by Emily Devenport
Wraiths can be beautiful, angelically so at times. But most of the time we’re thin and unsubstantial. Or at least, that’s the way it’s been for me. I haven’t been doing this for very long, so there are a lot of things I haven’t figured out yet. And so far, no one seems inclined to tell me what to expect.
No one told me how ugly we can be, either. I found that out by scaring the bejeezus out of some guy when I was hiding under a table in an old house, and he and his cohorts were cutting some drugs and talking about shooting people. They were so blasé about it, I just got madder and madder as I listened to them. It was the first powerful feeling I had experienced since – you know, whatever happened to turn me into a wraith. Transmogrification, chemical reaction, gravity waves – whatever. I was suddenly there, like a mist that congealed on a cold, wet night, and my self-awareness was so primitive that I just sort of hung out under that table.
“His head exploded,” said the guy who was about to get the shock of his life, and he laughed like a child who’s just discovered puppies.
In my mind’s eye I could see the man who had been killed; he was more substantial than I. The sight was pathetic, and my anger made me real. I crystalized like magma hitting the cold air and grabbed his leg.
“What the fuck?” he shrieked, and he and his comrades looked under the table. That’s when I flashed them the ugly muggly. There was a moment of shocked silence, and then they leaped backward. I could feel a shockwave going from me to them, a burst of power that was pure emotion.
It surprised me as much as it did them, and my hands became insubstantial. The guy pulled right through them, and bits of me went along with him like smoke. That only scared him more, and before I could get over the surprise, they had all scrambled, scuttled, and bounced out of the house and into the night.
Emily Devenport has published nine novels under three pen names. Her novel Broken Time was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. She also has two new novels forthcoming from Tor: Medusa Uploaded and an untitled sequel.
Her short stories have been published in ASIMOV’S SF MAGAZINE, the Full Spectrum anthology, The Mammoth Book of Kaiju, UNCANNY, CICADA, SCIENCE FICTION WORLD, ALFRED HITCHCOCK, CLARKESWORLD, and ABORIGINAL SF, whose readers voted her a Boomerang Award.