facebook about it soon. :D
Come to think of it, this isn't much of an update post, is it?
- Current Mood: mischievous
I've been reading for the Paul Harland Prize which is probably the oldest Dutch language competition for short stories in the sf/f genre. A lot of writers seem to confuse sf/f with horror, and I find myself stumped sometimes because some of the horror is quite good. I find myself reflecting on the appeal of horror as a genre. In the Philippines, for instance, horror is a genre that is doing really really well. It seems that the same is true over here.
I'll probably do a more extended post on that sometime soon. I have to go back and reread some stuff as I haven't come up with the number of stories that must be pushed on to the final stage.
In the meantime, my essay on Hunting for Stories in the Philippines has been published at the Weird Fiction Review as has my Bestiary story, The Liwat'ang Yawa, the Litok-litok and their Prey. There are lots of other wonderful things on the Weird Fiction Review, so if you have time, drop by.
Well, this is a post and run kind of thing, but I'll be back soon.
Also, don't forget to read Aliette de Bodard's essays on Cultural Appropriation and Engineering in SF (really good and insightful stuff). I love the Engineering piece because while I don't have lots of engineering in my fictions, it's something that sticks and which I'll remember.
corrective note: I've just been duly corrected. The Paul Harland Prize is not restricted to SF&F, it also includes horror. Which explains a lot to me and is also helpful for grading/ranking purposes.
Weavers and Watchers of the Gods
For Susan Gossman and Eileen Gunn
Color danced between her fingers. Reds, blues, bright yellows and emeralds; rings of scarlet splashed across a broad field of white—the patterns of the Gossman tribe and of herself, the youngest Susan.
She looked up. The pattern would reflect on the final weaving. What happened in the veils, was mirrored beyond the veils,
this was how it had been and how it always would be. She took up the shuttle and wove it between the threads. This was the future, she thought. Bodies rose up from the threads, the shape of the future Timor’an, the Matriarch’s own elite.
Her fingers clacked against the frame. The future would unfold as it was meant to unfold, and she would remain faithful to the task laid out before her.
She was the Gossman of the gods. Her hands had been shaped to hold the shuttle and to resist the seduction of the loom. Her vision was a gift bestowed on her for she could see farther than even the keenest of the Nahipan.
Where the seers of the veils could see fold upon fold, her eye extended beyond that and each incident, each person’s destiny was a path in the weaving that could be unraveled or rewound as the gods willed it.
No easy task. The gossman thought.
But she would have it no other way. She had been born for this very purpose: to obey the command, to keep her eye on the movements of the world beyond, to catch the slack of the threads and wind them into the pattern harvested by the eye.
A disturbance in the weave told her of the arrival of the gunn. A farseer, this Gunn wielded the eye. Her wit was kin and her tongue was sharp. Blessed by the gods with strength and longevity, this Gunn had proven herself in countless battles and harvests. The Susan had met her during the trials when strength had been pitted against strength, and determination proven against determination. They were equally matched, and at the end they had exchanged true names. Of all the gossman, only she knew this Gunn’s true name.
She strode into the Gossman’s space now. Loose-limbed and confident, all sharp angles and shining surfaces. Her armor carved out of the smoothest and toughest wood that grew on the outskirts of Aliette.
“What news do you bring?” the Gossman asked.
“An uneasy peace,” the Gunn replied. “Aliette’s elders paved the way with their wisdom, but even as we speak, the foundations of that peace are undermined by things hidden to my eye.”
The gossman pondered the pattern, she traced the movement of scarlet. A bereaved heart set on a traitor’s path, one that brought bewilderment to the Timor’an and threatened the balance between Lower and Middle Ayudan.
“I cannot meddle,” the gossman said. “But the gods have granted you free movement.”
The Gunn looked up.
A smirk crossed her normally impassive face.
“An adventure,” she said.
There were four threads to capture within the weave. The gossman extended the clawed tip of her finger and pushed two colors onto a comb. A new pattern could be formed.
