"Snakebit" by Amanda Downum is a haunting, gritty speculative short story, on the long side for quick fiction but very worthwhile all the same. This selection is another one from Strange Horizons - I find that I really dig what they publish. "Snakebit" specifically has a deeply rooted sense of wistfulness and place. Its atmosphere and descriptions are superb, and the hints are gorgeous, just subtle enough to not be confusing but not horribly obvious. Here's a small excerpt, which shows you what I mean:
The rain had stopped, but clouds slid low across the sky, snagging against the distant silhouettes of grain elevators. Sodium lamps glazed wet asphalt with marigold light. Lanie drew a deep breath, tasting rain on concrete and bitter exhaust. By the time they reached her truck she'd gathered enough courage to ask her question.You can read "Snakebit" here.
Next up is Mari Ness's "Undone", from Apex Magazine. This is another professional speculative fiction market that I'm looking forward to exploring more of, and "Undone" was a great introduction. I'll give you a hint: it's a fairy tale adaptation, but that element of it crept up on me so quietly that I didn't realize it until the piece had ended. Again, the prose is delectable, but it isn't overbearing. An excerpt, ladies and gentlemen, because you really do want to read this piece:
In the summer, they attach feathers to his other arm, and dress the rest of him in delicate white silk dripping with pearls, to draw the eye away, they explain. His arms remain heavy by his side, even as the feathers shift beneath the summer winds."Undone" is available online here.
Hopefully this is a nice addition to your Friday!