But wait, there’s more! (Publishing news)

strange constellationsHere’s a fun piece of news: I sold a short story to Strange Constellations, and it’s scheduled to appear in their September issue. (Almost makes me feel like a real writer again…)

Strange Constellations is a really interesting publication. They publish one story per year online, then collect six months’ worth of stories into an ebook and print anthology. The monthly issues are released for free, in their entirety, under a nonexclusive Creative Commons license. It’s a relatively new market but one worth watching. Check them out!

Here’s a little teaser to tide you over until September:

Duet

The drumfish weren’t so bad. Yes, they were the size of a building, amphibious, incredibly sensitive to noise, and they could crush a living unit by sitting on it, but they were fairly peaceful if they were kept calm. With the music going they were much less inclined to thump-slither out onto land, in search of the nearest settlers to squash. Of course, the music had to keep going, Andy thought with a frown, which meant you had to come in at your entrance when you were supposed to. “Thompson, you’re going to miss your cue.”

The old man at the keyboard console next to Andy’s shook himself and toggled his video display back over to the music score. “Oh, oh, right. Hey Andrews, did you see the news…”

“Three and four and now!” Andy uttered through a clenched jaw, bobbing his chin in Thompson’s direction. He slowed his part down a bit, playing the ascending line up his keyboard until Thompson took over on the higher register. It was very important that they play in synch. The station had to be operational and harmonious, two musicians working together perfectly, coordinating their notes and their timing, counting together, breathing together. Paying attention and not getting distracted. The drumfish could tell when it wasn’t going right, just like they could tell when it was a recording. At least he took his job seriously, Andy said to himself, careful not to pound the notes too hard in his annoyance.

Out on the shoreline, a hundred meters or so from the music station and its array of speakers pointed earthward to transmit their vibrations into the sand, the leathery, ridgebacked, unweildy drumfish bobbed their heads from the water and back down again. The day was wearing on into afternoon, the tide would go out in a few hours, and the drumfish were swimming away. Thompson’s part wound through its variation, recapitulating into the main theme, and Andy would take the melody back next, a final tune for the drumfish to listen to as they swam off, singing to one another, Andy imagined. Back to the deep, back to our home. We’ll listen to the music again another day. Just a few measures and…

“They’re gone,” blared the speaker over their heads. Andy missed a beat and stumbled his way back to place, but Thompson lifted his hands from his keyboard in the middle of a measure, not even caring about the chord he left unresolved, and flipped his vidscreen back to whatever he’d been watching before. Andy lamely noodled his way to the end, counting the silent beats of Thompson’s missing part out loud. Andy was, he had to admit, a rather indifferent musician. But he understood how to play a duet, and that was what was important. He glared at Thompson from the corner of his eye, glared at the ceiling where the guard’s boots thumped on the observation deck overhead. She couldn’t have waited just a few minutes before turning on her radio and making her announcement. But no, other people never got it. Musicians were sensitive to discordant and unresolved sounds. Andy understood the drumfish more every day.

Read more in September at Strange Constellations

©2015 Michelle M. Welch

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