She folded her legs under her, the wings on her heels clapped together and a flutter of wind rose up. Gold dust layered the greens and the blues. The cartographer’s journey stretched out before her. A difficult path fraught with sacrifice and sorrow, for this the gossman felt a momentary regret.
Through the greens, she found a line of scarlet. This was the path the Gunn would have to tread if she was to join her fate to the Cartographer’s for a little while.
“Do not be carried away,” the gossman admonished.
Behind her, the Gunn sighed.
The Gossman cast a sidelong gaze at the farseer. There was strength in the Gunn’s profile, but there was passion there too.
“Have I ever lost sight of my mission?” the Gunn asked.
Susan’s eye caught the small movement in the Gunn’s right jaw. It betrayed irritation and something else.
“I know you have always been true,” she said.
The Gunn heaved another sigh and this time she dropped the mask of impassivity.
“Must I be tested at every turn?” she asked. “My word is my bond and I gave you mine when I gave you my true name years ago.”
Susan allowed serenity to flow from her as the wings along her arms fluttered open and shut.
“I know you as I know myself,” she said. “Be at peace. This is no test. Your path with the Cartographer will be short, but it must yield a good harvest if the unfolding pattern is to remain unsullied.”
The Gunn subsided. The planes of her face resolved into its usual mold.
She was truly marvelous, the Gossman thought.
She plucked the strings and moved her shuttle between them. The combs rose up, bringing the colored threads with them, a new path unfolded among the threads.
“Oh yes,” the Susan sighed.
It could be lovely. An inevitable grief, loss and sacrifice, and beyond that, beyond where the eye could see, her own vision opened up the folds of the weaving that was yet to come—there was a pattern waiting there, one that led to something more than ordinary joy.
She allowed the comb to descend and let the vision fade into eclipse. Soon the Gunn would see it too, but not before the eye was put to work and the harvest had been done.
She heard impatience in her partner’s voice, and she almost laughed at it. It was just like Eileen, she thought. Adventure lay ahead, and the course had been set. Not even Susan’s most seductive blandishments would keep the farseer here.
“Your passage has been cleared,” she said. “Go meet the Cartographer and return with a fruitful harvest for the looms.”
( I'm not sure if I'll continue this here of if you'll see the rest of this after I've finished writing the bigger work, but you will definitely see these characters again someday. ) :D :D :D
- Current Mood: thankful
I'm not going to give away much here, but say a writer chooses to make use of a certain trope. Say that it's a well-used trope. Say that it's a trope that's been done, time and time again. I'm very likely to pass on this unless the writer gives me a compelling reason to give this story a high rating.
I'm bound to ask questions. Why does the writer choose to use a certain triggering incident? Why not another? I'm particularly interested in the "why" if the writer shows a strong voice and yet fails in the delivery.
I've also realized that like editors out there, I am also rooting for writers to give me the story that I can't pass on because it has grabbed my imagination and my emotion that much.
So, what can the writers of the Paul Harland Prize expect from me? Well, even if you don't get the pass, I'll tell you what works for me and what doesn't. I'm going to ask questions and then I'm going to tell you why I'm not giving this story a grade that will push it on to the next round. What I hope to see writers do with this criticque is the same thing I've been doing with crits and rejections all of my writing life: take that crit, apply it to your next story, try harder, be more critical of your own work, open yourself up for criticism, and then go on to write a winning story that will knock off a reader's socks any day.
- Current Mood: busy
And now: part two of The Melendez in Mai's Shed
If she had not heard the sound
If she had not woken her sister up
If they had not gone down the garden path
If they had not opened the door
If she’d only paid more attention
All the ifs rushed through Mai’s brain because Aya had vanished and she was stuck inside one of the nets the Melendez had conjured for something she called training.
Her voice bounced back at her through the tangle of stringed code.
Code flew past her in a blur of florescent light. What was it Karina had said about cyberspace and navigating its nets?
“If you focus on a string, you can navigate your way through the net,” Karina’s voice echoed from memory.
She wished she’d paid more attention to Papa’s night time lectures, but was it her fault that music and arts appealed to her more than the abstract weavings of complicated equations? Her foot struck a line of code and it unraveled with a ping.
