by Heather Shaw and Tim Pratt
Alex was seven when he ran away to join Santa’s elves.
If anyone had asked why he wanted to leave home, he would have said “I hate it here!” (Actually, he would have said, “I’m not telling you!”, then raced into his room and slammed the door, which is one way to say “I hate it here!” in the language of seven-year-olds.)
Alex had his reasons. Even after he started second grade, his parents made him go to bed at 7:30, even though all his friends stayed up until eight, and Fletcher didn’t go to bed until 9:00 p.m., an unmatched hour in his little boy crew. For Halloween, Alex wasn’t allowed to be Darth Vader, because his parents didn’t like him “idolizing villains,” and they made him be a Jedi knight instead. Alex made the best of it by telling everyone he was young Anakin Skywalker (a detail he kept from his parents so they wouldn’t change his costume into something stupid, like old Obi-Wan). He wasn’t allowed play dates with the two kids he liked the most, just because they got in trouble for chasing some kindergarteners and putting dirt in their hair. What was the big deal? Alex had gotten dirt rubbed in his hair when he was new, too!
About the Authors
Heather Shaw is a writer, editor, UX Designer, sewist, and lindy hopper living in Berkeley, CA with her husband and 15-year-old son, River. She’s had short fiction published in Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Fantasy, Escape Pod, PodCastle, and other nice places. She has been the fiction editor at the erotica zine Fishnet, the speculative fiction zine Flytrap, and the pro-SF zine, Persistent Visions. As a family project during lockdown, Heather, Tim, and their son River designed, created, and successfully Kickstarted a tabletop card game called Cyberwreck. You can find more about Heather at her website, www.UXbyHeather.com
Tim Pratt is the author of over 30 novels, most recently multiverse adventures Doors of Sleep and Prison of Sleep. He’s a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Philip K. Dick, Mythopoeic, Stoker, and other awards. He’s also a senior editor and occasional book reviewer for Locus magazine. He tweets incessantly (@timpratt) and publishes a new story every month for patrons at www.patreon.com/timpratt.
About the Narrator
Wilson Fowlie lives in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada and has been reading aloud since the age of 4. His life has changed recently: he lost his wife to cancer, and he changed jobs, from programming to recording voiceovers for instructional videos, which he loves doing, but not as much as he loved Heather.