Rated PG-13, for the donning of gory suits.
An old man sat behind the dilapidated counter of the country store humming Negro spirituals as Grace walked in, sweaty from standing in the sun. Her new black dress clung to her like a frightened child and she plucked at its neckline with irritation.
“Sun hot for all that there, enny?” He put down his newspaper, folded to the obituary page and nodded at her ensemble. She smiled at his words, the singsong of her native Gullah reaching her ears for the first time in almost a decade. English peppered with African dialects made a steamy fusion of language rich with chewy rhythms.
“Too hot to be wearing black, that’s for sure.” Funny how her drawl had returned, each vowel emerging pregnant, full and round. “But I just came from a funeral,” Grace said. She shook her head, surprised at her revelation. Half a day here and she was already oversharing with strangers.
She wove her way through the tight aisles of the old store. Dusty tin cans lined the shelves, some bearing labels promoting brand names long out of production.
Grace pulled her braids away from where they lay heavy against her damp neck. In the few hours she’d been at the cemetery, the sun had turned her skin the color of burnished teak. Sticky heat formed a staunch wall around the island, blocking all but the most steadfast of breezes. What wind managed to penetrate was off the salt marsh and dank with sulfur, smelling like a match just blown out. Afternoon slipped toward dusk and the island’s night creatures would soon come alive.
But her father wouldn’t. No amount of prayer or hoodoo could do that. She wiped perspiration from her face.
The store owner took in her designer handbag and shades. Then his gaze traveled to the window, smoky with age and inattention, where her car waited outside in the dried grass. He asked with a healthy serving of doubt, “You a binyuh?”
“Yessir. Grew up in the last house on Marsh Road.” She looked at the date on the bottom of a can and put it back on the shelf. “Though the last time I was here, that road didn’t even have a name.”
A smile warmed the old man’s face, softening the deep ebony lines. “Then you been gone a long time.”
Wadmalaw Island had escaped time’s notice; its residents caught fish and shrimp exactly as they had when they’d been brought to this land as slaves. Shopping consisted of makeshift roadside stands manned by heat-softened proprietors of intricate sweetgrass baskets and hand-harvested produce.
“Pretty gal like you aine wed?”
She smiled, lips tight. “Nope.” There’d been enough discussion of marriage lately and she needed a break from her boyfriend’s persistence. She wasn’t ready. Not yet. Grace placed her items on the counter for purchase: quarter bushel of peaches, Mason jar of clear moonshine, spearmint gum.
“You said you was here for services. Who you lost?”
“My pop. Joseph Moultrie. Did you know him?”
He gathered her purchases in a line before he meticulously pressed buttons on an ancient wooden cash register. “Once, way back. Kept to hisself the last few years, though.”
Grace pursed her lips. “I’m not surprised. We had a bit of a falling out over a . . . family issue. I left but he was happy staying right in that little house at the top of the road.”
The man nodded in understanding, of which part of her comment she didn’t know. “Never guessed you was his. Rugged old so-and-so.” He lifted his arm, palm toward the ceiling. “Bless the dead.”
“Yeah, he was. Guess I must look like my ma, then. But I don’t remember her.”
“Neither me,” he said. The man’s lip trembled as he focused his attention on packing her purchases. “Joe never crack teeth ’bout your ma and I won’t neither.”
“Thought you said you didn’t know her.”
Grace twisted a cowrie shell fastened to the end of a plait. “Would you help me with something?”
He quoted her a price, but kept his eyes on the buttons of the register as he grunted in inquiry.
“Directions. To Ma’s grave.”
When he didn’t respond, she realized he was waiting for payment.
“Oh, sorry.” Grace placed cash in his cupped palm and dropped the coins he gave her as change into a cracked ashtray on the counter. He busied himself with finding the right-sized bag for her purchases.
She raised her voice, thinking the man hadn’t heard her earlier question. “I’ve been to Pop’s grave. Now I need to visit my ma’s.”
His fingers shook, either with nerves or age. After several tries, he was able to separate one brown paper bag from the stack.
Grace plucked the Mason jar of moonshine from the bag and put it in her purse. Its weight, along with that of a worn Bible she’d found hidden in a beat-up hatbox in Pop’s closet, made her purse strap bite into her shoulder.
“Do you know where she’s buried? Pop never told me anything.”
