Shimmer Magazine — Issue 25
Across worlds within and without, four stories about the moment of transformation. The moment when a person knows the skin they wear isn’t quite right. The moment a person steps out of who the world believes them to be, and embraces who they genuinely are.
The Proper Motion of Extraordinary Stars, by Kali Wallace
Smoke rose from the center of Asunder Island, marring a sky so blue and so clear it made Aurelia’s eyes ache. The sailors had been insisting for days she would see the Atrox swooping and turning overhead, if only she watched long enough, but there was no sign of the great birds.
The Mothgate, by J.R. Troughton
We knelt behind the crumbling wall, rifles balanced over its brow, peeking over the moss-stained stone and into the dense trees that lay beyond. I tried as best I could to stop my teeth from chattering, but the winter night was bitterly cold. Mama Rattakin didn’t seem to notice. She was staring toward the tree line, pointing with her black and withered hand.
Good Girls, by Isabel Yap
You’ve denied the hunger for so long that when you transform tonight, it hurts more than usual. You twist all the way round, feel your insides slosh and snap as you detach. Your wings pierce your skin as you leave your lower half completely. A sharp pain rips through your guts, compounding the hunger. Drifting toward the open window, you carefully unfurl your wings. It’s an effort not to make a sound.
In the Rustle of Pages, by Cassandra Khaw
Li Jing looks up from the knot of lavender yarn in her hands, knitting needles ceasing their silvery chatter. The old woman smiles, head cocked. There is something subtly cat-like about the motion, a smoothness that belies the lines time has combed into her round face, a light that burns where life has waned.
Shimmer is not generally known for its humorous content, nor happy-go-lucky stories. Shimmer stories tend to have a mood and that mood is often bleak. Beth once told me Shimmer stories were like the line from Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” (or was that line only in the Jeff Buckley version?), it’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah. It’s cold and broken, but there is still a sliver of light by which to see. That’s the shimmer.
The Scavenger’s Nursery, by Maria Dahvana Headley
A boy finds a baby in the garbage. It’s hotter this summer than it was the summer before. Everyone in the city is trying to get to the country, because in the city, the rat population is exploding. Rats themselves are exploding, though not of their own volition. Sometimes rats swallow explosives. Sometimes explosives are wrapped in little bobbles of food.
The Cult of Death, by K.L. Pereira
The first time you saw her, she was getting change from the machine in the lavandería; copper and nickel clacked against her metal palms, a rain of clicks pricking your eardrums. She was just as grotesque as your sister said: silvery fingers stiff as stone, jointless and smooth, unable to pluck the money from the open mouth of the change-maker. She struggled to scoop the coins into the stiff basket of her hands but you wouldn’t help her. You were too busy praying to Saint Lucy to take away your voice for good this time.
You Can Do It Again, by Michael Ian Bell
I come up again at the bodega on 189th and Amsterdam. When the vertigo and nausea pass, the shimmering forms resolve into bodies and storefronts. Trash bags are piled enormous in the street and I stare transfixed, one hand on the doorframe, steadying myself. In my other hand is a cola, cold like ice. I put it against my forehead and it shocks me into the moment. Every time is the same but it never gets so I expect it.
Come My Love and I’ll Tell You a Tale, by Sunny Moraine
Tell me the story about the light and how it used to fall through the rain in rainbows. Tell me the story about those times when the rain would come and the world would turn sweet and green and thick with the smell of wet dirt and things gently rotting, when the birds would chuckle with pleasure to themselves at the thought of a wriggling feast fleeing the deeper floods.