by Seras Nikita
Alison will live her whole life in Folkston Georgia, forty miles from Waycross and as close to the Okefenokee as you can get before the ground starts filling your footprints with scab-colored water. She will wake each morning to the thickness of the swamp sucked up into the air around her. She will eat dinners of fried fish, and balls of corn fried with onions. Twice she will be hospitalized with blinding migraine headaches that are actually overdoses of aerosol insect repellent, ferried to her bloodstream via a bad habit of biting her nails and chewing the torn skin beneath them.
Alison Crenshaw will live to be nineteen years old. She will die without losing her virginity, or understanding that she is schizophrenic. Up until the very end, Alison will never consider that anyone else’s mind might not be exactly like hers.
Alison’s first ‘episode’, as her mother came to call them, occurred in late March, when the pines of Folkston were heavy with white, football-sized cocoons of brown moth larvae. Alison had been five years old, breaking apart acorns on the screened-in porch of her babysitter’s house when she smelled a smell that reminded her of the white collar her mother’s cat wore to keep fleas away. Then she looked to the sky and saw that the caterpillars were finally alive in there, squirming in and out of view, obscured by the gauzy white stuff they’d spun. Looking at those caterpillars Alison suddenly felt something in her chest -something bright and hot stirring around. She stood, disoriented, and something bolted through her, knocking her to her knees, a feeling of rage like nothing she had ever felt. A feeling of disgust, and terrible urgency, that made her feel like a balloon had grown in her throat and the only way to make it stop stretching her was to scream out and make it pop. Then she felt something else, some heavy and alien emotion that most people would describe as homesickness. For the first time she was feeling things in her chest instead of just thinking them in her head, and she hated the feeling. The thought that the cocoon was like her, that this feeling that had suddenly come over her was only one of hundreds more, teeming and squirming beneath her surface, and the cocoon was only a thick husk- person she had grown around herself. And then, plain as her mother’s voice, Alison heard something tell her, “Let them out.”
And she had crawled up into the tree, breathing hard through her mouth like a dog, and tore down three of the cocoons and broke them open and sat on the porch with them, pulling out the unborn, still-soft caterpillars and crushing them one by one between her small thumb and forefinger, making little brown and yellow piles with their corpses, and when she was finished she took them inside and put them on the floor in the kitchen before lapsing into such a fit of screaming that her body began to seize and the babysitter had rushed her to the hospital where she’d been sedated with benzodiazepines. Ann Crenshaw, skeptical of the bland diagnosis that her daughter had suffered an anxiety attack, fleetingly wondered if her Alison might be possessed, but the next day the girl was back to her old self and seemed to have un-remembered anything disturbing about her behavior the previous day.
Alison was a fast learner. As young as kindergarten, she came to realize that adults seemed repulsed by her. Alison found herself denied things that other children received – juice boxes and pillow cots and extra minutes of bathroom time. Eyes narrowed when they fell upon her; hands and bosoms were used for stern purposes rather than comforting ones.
“An unwavering child disturbs grown people.” This was Alison’s first lesson in adaptation. It was her first lesson in hiding the broken cogs inside her.
She began to observe carefully the reactions of other children around her. She learned that a loud voice and a pointed finger meant she should sob. Drawn syllables in voices that spiked high at the end meant she should clap delightedly. When three or more classmates tittered their voices in laughter, so did she. In some sense, Alison has spent every waking moment since developing and revising this mimicry. In her most private thoughts, she believes that her intelligence enables her to function without a soul.
Today is Wednesday.
Alison is propped on a stack of hospital pillows with one leg fastened into a steel and Velcro matrix of cruel-looking traction apparatus. The splinters of bone formerly protruding through the flesh of her calf have been prodded back into place and fixed with screws and plates. Rods are attached to the screws, and the other ends of the rods fit through the bolts of a rigid hammock suspended over her hospital bed. Around the rods, her flesh is punched into seams with hard, tight staples. When the swelling goes down and the stitches heal, the doctors will apply a soft cast that they’ll replace every twenty days or after each surgery, whichever comes first. But right now Alison’s right leg is as bad as it will ever be; shaped like knobs of Chinese ginger and covered in big green bruises full of clotted blood. In the next bed over, John is being prepped for transfer to the burn ward.