He seemed to deflate, becoming smaller, flatter. “She aine . . . ” He ran a crumpled handkerchief over his damp forehead. “I don’t believe she dead.”
Grace stared at him, speechless until he patted the worn metal stool next to the counter and she perched on it. Taking the weight off her feet, she felt ungrounded, floating away as though she was . . . weighed nothing. A lump formed in the throat, but she couldn’t swallow past it. The old man found two dented tin cups under the counter and he pointed at her purse where she’d put the bottle of shine. She relinquished the jar to him and he poured a generous amount for each of them. Only after taking a long swig was she able to speak.
“He told me she died.”
Pop had never allowed her to accompany him on his trips to the cemetery. Countless times, flowers in hand, he’d told her to do her schoolwork while he went to the graveyard to visit her mother. At first, he distracted her by leaving toys or candies on the dining room table. By the time she figured out what was happening, his old truck had already trundled down the driveway and out of sight.
As she got older, he simply ignored her pleas for information, her rants and raves, her insistence on knowing. Once, she’d tried to follow him, but once she got beyond the barrier of their property, she’d felt dizzy and off-kilter. She swayed on her feet, the woods she’d known all her life becoming a confused muddle of indistinguishable flora. Finally, she’d had to give up and return home. That was the night she’d decided to leave at her earliest opportunity. She couldn’t trust a man that didn’t trust her.
I was a good man before you.
The words she’d first seen written inside the Bible under her arm came back to her now, in her father’s rough-dry voice. She motioned for a refill.
The shopkeep drained his cup and filled both cups before he spoke. “She somewhere deep in that marsh. But dead? I aine sure.”
Despite the struggles of the window-unit air conditioner, it was stifling in the store. Grace waved a paper fan she’d gotten at her father’s services in front of her face. “I’ve got to get in that grave,” she said. “I have to know if she’s dead.”
He avoided her intense gaze as he sliced up a ripe peach from her bag and mashed its pulpy sweet flesh into the next cup of moonshine.
“No way you getting in that place ’less you a witch. And you don’t look nowhere close to being no boo-hag.” He took another long swig, draining the cup. A moment later, he pulled the gnawed peach skin out of his mouth and placed it delicately in the graying handkerchief.
Boo-hag. She’d been no more than seven or eight when Pop’s mama had come to visit and told her stories of the swamp witches. They existed on male lust, sucking it in like air, leaving their willing hosts drained and temporarily paralyzed. Unwilling ones were left dead. Pop had come in during the middle of the tale and forbidden any more nonsense talk.
“I remember those stories.”
“Just stories, huh?”
“I don’t know,” Grace shifted her purse higher on her arm. “Pop used to throw salt over his shoulder when he spilled it. A couple of people at the funeral told me they’d already seen his spirit walking on the roadside.” She frowned. “I don’t feel . . . alone sometimes. So I stopped saying things don’t exist a long time ago.”
The old man nodded.
“I need to get into that grave, though,” she said.
“No way you can pass through clean ’cept . . . ” He stopped, cursed his loose tongue. “Damn backyard shine. Gets to me quick.”
Grace sat up, rocking the stool forward. “Except what?”
He lifted the cup to his lips, then changed his mind and sat it down again. “The one way I know aine worth it.”
“Please tell me.”
“What you know ’bout hags?”
“Not much. They steal a man’s . . . ” She groped for a word. “Desire and make him weak.”
“More than that sometime, but that’s what the old people say,” he said, seemingly oblivious to his own age. “But how?”
Grace stuck a piece of gum into her mouth and shrugged. “Magic, I guess. I don’t know.”
“Without they skin, that’s how.” He leaned back in the ancient chair. “Don’t screw up your face like that. You asked for the tale, now you aine ready for it?”
“Okay, sorry. Tell me.”
“Get one of them hags to help you. They all over them woods after midnight.” He poured the rest of the shine into his cup. “You can’t get in that graveyard smelling like you fresh out the womb. They say that thing old Joe got guarding the place’ll rip you apart.”
It was black dark outside, but Grace still wore black, this time to hide better in the coming midnight. Sweat pooled at the base of her spine. She crouched behind a thick-rooted oak tree in the densest part of the woods. Spanish moss hung from the trees filtering the moonlight like lace curtains as she watched the group of witches congregate around small piles of what looked to be heaps of discarded laundry.
