“From the beginning, Delany, in his fiction, has pushed across the traditional boundaries of science fiction, embraced the other, and questioned received ideas about sex and intimacy.“
Bottle Service #7 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)
by Cherie Ann Turpin
A quiet crowd hovered in the alleyway between  street leading up to the dull, gray door of Aremwen’s Parlour near opening time, 11 p.m. Two Nephilim hybrid brothers, one with Black skin, one with White skin, stood at the entrance as security, quietly surveying the makeup of the chic crowd. Both men wore matching black suits, sunglasses, and Secret Service style earpieces, but they reserved the electronics for human eyes and ears, as they were adept at telepathy and teleportation. They were quite useful as security not just for their 7’8 height and massive chest and arm muscles, but because they were magical beings like the clientele of this private club.
The bar was located in the alleyway near an art gallery just before the C&O Canal at the bottom of Georgetown. It was the only venue that openly welcomed Phorzhicoans, witches, vampires, demons, angels, shifters, warriors, extractors, telepaths, fallen deities–in other words, all uber-natural beings often not welcome among humans in social settings. Mary, who was a vampire, owned Aremwen. At 300 she still looked like a slender teenager with smooth, dark brown skin, and a tall Afro cut down the sides into a mohawk. She was originally brought to the New World as a small child from Ghana.
After surviving the Middle Passage, Mary was sold into slavery to a small farm outside Jamestown, Virginia. Her Vampire Mother, under the guise of a freedwoman midwife, rescued her from the lecherous slave master whose nefarious intentions had already resulted in an unwanted pregnancy and birth of a stillborn girl. After smuggling the almost dead 19 year-old from the farm, the “midwife” offered Mary the choice of a quick death to relieve her of the painful, uncontrollable bleeding that would certainly result in her eventual death, or a new life that would free her of human pain and enslavement. Several centuries later, Mary owned a high-end bar that offered Bottle Service to VIPs, a complicated but extremely profitable service, given the special appetites of her VIP clientele.
Few of the ordinary patrons who sailed through the bar could afford Bottle Service–contrary to the myths, most supernatural beings these days struggled to make ends meet by working like the humans–but there were a few who had not been around long enough to know of Mary’s wrath who deemed themselves cocky enough to attempt to run a scam, i.e., get Bottle Service and skip out on the bill. Such was the entourage of new vamps in the corner, loud enough to partially drown out the techno music pumping through the bar. Some of them were too young to even have the knowledge of comparing vampire powers. Had even one of them known the full extent of Mary’s power none of them would be destined to be tied to each other with heavy silver chain links, prone, and in a pile like logs to be set afire in the venue’s basement.
Mary would soon have a nice talk with the Nephilim brothers, because they were either clearly off their game tonight, or she had two very strong creatures who were in on the scam. Either possibility brought dread and not a little bit of irritation to Mary, as she stared at the quivering set of baby vampires in the corner.
This was not going to be a good night.
Incursio #6 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days) by Cherie Ann Turpin
My tabby cat Munchkin first noticed the strange lights in my pool late last night after spectacular meteor shower that lit up the sky. I thought the meteor shower was lightning at first, until I walked outside and peered up from my deck in the backyard. The clouds partially covered the flashes of light, but no thunder occurred. Munchkin scurried inside and ran under the kitchen table, her tail quivering. I leaned over the wooden rail and glanced at the sparkling night sky, slowly dragging a curl of smoke from my cigarette. The air was thick and humid, and the wind flowed on my skin like a moist pillow.
An unnatural stirring of the heavenly realm was afoot.
I finished my cigarette and walked into the house, sealing shut the sliding glass doors and pulling together the white curtains. The outdoor lights were left on, casting shadows on the pool below. I motioned to Munchkin as I walked down the hallway towards my bedroom, and she jumped up into my outstretched arms, purring away like a perpetual motor buried in fur. As I kicked off my slippers and sat down on the bed she curled up at the edge of the bed, her favorite spot. Clicking off the light, I finally fell into a deep sleep.
After what seemed to be hours, I was awakened by a strange howl and hiss. Munchkin paced around the room, visibly disturbed. I looked at the clock on my cell phone: 3 A.M. What the fuck, I thought. I threw on a night robe and stuffed my feet into my slippers, then followed my shaken cat towards the sliding doors and pulled back the curtains. The outdoor lights were still on, and the sky looked, well, odd. Yellowish, like phlegm. I’d never seen clouds like that, but weather wasn’t exactly normal, lately. I noticed Munchkin staring and hissing at something and peered out towards the pool. It seemed to be glowing with lights like that same phlegmatic yellow. The water seemed to churn with an urgency to boil.
I carefully backed away from the glass doors and ran into the bedroom, leaving the lights off. I quickly dressed, and grabbed my purse, cell phone, and laptop bag. My cat looked at me, quietly pleading. I pulled her up and placed her into the opening of my purse and rushed outside to my car. As I pulled away from the house I noticed some people who had wandered outside to stare at the sky, while others were busy packing a few belongings and their children into their cars.
The invasion had begun.
“Uporzyna’s First Feed (A Phorzhicoa Collective Story)” #5
(Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)
by Cherie Ann Turpin
“Animal Crackers” served up coffee, pastries, bread, and homemade soup to their customers, mostly college students and faculty from the nearby private college. Well-worn easy chairs, couches, and low tables, along with wi-fi access kept a series of regulars settling in with laptops and tablets while drinking strong coffee. Finding a pair of easy chairs and a clear table near the rear of the shop, Onaryani and Uporzyna blended well with the lunchtime crowd. As Onaryani raised his ceramic cup of molasses and hazelnut coffee, he gave the slightest of nods to Uporzyna, who pulled a book from her over-sized bag on the floor, flipped to a random portion, and stared at the words on the page.
