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Sometimes Things Are True

Now

Lucy rode an elevator to the cracked moon in search of her father. She slumped against the back wall, her eyes peeled for space pirates — zombie or ninja or otherwise. There was a guy next to her. His name was Bill. He carried a briefcase and smelled like cumin.

“You don’t even know,” Lucy said.

Bill said, “My mother was killed by a werewolf. I think I have some idea.”

Bill was not a monster. He was just a guy.

Lucy’s father was not just a guy. He was a ninja zombie werewolf space pirate.

Sometimes that happens.

You don’t even know.

Lucy said, “There are worse things than being killed by a werewolf.”

The elevator’s speed increased the further from earth it got. Lucy watched the sky falling beneath her feet. The elevator lights slowly came on as they slid into the darkness of space.

Bill said, “Like what?”

Lucy said, “Like being almost killed by a werewolf.”

Bill moved back into the corner. He clutched his briefcase against his chest. He watched the full, cracked moon fill the glass with its broken grin.

“What sort of work do you do?” Bill said.

Lucy said, “Apocalypses, mostly.”

“You’re a superhero?” Bill said.

“Depends,” Lucy said.

“On what?” Bill said.

“Who calls first,” Lucy said.

Bill didn’t ask any more questions.

Before now

“It’s not true what they say about werewolves, you know?” Lucy said to Jack. “You can’t become a werewolf by kissing. That’s just a myth. You can’t get it from sex either, unless it’s a very particular kind of sex. There are probably a few days out of the month when you’d probably rather not kiss one, or have sex, I guess. Sometimes things are true.”

“Am I even needed in this conversation?” Jack said.

“I enjoy listening to you listen,” Lucy said. “The sound of your breathing is very comforting.”

Lucy and Jack were talking on the phone. Lucy was in a restaurant in Rome having breakfast, taking her sweet, delicious time in taking down a recently reanimated and pissed off giant that had been taking a very long, and much-needed, nap beneath a piazza. Giants wear themselves out carrying all the weight of themselves. They need to nap more than people think.

The restaurant was called Bobby’s Buffet. It had a Korean menu on the wall. The walls were very blue. The tabletops a shade of sunshine. They served parsi-style scrambled eggs, mango lassis, and exceptionally good kimchi.

Jack was paddling through Manhattan in a canoe. Lucy could hear the rain falling around him. She could also hear distant screaming and tumbling stone towers. According to the last report she received, the recently reanimated giant was stumbling toward the Coliseum, clutching its chest. Giants often have trouble with their hearts, mostly due to them very often storing their hearts in eggs thinking that it’s safer, really, in the long run, to separate yourself from your heart. That never works, though. You can’t protect your heart if you’re always hiding it from yourself.

Lucy scooped up a bite of scrambled eggs. She asked for another espresso. Lucy didn’t believe in heroics before breakfast, or in storing her heart anywhere she couldn’t keep a close eye on it.

Jack said, “I’ve never kissed a monster before.”

Lucy said, “That’s a lie.”

Jack said, “How do you know?”

Lucy said, “I’ve seen some of your previous girlfriends.”

Lucy and Jack listened to the rain. The distant screaming had stopped. This was probably not a good sign.

Jack said, “You spying on me?”

Lucy said, “I’ve been known to lurk.”

Jack said, “When are you coming back to New York? The city misses you.”

Lucy said, “I don’t know. Maybe when I find this giant’s heart and crush it. Maybe when it stops raining in New York.”

Jack said, “What if it never stops?”

Lucy said, “Then you’re going to need a bigger boat.”

Jack said, “Which one of my girlfriends was a monster?”

Lucy said, “I’ll let you work it out.”

She listened to Jack breathe. Jack called himself a zen pirate, but really he was just a guy. Not a monster. Not a superhero. There was nothing special about him. He couldn’t fly. He couldn’t do magic. He couldn’t not die in any particularly interesting way. His beliefs had no more effect on the world than those of anyone else. Sometimes Lucy wondered if this was why she liked him. If maybe he was the yardstick for normal she measured herself against.