Real. The stories were all real. Hags, night witches, sippers of life and lust. All of it real and true. Her heart flailed inside her chest, seeking its own refuge. Resolve thrummed within her.
“You can do this. You can do this.”
She moved closer, inches at a time, praying that her progress through the forest sounded like an animal skittering for safety. Even though the old man had said to steal a skin, Grace couldn’t bring herself to do it. So she’d waited in moonlit darkness for hours, going through flashlight batteries and sticks of gum, until the hags returned from their carousing. Her only hope was that they would appreciate her manners for asking politely.
As she got nearer, Grace could see that the heaps of laundry were actually piles of luminous sky-blue flesh lying in puddles on the ground. The creatures standing above them were grotesque, wet and blood red, as they stood in line to run their fingers over each pile, stage whispering. Grace strained to hear the grainy, singsong words of the figure in front as they floated toward her on puffs of dogwood-scented wind.
Skin, skin, skinny . . . Do you know me?
Skin, skin, skinny . . . Is you mine?
The first pile didn’t move, so the stooped creature repeated itself to the second. No response. But the words made the third heap quiver and spring from the damp ground and dangle suspended in air as if on a hanger. Grace stared openmouthed as the witch donned the grisly garment and flew off, out of the woods. Other hags followed a similar ritual as the piles of flesh dwindled. Soon only one hag remained.
“I know you are there, child. Come to me.” The boo-hag didn’t turn to face her, but Grace heard its voice, soft and persuasive, clearly over the pounding of her own heart.
Grace swallowed, throat dry as her hands clutched the rough bark of the ancient tree. The witch didn’t give any other indication that she’d spoken as she stepped into her suit of flesh. It covered her slimy-looking frame without leaving any indication of an opening.
“I know you’ve been watching me with those marble eyes of yours. Curiosity shines in the dark.” She stood with her back to Grace, as she basked naked in the rays of moonlight. “Are you embarrassed?”
The hag slipped on a faded cotton dress from the forest floor. It was difficult to tell the color — it may have been green or brown or black — as it melded with the night so well. She made no attempt to tame her rioting hair. “There now. Come see what you wish to see.”
Grace’s tongue loosened. “I don’t want . . . ” Her whisper trailed off as she realized lying to a witch woman was not a good idea.
“Oh, but you do.” The boo-hag turned to Grace with the speed of a striking snake.
The young woman shrieked and shuffled backward, landing on her bottom in a scattering of decaying leaves. Backlit by a gibbous moon, the hag peeled herself away from her surroundings. Her eyes looked empty at first, but as she came closer, Grace saw they were solid and shiny black, like patent leather.
To Grace’s surprise, the crone laughed. “Which is it? Frightening? Disgusting? Better with the skin?”
Gone was the gory, dripping muscle-over-bone. Over it lay a washing-powder-blue husk that hung loose on the hag’s slight physique. The witch’s voice belied her look, because the demand came out silky and lulling. “Speak your mind.”
There was no need to be coy. Any person of sound mind would be home in bed, not stalking boo-hags for favors in the middle of the night. She scrambled to her feet. “I need to get into my ma’s grave.”
“LuAnn Moultrie’s grave? What for?”
“How do you know my mother?”
“I’ve been roaming these woods since before you were thought of. I see a lot and hear a lot more.” Frowning made the witch look as though her face were going to separate down the middle. “Doesn’t matter, though. You can’t get out there because your pa set a spell on that land.”
“I know. But someone told me I might be able to get by the guard dog if you . . . ” She trailed off, the right words eluding her.
“If you were to look and smell like a hag? That why you’re so taken with my skin?”
The hag laughed, a controlled shriek. “Been a long time since anyone called me that. You might be able to do it if you could fool that plat-eye.” She turned serious again. “A plat-eye is no dog. Ever seen one?”
Grace shook her head.
“He’ll get close to smell you, check you out. Don’t run and you’ll be fine. Run and it’s the end of you, skin or no.”
“Um-hm.” Heat rushed into Grace’s face as the witch’s gaze journeyed over her. “What do you have to offer?”
“Offer?” Grace’s jaw went slack. “I don’t have anything. I thought — ”
“You thought me that generous?” The creature extended a hand ending in gnarled, overgrown claws. “Or were you proposing an exchange?”
This time Grace held her ground. “No!”
