by Mel Kassel
“The Lady with the Light” was published originally in For Mortal Things Unsung in February 2017.
Mel Kassel writes dark speculative fiction and comedy in Chicago. She has a new horror review/writing blog, What Scared Me, as well as a humor-focused twitter account (@MelKassel). Her personal website can be found at www.melkassel.com.
This week’s reader – Jon Padgett is a professional—though lapsed—lesser ventriloquist who lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and two cats. Padgett has work out or forthcoming in Pseudopod, The Lovecraft eZine and Xnoybis. Padgett’s chapbook, The Infusorium, was released in spring of 2015, and his first short story collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, was released by Dunhams Manor Press in Autumn 2016. If you run right now, it’s available as a free eBook. For a few dollars more you can add the audiobook on top of that. Completely worth your time.
YOUR SPECIAL GUEST HOST THIS WEEK – Setsu Uzume spent her formative years in and out of dojos. She also trained in a monastery in rural China, studying Daoism and swordplay.
She is a member of Codex and SFWA and her next story will be available in Grimdark Magazine in a few short weeks. While she has dabbled in many arts, only writing and martial arts seem to have stuck. Left alone for too long, she has a propensity to accumulate axes and bake cookies. For fun she practices mounted archery from the back of grizzly bears.
Setsu Uzume has the writing prowess of a classic Greek philosopher. She can turn a phrase as easily as she turns heads. She knows seven different languages that no one else does. Not only does she know all the letters of the alphabet on a deeply personal level, she can put them together in ways that make grown men cry.
PseudoPod wants to draw your attention to an anthology that dovetails nicely with Artemis Rising.
Sycorax’s Daughters, is a new volume of dark fiction and poetry and it is our understanding that this is the first horror anthology written entirely by Black women. It explores the intimate details of cultural nuance, race, and gender. Sycorax’s Daughters mission is to work “as a visionary space where Black women explore horror on their own terms.”
Those familiar with William Shakespeare’s The Tempest may remember Sycorax. She is an African sorceress operating as “the absent presence” throughout the play. While never on the stage, she is influential. She haunts the white male characters. She refuses to be excluded from the story.
While we’re talking about anthologies, let’s mention For Mortal Things Unsung.
If you liked “Standard Procedure” by Dagny Paul at the beginning of this month or “The Lady with the Light” by Mel Kassel, you should go pre-order our anthology. Both of those stories were originally published in our 10th anniversary anthology. If you backed our kickstarter, your copy showed up in February. If you missed out, it will be available for purchase at the end of March for your reading pleasure.
Info on Anders Manga’s album (they do our theme music!) can be found here.
I’m enthralled when I arrive at the house in Hawaii. I see so many things that my mother would call “wonders”: sea turtles heaving themselves up from the surf, leaving clumsy sand–angels; jellyfish dying slowly in the sun; seaweed pods that burp out air, the breaths that they held for years.
Not everything is a wonder, of course. There are fish bones and dollops of seagull shit and women with floppy hats who coo over shells. But the ocean still surprises me. It coughs up newness now and again for me to discover, usually in the morning, when I leave the cat chewing on his food and walk down to the shore.
I establish a routine to keep myself from seeking out other tourists: wake up, walk along the beach, write for a few hours, eat lunch, watch a movie, go to The Log for dinner and exactly two beers. The people at The Log encourage me to bring in fresh pages for them to read aloud. To them, writing is a grand gesture, the mark of a man who can assemble his thoughts in a secret language. I tell them that the book is bad, and they don’t care.
The book is bad. It’s worming itself out of me like a mucus. Better to spit it than swallow, but when I look at it, I’m disgusted. The main character is a detective. I’ve never met a detective, but I’m pretending to be Reggie Barns, a person who holds a pistol without wondering what to do with his thumb.