The Deadlands Official 2023 Award Eligibility Post For Fiction

hello again, from the deadlands.

we wanted to make a post that was easy to scan and see the beautiful, deathy stories we published in 2023 that you can nominate for various awards, such as

  • nebula
  • hugo
  • locus
  • SKELETON (this isn’t a real award but we hope someday)

here are the stories you can read and consider, all free to read, in order of publication:

Chamberstar: The Accabon, by Sam Rebelein

Why can I not be braver? More decisive? I loved Evelyn, why did I let her go? I know she loved me. But the thought of spending the rest of my life with one person? What if I’d chosen wrong? What if Evelyn grew to hate me? What if, what if, what if? Questions that still haunt me twenty years after the fact.

But for this last year, foremost on my mind, has been this: Why did they step inside that mirror, and I did not?

Amma’s Kitchen, by Rati Mehrotra

I can always tell what dish my customers will order. Knowing what the dead crave is my gift. Or my curse. It’s hard to know which.

This girl, for instance. Brown, like me, but pale, as if the color’s been leeched out of her skin. Dark, staring eyes, weeds tangled in her drowned hair, and an ugly purple frog squatting on her shoulder. She doesn’t remember her name or the man who killed her, but she remembers the taste of her mother’s fish pakoras.

You Row and You Burn, by Elou Carroll

The best thing about being dead is no longer needing to breathe. The worst thing about being dead is, well, being dead.

The gondola—the one you dove from before you knew, really knew that you’d died—passes overhead, and you are not drowning. Staying down on the seabed is as easy as existing. At first. In the Ocean Between, the weeds stretch up like the fingers of the dead and pick at your clothes. They tug and pull and scrape at your skin. Every moment you linger, your limbs grow heavier. You have to move.

Notes From a Pyre, by Amal Singh

Terra – 2198 AD

Baba lay slumped on his desk, his pen dangling from his parchment hands. His grey hair lay in knotted clumps over the notebook, his tongue sticking slightly outwards, almost licking the page he was writing on. His last scribble was his own name, Parikshit Mehta, with the ‘a’ trailing off, ending in an ink trail, his last act a death-flourish of his own signature. His eyes stared at the wall clock lifelessly. In them, I could see the glint of midnight, as the second hand struck twelve.

Jar, by Erin Brown

They say the Jar standing high on the hill above the city, silhouetted against the sky, alone and imposing, is the eternal stomach of the River God of the Valley, who is praised to devour us one by one. But one doesn’t have to be in the Jar for his digestion of your flesh to begin. I knew this—it was in all the teachings—but I didn’t understand until he chose me. Greasy chunks of my hands were still smeared onto the handle of my garden shears when they dragged me away from my hut and outside the city gates. They had already noticed I was deteriorating, though I had tried to hide it, and were waiting for enough evidence to allow the official decision to be made. Alone outside the gates, I looked down at the pools of pus in the wounds of my strong, weathered hands. I knew what would follow. The skin of my chest, my mouth, my eyes, stretched painfully from the violence of my sobbing as I fell into the dust before the locked city gates. Tears pooled and bubbled warmly under the tissue of my cheeks.

Things We Did by the Windmill, by Katie McIvor

We were fourteen when Edith fell into the millpond, but for years after that I wasn’t really sure if she was dead. We had the funeral, and the next day she showed up at my house just as usual. We continued to hang out together after school and at weekends, winding our bicycles through the narrow, twisted lanes of the fen, mud flicking up our backs, our hair thick with rain and blown insects. I never told my parents. I never told anybody.

Place of Four Winds, by Gabriel Mara

He sits, hands on knees, as the warm pyramid of the sun climbs his legs, sifting in through the open window. His back is unbent, and his hair is thick but where once it was black as night water, now it is streaked with grey.

The body on the low cot that lies in the sunless corner of the hut is troubling him greatly. A woman taken in her prime.

Memoria, by Steve Rasnic Tem

He sits, hands on knees, as the warm pyramid of the sun climbs his legs, sifting in through the open window. His back is unbent, and his hair is thick but where once it was black as night water, now it is streaked with grey.

He sits, hands on knees, as the warm pyramid of the sun climbs his legs, sifting in through the open window. His back is unbent, and his hair is thick but where once it was black as night water, now it is streaked with grey.

The body on the low cot that lies in the sunless corner of the hut is troubling him greatly. A woman taken in her prime.

There’s a Door to the Land of the Dead in the Land of the Dead, by Sarah Pinsker

The far stall in the ladies room in the Land of the Dead was backed up again. The day had already started terribly, with an email that hit my phone as I walked the 387 steps from my staff cabin to the front desk, an email from Lana saying Vera, I wanted you to find out directly from me that I’ve started seeing somebody. Call if you want to talk.

Death Is a Diner at 3:00 a.m., by A.C. Wise

You die in the stupidest way possible, slipping off a ladder while scooping leaves out of the gutter, the wet, mulchy scent of them the last thing you ever smell. You land just wrong, and as you do, you imagine your mother—smoke trailing from the cigarette wedged between the first and second fingers of her left hand, no words, just the look of perpetual disappointment she had for you ever since you turned ten years old, like everything about you and every choice you made from that point on would always and forever be wrong.