“Good girl,” the hag said, approval evident in her tone. “Now what do you have that I might want?”
Another shriek. “Try again.”
“We fly, girl. On the wind or without it.” Her smile returned. “You could owe me.”
Grace rubbed her arms for warmth even in the balmy night air. Part of her wanted to run away and check into a hotel. To leave at first light and forget that she ever lived on this island. Reinvent herself again.
“Okay,” she whispered. “But what is a plat-eye?”
“Pieces of dead animals put together and brought back to life.” The hag reached up to her mane of coarse, graying hair. As Grace watched, it appeared she was going to smooth it with her palms. Instead, she parted the mass of steel-wool hair and pulled. With a sucking pop, the hide separated and the hag shrugged it off like a winter coat. The skin swung in the air like a hanged man. “You don’t know nothing about what you getting mixed up in and well, I’m sorry for you.”
Rogue thoughts dashed through her mind, chased by the thought of Pop’s scrawled words in the old Bible she found tucked in an old shoebox.
I was a good man before you.
Grace reached for the skin and it came toward her, lowering itself several inches to her height. Even with the eye sockets empty, the hide seemed to be looking at her, assessing her worthiness to wear it. Where she touched it, the skin felt cool like crisp bed linen. Her stomach roiled and she suppressed a shudder before she stepped into the opening down the back, clothes and all.
Inside the skin was hot, sticky with blood and ripe with the scent of bowel. Grace gagged at the moist, dank stench. “You can do this, Grace,” she muttered. She held her breath as she pulled it over her face and it sealed itself closed. With a bit of adjusting she was able to breathe from the mouth and nose and see out of the eyeholes, but the world had a strange look, as though it were covered in plastic wrap. For a moment, the skin hung loose as it had on the witch, then it fused itself to her body with a rubbery snap. “Oh God,” she gasped, the shells on her braids pressing into the tender skin of her neck.
The hag didn’t comment on her blasphemous outcry. Instead, she leapt into the air, calling over her shoulder. “Be back by sunup or I’m coming for my hide.”
“How do I get there?”
“Skinny knows the way.” Before she could respond, the hag flew away, leaving Grace alone as the shuffling sounds of the night returned to the woods.
Walking was no easy task in the weighty husk. Each movement was the result of deliberate thought and twice the usual amount of effort. Grace was panting by the time she crossed the woods and reached the borders of the overgrown plot of land where her father had supposedly laid her mother to rest. She’d been so focused on moving that Grace was almost on top of the guard beast before she saw it.
The creature’s wide back reached Grace’s waist and it was covered in various types of fur: long and black and shaggy in some places, smooth and golden and close to its barrel-shaped body in others. She stood stock still as it approached. The plat-eye’s pig snout twitched as it sniffed at her offered hand. Then it prodded her with its yellowing tusks. When it bumped its head under her hand, she realized what it wanted. Grace petted the dog-pig thing, ruffling its dusty, mismatched fur. The plat-eye snorted, sat back on its four hind legs and purred.
“I can pet you more later, but I need to find the grave you’re guarding.” She saw a mound covered in creeping ivy a few paces away. “Is that it?”
Grace knelt at the bottom of the mound and began to dig. She’d brought the small spade, but the hag skin didn’t need it. It sensed she was trying to break through packed dirt and black earth. It rippled, fusing her thumb to the rest of her fingers to form her hands into makeshift shovels.
The plat-eye sat on its rear hind legs and scratched itself with one of its fore-hinds before coming over to investigate. It helped her dig, scratching the black dirt with paws the size of her palm. Movement was no easier as she grunted with the exertion of bending the bulky hide to her will. She was hot, sweating, trapped inside the skin with her own fear and the memory of her father’s words in that damn Bible.
So I used it, LuAnn. That little bit of magic you taught me. Pieces of animals I found. Only one I had to kill myself. When it rose up from the ground, I ain’t shame to say I almost wet myself. Never seen nothing like that thing. Almost turned on me before I could finish the hex. But I did it. It’s roaming round that tombstone. Nobody can get near, ’cept maybe you.
But you gone, ain’t you, LuAnn? Left me with this child. I can raise her. Done a damn good job so far. But the girl is smart, starting to ask questions about her ma.
Grace dug faster. Inhaling the turned dirt made her cough. Not enough time. Her digging became frantic as the words that fell from the Bible pages flew at her with each scoop of earth.
