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Her family hadn’t always been this calm. When the first finger, a knuckle’s-worth of her left pinky, had fallen plumply into her dinner salad, there had been an enormous commotion. Her young daughters screamed and bolted into the back yard, and hours later had to be coaxed back inside. Jack fumbled with the phone in the kitchen, trying to maintain an even voice while holding back tears. The family border collie, Bernard, stationed himself next to Patricia, barking at the table and the fallen digit. All the while, Patricia sat staring at her dinner and her finger, unable to move, as though crying or sealing herself in the bathroom would invite some new calamity, allow new seams to loosen and more body parts to shake free.
This finger disassembled like the others, severing just below the nailbed. June, the elder daughter, hadn’t noticed anything, but Leila was looking and let out a calm, plaintive sigh, like the sound of a pillow being fluffed. Whatever form her exclamation had wanted to take, Leila snuffed it and formed it into something tamer. The girls don’t want to embarrass me, Patricia thought. She dreaded that they were already burying their own feelings on her behalf.
She had just painted her nails in aquamarine, and the tiny nub lay lifeless on the hardwood like a dead scarab. There was no blood and no wound, just a smooth, curved tip. Like it hadn’t come from Patricia at all.
The Yarnball Woman – Michael Milne
Graven Image – B. Morris Allen
Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost – Douglas Anstruther
All the Colors I Cannot See – L’Erin Ogle
Q: What was your favorite children’s book?
A: Clearly there are too many to choose just one. If pushed, though, I’ll go for ‘The Truck On The Track’ by Janet Burroway, wherein a fantastical circus troupe attempt to free their vehicle before it’s mown down by a train. Inevitably, they fail. The final orgy of destruction was always my favourite part as a child. The story has the quality of the best children’s (or adult) fiction, in that it’s entirely deranged; the cumulative rhyming form just adds to the weirdness. And there’s a yak involved. Tragically it seems to be out of print nowadays.
Three Day Nerve Crackers
If these don't put the zing in your central nervous system, nothing will.
This is a simple recipe, but does take a fair amount of planning, as well as quite a lot of work. It provides a nice workout, though, in addition to being very tasty. One bite of the final product, and you won’t be tired at all.
- 4 Voranian nuggle darts
- 1 gram Rigelian snifkles
- 80 liters salty (Mg-Cl2) seawater in a sturdy vanadium pot.
- The tricky part, of course, is capturing the nuggle darts. Vorania is such a harsh environment that even the plants don’t stay put, and nuggle darts are notoriously rapid. My advice – hire an expert.
- Once you have the darts netted, crack off the stem and let it fly away; it confuses predators and gives true nuggle dart seeds a better chance of germinating.
- Without the stems, the nuggle darts are motionless. With a basalt mortar and pestle, grind the darts into a fine powder. Five or six hours should do it. A Terran might do it in two. (They may be grotesque, but they’re very strong.)
- Sort the snifkles by size. Add them to the seawater starting from largest to smallest.
- When all the snifkles have dissolved, add the ground nuggle darts. Try to do it from a distance. I find a nice underhand throw does the trick. Corvians may want to use a blast shield, or an environment suit.
- Once the steam has cleared, you’ll find that what remains is a nice thick crust on the bottom and sides of your pot. Scrape it off, and press it into crackers while it’s still slightly moist.
- Enjoy! One cracker should keep you awake for about three standard days. Don’t eat two.
Chanel Earl lives in Bloomington, Indiana where she parents three crazy kids, teaches writing and reading at Ivy Tech Community College, and thinks about dieting. She likes to read and write stories where strange things happen, probably because life sometimes seems so strange.