SPECTATORIAL VOL. IV
Table of Contents Letter from the Editor-in-Chief & Creative Director | 6
Fiction “Thick Skin” by Miranda Whittaker | 9 Ed. Kerrie McCreadie, Asst. Ed. Rej Ford
“Our Perspective” by Ben Ghan | 14 Ed. Alexander De Pompa, Asst. Ed. Shahin Imtiaz and Polina Zak
“Shadows & Preserves” by Kerrie McCreadie | 21 Ed. Alexander De Pompa, Asst. Ed. Michelle Monteiro
“Vulture and the Sun-Eater” by Alexander De Pompa |24 Ed. Lorna Antoniazzi, Asst. Ed. Ben Ghan
Poetry “Our Duties Beyond” by Magdalena Wolak | 34 Ed. Christopher Boccia, Asst. Ed. Ariana Youm
“Contact Lights” by Magdalena Wolak | 36 Ed. Christopher Boccia, Asst. Ed. Rej Ford
“Sand and (Lie) Mmm” by Magdalena Wolak | 38 Ed. Christopher Boccia, Asst. Ed. Victoria Liao
“Cryolights” by Christopher Boccia | 41 Ed. Magdalena Wolak, Asst. Ed. Victoria Liao
“Silicon Revival” by Eric Harrell | 42 Ed. Christopher Boccia, Asst. Ed. Sonia Urlando
Biographies | 45 How to Get Involved | 48
Letter from the Editor-in-Chief & the Creative Director Alexander De Pompa | Lorna Antoniazzi When we first conceived of the project that would become this anthology, we had just said goodbye to many of our former contributors and staff members who had recently graduated. We formally proposed the themes of rebirth and metamorphosis for our anthology because they allowed for open-ended interpretation and reinterpretation while still providing a cohesive overarching framework. Of course, these two themes are actually one: change. Perhaps the most amorphous of all concepts, change can be positive or negative, ambivalent or ambiguous, permanent or temporary, immediate or gradual—but it always implies a movement away from a previous state. This collection examines change in just a few of its manifestations, and in so doing poses difficult questions. How do we experience the passage of time? How do we reconstruct ourselves out of calamity—out of tragedy, heartbreak, or trauma? How do we find meaning in a world that seems incomprehensible and uncaring? Through the lenses of mythology, utopia, dystopia, urban fantasy, and contemporary fairy tale, we see our writers bravely attempt to answer these questions. The stories and poems in this collection explore the transition between childhood and adulthood, institutional violence against women, the power of narratives and belief, and the dangers and the allure of cryogenics and advanced technology. These ideas are further explored in the creative direction of the anthology. The cover of this volume acts as a synecdoche of and as a prelude to everything inside. It is dramatic—something is forming, changing, and breaking apart all at once. It is an examination of the process of change, and of how creation and destruction can often be mistaken for one another. The illustrators whose work is represented in this journal have tackled these themes with aplomb, employing intricate designs and experimenting with techniques and mediums. It is both exciting and fitting for us to publish this anthology at a time of pivotal change in the school year. Though the individual members of our community change over the years, what never changes is the dedication and the imagination of The Spec’s contributors and readers, who continually inspire us to push boundaries and to publish great art. It is thrilling to helm the production and publication of The Spectatorial’s first ever themed anthology. It won’t be the last.
ILLUSTRATED BY ARIANA YOUM
By Miranda Whittaker
Ed. Kerrie McCreadie | Asst. Ed. Rej Ford
ILLUSTRATED BY LINA NGUYEN
In my part of town there are always clothes on the street. In other neighbourhoods, you might find boxes full of discarded clothing—the stuff left over from the weekend yard sales. My street, tied to the local college’s student ghetto, goes a step further: students leave piles of black garbage bags stuffed with shirts out on the curb or trailing down porch steps in sad, unwanted trails. At the end of every school year, I would ride my bike around, filling its basket with the local clothes for Mom. She was practically nocturnal, always up late bagging or sorting our finds. She worked at the local women’s shelter, among other places. There was always someone who needed something to keep the cold out or the sun off, she’d say. After everything went through the laundry, we’d gather up the latest haul and donate it. I was glad to gather clothes for people who’d be happy to have them, and to help my sleepless Mom. When I was a kid I would imagine that the boxes and bags were left out for helpful elves. Clearly, I must have thought that my neighbourhood had a surprisingly large elf population. I blame Mom for having told me embellished versions of The Shoemaker and the Elves as a kid—now I know that the elves did not receive cheap I LOVE T.O. caps from their employer. When I got older, and my tastes got darker, Mom took to telling me creepier stories. “In ancient Rome, one centurion left his clothes on the road to the city, scentmarking them like an animal, and then launched himself off into the night as a werewolf,” she told me as we sorted T-shirts by size. “There once was a young woman who turned scaly whenever she slept. Imagine the surprise she gave her husband when he woke up before her!” She flashed me her Cheshire Cat grin over our morning eggs. And once, as she inspected an old fur coat, she told me the story of the village wise-man who donned a wolf skin to change his form at night. She kept that coat. It had been rejected from the shelter market for having too many tears in the lining, but it kept Mom warm in the winter. Growing up with those stories, I imagined that each stray T-shirt or hoodie was abandoned by the local werewolf, or some preppy shape-shifter wearing Gap and Old Navy. Like most things in life, my imagination was better than reality. Students have always filled my neighbourhood. Every year a new crowd moves in: the faces change, and so does the nightlife. When I was little, summers brought amateur guitarists and singers, who would belt out the latest pop ballad—and sometimes they were even on-key. The students themselves were usually friendly enough. But one year the crowd got meaner. My home turf turned hostile. As I grew up, I started looking different: softer in strange places. It made me wish I was fiercer. On weekend nights, our various drunk student neighbours would
call out, “Hey, little laaaaady!” as I walked by. Other times they would shout things I didn’t fully understand—or they’d use words I’d pretend I didn’t know. Sometimes their shouts were so slurred that I couldn’t make out any words at all. And some of them would say nothing at all, just stare at me as I passed by. That year I wore a big baggy sweatshirt whenever I went out at night, letting the extra fabric hide most of me. But there was only so much a cotton jersey could do. I needed a thicker skin. My next-door neighbour, Mr. Snyder, was plenty fierce in his own way. While I fumbled with my house keys, desperate to get inside my home, Mr. Snyder would yell across the street at the guys who were calling to me. His return volley usually went something like: “Somebody’s feeling their oats tonight! Friggin’ kids!” Or sometimes: “Stop bothering the people who actually live here! GO HOME.” His shouts didn’t quiet them, though. He was the head of the Neighbourhood Watch, but I never saw him cross the street to talk to the partiers. We needed something more if anything was going to change. I wished Mom and I could move. I wished even harder after the loudest party, when a large, angry drunk guy, probably from the house across from mine, came banging on our door at one in the morning. “Fuckin’ lemme in guys!” he shouted again and again, less coherent each time. He slammed his body against the door, the sound resounding in my room upstairs. He seemed to think that he was at his own home, and that his housemates had locked him out. When I opened the door a crack to explain this to him, he shoved, trying to force his way in. “Go away! This isn’t your house! Go away,” I shouted, pushing back. All I could see of him was his sweat-stained Blue Jays cap and the red of his fleshy face. I’d seen Sweaty Hat across the street from my house many times, smoking on the curb and then flicking the cigarette butt onto the already-littered pavement. Eventually he stopped pounding my door and stood staring at me, swaying slightly. “Oh. Uh. Shorry...” he slurred. Then he stumbled down the porch stairs. Mom missed this charming moment; she got home from her other job about an hour later. When I told her, she was livid. “What the hell? Drunk and trying to force his way in? Like they own the damn place…” We were in the kitchen. The kettle boiled, and she poured me some chamomile tea—then she went to pacing like a caged animal. “They’re only here until the end of the semester, so they think they can do whatever they want. And that ridiculous old man—that huge Neighbourhood Watch sign in front of his house and what does he do about all of this? Not a damn thing.” Mom’s hair swished behind her like an angry cat’s tail. I half expected her to hurl a brick at someone—maybe even the human battering ram from across the street. It