Had to make the headstone myself. Couldn’t tell no one. Killing my wife. What righteous man does that?
She hit a hard spot. Grace slowed, used her spade-like hands to find the edges of the wooden box as the plat-eye whined.
She soothed it. “Shh. It’s okay, boy. We have to know, right?”
The dog-pig snorted, its tusks dark from rooting in the moist dirt. It crouched close by, red eyes solemn and watchful.
She wedged one of her shovel-shaped hands under the lid of the handmade coffin. Grace had to stand up to get enough leverage to wedge it loose. For a moment she paused, questioning her own logic. Maybe it was better not to know.
What has been seen cannot be unseen. Grace couldn’t remember where she’d heard those words, but at this moment, she believed that nothing could be truer. She’d come this far, making deals with blue-skinned crones, digging up her mother’s grave by crescent moonlight.
Suppose Ma was in here and Pop had killed her. She ran the scoop of her hand along the loosened lid imagining a filthy, worm-eaten dress still showing slashes from a knife. Flaky blood dried to a spice color. She kept up a whispered litany: I want to know. I want to know. The hag’s hide shimmered again and her fingers and thumb separated into hands.
Before she could change her mind, she threw off the coffin’s lid.
Grace stood over the open box, eyes shut tight. She didn’t open them until she felt the dog-thing winding around her legs, its fur bristly and its heavy tail thumping her leg, pushing her forward and off balance.
Her eyes flew open. She put out her hands and landed on her knees, braced against the rough edges of the box. Splinters broke off the coffin and stuck in the blue. Grace didn’t have the dexterity with her borrowed fingers to pull them out, so she left them where they were and looked inside.
There was no body.
A dress lay settled into a deep layer of brown dust: delicate white eyelet, now turned dry and tea-colored. Its long sleeves crossed over each other as though the wearer had been laid out lovingly and with reverence. Where the hands should have been, moonlight glinted off a small gold band. Grace plucked it from the box, the touch of her hand causing the papery dress to crumble into powder.
Close to sunup, Grace waited in the fleeing dark for the hag. She wasn’t any wiser than she’d been when the night started. Her muscles hurt. Itchy with sweat, she was boiling inside the borrowed skin. All attempts to relieve her itch were blocked by the hag’s thick hide. It was like trying to scratch herself through a blanket.
Mossy oak branches above her head rustled and the witch glided down to stand across from her. The scent of wood smoke surrounded her and the reflective eyes were sharp, assessing her skin and its wearer.
“Find what you looking for?”
“No.” She was too tired to elaborate or notice the hag had drifted closer.
The hag whistled a short tune and the skin sprang to attention, dragging Grace up in the air, shaking her as it struggled to dislodge her body. She fell to the ground with a grunt.
After she made a sympathetic noise in Grace’s direction, the hag asked for her payment. Grace looked at the bloody body standing next to its blue skin as they both gazed down at her. She pressed her back against the bark of the oak, exhausted and ready for this search to end.
“I don’t have anything. There was a coffin but the dress inside crumbled when I touched it.”
Her sight hadn’t adjusted after being inside the skin for so long. Everything still had a tight, shiny look to it and it was giving her a headache. Grace closed her eyes. Funny how the pain only started after the skin left her.
“All I found was this.” She held the ring aloft.
With surprising gentleness, the witch accepted her payment. She was quiet so long that Grace opened her eyes. The world was lighter. Morning would break soon, but Grace was the only one aware of it.
“Your pop was the kind of man all the girls wanted. Good-looking and didn’t know it. But he saw me one night when I was wearing a new skin. Told me right then he was determined to marry me.” The hag laughed without mirth, her voice thick with emotion. “Like a fool, I let him.”
Grace sat dumbfounded, covered in foul-smelling gore, dried leaves and grit. And listened.
“Even wore this ring for a while. He had a root lady put a love spell on it, but I didn’t mind him trying to trap me.” She twisted the band of metal in her bent claws. “I already loved him. But soon, it was too much. Too tight. I got tired of that skin. Never taking it off. Never changing.”
“What did you do?” It was her own story spoken to her through wide blue lips and she knew the answer. Run. Just as she’d done before this trip home.
“I wanted to tear it loose. Fling that skin far as I could. But one full-moon Sunday night, you came, all sweet and fresh and new. And the feeling went away for a while. Then it returned, stronger.” The hag took a deep trembling breath. “I had to go.”
