Cover

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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Further Reading, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. 8-9

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Scoping the Exits: The Short Fiction of Kit Reed

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pp. ix-xv

There has always been an oddly passive-aggressive relationship between American literature and the fantastic. Almost from the beginning, a familiar myth has been the notion of bringing order to wilderness, of subduing chaos, ...

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Denny

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pp. 1-12

We are worried about Denny. We have reason to believe he may go all Columbine on us.
Experts warn parents to watch out for signs, and it hurts to say, but we’ve seen plenty. Day and night our son is like an lcd banner, signaling something we can’t read. If he implodes and comes out shooting, the ...

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The Attack of the Giant Baby

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pp. 13-19

New York City, 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 16, 197-: Dr. Jonas Freibourg is at a particularly delicate point in his experiment with electrolytes, certain plant molds and the man within. Freibourg (who, like many ...

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What Wolves Know

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pp. 20-39

When you have been raised by wolves people expect better of you, but you have no idea what they mean by better.
Happy comes out of the crate panting and terrified.
When you have been raised by wolves, you expect better of people.
Injured in the struggle before the dart bit him and his world went ...

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Automatic Tiger

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pp. 40-51

He got the toy for his second cousin Randolph, a knobby-kneed boy so rich he was still in short trousers at thirteen. Born poor, Benedict had no hope of inheriting his Uncle James’s money but he spent too much for the toy anyway. He had shriveled under ...

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Wherein We Enter the Museum

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pp. 52-68

Outstanding, we’re the first ones in.
Until today, only authorized personnel made it through the electrified gates to the Museum—builders, painters, plumbers and electricians, tech support and curators. Next month the hundred galleries open for the...

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High Rise High

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pp. 69-100

The situation at the school is about like you’d expect: total anarchy, bikers roaring through the halls pillaging and laying waste; big guys hanging screaming frosh out of windows by their feet, shut up or I let go; bathroom floods ...

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Piggy

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pp. 101-113

Theron swore it. A great winged figure swooped out of the sky one night and threw itself on Duchess, the old Percheron.
Theron ran in the house as soon as it happened and tried to tell his Daddy, but his Daddy just pushed him aside and said “Don’t talk dirty,” and that was the end of it until the mare foaled the ...

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Song of the Black Dog

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pp. 114-127

“The black dog is not like any other,” the forensics officer says. It is a little incantation.
In the journalists’ skybox high above the civic auditorium, Bill Siefert strains to see the distant stage, the speaker, and at her back, the beast he ...

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Weston Walks

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pp. 128-144

When your life gets kicked out from under you like a kitchen chair you thought you were standing on, you start to plan. You swear: never again. After the funeral Lawrence Weston sat in a velvet chair that was way too big for him while the lawyer read his parents’ ...

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How It Works

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pp. 145-157

I see them framed in a Gothic arch, two handsome women caught in mid-confrontation. It’s like something out of an old movie, a black-and-white weepie my mother saw as a kid, although she would deny it, ...

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Precautions

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pp. 158-164

“Don’t touch that,” Mother said, and I didn’t. “Don’t go near that. You don’t know what’s going around.”
Well, we all knew, or we sort of did. Terrible things. Staph infections that science can’t touch, plus Mother said everybody knows you catch cancer off another person, and nobody wants...

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Journey to the Center of the Earth

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pp. 165-173

Jerome is in Nebraska to visit his father.
His dad lives in a model community located in the middle distance, at the point in the road where you think the line of shadows you see ahead is just about to congeal. At this juncture on ...

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Family Bed

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pp. 174-184

—We have to go!
Like a mouse with the cat crouched outside waiting, my sister burrows deeper. There is cocoa on her breath. —Why, when it’s so nice?
—I mean it, Beth. I jab her fat flank. We are too old to be in here. Frankly, ...

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The Singing Marine

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pp. 185-196

It’s so hot in August in that part of Virginia that dogs die standing up and even insects stick to the asphalt. Flies buzz in place. Embedded, an overturned stag beetle waves its legs helplessly. The singing Marine has to move fast to keep his boondockers from sinking in ...

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In the Squalus

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pp. 197-204

He was under water for too long; lying in the shell of the submarine for more than thirty hours, he left his body and his living mates and became at one with the dead floating on the other side of the bulkhead. In the last seconds ...

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Perpetua

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pp. 205-214

We are happy to be traveling together in the alligator. To survive the crisis in the city outside, we have had ourselves made very small.
To make our trip more pleasant the alligator herself has been equipped with many windows, cleverly fitted between the armor ...

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Pilots of the Purple Twilight

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pp. 215-223

The wives spent every day by the pool at the Miramar, not far from the base, waiting for word about their men. The rents were cheap and nobody bothered them, which meant that no one came to patch the rotting stucco or kill ...