was a shame she hadn’t been home earlier. It was after that night that things really started changing. First, the tires on the students’ bikes got slashed. Then Mr. Snyder’s door was scratched down its length, the gouges deep. Our cat no longer wanted to go out at night, and Mr. Snyder’s yappy dog stopped yapping. Mr. Snyder said that he would report it all to the police, but I never saw a single cop car around. I think he was scared. The marks in the tires looked almost like teeth marks. One night, some partiers set off a car alarm. I peered through my window, but the shrill ehh ehh ehh was cut short when something slammed into the car, denting it hard. The party ended abruptly, with shouts of “holy shit did you see that?” and “what’s that noise?” ringing in the night. Then it got quiet. No angry drunks, just the usual broken glass glittering on the sidewalk and spilling out onto the street. I cautiously stepped out into the night, enjoying the cool air, and strolled down the street. I didn’t think anything of the rotten egg smell that wafted over the neighbourhood. Then I heard it. A howl, from down the block. No, not a howl. Nothing like the screams of fighting racoons. A deep, rumbling sound. Not like thunder. Not a distant car or motorcycle—it was something coming alive. A figure about my height was crouched outside my front door, half hidden behind our garbage bins. Long hair fell from the figure’s shoulders. Even if it hadn’t been dark, I wouldn’t have been able to tell who it was. When it stood back up, it was taller, and something whip-like dangled down its back. A tail. I froze. It wasn’t human at all. Only after it prowled across the street and disappeared could I move again. I made my way home silently and I bolted the door. Then I found something horrible. It was in a moulding cardboard box next to my family’s washer and dryer, with a perfect circle of wet drawn around it. It reeked worse than week-old trash. Folded neatly inside the box was a large, grey leather jacket. And it was weird. Scaly, almost. A thick, heavy belt dangled from it like a dead snake. I couldn’t see a stitch in it. I hated it on sight. But I picked it up anyway; it looked sleek and maybe even valuable. I carried it upstairs to Mom, as if it were some sick animal. She wrinkled her nose up when she smelled it. “That stinks like it’s been dragged through some brimstone swamp!” she said. Then she shrugged and said it was a reject from the shelter’s fundraiser. “Keep it, if you like it—just keep it away from the rest of our donations.” She smiled her old Cheshire Cat grin, then asked me to help her fold some clothes. That night, I tried it on—just like I always tried on our finds. It slipped on easily, fitting perfectly, despite having looked too big for me. The zipper slid up smoothly, protecting all the new, soft parts that I wanted to protect. I couldn’t feel any lining
in the jacket or the weight of it on my shoulders. As soon as I was wearing it, I didn’t smell it at all. All I could smell was the sweet night air coming in through the window. I wanted more of that cool, clean air, so I slipped out of the house. I belonged in the night. At first, I thought I was just imagining it. My imagination always was more fun, after all. But when I reached up one hand in the dark and touched my face, something sharp nicked my skin. Stinging pain followed the thin cut opening down my cheek. I glanced at my shadow cast by a distant streetlight. A whip-like tail, pointed at the end, had become part of me. The howl began in my chest, then spilled out from between my toothy grin. It echoed over the street, louder as it rolled. They heard it five blocks away, just as I had before. Everyone’s quiet now. And they’ll stay that way. These days, Mom still works late and hard. She’s taken to wearing that mangy old fur coat again. It looks practically alive and I love it on her. I still have the jacket. I wear it when I walk late at night. And I don’t worry about walking home alone anymore. I’m the most dangerous thing out there.
Our Perspective By Ben Ghan Ed. Alexander De Pompa | Asst. Ed. Shahin Imtiaz & Polina Zak
ILLUSTRATED BY GWEN WOLINSK
For Leonard Nimoy I have gone where no one else has gone before. Or, I have gone where everyone goes. I don’t know. I found myself in the waiting area of an airport, sitting cross-legged in a vinyl seat. It was a small airport, the kind you go to so that the plane can refuel when a storm keeps you from arriving at your intended destination. Its ceilings were low, and a thick layer of dust and grime clung to the walls and windows. The floors were covered in thousands of overlapping footprints, though they were faded and had their own thinner layer of dust clinging to them. This was a place that was very old, that had been used and abandoned many times—and a place nobody had ever been in before. The gate by my terminal had only one identifier: the number 0. When I looked down the hall, straining my neck to see the other gates, I could see they all said 0 as well. Sometimes I could see other people sitting and waiting, tapping their feet absently, in their own 0 gates. They were from all over the world, from all times throughout history—there was… I don’t know. It’s hard to describe images that only present themselves as impressions. I could only see these people out of the corner of my eye; they would fade away into nothingness if I tried to focus on them. So I was not alone, but my company was only peripheral. I was wearing the clothes I had died in. Some of my other belongings were with me as well: my watch was on my wrist, though it had stopped ticking, and the silver ring I kept was still on the pointer finger of my right hand. But other things had vanished, like my phone and my glasses. I wasn’t sure why, or what the distinction between these items was that allowed some of them to stay and made others disappear. It wasn’t that I had had all of these things with me when I had died—I wasn’t wearing the ring that day, but I did have my glasses. If there was a logic to this, it was beyond me. Perhaps I simply liked some things more than others. Whatever the reason, I wasn’t bothered; I didn’t think there was anything for me to see except more airport, and I wasn’t expecting any calls. I had lost all concept of time. Whether seconds or years passed was impossible to determine, and unimportant. I looked out the window, through glass that was smudged and scratched. Without my glasses I should’ve been squinting, but I wasn’t. There was no land beyond the airport—it was on an island, surrounded by a vast, impenetrable green sea that extended to the horizon. Staring at the water, I remembered a different, far less calm ocean. I died while I was falling. I’m not sure if it was the impact that killed me, or if I drowned. I don’t remember being afraid, or the water rushing up to me. I don’t even really remember the jump. But I remember falling, so, to my mind, I died while falling. I remember I thought of watching Star Trek as a little girl—of Spock’s deep,
furrowed brow. I wanted the bright light to appear around me, to be beamed up to the safety of my childhood memories. Being dead for any amount of time makes you lose perspective on life. It makes it hard to know which details are important—which memories you need to hang on to, and which ones you can let slip away. I don’t remember why I killed myself; I just know that it seemed like the only thing I could do at the time. But everything seems less important now. All I remember is a sense of surprise and regret, and nostalgia for Star Trek. Eventually, or perhaps immediately, I became aware of the feeling of eyes on me. Looking up, I saw an old man watching me from the flight desk. He was tall and thin, and his hair was short and grey. His face was lined with the creases of one who had often maintained a furrowed brow, but also a smile. He wore a baby blue shirt, the right breast etched with an upside-down letter V, and black pants. He surveyed me from behind a pair of rectangular glasses, the dark lenses of which hid his eyes. The man looked like an actor who had once played an alien on TV, and later in movies, that I had loved. I hadn’t recognized him at first glance because now his ears were rounded. We stared at one another, or perhaps it was a mere glance, before he raised a long, callused hand and beckoned. “Me?” I asked. I couldn’t tell if I spoke the word, or mouthed it, or thought it. I don’t know if the dead have sound. Yes, please. I found myself gliding gracefully up to the desk. The old man looked at me and cracked a warm, inviting smile. Behind his spectacles, he had only empty nothingness in place of eyes. Looking into his eyes was like looking into tiny patches of the night sky, the stars hidden just out of sight behind his eyelids. May I take your name? My name slipped out unintended from between my lips, and once it was gone, I couldn’t remember it. The man curled and uncurled an empty hand before slipping it into the pocket of his dark pants. Ticket, please. “I haven’t got a ticket.” I said, surprised. Everybody has a ticket. As he said it, I felt something thin and light in my jacket pocket. I reached in and grabbed the slim airline ticket. It looked like a regular ticket, but the information on it was different. A field that said name had been scratched out. Underneath it, there were the sections heart, mind, soul, and the seat number 4864, printed in small glossed letters. I handed the old man my ticket. “Can I ask you a question?”
