Rated R for violence
A Hunter in Arin-Qin
by Daniel Abraham
At first, when the lights of my home still glimmered in the darkness behind me, the cold only chilled. Then, pressing through the snow with the effort of the chase keeping me warm, the cold bit.
At the end, it comforted.
It meant the worst kind of danger, but with fear itself a distant thing, even danger failed to seem dangerous. Snow cracked under my feet and caked the wool of my leggings. I wrapped my father’s hunting cloak tight about me. I walked because I could no longer run. Before me, the beast’s tracks softened under new-fallen snow, and with every moment, new flakes conspired to hide them further. The sword strapped to my back grew heavy, and I doubted my strength, even if the opportunity came. My daughter’s doom whispered with every pine branch that brushed against me. Gone.
Slowly, the hunter within me–hard as stone and untouched by years of a different woman’s life–woke. Her eyes saw the fading edges of the beast’s track as time: two hours ahead of me, then three hours, then four. Her mind evaluated my shuffling stride and leaden hands. She tried to smile with my numbed lips; I felt her grim amusement. She knew a dead woman when she saw one.
I fell without knowing that I fell. My foot touched the snow. My knee touched it. My hip. My shoulders. The soft white filled my mouth and nose and eyes. It tasted like rain. I pressed my hands down, trying to rise, and the earth passed through my fingers like fog.
About the Author
Daniel James Abraham is an American speculative fiction writer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His collaboration with Ty Franck under the name James S. A. Corey, Leviathan Wakes, was nominated for the 2012 Hugo Award for Best Novel and the 2012 Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. (And is the basis for the TV show, The Expanse.)
His novelette “Flat Diane” was nominated for the Nebula Award, and was featured on Pseudopod. His novelette “The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics” was nominated for the Hugo Award and the World Fantasy Award.
About the Narrator
Amal El-Mohtar is an award-winning author and critic. She is the science fiction and fantasy columnist for the New York Times Book Review and the co-author, with Max Gladstone, of This Is How You Lose the Time War, which to date has won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus Awards for Best Novella. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of Ottawa, and you can find her on Twitter @Tithenai or subscribe to her newsletter at amal.substack.com.