There’s a new organization in town, and it’s already kicking ass and taking names. Actually, it’s not really doing any of those things. What the Outer Alliance is doing is working to advocate for a wide range of sexual orientations and gender identities in speculative and fantasy fiction (which in same ways, does actually amount to kicking ass and taking names!).
The organization’s mission statement is simple and straightforward:
As a member of the Outer Alliance, I advocate for queer speculative fiction and those who create, publish and support it, whatever their sexual orientation and gender identity. I make sure this is reflected in my actions and my work.
And as part of the day of celebration and support, the Outer Alliance is asking members to post a bit of a queer speculative fiction story. So, here’s my offering, a snippet of my story, “Beneath Sea and Sky,” scheduled to appear in the upcoming Wired Hard 4.0 a collection from Circlet Press.
Beneath Sea and Sky (Excerpt)
Skye is hunting off the prow of the boat. His real name is not Skye, and he is not actually hunting. But this is what he would like me to say about him.
In truth, his name is Scott. His last name is just as simple, and the combination embarrasses him, taints him, he thinks. So he has become Skye. And so he hunts for things. Last month, it was an undiscovered planet in the western sky. The month before that, it was buried pieces of a UFO wreck in the Arizona desert. This month, he’s hunting the elusive Blue Men of the Minch off the coast of Scotland.
He has never found anything on these hunts, only wisps of just-eluded bits, fragments he can’t capture, but can lament over for ages. “If only,” he says. “If only I’d been there earlier.” “If only I’d been looking two degrees to the north.” “If only the camera was working.”
Skye has brought me with him on this hunting expedition under the auspices of love. And lust. But I’ve begun to think he has truly brought me to bear witness. To reflect him as Skye, to validate his hunt when he comes back, as he will, as he always does, empty handed. Empty handed except for a new thing to hunt and the new lilt that he’s already tacked onto his American accent like a fake logo on a cheap watch.
“Do you see anything, Abihail?” he hollers from his lookout.
Unlike Skye, I was born with a name that requires no sprucing up. It is as complex and as laced with history as all the myths Skye aches for. Perhaps for him, this is my appeal. Most people call me Abe, but Skye likes to say my name, sometimes my full name, Abihail Joseph Levin, as though he himself is naming me, calling me into being. And he likes to suck me, pushing back the uncut length of my skin until he exposes the head, gasping and telling me I’m beautiful by name before he buries me deep between his thin, pink lips.
“I don’t see anything,” I say. It’s not true. I see many things, but none of them are the things that Skye cares about. There are dark birds skimming the water so low they nearly touch it, but somehow, impossibly, do not. There is the moon in the afternoon sky, its barely-there crescent curling toward the water, guiding the waves in some way that I once read about, but have never understood. Far off, there is a small island, curving green and brown above the blue of the sea, as if some god dropped a jeweled ring and then, in time, forgot it. If I lean over the edge of the boat, where the water slaps at the ship, I would see the blues and greens and greys of the Scottish sea, and maybe even a flash or two of the things that live beneath its surface.
“Nothing?” Skye asks. He has his new binoculars to his eyes, scanning the horizon. His skin is so pale, almost as white at the outside of the boat, except for his shoulders which are an angry, shining red, and his short red-blond hair, bleached to the color of flaking rust.
“Nothing,” I say again.
I should say that I’m not a liar by nature. In fact, I’m very honest. Perhaps too honest. My mother would say so. As soon as I knew I liked boys, I told her. She said, “Listen, Abihail, there are some times when a person is not required to tell another person everything about themselves.” I don’t think she cared that I was gay, just that I didn’t go around telling the world about it.
But Skye makes me bend the truth. He is the light that enters my water, makes me refract the truth and reflect it back to him, all crooked and misshapen.
“They’re blue, Abihail” he yells. “Hard to see against the water. Look closer.”
“I know,” I say, but not very loudly and the winds wipe my words away.
I do know. Skye’s told me over and over how the blue men look. The Na Fir Ghorm, is what he’s written in his journal about them, but that’s a phrase I’ve only ever seen spelled and never heard, so I don’t know how to say it. They’re not mermen, exactly, but something akin to them. Glossy bluish skin, a long gray face with curly hair and a beard. Tiny eyes and big mouths. Strong lungs and arms. Very strong. The kind that can swim a thousand yards through the churning ocean and still crush a man. Bury him beneath the sea with little more than a breathless song and a flex of muscle.
I look and I look, and I see lots of things, but not the things that Skye wants me to see.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.