“Pop must have hated you.”
“He knew one day I’d leave. Knew I’d try to come back, too. So he made me shed the face he loved, my whole skin.” Her laugh was bitter. “Without me inside, it couldn’t last. A few days, maybe. Then it dries up into nothing.”
Grace pressed her fingertips to her temples to stop the heated throb behind her eyes. “I don’t understand.”
“It was so I couldn’t be ‘her’ for anyone else.” She knelt in front of Grace. “He buried that skin like he was having a funeral for me. Then he painted the house blue — my blue — knowing I couldn’t enter after he did it, so I could never come back for you.”
“He wouldn’t,” Grace pulled crumpled oak leaves from her pants. “He used to say he wished LuAnn could be here.”
“He didn’t consider me to be LuAnn anymore. That was what he called me up until I was leaving.” She stood. “Won’t tell you what he called me then.”
Grace remembered the falling pages. Shaky confessions written in knife-sharpened pencil. “He knew you were a . . . a . . . ”
“Yes, and he thought he could fix me. Stop my roaming. But no.” No-longer-LuAnn lifted her moist, patent-leather eyes and Grace saw the muscles in her jaw and neck tighten. “Now do you understand why you can’t stay with no man? His love gets too tight for you and you have to get loose or choke to death.”
Grace leaned her head back against the tree, the shells on her braids a wind chime in the night. Memories of men she’d cared for danced to the unbidden tune. She was happy until they wanted to know where she was and what she was doing. They wanted to be able to tell her no and it was then she had to leave. Now her memories no longer included any of the men’s names or faces. Even the image of her current boyfriend, who wanted so much to get married, had faded from her mind.
“But I want someone to love me,” she whispered, ashamed of the admission.
“Never said you couldn’t have love. Just not the choking kind.” The witch blinked as the darkness of night lifted. “A time comes for all of us to change. No one is the same always.” Quickly, she stepped into her skin, the one that changed . . . shed each person she no longer needed to be.
“Are you leaving?” Grace asked. She was full of more questions now than she’d been before she’d come.
“I have to go. For now.” Grace thought she heard a hint of hesitation in her mother’s smooth voice. “But I’ll be here . . . around.”
“Do something for me?” Grace asked.
“Not screaming to be rid of me yet?”
“You’re my ma,” she said. The exertions of the night had caught up with her and she yawned. “Free the dog-thing. Nothing should be forced to stay in one place.”
“Think you already did, my girl.”
Grace turned and watched the plat-eye chase the last of the fireflies through the woods, leaping and pawing at them until he faded into the morning. When she turned back, her mother was gone.
It was time to leave.
But with her father buried on the banks of the marsh and her mother roaming the night, there was something to come back to. Maybe she could even talk Ma into teaching her a few spells. As she locked up the last house on Marsh Road, she decided to make a stop before leaving the island.
Grace pulled up to the corner store to say goodbye to the old man. The store was closed, dim inside. She peered through a grimy window and saw a figure standing over him where he lay crumpled in his chair like an expired coupon. Long and gangly with its meaty organs pulsing, the hag moved closer, its body glistening. She watched as it reached toward the man behind his counter.
A thought of helping him crossed her mind. Although she was no match for a true boo-hag, there had to be a way to save him.
From what? Maybe he wanted the witch here to drink the last of his life before he got too feeble. Too weak to run the store or give advice or gossip. She should leave him to enjoy his fate.
The hag’s claws were on him now. A time comes for all of us . . .
As she turned away, Grace saw the husk of the old man rise up to dangle in the air and she heard the creature speak, its voice familiar, soft and lulling.
Skin, skin, skinny . . . Do you know me?
About the Author
Eden Royce is from Charleston, South Carolina, but now lives in England with her husband and cat. Her short fiction can be found in Fireside Fiction, Abyss & Apex, FIYAH, and elsewhere on PodCastle.
She’s a recipient of the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Diverse Worlds grant and a regular contributor to Graveyard Shift Sisters, a site dedicated to purging the black female horror fan from the margins.
About the Narrator
Laurice White is a recent theater graduate and long time theater student, and has read stories for Podcastle, Pseudopod, and most recently for John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey on The End is Nigh and The End is Now, the first two volumes of The Apocalypse Triptych.