“Karina,” she shouted.
Surely the Melendez understood that Aya was the technical one. She squeezed her eyes shut.
“I wish I was back in my own bed,” she muttered.
She wondered if she was doomed to be stuck forever.
She sniffed and blinked back a tear. She wanted Aya. Even if Aya got exasperated at her dependence, she’d never ever left Mai behind. She sniffed again and reminded herself that Aya hadn’t done this thing deliberately. It wasn’t like her elder sister wanted to lose her.
She straightened her shoulders and narrowed her eyes. She would show them that she could do things on her own. She would too.
Her ears recognized a strand of sound as it zinged past her. Was that Pachelbel’s canon in D? She turned, stretched out her fingers and found purchase on the whirly end of a series of sixteenth notes.
At her touch, the code wound itself round and around. A bright cascade of tones rained around her, but she didn’t let go. Music welled up inside her and when she opened her mouth bars of music spilled out of her and filled the air with strangely beautiful dissonance. She lifted her hands. Her skin was glowing, she was splitting apart.
“Karina,” she yelled.
Just like that the Melendez was beside her.
In the darkness, the Melendez glowed. Her fingers moved quickly through the code surrounding Mai.
“I’m breaking apart,” Mai cried out.
“Not if I can help it,” Karina said.
Concentration shone in the Melendez’s eyes. Her fingers were swift and sure, pulling lines from the darkness, weaving together escaping bits of code.
“Where’s Aya?” Mai asked.
“Your sister is fine,” the Melendez said. “You’ll have to focus now and help me catch the last strand. I haven’t done musical code in quite some time and for all its simplicity, Pachelbel’s canon is a deceptive thing.”
“What do you want me to do?” Mai asked.
“Find the missing bars,” the Melendez said.
“Don’t panic. Look and listen, you’ll find it.”
Karina reached out and took hold of Mai’s hand and squeezed it quickly.
She could do this, Mai thought. She might not be as technical as her elder sister, but she knew music and the canon was one of her favorite pieces.
She looked up. The Melendez had projected the music onto a screen so it was visible to her in a form she understood.
Later, Mai would wake up in the quiet of the night and listen for the sound of clacking keys. She would strain her ears for quick footsteps. She would dream of the Melendez sitting in front of her giant screen, her fingers plucking away at the code, untangling, unraveling and then weaving them together to form a net so intricate and complex, only another
Melendez could comprehend its design.
“And now you understand a little bit,” the Melendez said to Mai after she plucked her from the web of musical code and after the sisters had been reunited.
“The web is a complex being. All these lines lead to somewhere and a disruption in the system could mean a disruption in the entirety of the web’s continuum.”
“I didn’t mean to disrupt,” Mai said.
The Melendez smiled. Her eyes glowed a bright green before they faded back to gold.
“Curiousity is always a good thing,” she said. “It’s what leads us to dig deeper, and sometimes breaking things can lead us to the creation of new and better things. That’s what’s so fun about being what I am.”
“Did we help you create a new thing?” Mai asked.
The Melendez didn’t reply. She only hummed at them, but Mai thought she saw a smile flit across Karina’s impassive countenance.
When they left the shed, the Melendez was at work again. She was fully focused on the screen in front of her, her fingers reaching out to touch code, weaving them into things of light and beauty.
“Will you tell me about your adventure?” Mai asked Aya.
“Tomorrow,” she said. “I’ll tell you all about it tomorrow.”
- Current Mood: chipper
The Melendez in Mai's Shed (part 1)
for Karina Melendez from Rochita
It was the crash that woke her up.
Mai sat up in and rubbed the sleep from her eyes. It was still dark out, but across from her she could just make out the shadow that was her sister.
There it was again.
“Sssst,” she said. “Aya, wake up.”
“Huh?” Aya said. “What? What dream? Go back to bed.”“I thought I heard a crash,” Mai whispered.
Aya didn’t reply, and after a while, Mail realized her sister had gone right back to sleep.
She stepped out of bed and padded to the window. Nothing moved in the darkness.