Jack said, “The firefly mermaids are beautiful this time of year. I’m thinking of sailing with Sally out to Central Park to see them.”

“Sally was my mother’s name,” Lucy said.

“I didn’t know that,” Jack said. “You never talk about her or your dad much, you know?”

Lucy said, “I’ve got another call.”

Jack said, “Good guys or bad guys?”

Lucy listened to the rain a little while longer. She imagined the fire maidens of Manhattan swimming and spinning through the air, dodging the rain drops. She thought about Jack’s face, about the plum cider he kept under his seat. She felt herself missing him. She looked at her phone. It was her father.

“C,” Lucy said. “All of the above.”

She answered the other call.

Before before now

Lucy’s grandmother was bitten by a ninja werewolf space pirate at a 7-11 during the early days of the ninja werewolf space pirate raids that took place along the northeast coast soon after the moon first cracked. She gave birth to Lucy’s father on one of the pirate ships as it flew back to the moon. In the confusion, the ninja werewolf space pirates did not notice the ensuing attack by their enemies, the ninja zombie space pirates. Most of the ninja werewolf space pirates were killed in the confusion of birth, flesh, and shambling kung-fu. A few stayed dead because a zombie here and there had silver fillings. A ninja zombie space pirate named Abigail found Lucy’s father hidden behind a barrel of raw meat. He was crying. She picked him up. She chewed away the left side of his chest, taking a kidney, a lung, some of his stomach, and at least half his heart.

Before now

Generally, Lucy and her father never met anymore except when the world, or a city, was at stake. It was one of those things. They had issues. He was a supervillain. She was uncertain whether it mattered if the world was destroyed or not, but she didn’t particularly want to die and she was a part of the world so, well, you know.

Lucy met her father on top of the ruins of the Roman Coliseum. He wore a tattered blue linen suit stained with ash and bone and a dab of something yellow on the left sleeve, mustard, perhaps, or giant’s blood. In his right hand, he held a half-eaten heart. He smiled at Lucy’s arrival, showing a mouthful of rotting, rusted teeth. It looked like a good punch might empty him out. Wrinkles stretched across his face, vanishing beneath the smoke and curl of his hair, once gold, now faded to brimstone. A winged marmoset sat on his shoulder.

The city smoldered and sparked around them. Pirates hovered down on hoverboats from her father’s vessel, a Z-gravved and pointlessly masted frigate called Never Mind the Pretense. Lucy’s father considered himself a funny ninja zombie werewolf space pirate. The ship bobbed overhead, magicnetically anchored to this precise point over the earth. Lucy generally turned a blind eye to her father’s activities, both because (a) his monstrousness tended to contain itself to the occasional monarchal pillaging or sacking of a city, and (b) she felt awkward every time she saw him, her chest expanding and contracting with a confusing mix of guilt, love, hate, pride, and fear.

She wasn’t sure just yet if her father had something to do with the giant, or if, in the chaos of stomping, he had decided it was a good time to attack.

“You’ve decided to sack Rome,” Lucy said. “Hilarious.”

Her father smiled at her around a bite of the half-chewed heart. He held the rest of the organ in his fist as if it were an apple.

“Got bored,” he said. “Plus, I wanted to see you.”

“You woke up a giant,” Lucy said. She gestured over her shoulder at distant plumes of smoke and a very large shadow making its way through the distant plumes towards the coliseum.

“That seems to have been the effect of me stealing his heart, yes,” her father said.


Chris Kammerud’s fiction and non-fiction have appeared in, among other places, Strange Horizons, Interfictions, and Phantom Drift. Along with his partner, he produces and co-hosts the short story discussion podcast, Storyological. He is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, and he received his MFA from the University of Mississippi, where he studied as a Grisham Fellow. He lives in London. You can find him online @cuvols or www.chriskammerud.com.