He tilted his head, which I took to be a yes. “Are you…” I was trying to phrase the question delicately, but couldn’t. “Are you Death?” I am your perception, he said, and explained no further. “What is this place?” I asked. The man looked up, surveying the airport as if noticing for the first time where he was. It is in between, he said. “Like purgatory?” I asked. He didn’t answer. I risked another question. “Why does it look like an airport?” That is your perception. The man slipped my ticket into a drawer, and stepped out from behind the desk, hands held behind his back. Follow me, please. I sauntered after the figure from my youth, following him from the waiting area into the tunnel that I thought would connect the building to the planes outside. “Where are we going?” I asked as I hurried to keep up with him. The boat. I realized that this was much longer than the airport ramp should have been, and when we came to a sudden fork in the road, my guide stopped and turned to look at me. He held out a hand, palm facing up. Heart, please. Without knowing how, I gave it to him, feeling my heart slip out of me. I hadn’t noticed my heart when I’d had it, but now that it was gone, I could feel where it had been. My guide pocketed what I could not see, then took hold of the handle of a door that hadn’t been there before, pulling it open. We didn’t walk out onto the steps of an ordinary airplane, but onto the deck of a spaceship. It was the spaceship that I’d seen on TV. Every cheesy, cheap set piece was there, but everything was now solid—real. Looking up, I almost expected the wires and lights of a television studio, but it was the roof of a proper starship. “This is the boat?” I asked, though I should have expected the answer. This is your perception, he said, sitting down in the corner, by the familiar screen where his character had always sat. I looked around, unsure of where to sit. I felt uncomfortable taking the captain’s chair, or sitting in any of the classic actors’ seats. My guide gestured to a seat next to him, a small silver chair I didn’t remember from the television show. I approached cautiously, and saw my seat number, 4864, pressed into a small plate along the arm of the chair. I went to sit, but my guide held out a hand. Mind, please, he said.
I hesitated. “What happens if I give it?” Then you sit. “And then?” Then you choose where to go. I contemplated this. “I have more than one place I can go?” He didn’t answer, but continued to hold out his hand. “Where can I go?” I asked. “Anywhere?” No. “So where?” I asked. Mind, please, he said, and then reached up and took it. I wanted to protest, but knew that there was no point. He pocketed my mind and gestured for me to sit, not unkindly. So I sat. Beyond, or return, he said, and on the giant monitor, the ship’s screen blinked on, showing two paths. One was empty, like the vastness of space I had once yearned for, but without the wonder of twinkling stars and far off nebulas. The other showed disconnected scenes from lives I didn’t recognize, and landscapes that were so alien to me that I could not believe they were from the same world that I had once inhabited. “What are they?” I asked in awe. Beyond, he said, pointing at the blackness. Return, he said, pointing at the images. “Return?” I asked. “To life? I can go back?” Not back, he said. I frowned, and he must have sensed my confusion. You can’t go back, he said gently, speaking for the first time in full sentences. Nobody can. But you can return to something new. “You mean I’ll live a whole new life—I’ll be someone else?” I asked. That is your perspective. I frowned. “Will I remember my life? This one, I mean, the one I’ve just lived?” No. “But that’s the same thing as dying,” I said, unable to keep the tremble from my voice. You have died, my guide reminded me gently. “I know,” I said. “You… you know what I mean. I wouldn’t be me. I would be… It would be a stranger.” Beyond, then? He asked, turning his head so that his glasses flashed in the direction of the darkness. “What’s there?” I peered into the empty expanse. I don’t know. “You don’t?” I asked, surprised. “But you’re Death.” I am your perception, he repeated patiently. “But even so…” I said, my voice trailing off.
I am Death, he acknowledged. But I am not dead. “I’m sorry,” I said. But he only smiled softly. “So you don’t know what happens if I go that way,” I said. He nodded. “But if I choose to return, I won’t be me anymore.” Who are you? he asked. I blinked at him. “I don’t understand,” I said. Are you a body? “No, but…” Are you who you are because of a name? Because of a singular set of memories? Of experiences? You are never one. You are an evolution of what has come before. “Wait,” I said slowly. “You mean I’ve been here before? And I chose to go back?” I asked. “When I was someone else?” Many times. “Why?” He paused. He opened and closed his mouth before answering. To risk trying again, he said. You are one of the universe’s experiments of life. “What if I choose beyond?” Then your experiment will be over. “And if I go back?” I asked in a small voice. Then your experiment will continue. “But I’ll be someone different. I know I’m dead, but that feels like… like I’m giving up. I don’t want to give up being me.” Death regarded me with affection. You are always you, he said. From my perspective. I considered this. “I have one more question.” My voice was even smaller than before. “Will it be better next time?” I asked. Perhaps. “Will I be happy?” Perhaps, he said again. “But it might be just as bad,” I said, closing my eyes. “It might be worse.” I opened my eyes to look at him. “I’ve been here before, and I’ve chosen to go back before, on the chance I might be happy in the next life. But it didn’t work, clearly it didn’t. I’m here.” I looked away, letting my glance roll over the gentle lights of the ship controls. “A failed experiment,” I said, throwing his words back at him. He cocked his head to the side, his expression unchanged. That depends on your perspective. The experiment is not over unless you want it to be. “So I can go back, hoping next time I’ll be happy,” I said. “But I might not be.” That, articulated my companion slowly, is the risk of living. That is the experiment. “Would it be worth it?” I asked. He said nothing. I looked away. “I suppose that depends on my perspective.”
He smiled at me. “And next time, after I’ve died again, will I see you? The way I see you now?” Death cocked his head at me, his old familiar features full of kindness. That depends on your perspective, he said gently. I looked at the faces that flickered across the screen. “Who will I be next time?” I don’t know. “But I’ll forget my life, the one I just lived.” Death watched me, his expression becoming curious for the first time. Do you want to remember? “I…” I stopped, my voice falling away. “I don’t know.” I admitted quietly. “I have a lot of memories I don’t want, but… that doesn’t mean I should just… I don’t know.” I looked at the screen, watched the different alien faces flickering across it. “What would you choose?” I asked. I would not choose, he said. “I don’t… this is hard. It’s too hard. Would you choose for me?” I asked. No. “Why not?” Only you can choose. I looked at the screen. I thought about the life I had lived, and wondered about all the others’ lives—the ones that came before, the ones I could not remember. I wondered who the next me would be, if I should choose to return. I turned my eyes to the screen beyond, and knew in my soul that there was nothing there. Perhaps it would be peaceful, to cease to exist, or to exist in a state of nothingness. I don’t know. Perhaps it would be just like falling asleep. But I looked at the first screen one more time, I looked just in time to stare into the eyes of a little girl. She stared back at me from big brown eyes, the same colour as my own. She smiled, her bright white teeth contrasting her brown skin, and there was such hope in that little face… my little face, or what could be mine… I was quiet. I don’t know if I was quiet for a long time, or for the span of a single intake of breath. “Alright,” I said. “I’ll try again.” Death reached out a hand. Soul, please, he said, and I gave it to him. Death did not pocket my soul, but let it roll off his fingers, scattering it into the space that was the universe. Then he raised his left hand, and as my vision blurred, I saw him part his fingers in the middle, with his index and middle fingers squeezed together on one side, and his ring and pinky fingers squeezed together on the other side. Live long, Death said. And I smiled. I hope not for the last time.
