From the Fathomless Abyss novella in progress

Cover for Tales From The Fathomless Abyss, stories by Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen, Jay Lake, Mel Odom, J.M. McDermott, Cat Rambo, and Philip Athans.

Cover for Tales From The Fathomless Abyss, stories by Mike Resnick & Brad R. Torgersen, Jay Lake, Mel Odom, J.M. McDermott, Cat Rambo, and Philip Athans.

I’m working on a novella set in the world of The Fathomless Abyss, a shared universe project with authors Mike Resnick, Brad R. Torgersen, Jay Lake, Mel Odom, J.M. McDermott, Philip Athans, and myself. We’ve all done stories set in it, and each of us will be producing novellas set there over the course of this year.

If you’re interested in finding more about the oddities of the Fathomless Abyss world, check out the From the Fathomless Abyss anthology, which contains a story of mine that I like very much called “A Querulous Flute of Bone,” a somewhat odd retelling of O. Henry’s short story, “The Pimaloosa Pancakes.”

This project, which will appear as a stand-alone, is a mash-up of William S. Burrough’s Junky and H.P. Lovecraft’s “Dreams in The Witch House,” a story which terrified me as a child. Here’s how it begins:

His earliest memory was fearing the nightmares. He never slept well, all his life, even in that first moment, so long ago he remembered remembering it more than actually remembering it.

Knowing that if he slept, they’d come crawling out from underneath his cot, or spawn in the cavern shadows outside their hut only to come creeping in.

He didn’t remember what the nightmares were. Were they what they would be later, that room, over and over again? Or were they more childish ones, a ghost chasing him around a table, its breath rot-damp, or a fiery lizard curled in the stove’s belly?
The second earliest memory was the couple. Or rather, first the light on his face. They were going Outside, out to the walls of the world and he could see the light ahead of them.

Then, in the shadows, movement, squirming like a worm in a mushroom box, but much larger. Flesh twined with flesh, limbs sliding together slick and naked against the weed-choked rock.

What was that in the woman’s stringy blonde hair? A tiny rat of shadow. Its face was human, pugnacious jaw slung forward, brow pronounced. It looked at him and he nearly pissed himself.

His mother yanking his hand along so he stumbled, nearly fell. He tried to stop her, tried to ask, but she wouldn’t meet his eyes or acknowledge his tugging hand. Her face red in the light as they went onward towards the market Outside.

Later, she said to his father, when she thought him out of earshot, “Shameful junkers! Rutting there beside the path with their dreams frolicking on them where any passerby could see!”

“There ought to be a law,” his father said in a mechanical tone.

Or was that his mind interpreting the memory, ascribing the tone his father always used, the tenor his mother, a thwarted councilwoman, habitually took?

It was the first time he’d seen a junker.

Not even close to the last.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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