She knows its John because she can see one of his eyebrows through a break in the carapace of stained bandages enveloping his body. Flanking the eyebrow are twin divots where the EMTs have removed the piece of jewelry, shaped like a bent barbell, that he usually wears there.
If not for this, the body in the bed might be anyone. It might be any twenty-two year old young man with second-degree deep partial thickness burns covering 45 percent of his body and a morphine drip keeping him just stoned enough to quit screaming about it.
Today is Wednesday.
Alison’s childhood passed with only one more ‘episode’, a terrible day in her eleventh year that began as a wonderful day at the water park.
In her yellow swimsuit, Alison was waiting in line for the bathroom when she saw a woman pass by her holding a little boy by the hand. The woman was wearing a floppy hat, and using the hand that wasn’t occupied by the boy to eat an ice-cream bar, the kind with the waxy chocolate on the outside. And she was crying. Sobbing, really. Sobbing and pulling on the boy and still eating the ice-cream, which was falling apart in the midday heat and dripping a trail of white stuff and waxy brown shards behind her.
Alison looked at the woman, bewildered. At the way the woman’s mouth twisted as she tried to cry and eat, unable to stop doing either, and the broken cogs in Alison’s head mashed their cracked teeth together, trying to turn. Feelings boiled up in Alison for the second time in her life, alien and crooked, a furious feeling like she was being tricked. And there again was the phantom smell, sweet and wicked. She had pulled off her bathing suit right there in the line and attacked the woman, knocking her to the ground and forcing broken pieces of the wooden ice-cream stick over her lips and down her throat while the boy looked on, screaming in a shrill child’s voice. Then desperation overtook her, an urgent need to be somewhere still and quiet and un-peopled. She ran until she could crawl, and wedged her small naked body between the toilet and wall of a bathroom stall like an animal seeking the tight comfort of its burrow, where she fought herself bloody to avoid being touched and tried to exorcise the deluge of feelings with screaming sobs so intense they bordered on hysteria.
This time Alison’s mother Ann did not take her daughter to the hospital. She told nobody about the episode who had not already witnessed her daughter dragged naked and bloody from the water park men’s room. As for the woman with the ice cream, the splintered wood tore two holes the size of raisins in her esophagus but she declined to press charges after Alison carefully printed some paragraphs of apology into a greeting card shaped like a flower flanking a pair of sleeping kittens. Having come out of her bad moment, Alison hung her head and bit her lip because she knew those were the fitting motions for shame. But inside, she felt nothing.
The final episode, the last of her life, began around 8:30 on a Monday night.. Alison was alone in her room when she saw a flash of lime-colored light at the periphery of her vision and then smelled something floral. She sniffed around the room and checked all the electrical sockets, which seemed fine, and by the time she finished doing that the smell had gone.
On Tuesday night John and Alison went to the theater together, an event Alison logged as their third official date. After the movie John convinced her to stop off at a restaurant bar at the urging of John’s idiot roommate Cleveland Harold whom everyone called Cleaver, and who immediately set to work goading John into matching him with neat shots of Jameson whiskey.
The first several shots of liquor soothed the boys’ anxieties about the ramifications of taking more shots, and before long they were clumsy and wild. A discussion about a mutually despised ex-girlfriend of Cleaver’s somehow became a lusty celebration of Mexican food, but not the Mexican food you get here, that’s just shit, but REAL Mexican food like they ate that night in Tijuana at the place with the chickens and the fence. Alison waved away a third cocktail. She observed how the bartender’s eyebrows behaved and passed judgment on people based on their posture. Alison watched a cluster of women exclaim over some photo on a cell phone, noticing that the more attractive the woman, the more at-ease her arms seemed to be. Alison relaxed her shoulders.
Presently Cleaver went outside to smoke, and when he did John pushed his face close to Alison’s and lapsed into a glassy-eyed insist-a-thon, telling her she looked beautiful tonight, cooing over her hair and hands and, in a burst of devil-may-care optimism, her breasts. She considered the pros and cons of sleeping with him and decided against. She pushed him away and he was too drunk to be offended; she told him to keep his hands to himself, and he laughed. He poked a cigarette between his lips and tried to light it from the wrong end, and Alison didn’t help him because she had ceased to feel any responsibility over his feelings.