Shadows & Preserves By Kerrie McCreadie Ed. Alexander De Pompa | Asst. Ed. Michelle Montiero
ILLUSTRATED BY KERRIE MCCREADIE
The market comes every summer. It comes in the murky heat with its bustling customers and boisterous farmers until the town jostles with conversation. And, every summer, the girl’s family makes preserves to sell at the market—jars and jars of them, until their store room is full to the brim with bright red and deep plum jars. Then they send her off, the table-pack clinking on her shoulders as she totters to man the ancestral stand, to call loud into the humidity so her voice competes with sellers larger and older than herself. Behind her, the shadow that lives in her table leaps and spirals, its tendril arms splaying out on the rough brick wall as it tries to catch attention. But tonight the summer is ending, and so is the market. As it often is by this time of year, the market is almost ghostly: only straggling buyers and desperate sellers remain. So when the streetlights flicker on, the girl stacks her leftover produce on the grass beside her and starts folding up her family’s table for the last time until the following June. The shadow scrambles down the old brick wall, the wall of an old distillery that’s been converted into office space. It sits cross-legged at the place where dirt meets brick and shakes its head, waving its long arms through the light that spots the wall. Its chest heaves once, a soundless sigh. As always, the table resists the girl’s attempts to fold it. The splintering wooden legs chafe her hands when she pushes on them, and her fingers show deep angry grooves from the nightly task. But she forces them anyhow, gritting her teeth, and the legs snap down with a CRIK, criss-crossing the bottom of the table. The girl shoves the table-pack flat on the ground and yanks its top open. Gentle now, she places each remaining jar of preserves on the rows of wooden shelving hidden inside, and blankets each one with a piece of felt. The shadow plays drums on its legs. Waving one last time to the other table merchants, the girl snaps her heavy leather straps onto her table-pack and heaves it over her shoulders. She dips under the weight at first, stumbling to the side before she catches her balance. The shadow twines between her feet, puddling as it looks up at her. She starts the walk home, the sidewalk bright under the rising harvest moon. The first leaves of fall crunch beneath her feet. The shadow keeps two steps behind her, carrying its own makeshift pack. The girl hunches under hers and the shadow mimics her. It dances between streetlights, at some times a towering giant, and at others the tiniest of fairies. Its dark limbs flail against the walls of buildings, bending this way and that as it pirouettes down the lane. The girl breathes heavy, walking slow as they weave through the alleys that will deliver them home. A strap breaks. The table, jars and all, slides off the girl’s back. She stumbles backwards—wrenches the good strap up with both hands, and lugs it back onto one shoulder. It wobbles. Settles. The shadow hops up and down, waving its hands in the
air. Its own pack is tossed to the ground. The second strap breaks. There’s the thud and crash of the wood and glass on pavement, echoing in the alleys. The shadow surges up the wall, throwing out its limbs so its body tendrils out into serpentine motifs against the cement. The girl wavers, her hands still gripping the useless leather. Then she crouches to the ground, haloed in glass. Her hands shake over the pack. It’s in pieces: a stew of planks, glass, and strawberry mush. A miscellany of dark wisps on the wall, the shadow waves the girl onward. It twirls itself around her, coiling around her shoes as though to push her feet one at a time. The girl shifts through the porridge of jam until she finds a single, whole strawberry. She picks it up, holds it against the sky—considers it, as though she might it pop it in her mouth right then. But then she winces, drops it, and pulls her hand close. She pulls a splinter of glass out, flicks it away, and sucks on the finger. With her other hand, she places the pieces of the table next to each other, like it’s maybe a puzzle. The shadow sinks down onto the ground, tracing figure eight hourglasses to measure the time. It’s only when no pieces stick that the girl leaves the remains behind. Her shoulders still slump, but not as deeply as when she wore the pack. This time the shadow doesn’t mimic her. It skips down the roads and spins up the driveway. When they reach the door, the shadow wraps around the girl’s leg, nuzzling her calf. Flies buzz around the porch light, launching themselves at the bulb. The girl groans, a low sound, and stretches her neck this way and that. She rolls her shoulders back one at a time, cracking each, and straightens up. Her keys clink as she pulls them from her bag, and the door clicks when it opens. She closes the door, and her shadow is sliced free. Its arms still outstretched, it stands on the stairs of the porch. Its featureless head tilts to the side. The porch light flickers out. When the girl peers through the window, there’s nothing there. She locks the door and goes to bed. And at the following year’s market, the girl does not return to sell preserves.
Vulture and the Sun-Eater By Alexander De Pompa Ed. Lorna Antoniazzi | Asst. Ed. Ben Ghan
ILLUSTRATED BY AMY WANG
Vulture’s feet were bleeding and oozing pus when he reached the outskirts of his homeland. The scorched earth had long since gnawed away the soles of his feet, and even his talons had worn down past the quick. He stopped midway down the mountain and surveyed the city. It had been nine years since he had left: nine years of earthquakes, plagues, and wars. Most of the buildings he’d known in his adolescence had collapsed. Cobblestone roads and dried riverbeds snaked through the decayed metropolis. In the centre of the city stood the white marble temple where Vulture had lived as a child. Although it towered above the wreckage of the city, even it had not gone unscathed—its entrance had collapsed, and a dozen spires had fallen and lay scattered across its barren gardens like broken twigs after a storm. That was his destination. Vulture began his descent along the steep trail that wound around the edge of the cliff. He would have flown, but his wings had seized with pain from overuse. He hadn’t slept in days. He hadn’t stopped in days. Vulture’s body had become a feathered skeleton, moving forward relentlessly, but with every step he felt himself come closer to giving way. He had to reach the temple soon. The sun was already wobbling—it wouldn’t be long before it hatched. In his right hand he held a birdcage covered in a white cloth. The creature inside let out a rasping, drawn-out hiss before lunging against the cage. Shadows swirled behind the white cloth, threatening to break through, but the cage held. There was the sound of slicing into flesh—a gulp—and then a nasal whimper. It was eating itself again. “Soon,” Vulture cooed. “I’ll let you out soon.” He glanced back up at the sun, the glare nearly blinding him. “And then you can feast.” He had no hair on his head. Not even eyelashes or eyebrows—nothing. He had hair everywhere else: arms, legs, chest, around his genitals. But not a strand grew from his head. Sitting alone in the single pew to the left of the dais, Vulture restrained himself from reaching up reflexively to touch his head as he always did when the congregation filed into the temple. He stared straight ahead, his body tense, pretending to examine the stained glass windows across from him, and hoping that if he were silent and still, they wouldn’t notice him. But they always did. He could hear the children whispering to each other as they sat down—Vulture, they called him. The parents pinched their children or slapped them on the wrist to keep them quiet, then muttered Demon to each other while their eyes raked his ivory head. At noon the ceremony began. Five priests in long white and gold robes walked out across the dais, stopping in front of an altar crowned with the statue of a lioness and her cubs in front of a baobab tree. Vulture’s father, the priest on the far left, stepped forward and said, stretching out
his arms, “Let us sing in thanks to Lioness the Bountiful, for blessing us with another year of fine weather and successful crops.” As the congregation joined in lifting their voices to the fertility goddess, Vulture felt a burning need to escape, to move and breathe without the harsh glare of the congregation on his back. Without making noise, Vulture left his pew and exited from the main chambers through the open doors behind the staircase that led to the balcony. He felt a pang of guilt; he had promised his father he would stop sneaking away from the ceremonies. He snaked through a series of narrow, winding passageways until he was free of the temple completely, and made his way to the ravine below the citadel along an old dirt road. Alone, he skipped rocks across the creek and sang hymns to himself. He was dipping his feet into the cool water and feeling the sand between his toes when the bushes behind him rustled. “Well, what do we have here?” Vulture whipped around, his body taut and ready to run—but a pack of children had emerged from the ravine and circled him along the creek, laughing. “What’s wrong, Vulture?” said one of the boys. “The demon isn’t afraid of some kids, is it?” Vulture felt tears well in his eyes and a throbbing ball of rage and fear at the base of his throat. “Why can’t you leave me alone?” They didn’t answer. Instead, they gathered stones from the creek and hurled them at him with glee, cheering each other on. Vulture tried to dodge them, but one stone struck his head. The world disappeared in a flash and he was floating midair before the muddy earth crashed into him. He didn’t move. “Is it dead?” one of the children asked, almost fearfully. One of the older boys approached Vulture. He kicked him in the stomach. Vulture took a strangled, sharp breath. The boy laughed. “It even sounds like a vulture.” Lying on the ground, Vulture moved his eyes from the bloodstained ground beside him towards the sky above. He saw the silhouette of a bird move across the sky. As air filled his lungs, he felt a wish grow inside his chest. After the pain had subsided, Vulture pushed himself up from the ground and made his way back to the temple. The service had just finished and hundreds of people were making their way down the road. The throng parted around him, their eyes carefully avoiding his. The temple was empty. Sunlight streamed in through the glass dome ceiling and set the red and black checkered marble floors alight. Vulture walked between huge colonnades and statues of gods and beasts, leaving behind muddy footprints with each shaky step.
