Woohoo! So this is very cool news — my lesbian sci-fi rift-jumping erotic story has made the short list for Circlet Press’s 20th Anniversary Best Of anthology! Which makes me feel all aflutter and a bit like I’m jumping rifts myself. There are a lot of fantastic stories on the list, so if you read Circlet’s stuff (and you should!), please do go and help the authors out by voting. And, of course, if you read and liked mine, I wouldn’t mind a single bit if you gave me your vote.
Here’s a little excerpt too, in case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about. I’ll be posting links to excerpts from the other stories I like, as authors share them.
The Many Little Deaths of Cicilia Long
The first time Cicilia Long died, she was eighteen and had just enlisted as a Rift Jumper. In the tick-tock seconds before Cicilia’s death, her mother was back in Illinois, standing on the slanted porch, looking up, lamenting the loss of her daughter to the forces of the sky. And Cicilia’s girlfriend — former girlfriend, fuck-up of a girlfriend, fuck and dump her girlfriend, the reason she was here in outer space girlfriend — was probably lying down on that super-skinny Darlene Shanka, not even thinking about Cicilia. Or maybe, hopefully, lying on her back under the pimple-faced Darlene, looking up at her constellation of zits and thinking about Cicilia flying up in the sky, past the sky, up in the universe, and thinking how she was the stupidest thing ever for having passed her up for a little earth-bound nothing.
But that was alright for them, because at the moment before she died the first time, Cicilia was standing on the edge of a satellite station somewhere between the new moon and the old one. When Cicilia had enlisted, it had been because she was pissed at her former girlfriend and at her mother, who had said, “Well, perhaps if you dated boys instead…” and she’d thought she would have a desk job, making graphs or something like her Aunt Daliah. However, her superiors back at Base had quickly discovered that while she was athletic and intuitive, math was not her strong suite. So she’d been trained in rift-jumping, not in navigation, and had discovered she loved it. She was doing work that mattered–exploring the effects of time and space travel on the body–and so she barely even thought about the two women that had once been so important to her life. They were the reason she’d come here, a childish act of revenge, but they weren’t the reason she’d stayed. It was beautiful up here. Wherever up here was.
For while Cicilia, through training and instinct, could tell the precise moment when the rift would open to let her through and the exact diameter of the rift, in both inches and centimeters, she wasn’t exactly sure where she was in the world as she stood on the edge of it.
Which, as it turned out, was the problem. Because of the girl who was trained in navigation was in lust or love or at the very least, like, with Cicilia. When she was supposed to be navigating the ship and its satellite to the exact rift-jumping spot, she was, in fact, looking at Cicilia’s long legs wrapped in her high-tech atmosphere pants and at Cicilia’s hair, which was longer than it should have been and so she kept it woven in three longs braids that fell out of the back of her helmet and rested against her back. Through the monitor, the shape of Cicilia’s back and ass looked like an old violin, the kind that was perfect for playing, the kind that would make a perfect song if you just knew what to do with your fingers and her strings.
And in watching Cicilia and thinking about playing Cicilia, the girl who was trained in navigation forgot her training for a moment and lined Cicilia up, not at the very degree of the risk at which it was safe to jump, but one degree to the right, which was a place that was the exact opposite of safe.
The rift opened, just when and how Cicilia knew it would and she gave the girl in the navigation room a two-thumbs up through the motion camera, noticing for the first time as she did so, the girl’s perfectly heart-shaped face and her golden-green eyes.
And then she jumped.
Rifts are funny things, scientifically somewhere between black holes and worm holes, but looking more like ripped holes in a piece of sky fabric, a long jagged tear that let the underslip of the world show through. Sky fabric, unlike real fabric, is neither soft nor flexible, the sharp, hard edges opening toward a wide middle section. That very middle, wide-open center, was where Cicilia was supposed to do her rift-jumping.
Cicilia realized just how much rifts are funny thing as she went through this one, but didn’t actually go through it. In fact, she was just two clicks to the left of where she needed to be, and her bottom half went through it and her top half hit hard enough against the edge of the rift that it dented her helmet, a sound so loud that even the girl who was trained in navigation heard it through the motion camera and drew in her breath, having realized at last that she had caused the love of her life, Cicilia Rachel Long, to have her first death.
Cicilia, who did not know any of this, but who knew that this wasn’t how rift jumping was supposed to go — at least not according to the hundreds of simulations she’d done at base — had a moment of disconnect, what with her body going two ways and her mind going a third, and then there was a rather loud snap, like a door closing, and Cicilia was rift jumping, only it wasn’t like any rift she’d ever seen, not even on the “When Things Go Wrong, Which they Won’t, But Just in Case, Videos I, II, III, IV and V” that they’d showed at base. This was kaboom and her whole body went whooshing. No, not her body, as though her body had been broken into an infinite number of pieces and she could feel each one all edged and tingly. Her body, in all of its separate units, not just down to her nipples and clit, but down to her cells, her neurons and dendrites and axons, all gave a collective gasp as if preparing themselves. The implosion and explosion were simultaneous, lightening the atmosphere with their collective heat.
Dying, thought the infinite exploding stars that once were Cicilia, was way better than sex.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
PS — Image from this awesome artist.