“Who’s there?” she said.But all was silent in the back yard and no matter how much she strained her ears, she could hear nothing out of the ordinary.
After a while, Mail went back to bed. She willed herself to go back to sleep, but a part of her brain kept puzzling over the crash that she’d heard.
Mai stood up again and went to the window. From her vantage point, she could look down the long length of the garden to where the shed was.
There was someone out there, she was sure of it now.
“Aya,” she whispered. “There’s someone out there. I know there is.”
With a huff, Aya came awake.
“I swear,” Aya said.
But she came out of bed anyway and joined Mai by the window.
They could see a blue glow emanating from the garden shed.
“Do you think it’s an alien?” Mai asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s certainly not a thief. Papa set safeguards just the other day.”
Mai looked at her elder sister and Aya snorted. She pulled on her robe and slipped her feet into fluffy yellow slippers.
“All right,” Aya said. “Let’s go have a look.”
They slipped out into the garden as quietly as they could. Miraculously, the screen door didn’t squeak as it normally did during the day. It was a good thing too, Mai thought. Papa and Mama would be displeased if they caught Aya and Mai out of bed at such an hour.
She shivered inside her dressing gown. It was made of quilted green cloth. Dwarves and butterflies frolicked along the border of it. Whenever she wore it, Mai imagined that this must have been how the queen felt.
“If it’s one of Papa’s minions, I’m going to yell its head off,” Aya muttered.
She yawned and stretched like a cat.
They were up to the door of the shed now, and whoever was inside was totally oblivious to their approach.
Papa kept the doors to the shed well-oiled. The latch moved smoothly out of its berth and the door swung open without a sound. Blue spilled out of the shed and there in the middle of the blue was the strangest little creature Mai had ever seen.
It was just about the height of Mai’s knee. A smooth silver carapace covered its back, its upper arms and its legs. From the elbow on she could see twisted black cables with marks written on them in florescent green ink. The being was muttering to itself as clawed fingers moved in spiderlike motion across the virtual screen.
“It’s a Melendez,” Aya said.
There was awe in her voice and Mai stared at her elder sister.
She’d never heard of a Melendez before, but she supposed Aya must know better because while Mai loved to delve into the arts and the music, Aya had her nose forever buried in one of Papa’s scientific modules.
“What’s a Melendez?” Mai asked.
“It’s very gifted,” Aya said. “It reaches into hyperspace and couples and connects lines of code. It can break or make a net depending on the order given by its master.”
Mai was so busy paying attention to Aya that she didn’t notice the silence inside the shed.
“Pardon me,” a tiny voice spoke up. “But what are you two girls doing up at this hour?”
They turned to look towards the Melendez.
One of its hands rested in mid-air and it had one on what could have been hips if Melendezes had one.
“You . . . I. . .,” Mai began. ‘
“We’re sorry for interrupting your work,” Aya interrupted her. “Please do continue with whatever you were engaged in.”
The Melendez huffed.
“I can’t,” she replied. “Your presence has disturbed my line of processing. I’ll have to go back and start all over again.”
“I. . . we’re sorry,” Mai offered.
“No, no. Not your fault,” the Melendez said. “It’s not like I was making a major breakthrough or anything. I actually needed a break.”
“We have some energy bars in the kitchen,” Mai offered tentatively.
The Melendez smiled and Mai glimpsed small even teeth between her mandibles.
“I love energy bars,” the Melendez replied.
There was a slightly surreal feeling to sitting at the table with a creature who, as far as Mai was concerned, existed only in books.
“Of course, they wouldn’t tell you we’re real,” the Melendez said as it munched away on a spiced chocolate bar. “How do you think the world would feel if they realized the amount of work we do while everyone is fast asleep? Panic, that’s what.”
Mai turned to look at her sister. Aya was staring at the Melendez with an intent look in her eyes. Mai knew that look too well, it meant her elder sister was intrigued by the Melendez.
A feeling of dread settled in Mai’s stomach—maybe she shouldn’t have woken up Aya.