Alison, soberest by far, was ferrying the three of them home in John’s blue 1993 Tacoma when the smell came to her again, a thousand times more strongly, and for the first time she was able to associate it with something she’d smelled before. A high, blunt stench like plumbing fluid and gardenia that brought back memories of a sweet-smelling poison her father would pipe through the sprinkler-hose to rid their front lawn of mole crickets and fire ants; black plastic boxes of poison plugged into the necks of sprinkler heads like latched ticks.
Alison turned to John, half-lidded, propped between herself and Cleaver.
“Smell that? Hey.” She elbowed him in the lap. “Hey. Smell that?”
“Dinn smell nnythun,” replied John thickly, head bobbling on his neck in agreement with the bouncing of the pickup. Cleaver had got the window seat so he could ash his Marlboro Mild into the rushing night air. This afforded John the middle seat and more chances to insinuate his hand into the crease between Alison’s thighs.
“Mmmm.” John smiled, eyes fixed on some imaginary drama playing out in soft focus a few inches from his nose. “Mmmm.”
“Whuss goan make me, hmmm?”
The sloppy opera of his fingers reached an apex as he thrust his thick fingers into the groove of her jeans, forcefully and without finesses, as one might wrench a bent spoon from a jammed garbage disposal. His other hand slipped between her Wranglers and the small of her back, past the seam of her panties, until she could feel his dry unwelcomeness finding entry into her anus.
Cleaver heaved in the window seat and dropped his cigarette onto the floormat, where it sizzled briefly before being extinguished by vomit.
“Mmm, you goan say youaint that KINDA girl? Well yuh’re goan be tonight. I’mma make a silverdollar outta a dime with yuh’re assshole tonight.”
“STOP IT.” Alison grabbed John’s hand, but before she could throw it back at him the metallic-poison smell intensified suddenly, filling the small space of the truck’s cab, overwhelming her. If the smell in her dorm room had been a whiff of mole-cricket poison dissolved in sprinkler-water, this was the feeling of drowning in the stuff, of being scalded to death in a poison-flooded burrow. Alison’s eyes bulged and she sucked in air. She hacked with all the force of her lungs and let go of the wheel, just for the smallest of seconds, as she pushed all the air out of her in a violent, choking wheeze.
And then a child with no eyes stepped directly into the wash of her headlights. Light flooded into empty sockets, apricot-sized cavities grown over with flesh, perfectly smooth, as if eyes had ever meant to be there at all.
Behind the wheel of the Tacoma, time slowed down. Alison felt her palms close around the emergency brake. The child’s face whipped in the direction of impact.
The eyeless child shrieked and the sound pieced the night, pricking through Alison’s scalp like a blackberry bramble, the insane death cry of the eyeless child with crumbling teeth who had arrived to rearrange the furniture in her brain. Her face purpled with the force of her coughing, her heart thumped in her throat.
For the barest instant before impact, Alison saw that the thing no longer looked like a child, but like an old, old thing. A thing with knotty sockets of stretched skin that locked onto Alison and saw inside her and filled her chest with a swollen ache that felt like terrible homesickness, or the feeling of sudden descent when a roller coaster drops from its highest peak.
Then the thing was a child again. An awful, awful sound rose from it, a gibbering shriek that went up and up until it split the air like a mordant trainwhistle. It was the scream of a banshee, and Alison thought,
This thing is an evil thing, and it knows my name.
The sound of impact was a fleshy clunk, an Easter ham dropped in the sink to defrost. Alison screamed. Her eyes rolled in her head and she swerved into a ditch, where the truck flipped twice before crunching into a thick-trunked oak tree. Boughs of moss dangled like ripped snakeskins in the smoke above the wreckage.
Cleaver made an ‘UHHN!” sound as his skull was crushed between the half-down window and an L-shaped piece of automobile jutting improbably from the passenger’s side doorjamb. John’s head flapped into the dashboard as if his neck were made of strung taffy, and Alison could not tell if blood or urine was coming out of him but one or the other was puddling warmly around her armpit and collarbone, mashed as she was into the roof of the cab, which was now the floor of the cab. The keys rattled in the ignition. Leaves and tendrils of detritus swirled around the truck’s carcass as it lay crumpled at the foot of the tree, presenting its greasy black belly to the sky, and the tinkle of the shamrock-shaped jingle bell dangling from John’s rearview mirror slowed, slowed – stopped. Then everything was still. The wrecked truck had become part of the nighttime countryside, and so too the three soft, broken bodies inside it.
