Flash Fiction: You Can Summon the Ancient One for Fifteen Dollars

ancient one

My new flash fiction for Daily SF is “You Can Summon the Ancient One for Fifteen Dollars”, a weird, modern, urban fantasy story. It’s available to read here. It starts by talking about the lack of elephants in the circus, a good thing by my books. In 2011 Motherjones published the results of its year-long investigation into the Ringling circus, which you can check out here. It’s a hard read. Motherjones found, among other things, that:

Ringling elephants spend most of their long lives either in chains or on trains, under constant threat of the bullhook, or ankus—the menacing tool used to control elephants. They are lame from balancing their 8,000-pound frames on tiny tubs and from being confined in cramped spaces, sometimes for days at a time. They are afflicted with tuberculosis and herpes, potentially deadly diseases rare in the wild and linked to captivity. Barack, a calf born on the eve of the president’s inauguration, had to leave the tour in February for emergency treatment of herpes—the second time in a year. Since Kenny’s death, 3 more of the 23 baby elephants born in Ringling’s vaunted breeding program have died, all under disturbing circumstances that weren’t fully revealed to the public.

The story isn’t exactly about the plight of the elephants, or about circuses, but about the increasing sense of bleakness I feel whenever I read the news. Slate has a great recent article up about numbness and the danger of numbness, titled “It’s All Too Much, And We Still Have to Care” that sums it up well. Writing modern fantasy — especially dystopias — has become an increasingly surreal experience. In many ways dystopia is already here. For many people, particularly the First Nations people of the world, it’s been here for a long time. Hope you guys like the story.

Story Stats

Submitted: 13 February 2018
Accepted: 29 March 2018
Contract Signed: 29 April 2018
Published: 18 June 2018