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Edition 24: Papaya Leaf Falling to the Surface of a Puddle Reflecting Streetlights by Jamie Killen

Dao has the dubious honour of being chosen by a rider, an alien keen to have a human experience. She is not the only one, but is subject to the whim of her rider, a relationship she did not consent to. Jamie Killen’s story won the 2015 Story Quest Competition of Unlikely Partnerships, with her delightful science fiction partnering of an alien and street kid; an usual choice of host. SY

Dao awoke to rain hammering on the tiled roof. She lay in bed watching it fall past her window and into the garden below.

Go out now? Puddle asked. Go out feel rain?

Dao sighed. “Fine. But you’ll have to wait until I eat something.”

Dao’s mother was just laying out a plate of cut fruit when she came out of her room. “Good morning, Mother.”

Puddle made a little chittering sound of excitement at the sight of papaya on the plate.

“Good morning, Dao,” she replied. Then, as always, she pressed her hands together in a wai and lowered her eyes. “Good morning, Lord Puddle.”

Dao tucked the metal braids of her harness behind her ears as she ate. The first few days she hadn’t been able to stop scratching, the weight of the coiling metal ropes and fiber-optic cables within pulling along the edges of her scalp. Now she only noticed if one of them dangled into her food.

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