Ahead of him, a curving staircase led to the balcony. There Vulture found his father kneeling before an altar, on which rested an ovoid piece of amber half a metre in height. Inside the amber was a fossilized whirlpool of black glitter. Trembling, Vulture knelt beside his father. He gripped the edge of the altar to keep his body from swaying. After a few minutes Vulture’s father stopped praying and turned to him expectantly. His eyes widened when he saw the dried blood on his son’s head. “What happened?” he asked. Vulture opened his mouth to speak, but his throat caught. Again he tried to speak, but a wail erupted from his mouth instead. He threw himself into his father’s arms and cried. “Shh, shh, it’s all right,” his father said gently, rocking him. “Everyone hates me,” Vulture sobbed. “They all call me Vulture. They think I’m a demon. It’s so unfair. I—I haven’t done anything to them, I haven’t hurt them, I— why—why would they—” Vulture’s father held him tightly until Vulture quieted, and his sobs turned to sniffles. Then he said, “The other children did this to you?” Vulture nodded against his shoulder. His father sighed, gently touching the drying blood on Vulture’s head. “It doesn’t look serious,” he said. “I’ll get some bandages.” Vulture’s father returned a few minutes later with a roll of cloth bandages, towels, and two small bottles, one filled with ointment and the other filled with alcohol. As he began to clean Vulture’s wound, Vulture’s father spoke softly. “The children don’t hate you,” he said as he worked. “They just don’t understand you—or the god Vulture.” Vulture wiped the tears from his eyes. “What do you mean?” “How much do you know about Vulture?” “He’s the reason we have disease and famine and war,” Vulture said bitterly. “So not much,” his father observed. “Vulture is an unpopular god because he’s the god of wisdom—something not many people appreciate. Tell me, have you heard the story of how Vulture saved the world?” Vulture sniffed. “No.” His father turned to the amber egg. “At the dawn of the world, chaos condensed itself into the shape of an egg in the sky—what we now call the sun. And for hundreds of years humans and gods lived peacefully in an endless summer: the Golden Age.” As he spoke, the glittery spiral in the amber seemed to come alive and move to the sound of his words. “But one day, the sun began to swell until it nearly blotted out the entire sky. The heat was unbearable. The crops withered, the water dried up, and the people were
dying. There seemed to be no hope—until Vulture appeared and promised to save everyone.” “In his travels, Vulture had descended into the chasm between the world and the heavens, and had found a bird as old as chaos itself, one that preceded even the birth of the gods. Now, this bird was trapped in a cage, and it made a deal with Vulture: if he freed it from its cage, it would swallow the sun and save humanity.” Vulture’s father finished cleaning the wound and covered it with a thick layer of ointment. The balm cooled Vulture’s burning head. “So Vulture accepted the bird’s offer and freed it from its cage,” his father said as he began to wrap the bandages around his head, “and it devoured the sun. From then after the bird was known as the Sun-Eater, though it was never seen again. Because of Vulture’s actions the people were saved from chaos, but they were plunged into permanent darkness and a cold nearly as unbearable as the heat. Vulture guided and protected the people through those years of darkness. “But when the darkness came to a sudden end—when chaos gave birth to a new sun—the people discovered that they had been changed. They had shorter lifespans and were plagued with illnesses. When Vulture confronted the Sun-Eater about what had happened, it explained that this was simply part of the exchange—a sacrifice necessary to prevent obliteration. “The people were not appeased, and so they reviled Vulture for dooming them to a fate they deemed worse than death. Vulture saved us, but in so doing, he unknowingly brought suffering into the world.” His father wrapped the last of the bandages around his head, tying it with a knot. “It should heal in a few days,” he said. His knees cracked as he stood up. “Wisdom is having the courage to make tough decisions that others either refuse to or cannot make.” His father kissed him on the forehead. “Now, go on—go pray to Vulture and the Sun-Eater. They’ll help you.” After his father left the sanctuary, Vulture kneeled in front of the amber egg and prayed harder than he ever had. Help me, he begged. Help me, Vulture. Help me, Sun-Eater. He hadn’t expected an answer. Over the next eight years, Vulture would pray at the altar of the Sun-Eater every day. And every day he would hear the Sun-Eater’s voice, sibilant, insistent, slithering through his mind. Come find me, the voice always said. Come to me, Vulture. Soon you’ll need me once again. The sun grows larger with each passing day…
The summers grew hotter and longer until winter died altogether. The tide fell and receded until the rivers and lakes all dried up. A red metallic film grew over the crops and made them inedible. The livestock died of an epidemic that rotted their organs and turned their blood to black bile. Riots broke out in the streets. Houses were burned. Temples were looted. As the sun grew brighter and the days longer, the fear of the Sun-Eater’s return and of being plunged into permanent darkness like their ancestors had been took hold of the people’s minds. And all of their fear and rage were levelled at Vulture. Angry whispers behind closed doors turned into open talk of rebellion and the gathering of swords and spears. Was Vulture—the melancholy bald child they had watched grow into an ascetic young man—really the same Vulture of the myths? They didn’t know. But they couldn’t risk it. Better the dying sun than the dead darkness. The people of the city met underneath the bridge leading to the citadel one night, torches and weapons in hand. They’ll come for you tonight to kill you if you don’t leave, the Sun-Eater said. Vulture paced around the amber egg. The glittery spiral inside it pulsed and swirled with his footsteps. “What about my father?” Vulture asked. “If I leave they’ll go after him instead.” He stopped in front of the window and looked out. There was a stream of light running over the bridge. Vulture turned away from the window. He had a pounding headache and his mind felt like it was covered in wool. Sweat beaded his forehead. His arms and shoulders were painfully itchy. He’ll be fine, the Sun-Eater murmured. The other gods will protect him. But you must leave. Vulture sighed shakily. “Fine. I just have to say goodbye first.” As he moved towards the staircase, his legs went weak and his vision blurred. Vulture cried out as he fell to the floor, his body convulsing. There’s no time. They’ll be here soon. Besides, the transformation has already begun. Vulture groaned. “What’s… happening to me?” What you wished for. A white flash consumed his vision. Lightning ran through his body, tracing his spine and shoulder blades and arms and fingertips, reaching out— There was only pain and light. Outside, hundreds of torches were gathered in front of the temple. The moonlight glinted on swords as they were drawn from their sheaths and hoisted into the air with battle cries.
