Every Halloween, an elderly woman hands out candy to a young trick-or-treater who’s dressed as a witch each time, looking exactly the same age. With each passing year, the woman grows more attached to the little witch and her odd nature. But she is no ordinary child, and an uncanny relationship develops between the two of them that may prove dangerous and deadly.
Fiction and Excerpts 
Tor.com is pleased to present Mary Rickert’s “Cold Fires,” originally published in 2004 and recently included in the new collection You Have Never Been Here, available from Small Beer Press.
Faced with the uncanny and the impossible, Rickert’s protagonists are as painfully, shockingly, complexly human as the readers who will encounter them. Mothers, daughters, witches, artists, strangers, winged babies, and others grapple with deception, loss, and moments of extraordinary joy.
I was given a leather-bound embossed journal with cream-colored pages which I was quite reluctant to ruin with my scrawling draft work. Instead, I decided to use it for a learning exercise by copying, in longhand, one of my all-time-favorite novels. Initially, I intended only that, but what has developed is an engagement with the text, sometimes veering into David Foster Wallace-like ruminations. (Though I claim none of the brilliance of the authors mentioned here.)
My novel obsession is Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I was fortunate enough to read this story the first time with no prior knowledge of it; thus, Styron taught me the skill of misdirection with his deft telling of Sophie’s many choices so that when it came to the choice I was socked in the gut, though—and this is important—I did not feel tricked, because I was not tricked. Misdirection, done well, is an honest art.
From multiple World Fantasy Award winner and Nebula, Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, Sturgeon, and British Science Fiction Award nominated author M. Rickert comes a gorgeous and terrifying vision of the Mothers of Voorhisville, who love their babies just as intensely as any mother anywhere. Of course they do! And nothing in this world will change that, even if every single one of those tiny babies was born with an even tinier set of wings.
This novella was acquired and edited for Tor.com by editor Liz Gorinsky.
Check out Mary Rickert’s The Memory Garden, available May 6th from Sourcebooks!
Bay Singer has bigger secrets than most. She doesn’t know about them, though. Her mother, Nan, has made sure of that. But one phone call from the sheriff makes Nan realize that the past is catching up.
Nan decides that she has to make things right, and invites over the two estranged friends who know the truth. Ruthie and Mavis arrive in a whirlwind of painful memories, offering Nan little hope of protecting Bay. But even the most ruined garden is resilient, and their curious reunion has powerful effects that none of them could imagine, least of all Bay.
We’ve got a treat today for fans of dark, personal fantasy in the form of a reprint of M. Rickert’s story “Journey Into The Kingdom” from Holiday, her most recent collection of stories. Enjoy!
THE FIRST PAINTING WAS of an egg, the pale ovoid produced with faint strokes of pink, blue, and violet to create the illusion of white. After that there were two apples, a pear, an avocado, and finally, an empty plate on a white tablecloth before a window covered with gauzy curtains, a single fly nestled in a fold at the top right corner. The series was titled “Journey into the Kingdom.”
On a small table beneath the avocado there was a black binder, an unevenly cut rectangle of white paper with the words “Artist’s Statement” in neat, square, hand-written letters taped to the front. Balancing the porcelain cup and saucer with one hand, Alex picked up the binder and took it with him to a small table against the wall toward the back of the coffee shop, where he opened it, thinking it might be interesting to read something besides the newspaper for once, though he almost abandoned the idea when he saw that the page before him was handwritten in the same neat letters as on the cover. But the title intrigued him.
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