“Of a Sweet Slow Dance in the Wake of Temporary Dogs” — Adam-Troy Castro

Adam-Troy Castro’s work has been nominated for several awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Stoker. His novels include Emissaries from the Dead and  The  Third  Claw  of  God.  He  has  also  collaborated  on  two  alphabet books with artist Johnny Atomic: Z Is for Zombie and V Is for Vampire, which are due to come out next year.  Castro’s short fiction has appeared in such magazines  as  The  Magazine  of  Fantasy  &  Science  Fiction,  Science  Fiction Age, Analog, Cemetery Dance, and in a number of anthologies. I previously included his work in The Living Dead, The Living Dead 2, The Way of the Wizard, and in Lightspeed Magazine. His story collections include A Desperate, Decaying Darkness and Tangled Strings.

We’ve heard it so many times that it has become a cliché:  “Let us eat and drink; for tomorrow we shall die.” (Isaiah 22:13).  Most of us only dream of living that way, but in our next story, we present a society that makes merry for nine remarkable days—and on the tenth, gives its citizens a taste of a fate worse than death.

Castro says that this story came as a response to New York post-9/11, after he learned that some people didn’t think they could ever visit the city again.  His response: “New York is so exciting, so rich, so vibrant, so much a feast for the heart and for the senses, that if anything 9/11 made me want to be there even more.”

But the world of this story is far more intense than that of New York.  It raises an interesting question:  is it possible to keep living merrily in the face of repeated torment?  After all—how can you live through hell without losing a piece of your soul?