“I want to know more,” Aya said. “Don’t all Melendezes have real names? What’s yours?”
“It’s Karina 3PH,” the Melendez said. “You won’t tell your Papa you caught me in the act, will you?”
Mai shook her head.
“I won’t tell, if you show me how you do what you do,” Aya said.
“I knew it,” she said. “I should never have woken you up.”( to be continued. . .)
- Current Mood: cheerful
for Jeff from Rochita
There was a jeff in the ventilation pipe.
It was the first time Christine and Mary Ann had seen one up close. Mandy, the building supervisor, insisted that jeffs were dangerous and the walls had been sprayed with repellant to keep the creatures away.
But here was one, and it lay there fast asleep. A sweet round violet ball of fluffy jeff.
"What do we do?"Christine asked.
She kept her voice at whisper pitch. Mandy’s admonitions rang in her memory and while the jeff looked harmless, she was afraid that it would wake up and prove to be everything Mandy said it was.
Mary Ann tapped at the screen in her hand, and looking over her shoulder, Christine caught sight of images flashing by before it settled onto an entry with a jeff that was the exact same color and shape of their sleeping jeff.
"It’s a spock," Mary Ann said. "According to this entry, the jeff spock is harmless unless provoked. Then, it turns into one of the fiercest fighters in the south quadrant."
Christine bit her lip and looked at the jeff. Would it be provoked by their presence? Would it uncurl and turn into a fierce ball of fighting claws and sharp teeth? She tried to imagine the cute ball of fluff turning into a horrible rampaging beast.
Mary Ann gave the screen a satisfied tap.
"Found it," she said.
"What did you find?" Christine asked. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the jeff.
"Identification for our jeff," Mary Ann said. "Apparently, this jeff belonged to the First Mandate."
Christine tore her gaze from the jeff and looked at her sister. The First Mandate was in-charge of the south quadrant. She was a cold woman whom they’d sometimes called the ice queen. Christine couldn’t imagine such an austere woman keeping something like the jeff.
"It’s tame," Mary Ann said. "We can keep it if we want because the Mandate released it. There’s a notice on the Mandate’s website. Whoever finds the jeff gets to keep it."
"Won’t it be expensive?" Christine asked.
Mary Ann shook her head.
"Nope. It comes with supply rations for life. Plus, according to this entry, it’s an excellent watchdog."
"But Mandy. . .," Christine’s protest died away when she saw the smirk on Mary Ann’s face.
"Mandy can’t ban this one," Mary Ann said.
"But we don’t know how to care for a jeff. We’ve never had one before," Christine said.
"Instructions are in the document," Mary Ann said.
It was only because she was attuned to Mary Ann that she caught the screen when her sister tossed it.
"You. . .," Christine swallowed her words. She wanted to tell off Mary Ann for her carelessness. If she hadn’t caught the unit, it would have broken and a broken unit meant months of scrimping and saving until they could afford another one.
She stared down at the words on the screen. There were illustrations as well. She touched the screen and the page slid away to reveal another.
Mary Ann had hitched herself up over the lip of the vent. She was making a high crooning sound that made the hairs on Christine’s neck stand up.
"Krrr. . .," the jeff said.
It uncurled at Mary Ann’s touch. It stretched out and yawned and Christine glimpsed the pink cavity of its mouth. It had sharp teeth, Christine thought. She could easily imagine the damage those teeth could do. Then a pair of bright blue eyes peered out through the fluff and blinked at them.
"Come," Mary Ann said.
Christine squealed when Mary Ann reached out and placed her hand on the jeff’s middle. She waited for the jeff to attack.
But instead, the creature crept up and curled around Mary Ann’s forearm.
"Aw," Mary Ann said. "You’re a sweet little creature, aren’t you?"
The jeff looked up and blinked. It bared its teeth in a feral grin.
"You’re ours now," Mary Ann continued. "We’ll protect you."
The jeff let out the most curious sound Christine had ever heard. It sounded like a cross between a purr and a bark. Then, it curled itself around Mary Ann’s arm and went back to sleep.
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- Current Mood: mischievous