In Alison’s final memory of the crash, she opened her eyes and everything was quiet except for a gentle, metered dripping and the sound of soft swamp air rustling through the big tree above. She saw the world upside-down through the splintered frame of the driver’s side window. A tremendous weight compressed her diaphragm, and her face felt numb and sticky. She tried to lift her head but found it pinned by something; a strange warm thing that was both hard and soft. She put her hand up and groped, and her fingers identified the shape of an ear connected to a patch of sweaty, bloody buzzcut.
It was John’s head, pinning her head. John’s body, pinning her body. She wet her lips and tried to make words, but all that came out of her mouth was a throaty sputtering sound. A flash of lime-colored light, the smell of cricket poison. And then something moved near the corner of her eye. At the edge of her vision, something was creeping out from behind the window’s skewed frame. Something silvery and slow-moving. She blinked and it was closer, blinked again and it was inches from her face. A child’s head of hair. Soft cornsilk hair. Alison screamed.
Her mouth, when she opened it, filled with blood from her nose and made her choke. Still she could not stop from screaming as the eyeless child craned its head into the wreckage, leaning in from behind the truck’s twisted window frame like a grinning moon, and then unhinged itself to crawl into the wreckage of Alison’s mind, which had likewise become unhinged.
It knows my name.
Today is Wednesday.
Cleaver died on impact. Alison knows that now because the doctors have told her, except they’d called him Albert Cleveland Harold-Strunk and for a moment she didn’t know who they were talking about. She also knows that her airbag likely saved her life, even if her face is a swollen purplish mess and her upper lip feels as large as a split kielbasa. And she knows that she passed out before the truck caught fire. She knows these things now.
But even conscious, they tell her, she wouldn’t have been able to free herself because of how her right leg was bent up into the center console and jammed in place with a length of her own broken tibia. But even spared THAT, they continue, the nurses and doctors, she would still have been pinned beneath John’s limp weight, which fell draped across her body like a sweaty human duvet. Two-hundred-and-ten-pounds of him.
A two-hundred-and-ten-pound fire blanket.
As it turns out, the number of minutes necessary for gasoline combustion flames to consume a body the size of John’s is marginally greater than the number of minutes required for a stocky ex-marine named Dave and his brother-in-law Matthew to come upon the scene of a very bad car accident and pull the inhabitants to sanctuary.
Not enough time to consume the body, but more than enough time make it mauve-colored and weeping and covered with fluid-filled blisters the size of fried eggs. The fire melted the rubber of John’s his Nikes into the soles of his feet, sparing the fair-haired maiden beneath him.
Today is Wednesday.
This visit that the nurses are granting Alison is an excursion from Intensive Recovery Room 914, to which her relocation from the operating room is recent enough that she’s still stupid with anesthesia. The nurses keep reminding Alison that such a visit is VERY much against hospital rules, as if they’ve been weakened by her mewling and unending petitions.
From how the nurses are behaving, Alison understands that she is expected to thank John. She is expected to DEMAND to thank him, for shielding her from the flames and sparing her flesh by sacrifice of his poor, selfless body. She thinks maybe she is expected to weep over him, or to burst out with some display of gratitude or bewilderment or even explode into sudden internal wrath at the injustice of it all.
That the nurses are affording her this indulgence now, in the freshest aftermath of their shared hell, is a fact Alison takes to imply that John is extremely unlikely to survive. The thought does make her feel something in her chest, but it might be a broken rib.
Although Alison is 100% certain that John’s act of self-sacrifice was more a testament to his blood alcohol level than his belief in martyrdom, Alison’s logarithmic judgment tells her to play along. She calls up just enough tears to brighten her eyes. She whispers some nonsense words and reaches through the bedrail, but isn’t permitted to touch him because the risk of infection is terribly high when you’re missing most of your skin. Alison sits with him doing these things until John’s breath quickens beneath the bandages and he begins to whimper, at which point the nurses separate the two beds in order to calm John with another jolt of morphine. As a pair of candy stripers wheel Alison back to Intensive Recovery Room 914, a nurse follows behind, fiddling with the IV bag and encouraging her to consider the compound fracture of her right leg a lucky break. Alison manages a weak chuckle, but only in her mind.
In the burn ward, nobody appreciates a pun.
Today is Wednesday.
