The seventh volume of the annual Philippine Speculative Fiction anthology (edited by Kate and Alex Osias) is now available for purchase at Amazon and Flipreads (with others to follow). Yep, it’s digital only for the time being. You can see the full table of contents here - this volume includes my story “Oblation”, and I thought I’d post the first few paragraphs of the story here, as a preview of what you may find in this volume.
“Oblation” is a departure for me in that it’s my first superhero short story, and my first story told using only female POVs. Also, likely because I’ve been hanging out with Mia too much, I tried to say something with the form of the story, not just with the content, and I hope that comes through (God knows, I’m not very subtle.) Enjoy!
By Paolo Chikiamco
I’m wearing my hair in a tail today. That means I’m ready to go to war.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me. You look at me–and trust me, you’ll look–and all you know is that your day’s been made. Yes, I’m that pretty. No bragging, just fact. Mom’s genes are gooood. Not as good as Dad’s, but not everyone can be a superhero telepath.
‘Course, that doesn’t mean he can get in my head. He wishes. Brainwashing me is the only way I’d ever be okay with missing the prom. Sometimes, I wish that he could see into my head, so the great Kapitan Isip would realize just how little I care about his excuses. Like it’s the first time he’s ever been stationed in the Middle East, like it’s the first time he’s gotten threats, or that Mom and I have been “at risk”. Get real. No Kontra is brain-dead enough to go after a Klark’s family, not after what happened in Marikina when Bakunawa went berserk…
Seriously. They still show those horrible clips in history class. The boys loved it of course. Boys and violence. It’s why they get a thrill when they see my pony tail bobbing–but even guys know better than to come near me. The tail means “STAY AWAY”, all caps, and most of the school is smart enough to–
Is that… is that Sarah Novales waiting for me by the water fountain?
I saw Michelle’s eyes narrow at the sight of me, and couldn’t help but remember the first time I’d ever seen her. My first day at Barrameda, the guidance counselor had seemed upset that I didn’t seem too impressed by the Academy. I’d barely uttered an “ooh” or “aah” when the he had shown me the school’s top of the line gymnasium, or introduced me to the duo (actual Persons-With-Powers, he’d proudly proclaimed) who served as campus security.
All that changed when we stepped into the cafeteria. It took a while for the counselor to realize he was explaining the scintillating food choices to the empty air.
The counselor didn’t even follow my gaze. “That is Michelle Felinas, Queen of the Hill. Be careful with that one.”
Michelle was holding court in the center of the cafeteria, asking everyone to support the school football team. I say “asking” only because she used phrases like “would you” and “will you”–her tone made it clear that support was expected. From the way everyone hung on to her every word, they’d have it no other way.
When it became obvious that Kapitan Isip’s daughter was not a PWP, the media had gone on a feeding frenzy. (They’d never liked the Kapitan, who was understandably tough to interview.) But the Kapitan was never anything but proud of his daughter, and it was easy to see why. After all, normal didn’t mean ordinary.
“I’m serious, Ms. Novales.” The counselor steered me firmly away from the cafeteria. “Her father may be a hero, but his daughter is bad news. Stay away from her.”
And now, two years later, here we were. I felt a smile grow on my face. I was anxious when I wasn’t at school, even for a day. But now everything’s all right.
Don’t worry ‘Chelle.
Aaaand, that’s it for the preview. If you’d like to read the rest of the story, do consider buying Philippine Speculative Fiction volume 7. Congrats to Kate & Alex and all the contributing authors, as well as the publishing team.