They came like locusts. Swarming the temple, tearing paintings from walls and picking the jewelled eyes out of statues, they removed the sacred flesh of the building and left behind a skeleton. A group of young adults—bent on glory and hungry for blood—led the charge up to the balcony. They arrived in time to see a form, human-shaped, covered in black feathers, with an ashen head. The body threw itself against the window, tumbling out into the open air with a rain of broken glass. It flew shakily into the night, becoming indistinguishable from the darkness. Vulture wandered the desert for nine years in search of the Sun-Eater. He waded through dunes of red sand and endless, sleepless nights. In the end, he found the Sun-Eater beyond the edge of the world, in the chasm between the world and the heavens, imprisoned in a new cage. Vulture went into the darkness and saw everything. He knew why the sun was swelling; he knew why the deal with the Sun-Eater was necessary; he knew what the glittery spiral inside the amber meant. He knew—he was Vulture. After crossing a field of toppled spires, Vulture entered the white temple. He hobbled past the remains of marble statues to the staircase before ascending it with difficulty. Through the glass overhead, he could feel the immensity of the sun; there were barely ten minutes left until it would hatch. As he struggled up the last steps, he saw a man kneeling before the amber egg. “It’s been a long time, Father,” he said. The man turned his head slowly to look at Vulture. “Have I died already, then?” “No, not yet,” Vulture said, putting the cage down. His father rose slowly from his knees and crossed the room with shaky steps. He placed his wrinkled hands on Vulture’s shoulders, and searched his son’s face through tears. Letting out a cry, he embraced him tightly. “You’re alive,” his father whispered. “All these years, I thought I would never see you again, I thought—” his voice broke into a sob. “I missed you, son.” “I missed you, too, Dad.” His father laughed, tears streaming down his face. “They told me you had flown away—that you had turned into Vulture! But I didn’t believe them, not for a second. I knew, oh, I knew.” Vulture wanted to keep hugging his father, but the Sun-Eater’s voice snaked through his mind. Hurry, there isn’t much time left. With effort, Vulture separated himself from his father. “Dad… I have to show you something.” Stepping backwards, he unfastened the white cloak at his neck. As it fell to the ground, his father gasped.
He had only a human head. Instead of hair, his body was covered in thick black feathers. His hands and feet were distorted to twice their size, and thick talons had replaced his nails. Heavy wings unfurled themselves from his back. His father retreated from him, holding his arms up in front of him. Horror distorted his face. “What… what happened to you?” Vulture’s wings stretched out. “A transformation.” His father trembled. “So you are Vulture after all. They were right,” he said quietly. “My own son, a demon…” Vulture flinched. “I’m not a demon, I—” But his father wasn’t listening. His gaze fell to the cage on the floor beside his son. “And that’s it, then? That’s the Sun-Eater?” “Yes.” “Don’t do this. Please.” “I must. It’s the only way.” “But what will it take this time? What will its price be? How much more can we suffer?” With each question his father’s voice rose, becoming more desperate. His eyes were turning bloodshot from the sudden strain. The Sun-Eater seethed. Don’t listen to him, Vulture. Humans are so selfish and small-minded. I only want to help… All I’ve ever wanted is to help, just like I helped you, Vulture… And all I ask for is a small gift in return, surely that isn’t such an unreasonable demand… “You can’t trust something beyond humanity,” his father said. “You’re playing with things you can’t possibly understand.” “Perhaps,” Vulture said. “But it’s a necessary risk, and whatever the Sun-Eater takes will be a necessary sacrifice. This is the only way to save humanity, Father, don’t you see? You were the one who told me that wisdom was making the choice everyone else was too scared to make. I have to do this.” “No,” his father said. “This isn’t wisdom. This is madness. What if what happens is worse than oblivion?” “What if it’s not?” “There’s no reasoning with you,” he said, sighing. His father closed his eyes for a moment. Opening them, he said, “I’m sorry. But I must stop you.” He lunged at Vulture, tackling him to the ground. Vulture struggled against him, and they rolled across the floor in a flurry of fists and elbows. Vulture’s father threw his weight against his son, pinning him to the ground. Then his father’s hands were around his throat, cutting off his airway—Vulture brought one of his feet up and kicked his father in the abdomen, his talons raking into his father’s flesh and leaving three thick streams of blood running down his robes.
His father grabbed one of Vulture’s arms and brought it to his mouth. He bit through Vulture’s feathers to the flesh underneath, drawing blood. Screaming in pain, Vulture wrenched his arm free and struck his father with one of his wings, knocking him to the edge of the balcony. His father’s head collided with the railing, and he crumpled to the ground. He lay motionless, blood pooling around his head. Vulture turned from him and picked up the cage. He would see to his father’s injuries after. Standing before the amber egg, the spiral within it swirling faster than ever before and illuminating the room with light brighter than the sun overhead, Vulture reached into the white cloth, found the cage’s latch, and ripped it open. There was a deafening hiss and a gust of wind that pushed Vulture to his knees. The glass ceiling shattered overhead, and darkness spread its cold wings over the sky, swallowing the light.
our duties beyond By Magdalena Wolak
Ed. Christopher Boccia | Asst. Ed. Ariana Youm
ILLUSTRATED BY IAN DE REGE
Over the dripping rotisserie sun the day stales with pink plastic palms and slow, loud hoover cars. Colours leak most during lunch flowing in thin rivulets into hot gutters slowly like your hot glue gun over my arms there is only yellow that stays firmly stuck to gleaming patios and bike frames turning into heavy evenings. Everyone is tired of summer and the overheated lake water glaring at people like an angry beached whale. Sipping cups of flies stuck to nails and hearts this city is covered in spider webs, weaving silently through thick humid air singing songs of war and movement that everyone is too tired to try. Beyond the commercials of Perrier, our heads implode on square yellow rooftops and the wind laughs and laughs.
contact light By Magdalena Wolak
Ed. Christopher Boccia | Asst Ed. Rej Ford
ILLUSTRATED BY RACHEL CHIONG
Did I die twice? I donâ€™t remember being a word to anyone energy of writing my syllables on a napkin. There is a veil between the morning light and the steelglass horizon I am somewhere in it but am not. Sitting comfortably on contrapunctus 14 I look up at you from this old page I have no wrinkles here, mimicking nature, memories head back to smoking salmon by the roaring seaâ€” You will never see this, my vice passing lemuria, singing that we all live in the bubbles of Godâ€™s soda. I refute this and stop breathing And anyway, we cannot know where the wind will be one hour from now. So let me know your point.
