A sequel to Prudence and the Dragon, published in Crossed Genres Quarterly #1 in February 2011 and reprinted by The World SF Blog in March 2012. You can download an epub of this story here: click here to download ebook.
The Perseverance of Angela’s Past Life
by Zen Cho
Angela was stalking herself.
She was packing for Japan and she had better things to worry about than doppelgangers, so she was trying to pretend her self wasn’t there.
She thought she would probably need one pair of formal shoes, but she couldn’t decide whether she should pack the new fancy shoes—which were beautiful and appropriate, but untried—or the old stalwart black peeptoes. They were a little manky, but they had seen her through May Balls and medsoc dinners alike.
“Bring both,” said her old self.
Her old self could not enter the room without Angela’s permission. She hovered at the window, peering in.
Angela was not going to invite her in. It was a cold night, but the dead don’t feel the cold.
“I’m travelling light,” said Angela. She set the new shoes down and picked up the old pair. What did it matter if they were scuffed? They had never let her down before. “I’m not bringing you also. All the more I shouldn’t be bringing extra shoes.”
“What lah, not bringing me,” said her old self. “I’m part of you what.”
The thaumaturge had confirmed this.
The problem was that Angela’s best friend was dating a dragon. Initially Angela hadn’t noticed any side-effects. Just the usual sort of thing. Outrage that her best friend was no longer as available as she used to be, that Angela was no longer the first person she called when she wanted to watch a musical or go to the park.
But these were ordinary incidents of the readjustment of a best friendship. Angela had got over it in time.
She was having difficulty getting over being split into two people, though.
七星鼓 (Seven Star Drum)
by Zen Cho
“When Boris was a kid,” said Coco, “he was scared of everything.”
Boris had been born with an extra membrane around his brain that filtered in things other people didn’t see.
This was not unheard of. Everybody knows somebody who can see ghosts. But Boris’s peculiar tragedy was that his parents were skeptics. Marvellously, incredibly, they did not believe in spirits.
It was not just that they did not pray. Boris’s parents used to go jungle-trekking during their holidays. They were the kind of people who kicked tree stumps and shouted at the wind without fear of retaliation. They spoke openly of death as something that happened to everyone–something that would, one day, happen to them and people they knew.
This is all right, unless you are a child who sees ghosts. And Boris saw all kinds of ghosts. His eyes did not discriminate. He saw red-eyed, white-faced, long-tongued vampires, hopping horribly, reaching out for him with sharp-nailed hands. He saw pontianak and langsuir and toyol and penanggalan, orang minyak, hantu tetek, hantu kum-kum, evil genies, plain old dead people.
Even the quiet ones were terrifying, with their sad eyes and transparent bodies. They were so hungry.
Every ghost wanted something from Boris. Usually they wanted his entrails.
Reprinted with the permission of Selangor Times editor KL Chan. A JPEG version displaying the original layout is available at Amir Muhammad’s blog: Short story by Zen Cho in the 14th issue of Selangor Times.
Chicken Chicken Bang Bang
by Zen Cho
Eileen knew she shouldn’t have listened to her brother.
Confucius should have included a get-out clause in the Analects, she thought. Respect your elders–except when they are idiots.
“Come, I drive you to work,” Ko had said in the morning. “I fixed the Proton last weekend. Want to see whether it works or not.”
Eileen had demurred: “No, it’s OK. I’ll take the LRT.”
“Come lah,” said Ko. “No point you drive to the LRT station and then have to wait for the train. Might as well I drive you all the way.”
“But you know I hate the jam,” said Eileen.
“Don’t worry. We’ll go by highway,” said Ko. “I know a special way to get there. Very fast one! I tell you, you won’t even notice the jam.”
Now here they were, stuck in an unmoving car, in a sea of unmoving cars. They hadn’t even got to the toll. The toll booths wavered in the distance like a mirage.