This short story by Kameron Hurley (whose Bel Dame Apocrypha book series I adore) is a fantastic read. No one can weave the visceral and emotional life of characters hardened by war quite like she can. Give it a once-over (if you can read it just once – I went over it a third time just last night) and marvel in Hurley’s refined craft of blending strange and terrifying timelines together seamlessly.
“Liza, what are you doing?”
The little girl kept her eyes down as she gently massaged her abdomen with both hands.
“I am trying to find my courage.” She said. “I think it is in here… somewhere.”
“Why are you looking for it?” Her father asked.
“I need it to go Trick or Treating.” She remarked, starting to prod a bit harder with two fingers. “What if it’s too scary?”
He knelt down and took both of her tiny hands in his. “I promise you I will keep you safe. Okay?”
A smile came to her slowly. “Oh. That’s good. I don’t think there was much courage in there anyway.”
“I’m sure you’ll find it when you need it.”
“I’m not worried. That just means there’s more room for candy.”
A good book makes the reader want to turn the page. A great book bowls the reader over, urging him ever forward: faster, faster, more, more, more. My job is to grab the reader with the very first words of a story and drag him into our journey, pulling him along until, before he knows what has happened, he has thrown his hands up and is whooping with joy alongside me.