As the typescript melted from her view, the room itself became transparent like cloudy water, and time itself slowed. With the exception of Onaryani, who continued to observe her, every human in the room seemed to radiate with streams of light that spontaneously spurted from various parts of their bodies. Sound accompanied these streams, and Uporzyna understood some streams as conversation and others as thoughts. Erotic thoughts “smelled” sweet and heavy, as did erotic-themed conversational exchanges. Many other emotions and impulses promised to be tasty as well, but she felt drawn to the complexity of Eros as a sustenance suitable for her hunger, so she directed her Phorzhicoan gaze to the strongest streams flowing out, a couple near the window drinking coffee and eating coffee cake. Her first feeding would be a memorable one.
As she returned to shared consciousness, she slowly raised her head to find her guide watching her with an approving smile. Soon, she would do well on her own as a hunter, and in less than a year she would seek a life companion to share those endorphins and passions absorbed into her essence.
“the devil made me do it”
by Cherie Ann Turpin
#4 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)
“The devil made me do it,” Gavin said, staring at Lil with that sick grin, his eyes burning with a certain satisfaction. A short, thin blade covered in red flame pierced the night air as it propelled towards her chest like lightning.
Typical. Gavin loved to brag.
It was and still is a common excuse given by many who commit acts of violence against another to blame the devil. Such claims are occasionally written with fingers dipped in blood and other fluids still warm and steaming. The devil, indeed.
In Gavin’s case, he was speaking the truth. No horned man or Baphomet-like figure spoke to him. No, this manifestation of evil was the true fallen angel who came to him as a result of an elaborate summoning with all the requisite ceremony Gavin was known to employ when engaging in invocation. In short, Gavin opened himself to true evil in order to bargain freely and for that he would gain the unholy power and wealth to which he believed himself to be entitled.
Or so he assumed when he agreed to bargain away his soul. Gavin was on an assignment, the kind of assignment that would, upon completion, see the majority of her blood supply pool around her body. There were other women who would share the same fate if Gavin succeeded in his task of murdering her. Lil already knew of this assignment, as well as the likely trajectory of his path long before this moment.
Lil rejected this same offer given to her by this entity, and she did so knowing that she would become a target for the next soul weak enough to fall. It was a vulnerability common to spirit warriors who worked with the dead. It was common enough occurrence for seasoned warriors like Lil to expect confrontations from the fallen one through weak vessels like Gavin, who lusted for power and glory at the expense of those humans he previously pledged to serve. His greed blinded him to the pitfalls of trusting an entity who had not warned him about Lil’s secret gift.
Lil shook her head with disappointment in her former pupil as she warded off his attack with her right hand, flattening and rendering the dagger into dark space before her. Raising and pushing both hands towards Gavin, she pushed him and the air around him in that same dark space, the dry, hollowed space of the Entrapped, a prison of sorts filled with perpetual longing for the water of life for the unfortunate wretch who attempted to do mortal harm to the one who possessed the power of Shadow Entrapment. Until this moment, Gavin had no knowledge of Lil’s full talent as a spirit warrior.
Unlike Gavin, Lil avoided telling everyone specifics about her gifts.
by Cherie Ann Turpin #2 (Thirty Stories in Thirty Days)
People just don’t carry around pens anymore, much less pencils, thought Sandy, as she ran her hand through loose paper, envelopes, and markers covered in a fine mist of dust at the bottom of her desk drawer. After a few false tries, she pulled out a No. 2 pencil, though it seemed a bit dull at the end.
She took an eyebrow pencil sharpener and twisted the yellowish pencil into a fine point, blowing away the loose wood into the bathroom sink. Walking back into her living room, Sandy sat down at her desk and stared at the square strip of brown paper bag in front of her. The air in the silent room seemed to hum as she remembered the instructions from the cashier at the Botanica shop who sold her a white candle and a saint card to be kept in her wallet.
Nevertheless, this was just one step, one attempt to stop her ex-turned-stalker. The trabajo del espejo was a bit heavier, the next step after seven days if he returned to her door, attempted to reach her by phone, or emailed her. Sandy decided to wait and see if this trabajo would work before turning to hard magic.
Indeed, she felt her hands tremble slightly as she reasoned her logic in waiting to use more direct means. She wrote his full name on the strip, folded it in threes, and wrapped it in red string. After sealing it in hot wax she dropped it in a plastic jar filled with water and placed it in the back of her freezer. Her hands stopped trembling, and the air felt light, porous. She turned on her computer and clicked through some YouTube videos to take her mind from the ritual she just completed, feeling a sense of relief for the moment.
Meanwhile, her ex-fiance turned stalker Brian was seen in his neighborhood running and screaming at the car thieves who were now speeding down the street in his 2008 Honda Accord with his cameras, laptop and cellphone locked in the trunk. He would not be reimbursed by his car insurance–liability only. Cheapskate.
For now, he was frozen.
“Here are Samuel R. Delany, Joe Haldeman, Simon R. Green, Ian R. MacLeod, Ian McDonald and Todd McCaffrey singing the praises of female sci fi greats like Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, and Andre Norton.” http://www.themarysue.com/heforshe-scifi/at
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