Till the Greenteeth Draw Us Down, by Josh Rountree

After the greenteeth took our parents, me and Squirrel moved in with Lady Lucy, who owned a bookstore before the water came and turned most of her inventory to muck. Lady Lucy had moved as many books as she could to her upstairs apartment, left her most prized volumes to dry out on the windowsill in the sunshine before shelving them in the various nooks and crannies she’d previously used to store alarm clocks and oven mitts and other things she no longer had use for. Squirrel called her Lady Lucifer behind her back, because our benefactor grew cold and cruel every time she drank blackberry wine. She’d indulge in bitter tirades about how lucky we were to be children because we hadn’t enough hard life experience to draw the greenteeth to us. But I knew that was bullshit. I was living proof that despair didn’t wait for old age.

The Ferryman, by Fernanda Coutinho Teixeira

You are the ferryman. You have no memory of being anything else. Your posture is molded by the whims of the river, your fingers made to curl around the handle of your oar. You know only a certain number of shapes and colors—dark grey for the ground made of stone, black for the river colored with pale shadows. Always moving, the currents guiding you in the right direction. The river always takes you where you are meant to go.

Sitting Shiva, by Zachary Rosenberg

Avram Mordecai sits shiva for his dead sister Tamar with only Tamar herself in attendance.

The memorial yahrzeit candle of remembrance burns auburn, lurid shadows waltzing upon Tamar’s face. Avram sits on a mourner’s seat, but the only meals laid out for him are horror and self-contempt. Tamar sits across from him, watching him endlessly.

Just Another Door, by Alexandra Seidel

The house is not a house. And yet, I am a guest, a knowledge that rests in my mind with the certainty of a swift pen stroke or a happy smile.

The house is mostly white, two stories tall, roofed in lichen and gray shingles. The path I stand on winds a lazy S across a lawn dotted with daisies, buttercups, and spring crocuses. In the flowerbeds, there are primroses and chrysanthemums, somewhere in the shadows to my left, a few Christmas roses avoid the sunshine. Behind the house, blue sky is too slick for even the faintest hint of clouds.

I am invited. I know this. I walk up to the door.

In the Forest of Talking Animals, by Makena Onjerika

The girl watches the forest taking over the street and changing buildings, people, and rubbish into trees, bushes, and animals. The world elongates, darkens, and gains shades of green, brown, and burnt orange. The girl is crouching on a heap of quarry stones near her older brother and his best friend, Sammy, who are trading insults in a game of mchogoano. Unaware that they are changing into trees, the boys rub their hands together, each giving the other maniacal grins, each proud of his scathing cleverness: “You are so black, when a stone is thrown at you, it goes back to the thrower to ask for a torch.”

All the Things I Know About Ghosts, By Ofelia, Age 10, by Isabel Cañas

The frightening thing about Aunt Tae praying was that she never prayed, not anymore—not since Padilla flooded, she always said. Flooded. An absurd word. Flooded means that water moves, that it has to come from somewhere, and most unbelievably, that our town was once dry land. See, Padilla has been underwater for as long I’ve been alive, so that’s not the strangest thing about it.

The strangest thing is the ghosts.

My Bonsai Lover in Winter, by Rachael K. Jones

Every year, I cut my lover down again. I begin with her fingernails, then remove the dead blossoms from her hair, combing it long and straight in the planet’s weak autumn sunlight as she tells me her hopes for next year.

“I’d like to grow wings next year,” she says with a tired smile, the one that says I’m already losing her. She offers me the shears. We both know I’m procrastinating.

“You’ll have to be very light to fly,” I warn her, unwilling to begin. I’m terrified of mutilating her, or worse.

Remember This When They Find You, by Margaret Dunlap

When they find you, they take you in. They give you a warm blanket. They put you to bed in a small room on a cot that is not very comfortable, except compared to no bed at all, which is what you had before. The cot is not actively uncomfortable. It is merely a bed that does not care about your comfort.

In time, you will come to appreciate its honesty.

Crumpled, by Steve Toase

We erupt into the world of ghosts like ink congealing through water. There is a moment when I think we won’t have any form before we become coarse grey fabric.

You’re probably imagining us hidden, memories of when you wore costume sheets as a child, but our bodies became the cloth, thread thin and creased when we moved. Our eyes are rough-cut holes edged in torn stitches. To look at us you might think the cloth hides death-whitened limbs. There are no limbs anymore. Jessica and I have become the garments of death in a place where the deceased gather.

Hollow Are the Bones, by E.E. Cypher

Women’s bones never burn the same. You’d be forgiven for assuming perhaps that they take longer to blacken and ash, denser for burdens once carried, or that perhaps there is somewhere about in the smoke a scent, a haloed lingering which implies duress or pain, a weight woven into bone that makes them harder to flame. This is not true. Women burn like birds.

Notes From the Delta Spirits, by John Lighthouse

It is the stillness of peace; it is the stillness of desolation; it is the quiet of rest; it is the quiet of unutterable grief. We drift with the languid air above the face of Agonis Creek and gaze at our tremulous reflections. In the quiet of grief, in the quiet of rest, in the stillness of desolation, in the stillness of peace, we are here. We are often here. It is our haunt.

Image Not Found: Francesca’s Bridge, by Aimee Picchi

February 15, 2:15 p.m.

I’ve tried to post the photo of Francesca’s Bridge—yes, the bridge—about a gazillion times. Hopefully you all can see the pic? This might be the biggest discovery yet for our Haunted New England group!

Damn, I don’t think it’s uploading.

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