sand and (lie) mmm By Magdalena Wolak
Ed. Christopher Boccia | Asst. Ed. Victoria Liao
ILLUSTRATED BY ARIANA YOUM
I People tell you don’t build walls around your heart but damn, have you tried it? The addicting hot summer days, devoid of sounds where watching my neighbours pass by I would stack, brick by brick, my torrid masterpiece. The therapeutic feel of erecting something so baked and heavy, red and dry and placing it side by side upupup The gentle clinks, like glasses at evening toasts signaling cheer. I wrap my head around all the love I could have had and build quicker, terrified of myself. With the soothing burn of lifting and placing and lifting and placing arms tired and raw and also sunbaked. Eyes glaze over the soggy streetcar rails wobbling more in tantric rhythms than anything else. Don’t tell me not to put up walls because it’s self-therapy with a light prescription. The reconstructing of something solid around something broken and weak and scared. to—to—to—to protect myself To all those who say: don’t build walls. I don’t want to be that spasming triangular organ lying in the sand beating confused again. This is no time for transplants and I hear you tell her not to build, everytime that her value is not important, her safety also that
all she needs to be whole is to find someone mmmmmmmm you. No effort to try happiness As if. Someone can’t be happy in themselves, As if. Inherently, we need another person to be our half. (I eat chocolate bunny molds for breakfast). II There was this girl golem that burned from the inside once. I saw all the pretty furniture burn, the expensive leather beds floating from her in rivers. For a few nights, as she blazed, she burned the sky and one day, after coughing out a few bones, she was done. Cooling, her night went out, and she let me look inside one morning. And there was nothing on her mind or in her, but the smell of fire cleansing and the neighbouring city streets. She didn’t let me sweep the ashes, but I can tell you that like a lollipop wrapper, she shone, remaining faintly sweet and wrinkled. Afterlove smells like burned marshmallows and coconut rum and long evening stories. The girl survived, with a needle in her arm and no scars on the outside. A burning house will stand just fine after a fire, and a new owner has the option to refurbish from scratch, or just to scratch out some love poems in the ash on the walls. I’m still waterlogged though, so instead, I’m building this wall because I fill up myself patching up holes others have left inside with smaller fresh clay pieces and moss. (They’ll be a different colour because they’ll be new, and sit strangely between the old squares) but this time, there is no measure I need to use and. I’m satisfied, and I will decide how to paint my walls all these crazy colours.
cryolights By Christopher Boccia
Ed. Magdalena Wolak | Asst. Ed. Victoria Liao Plump immortals strapped to shining tables, numb light speeding the masks slicing veins and attaching clear arteries of anti-freeze. Bleed me blue, boys, the sky’s turned hollow and gastric, under lover’s tears of hydrofluoric acid. Tantra flees in a squad car, sobbing through siren smears etched by raindrops. *** I watched the fluorescence flick lightning off my glass coffin, cut wires beneath jaundiced clouds, unwanted mushrooms clustering out of liquefied corner soils, bringing the scent of spring snow rot. Above and inside the morning melody of crow song, dodging the steaming pools hissing nitrogen and unpeeling. I wonder where the dream-weavers sloughed their glitter—on the shores of a shimmering sea, or as dust hands in the ionizing wind. I laughed beholding the leavings of my pocketbook, I who sought to be more than grave worms and sawdust.
ILLUSTRATED BY DOROTHY ANNE MANUEL
What other postscript would you give unto me? A run through the sandstorm of old Zimbabwe, stumbling across fleshtones, vacant eyes blind in the throes of dust. Hanging from a jackal’s teeth my flesh reworked in the mouths of yipping pups.
silicon revival By Eric Harrell
Ed. Christopher Boccia | Asst. Ed. Sonia Urlando
ILLUSTRATED BY LORNA ANTONIAZZI
Gears of a watch melt into its glass, ceasing the circular ticks that reboot as vertical flips, levered hands soften to fuse at the junction. A dial-tone surplus of zeroes and ones, precise code to undergo minute transfusions. Her torso sinks into the mould, bobbing grime at the surface, housing temperatures fit for a server. Senses strapped under a scalpel collective. Tucked between two pectorals, Mercury pours and pools, Forming buildings over boils and alleys in the dimples of her epidermis. Her womb fills with soot, factory replaces orchard. Commercial revolution in Silicon Valley: “Cycle through limbs at your heart’s delight!™” Cable prongs tighten and course as they merge into one strand of hair, plugged into a sun, cerebrum scrubbed, optical drive replaced, cords coagulate her muscles (removed), wire fills her ribcage and waist. Heart hardens as the ichor roams, throughout the valves, polished chrome; a forge hungering for metal.
We scream regret, organic defiance but only transmit code, uniform and static silence.
Waning Beep. Flatline. Blank screen.
PheonixSF-BIOS 8.8 Release Reboot initiated Loading…Please wait. Jenson Bootup log process… Debugging Torso… Preparing adjutant driver… Setting Praetor directive… Compressing Neuromute…Parsing seven of nine…done Auto-Detecting System Shock process Loading Reboot.bin…ready. She hears the dial of a connection clearly, the hum of a fan over her CPU, the beep of her intricate circuitry; Sensors indicate her BIOS is new.
CONTRIBUTOR BIOS RACHEL CHIONG is a second-year university student, who is studying words while she attends classes that are in buildings. She is a published author and spoken word poet, and loves fruit juice. As much as she likes traditional art, she hopes that the day when she can draw her eye-liner decently will come soon. IAN DE REGE graduated from the University of Toronto in 2015 with a BA in History, Art, and Medieval Studies, and now studies professional writing at Humber College. She has contributed to The Spectatorial as writer, editor, and artist, and is currently working on an illustrated novelette about a haunted musician. Her illustration for “Our Duties Beyond” combines a rooftop view of the city with influences from tarot card designs and the speculative elements of the text. Growing up in a boxing gym, ERIC HARRELL saw all kinds of eccentric characters, from the downtrodden to the well-heeled, and experienced a childhood that was bizarre but memorable. Eric made first contact with science fiction with a VHS copy of Starship Troopers and has continued to enjoy the genre in all of its forms. Currently a third-year English student, he aspires to be a writer and is glad that his first foray into the field is with The Spectatorial. When he’s not writing, Eric is either engaged in some debate with friends or playing a quiet card game at the local hobby store. DOROTHY ANNE MANUEL is a Toronto-based community artist and illustrator. Because she’s never been good with the written word, she creates visual art to tell the stories of her community, her clients, and sometimes herself. Dorothy anne’s work has been presented in several group exhibitions in Toronto, such as Karambola (2015), Arts & Rec TO (2015), and Transforming Communities Through the Arts: Malvern (2013). Find her art on street murals, pages of paper, canvases, the walls of your home, local youth workshops, and online (@dottianne)!
KERRIE MCCREADIE recently obtained her M.A. in English Literature and Women’s Health from the University of Toronto. Now birthed from the bowels of Academia, she rises, fully formed, to wonder, “what now?” In the meantime, she’s a marketing monster at a tech company and a board director at a nonprofit that supports community need with reading and writing therapy. Currently, Kerrie is writing a novel that she calls a “Canadiana Fairytale”— it may, someday, even be finished. In the past, Kerrie has had her fiction published in the Hart House Review. But this is her first time illustrating. Ever. So she’s pretty dang nervous. As the ex-EiC of The Spectatorial, she is incredibly excited to contribute to the summer anthology, and can’t wait to see what the team does next. She’s sure it’ll be incredible. MAGDALENA WOLAK is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied English and Political Science. While most of her life has been spent in Canada, she began her journey as a fervent reader in Poland. Her love of writing was piqued in high school, and it has been a lifeline ever since. Her inspiration comes from the mundane, the painful, and the every day. As the former Poetry Editor of The Spectatorial, she is thrilled to see her work published again and is excited to see the section continue to grow. GWEN WOLINSK is a third-year university student with a focus on business and mathematics, and was previously a Toronto inhabitant who has now moved to Montreal. While she used to spend a great deal of time with watercolours, Gwen has recently discovered a new love (and hate, on some days) of digital painting. She has written and drawn for The Spectatorial in the past, and is excited to continue with the journal in the future!
