A man floats in the deeps of Malta, returning to a place he has spent most of his life avoiding. The power of the ancient sea has long overshadowed his life and tonight marks a new turning point in its history. -SY
Thirty miles off the shore of Malta, his wife of forty years wept like an orphan. It was their first vacation in far too long and taken at her insistence. A return to the old country. Needless to say, it hadn’t gone well. Call it a clash of cultures, a patriotic scrimmage. These kinds of wars were fought on quiet fronts.
Back in the navy, he’d been little more than a handyman for the Marinai housing outside of Sigonella, a lowly liaison to the local contractors. Still, he’d been proud of his uniform, and she had too. It’s what caught her eye when he’d first sat at her table. Tonight, when he asked her to dance, she shyly agreed. This was a game they played, pretending the old days were new. When every kiss was the first, there would never be a last.
A dozen men in long beards and tourist prints took offense to his attire. When they tipped him overboard, they made sure he fell facing the night sky. They wanted pop-eyed fear, cries of desperation. He turned his face to the sea. He couldn’t bear to see her framed by such filth.
The waters slapped hard against him, wrapped tight, and pulled him down. He floated in darkness and thought only of her. Already the ship was distant, the slow roll of its wake finding the Mediterranean’s rhythm. They would reach the Syrian coast in two days. Maybe someone would stop them, but it wouldn’t be him. He would exhale. He would inhale. After a quick struggle, he would rest.
We are very happy to announce that Rhoads Brazos’ story, ‘Tread Upon The Brittle Shell‘, which appeared in our Australiana Edition, SQ Mag #14 (1 May 2014), has been selected for inclusion in the Year’s Best Horror Volume 7, edited by Ellen Datlow.
This is a great milestone for us, as well as a nod to Sophie Yorkston’s editing skills.
Well done to Rhoads, Sophie, and all the other contributors to the anthology!
Charlie sought out adventure and the glory of discovering a new cave. What she didn’t account for was what she would find. Portents suggest the site shouldn’t be disturbed, and Charlie knows it might be sacred, but will the lure of fame and adventure be too much to ignore? SY
The vehicle pressed through a cloud that thickened into terracotta, and for a moment the desert track disappeared. In the passenger’s seat, Charlie squeezed her knees with both hands, but Yileen didn’t seem too concerned. He turned his dark, weathered face to her, grinned, and refocused on the track with a languidness that jabbed at her gut.
“Have you ever—” Charlie stole a glance at the speedometer. “Gotten stranded out here?”
Yileen snorted. “Many times. Once a month?”
The Australian outback wasn’t as flat as the Nullarbor—as if anything could be—but seemed somehow even less forgiving. Charlie picked up her canteen and felt its weight.
Yileen laughed, ending with a dry cough. “Don’t be concerned. I drive this road so many times. See—boulder coming up on the right.”
There it was, melting out of the veil.
“Patch of corkwood over the ridge.”