by Joanne Anderton
read by A. J. Fitzwater
Previously published by In Sunshine Bright and Darkness Deep
Rated R for adult content.
It had once been a sheep, and it wasn’t dead yet. A mangle of smouldering wool, scorched skin, and cooked meat, breathing in puffs of hot ash. Outrun by flames, tangled in underbrush, or crushed beneath a falling tree, who could tell? Everything was charcoal now. I pull the mask from my nose and mouth and breathe the warm smoke in. Load the rifle, aim between what’s left of the poor thing’s ear and eye, and give it peace with the slow squeeze of the trigger. Try to ignore the shakes, the tears stinging my eyes. I’m soaked in sweat and covered in ash, but supposed to be grateful that I’m still alive. At this point, it’s hard to even give a shit that the house is still standing.
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Joanne Anderton writes speculative fiction for anyone who likes their worlds a little different. She sprinkles a pinch of science fiction to spice up her fantasy, and thinks horror adds flavour to everything. She has won the Aurealis, Ditmar and Australian Shadows awards.
A. J. Fitzwater is a dragon wearing a human meat suit, living between the cracks in Christchurch, New Zealand. She attended the Clarion workshop in 2014, and won the Sir Julius Vogel Award 2015 for Best New Talent. Stories have been published in venues such as Shimmer, Crossed Genres and various Crossed Genres anthologies, At The Edge, an anthology of New Zealand and Australian speculative fiction from Paper Road Press, The Future Fire, and more.