18. The Dragon-Ship
Half-alive, prow cruelly pointed, undulant through the slow currents of spacetime: these were the ships that slipped like sea-snakes into galaxies no chemical thruster could reach.
A science fiction prose poem, never before published. This one is what it says on the can.
19. The Screech Owl Also Shall Rest There
Your love is mine, even if you don’t know it yet. Your life is mine. And, darling, new darling, I take what is mine.
This story was my first collaboration with my friend Jacqueline Flay. We’ve since collaborated on two other stories – one that is set to come out in Persistent Visions next year, and another that is still out on submission.
The nice thing about working with Jacqueline is that she nudges me to take more risks, and to explore territory I wouldn’t necessarily have built a story around on my own. “Screech Owl” is a sexy, kinky, violent, angry story about a Neolithic vampire and her loyal pack of humans. The gradual development of cities poses problems for her and her way of life. How do you cope with a change so massive, when it happens so slowly that a mortal might not notice it happening?
I did some research for this one, but probably less than the topic deserves. The initial impulse to write a Neolithic story came from a chapter of Elizabeth Wayland Barber’s “Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years,” which I read on a whim. The temple that features prominently in the story is inspired by this one.
“The Screech Owl Also Shall Rest There” was intended for a small-press anthology about vampires and tattoos, but Jacqueline and I had a contractual dispute with that publisher and the story was dropped. (In retrospect, I… still think it wasn’t a good contract, but I could have handled the situation much more tactfully than I did.) It eventually made its way into a different anthology by an equally small press, “The Death God’s Chosen”.
There are no owls in the story; the title is an obscure Bible reference that probably makes sense only to me.
Song Pairing: Jacqueline says the theme song for this one is In This Moment’s “Bloody Creature Poster Girl”. Who am I to disagree with Jacqueline?