Our 16th offering is “Protection from the Darkness” by Jamie Lackey. Jamie Lackey lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and their cat. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Her fiction has been accepted by dozens of venues, including The Living Dead 2, Daily Science Fiction, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She reads slush for Clarkesworld Magazine and is an assistant editor at Electric Velocipede. She’s a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Find her online at www.jamielackey.com.
Protection from the Darkness
By Jamie Lackey
Tommy found Scraps at the bottom of a pile of frozen kittens. We heard him mewing under the porch, and Tommy slipped underneath the worn boards and pulled out the whole sad heap.
I started crying when I saw them. They had huddled under our porch and piled together for warmth, and only the kitten in the middle had survived. If we’d heard them the night before, maybe we could have saved all of them.
Tommy peeled away twisted, frozen bodies until our kitten poked his tiny face out. His eyes were glued closed by thick yellow puss, and his orange and black fur stuck to his skin in matted patches.
“Mom!” I shouted. “Come here!”
Mom peered out through the screen door, her thin face shadowed by dark, tangled hair. “What is it, Dolly?”
“I found a kitten!” Tommy said, holding up the tiny body that nestled in his cupped hands. “His name is Scraps.”
Mom pressed a palm against the screen. For a second I thought she was going to come out. She hadn’t come outside since Dad died. That’s when she changed, when she starting doing the dark and twisted magic that made my skin crawl. Maybe if she came outside, things would start getting better.
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Reviews to date:
Jamie Lackey’s “Protection from the Darkness” features a child narrator who helps rescue kittens from the cold who helps the narrator rescue her witchy mother, bewitched due to her persistent mourning of her husband’s death. Sadly, this narrator mirrors some of what happens in today’s society where children must step up to be the adults in the family.
– Trent Walters, SF Site.
Tommy is a young boy who finds a kitten nearly dead on a cold night and takes him into their household in “Protection from the Darkness.” It’s not a happy house. Their mother is in deep depression over the death of her husband, and the kitten becomes important when she uses magic to help end her grief. Jamie Lackey has written a strongly emotional story about mourning and moving on. – Chuck Rothman, Tangent Online.
What do you think? We liked the sparseness of this piece, the raw emotion and intriguing character relationships. Not to mention the magic.