STAFF BIOS ALEXANDER DE POMPA is an English and Literature & Critical Theory student at the University of Toronto. He plans to study law upon the completion of his undergraduate degree. His literary influences include Mervyn Peake, Octavia E. Butler, and Marina and the Diamonds. Aside from reading and writing speculative fiction, he tutors English and does research in eighteenth century British literature. His short story “Sasori” was first published in the second volume of The Spectatorial and was later republished in PinkPlayMags, an LGBTQ+ magazine in Toronto. He is proud to serve as The Spectatorial’s Editor in Chief this year, and is humbled by the dedication and imagination of all of The Spec’s contributors. LORNA ANTONIAZZI is an English Major studying at the University of Toronto, with occasional ventures into sociology, political science, creative writing, and women and gender studies. She likely enjoys more than the recommended dose of feminist and literary theories (with no regrets). As this is her third year at the university and with The Spec, Lorna has now accepted the truth that she’s in this group for the long haul. This year she will continue writing, illustrating, and editing for the blog and journal! SHAHIN IMTIAZ is a second-year student who wants to study and research Artificial Intelligence at the University of Toronto. Her most notable achievements include almost skydiving once and getting to level 95 in Tetris. She is also the proud recipient of a national award in literature from the Vice President of the UAE and Cambridge University. When she is not glued to her phone, you can see her reading, writing, daydreaming, or glued to her camera. She is thrilled to serve as The Spectatorial’s Online Editor, and hopes to help The Spec be a loud presence in Toronto’s literary community. SONIA URLANDO is pursuing an English Specialist degree with a Minor in Buddhism, Psychology & Mental Health. Of this
combination of studies she thinks that the meditative, introspective study of the mind is nicely complemented by the refinement of skills in creative expression. She enjoys writing poetry and writes literary analysis for leisure when she isn’t tackling essays for class. You will often find her enamoured with a book or enthusiastically editing the works of others as Copy Manager of The Spectatorial this year. LARA THOMPSON is a fourth-year student majoring in English and Classical Civilizations. No, to her shame, she cannot read Ancient Greek or Latin. Other interests include Canadian fashion, film noir, and science fiction. Lara is currently a features writer for theBUZZ, an LGBTQ magazine in Toronto, and is a member of the Editor’s Association of Canada. After university, she plans on becoming a Certified Professional Editor, a job that will deal with grammatical and stylistic inconsistencies and consistently earn her no money. Lara is thrilled to be part of the University of Toronto’s one and only genre journal. JANICE TO is an expert all-you-can-eat sushi eater, movie addict, and sloth-lover. She spends 90% of her day wishing she were a wizard and the rest of it being a fourthyear English and Psychology Major. When she’s not lost in University College or in her own thoughts, she’s indulging in the mildly sadistic pastime of dragging scissor blades across grammar mistakes in The Globe and Mail. Naturally then, Janice is drawn to speculative non-fiction—and to horror!— and she is extremely excited to be working at The Spectatorial for a third year. One day, she will bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone will eat and be happy. AMY WANG has been a ravenous reader of comic books and speculative fiction for most of her literate years. As a student of English and Visual Art, her pipe dream has always been to work in the comic industry in some capacity. Her current dream is to become a space pirate. She is also a technical theatre geek and can usually be found lurking backstage at the Hart House Theatre or the Isabel Bader Theatre, adjusting lights and muttering to herself. She is so excited to be a part of the stunningly talented staff of The Spectatorial and has high hopes for the upcoming year!
| 47 CHRIS BOCCIA is a fourth-year student at the University of Toronto. He has conducted research on flower evolution and bumblebee behaviour with the Thomson Lab, and is working on a major in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and a minor in English. Chris enjoys hiking, birdwatching, and road trips, and has travelled throughout much of North America. His poetry and prose have been influenced by a wide variety of writers, styles, and experiences, and have benefited from the criticism of noted poet Al Moritz and best-selling author John Bemrose. His poem “Canto 0” was published in the third volume of The Spectatorial. MICHELLE MONTEIRO has been writing since her hands could grasp paper and pencils. She’s learned that a pencil is an extension of the hand and a gateway to the psyche. Currently she is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, completing a BA in English and Book & Media Studies. At sixteen, her short story, “Serendipity”, was published in Canadian Voices: Volume Two, which can be found at Chapters Indigo. For more of her quirkiness, read her numerous articles published in arbitragemagazine. com or quantumrun.com. She is excited to become The Spectatorial’s first-ever Communications Coordinator this year. ARIANA YOUM enjoys warm weather accompanied by berries, books, and a hammock in which she can occasionally nap. She is in her third year of university, studying English and Psychology. Please excuse her when she gets abnormally excited over some obscure grammar rule. She is also rather obsessed with science fiction, and is patiently waiting for the day when she will be able to teleport. Until then, she shall design away. REJ FORD identifies both as a third-year Biology and Animal Physiology Major and as a card-carrying Trekkie. After devouring fairly awful science fiction and fantasy novellas as a child, she finally found Orson Scott Card and became a full-fledged fan of everything speculative. She spends much of her time explaining anime subplots to highly patient people, and the rest trying to reconcile the biological sciences with robotics—otherwise known as: how to turn her dogs into sentient AIs. She is
incredibly excited to become a member of The Spectatorial’s editorial board and to explore the wide world of writing and editing. BEN BERMAN GHAN is a second-year English student at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. When he isn’t immersed in the ancient tales of the Greek, Roman, and Norse mythoi, you can find him buried under a pile of comic books and science fiction classics from the last two centuries. When not reading about the gods of the old world, aliens from outer space, and costumed vigilantes, he spends much of his free time writing his own novel series The Wychmen. Ben is so excited to be working on The Spectatorial that a high-pitched whistling noise can sometimes be heard in his vicinity, though it might just be him trying to talk at a speed humans can comprehend. VICTORIA LIAO is a cat-lady-in-training and third-year student majoring in English and Sexual Diversity Studies. Having grown up on a diet of feminist fantasy novels and rich fantastical role-playing games, she hopes to explore more works of speculative fiction in order to ruminate endlessly on their creative potential. While doing so, she is often observed humming harmonies and pretending to write. In her spare time, Victoria can be found binge-reading webcomics at four a.m. and getting overly excited about new story-telling methods. She hopes to learn much by working with the fantastic team at The Spectatorial this coming year. POLINA ZAK is a quirky fourth-year student at the University of Toronto. She is doublemajoring in Biology and Sociology and minoring in English. She greatly enjoys learning about different world views and being able to understand new concepts by applying ideas from the three subjects she studies. She likes to encourage the people around her to pursue their own expression through writing. Creative writing has been Polina’s hobby for many years and she believes it is one of the best ways to relax and let off some stream—especially after a long, stressful day. .
HOW TO GET INVOLVED WITH THE SPECTATORIAL We are always looking for students to participate in the publication process of The Spectatorial! We strongly encourage interest from propsective blog writers, designers, illustrators, copy editors, and print issue writers. And every time you participate with us, you earn one contributors’ point! Contributors’ points are how we keep track of how many times someone has contributed to The Spectatorial. They can be collected in many ways. Any instance of copy editing, designing, blogging, illustrating, or submitting is considered a point; you can help market us through postering; and, finally, you can attend our contributors’ meetings, which occur once or twice per semester. Once you have two points you can apply to be on staff for the following year.
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The fourth volume of The Spectatorial, the University of Toronto's only speculative fiction journal.