There is an article in the paper about the accident. A nurse brings Alison a copy and holds it up so she can see the headline through her crusty, slit-swollen eyes. There is a black-and-white picture of Cleaver. It’s a yearbook photo, five years younger, and his hair is shaped into crunchy comma-shaped spikes that have been bleached at the tips. The spot reads “STUDENTS IN DEADLY COLLISION”, and smaller letters underneath, “22-YEAR-OLD HERO SHIELDS GIRL FROM FLAMES; CONDITION REMAINS CRITICAL”. In a color photo Dave the stocky marine is standing next to the charbroiled Tacoma, its black-burnt remains crusty with leftover oxygen-eating foam. Dave is smiling, one boot planted on the burnt Tacoma. He looks like a hunter standing over his kill. He’s smiling and Alison can see wet spade-shaped teeth that make her think of cantaloupe seeds.
In Alison’s dreamscape, the measure of instants that make up ‘minutes’ and ‘hours’ has no foreseeable significance. For a long while, she has tethered herself to reality with a long, thin string. Now her mind is wandering. She dreams of the child, its moon-shaped face, and an eyeless horror that comes toward her out of the dark, smiling, plucking apart knots with long, thin fingers.
The eyeless thing never leaves her. Sometimes it sits on her lap, playing with her hair and sucking on the external fixation pins that jut from puffy openings in her calf. But most often, the thing has taken to tucking itself into a corner of the ceiling, like a blind house spider. It grins and whispers things as she swallows her antibiotics and scrapes up green spoonfuls of Cisco Gelatin Desert and lets the beeping of the various monitors lull her into blissful morphine dozes. The things says things that don’t make sense to Alison, but making sense of things isn’t on her priority list right now, and she doesn’t think about it much.
“They must understand that you’ve purchased this township, fair and square,” is one thing that it whispers. It also says things like, “Jemima used to love corn on the cob,” and, “To incapacitate a witch you must impale it by the cunt,” even though Alison has never known any witches or anyone named Jemima except the black lady with the bouffant on the squeezable bottle of pancake syrup.
Sometimes the eyeless thing sings soft, sweet songs about animals going to heaven. And sometimes it talks about John.
“When the burns dry up, he’ll come for you,” it whispers. The face of the thing still looks like a child but the body is bloated and scaly, and the arms and legs have begun to look like the legs of a spider or a wasp.
“He’ll crawl in here when you’re sleeping, and he’ll steal your skin. He’ll drag the rest of you to Hell with him.”
After the hero story runs in the paper, the nurses start reading Alison letters from well-wishers and congratulateurs that are arriving for John. There are Hallmark cards with sappy religious poems, often passed around offices and classrooms, signed with a chaos of different names and inks. Arts-and-crafts sympathies from Girl Scouts and relatives and second-grade Sunday-school classes.
Alison’s mother arrives at some point while Alison is dozing, and when she wakes up she’s there at the side of the bed. She presses her lips together a lot, and her eyes never stop being pink and glassy with tears. When she speaks she can’t keep her voice from cracking. She keeps wanting to hold Alison’s hand.
By the fifth day Alison does not want to hold anyone’s hand. She just wants to sleep. The doctors have removed her from the morphine drip and now sleep is the only release from the deep, rotten ache biting into her bones.
But she can’t sleep. Not really. She can only get as far as dozing, and then she gets stuck, in-between dreaming and waking. But there isn’t much pain in the in-between, so Alison doesn’t mind staying there. She learns the sound of her own heartbeat and likes the way the sheets ruffle the hairs on her arms. She listens to the cogs turning insider her. She fades into a painless place that only looks like her hospital room.
The eyeless thing sits on her pillow and picks at her hair and strokes her eyebrows, gently. It makes a singing sound in its throat like a wet nurse humming a baby to sleep.
Some days pass.
Alison feels well enough to watch television and eat one of the hamburgers her mother brings, but the meat tastes spongy and strange and she spits it out. She asks the right questions and smiles at the right times and at night she has terrible sweating nightmares in which she knows she needs to find her way to the burn ward, but her leg is bolted to the traction beam with screws bored into her bones.