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Sisohpromatem

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pp. 224-228

I, Joseph Bug, awoke one morning to find that I had become an enormous human. I lay under the washbasin in the furnished room which heretofore had been my kingdom, an unbounded world, and saw first that the bottom of the ...

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On the Penal Colony

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pp. 229-239

Friend, if you are reading this, I am already dead. I, Arch Plummer, am giving this notebook to Hester Phyle with instructions to burn it as soon as she knows Gemma and I and our friend are safe. The truth must out. Unspeakable secrets fester here. Atrocities. If the three of us don’t make it, Hester knows ...

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The Food Farm

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pp. 240-247

So here I am, warden-in-charge, fattening them up for our leader, Tommy Fango; here I am laying on the banana pudding and the milkshakes and the cream-and-brandy cocktails, going about like a technician, gauging their ...

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In Behalf of the Product

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pp. 248-254

Of course I owe everything I am today to Mr. Manuel Omerta, my personal representative, who arranged for practically everything, including the dental surgery and the annulment, but I want all of you wonderful people to know ...

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Songs of War

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pp. 255-287

For some weeks now a fire had burned day and night on a hillside just beyond the town limits; standing at her kitchen sink, Sally Hall could see the smoke rising over the trees. It curled upward in promise but she could not be sure what ....

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Winter

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pp. 288-294

It was late fall when he come to us, there was a scum of ice on all the puddles and I could feel the winter cold and fearsome in my bones, the hunger inside me was already uncurling, it would pace through the first of the year but by ...

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The Weremother

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pp. 295-299

Often in that period in her life, when she least expected it, she would feel the change creeping over her. It would start in the middle of an intense conversation with her younger son or with her daughter, behind whose newly finished ...

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Voyager

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pp. 300-310

In Now, Voyager . . . The hell of it is he can’t remember exactly what in Now, Voyager. Not important. Bill is sharp. He walks two miles every morning, reads the paper, does the taxes, writes regularly to the children, keeps track of the ...

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Old Soldiers

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pp. 311-325

It’s supposed to be pretty in the place where Jane’s grandmother lives; it says so in the Palmshine brochure. The pages are filled with photos of nice old ladies in the bright Florida sunlight, laughing and flirting with spunky old men in ...

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Incursions

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pp. 326-336

Lives go to pieces incrementally, not all at once, although it may take some of us a while to notice. Man wakes up in the middle of an empty field with his arms swinging; his heart is doing cartwheels while his head struggles to catch ...

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The Bride of Bigfoot

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pp. 337-344

Imagine the two of us together, the sound of our flesh colliding; the smell of him. The smell of me.
At first I was afraid. Who would not be frightened by stirring shadows, leaves that shiver inexplicably, the suspicion that just outside the circle of bug ...

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The Zombie Prince

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pp. 345-257

What do you know, fool, all you know is what you see in the movies: clashing jaws and bloody teeth; raw hunger lurching in to eat you, thud thud thud. We are nothing like you think.
The zombie that comes for you is indifferent to flesh. What it takes from you is
...

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Grand Opening

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pp. 358-365

It’s brilliant. The Bruneians have bought Yankee Stadium. The team went bust last year—it was the boredom. There’s nothing at issue in baseball, face it. Where’s the suspense? It’s only a game. Today we expect more from our entertainment: love ...

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Special

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pp. 366-379

Ashley Famous is coming to town and we’re all excited and a little apprehensive. Ours is the last unspoiled village on the Hudson, one of those quiet places where nobody important ever comes, and the last thing we want is gawking ...

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Monkey Do

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pp. 380-388

Every writer wants to be famous, at least just once. I’ve been at it since before the dog died, but it’s an animal planet, so what do you expect? If a hundred monkeys typing for a thousand years would probably produce a novel, what ...

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The Outside Event

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pp. 389-409

I’m supposed to come down and sit in your, like, confession box and spill my . . . what? Wait! I have to do makeup. So, is this judged more on looks, or is it a performance thing?
All right, all right, this is not a contest, but. Really. Gazillion writing ...

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The Legend of Troop 13

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pp. 410-428

In the mountains tonight, in the jagged hills below the observatory, the Girl Scouts’ voices ring— just not where you can hear, for the missing girls of Troop 13 are as wary as they are spirited.
“Beautiful,” Louie says. He paints the observatory dome, top to bottom on ...

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The Wait

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pp. 429-442

Penetrating a windshield blotched with decalcomanias of every tourist attraction from Luray Caverns to Silver Springs, Miriam read the road sign.
“It’s Babylon, Georgia, Momma. Can’t we stop?”
“Sure, sweetie. Anything you want to do.” The little, round, brindle woman...

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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pp. 443-443

Kit Reed’s most recent novel is Enclave; her next, Son of Destruction, is coming out this year. Other novels include J. Eden, Catholic Girls, and Thinner Than Thou, which won an ALA Alex Award. Often anthologized, her short stories appear in venues ranging ...