Alison wakes from these dreams panicky and physiologically agitated, and it takes time for her to relax into sleep again. She is not alone. Her eyeless visitor watches from its hidey-hole in the corner of the ceiling, telling her things – things about centipedes and the A-Bomb and things about John. Eventually Alison notices that the thing doesn’t speak words any longer – only sounds. Laughing and squishing sounds. In the dimmest corner of Intensive Care Room 914, Alison can see the thing grinning and pulsing. She can see that it’s begun to spin a cocoon around itself.
It is her birthday. Nurses and her mother and several members of her mother’s church are gathered around her bed, but she cannot tell their faces apart and she cannot hear the singing because the noises from the thing cocooned in the corner have grown deafening. She sees a foil balloon with a honeybee, and a cake with blue icing, and on top of the cake there are candles whose tips are alight with the most beautiful, sensuous, godly fire. Alison looks into the fire and two things happen at once: She is gripped by the most powerful orgasm of her life, and the thing in the corner screams a single word so loudly that she will be effectively deafened forever. The word is BURN.
The nurses are reluctant to allow Alison another visit to John’s room, as his morning debridement has been a difficult one and the pain is overcoming him to the point where drugs merely bring the unholy pain ripping through his skinless nerves from a scream to a conversational tone. An “indoor voice”, as Alison’s aunts and teachers would say. But in the end they agree to wheel her briefly to John’s bedside, persuaded perhaps by her meaningless tears and perhaps by a sense of emotion, a thing that Alison is no longer capable of comprehending. The matches the nurses used to light her birthday candles are pushed into the rim of her cast, the strike-strip irritating the splotchy skin that has grown prickly with newborn hairs.
The child-thing sits at the foot of her hospital bed, smiling at her with its mouth full of teeth. Hundreds of teeth. Its bones, and its face, have gone.
The oxygen tank ignites immediately, showering John with sparks the color of fireflies in the moonlight, and then redder, richer flames as the bandages and ointments catch fire. Alison cannot hear screaming. She cannot hear the crack of bone as her leg breaks apart for the second time, as she drags herself into John’s bed and covers his raw body with her own. She smells cricken poison. She feels flames splash across her body, and at first they feel cold, icy cold like falling onto your palms while ice-skating.
She would like to die before the hurting begins. She asks the child beside her if it can help her with this, and the child says yes, and then a wash of darkness spreads before her eyes, edging out the light of the world like softly melting snow.
Alison has lived to be nineteen years old. Up until the very end, Alison never considers that anyone else’s mind might not be exactly like hers.
About the Author
SERAS NIKITA is a writer of horror fiction living in Oakland, California. She works at vfx house Tippett Studio, where she handles public relations and virtual reality outreach. During her career Seras has worked on films such as Cloverfield, Ted, the Twilight series, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and many more. She has acquired an unfortunate amount of information about which household products most closely resemble common bodily fluids (Cetaphil. The answer is usually Cetaphil.) She loves her Nighthawk motorcycle, but it’s currently not running so if any horror fiction fans / motorcycle mechanics in the East Bay want to take a look she’ll trade them a scary story.
She works on a series of stop-motion short films with her mentor Phil. The project is called MAD GOD. The website is madgodmovie.com. She’s also a painter, using a technique called spit-shading that uses saliva instead of water to control the viscosity of the ink. You can see some paintings, and also commission work at her website, violetsarered.com.
Says Nikita: “I just began submitting my short stories for publication recently. I know three extremely talented writers, and they all write very thoughtful literary fiction, mostly essays. They know a lot about themes. Exchanging writing with them feels like showing up to an art class where everyone else is a classically trained oil painter except me and I’ve got a ziplock baggie full of those jumbo crayons you get with the kids’ menu at Applebees. It makes me happy to have my work read on PseudoPod, because it makes me feel like there are people out there who enjoy crayon drawings just as much as they enjoy oil paintings. There aren’t as many layers, and they’re much simpler and easier to interpret. But they can be beautiful in their own way, if you press hard enough. Having stories published helped me realize that. Thank you for listening to my story, and thank you PseudoPod and Alasdair for all the hours of entertainment over the years. See you later!
About the Narrator
Dagny Paul is a lapsed English teacher, failed artist, and sometimes writer who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She has an unhealthy (but entertaining) obsession with comic books and horror movies, which she consumes whenever her five-year-old son will let her (which isn’t often). Dagny was Assistant Editor of PseudoPod, and guest editor for Pseudopod’s Artemis Rising 3 event in 2017.