13DWF Day Three: “Far Behind” by Can Wiggins

Our third story of The 13 Days of Weird Flash is Can Wiggins's "Far Behind" from our "Spring '23" release.

13DWF Day Three: “Far Behind” by Can Wiggins
Can Wiggins, author of "Far Behind"

Welcome to the third day of The 13 Days of Weird Flash. Thanks for all the positive feedback we received yesterday for Bob Sodaro’s story “Whiteout” from our first Winter ’22 installment. We’re having a great time sharing these stories and have ten more days to go, with some special surprises in store.

As mentioned at the beginning of this event, we’re sharing these stories in the lead-up to the release of Weird Fiction Quarterly, Volume One, our first hardcover omnibus collecting the past four Weird Fiction Quarterly releases. We’ve started the work of building that book, and we have some interesting numbers to share:

  1. In order to keep the thickness of the book within Amazon’s limits (550 pages), we’re going with a larger page format (6”x9”) than our standard paperback editions (5”x8”).
  2. Even with that larger size, the hardcover is currently clocking in at 495 pages. That will grow slightly as we include more authors in our standard About the Authors section and the WFQ production team pens a proper Foreword to introduce new readers to our project. I expect that we’ll end up just over 500 pages when we ship it off to the printer.
  3. We’re aiming for a list price of $29.99 USD, which is like getting our latest double-sized installment for free.
  4. The hardcover will only be available in black and white, so if you want the full-color print experience, our Fall & Halloween 2023 color edition will remain available. The reason for not releasing a color edition is that we’d have to charge at least $69.99 USD to make enough royalties to pay our authors after Amazon and the printers take their cut of the sales price.
  5. While dropping 13 free stories this holiday may seem like a lot, the hardcover will contain 132 additional stories, bringing the total number of weird flash stories up to 145, so there will be more than plenty to astound, horrify, and entertain you, even if you’re hanging onto every word during this event.
  6. We will also be releasing a Kindle and ePub version of the hardcover, in full color (on devices that support that). So if building your upper body strength hauling around a 500 page book is not part of your upcoming New Year's resolutions, the electronic version will be as light and svelte as the other electronic books you read.

This is all very exciting to us, and we’ll post more updates as the book makes its way from a humble LaTeX file on my computer to a tome that you can hold in your hand and read in a comfy chair.

With that all out of the way, we’re proud introduce Can Wiggins as our third author, with her story “Far Behind” from the second Spring ’23 installment of Weird Fiction Quarterly. As a proofreader and editor, she started her career at Greenville News-Piedmont, then moved to CNN and Thomson Reuters AP. In addition to her short story work, she has cowritten the screenplay “Eidolon”, which is a modern take on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic, “The Yellow Wallpaper.”   She lives in Athens, Georgia.

As always, stick around after the story for a brief Q&A with Can Wiggins.

Far Behind

By Can Wiggins

This is where I tell you the story nobody believes unless they experience it for themselves. Don’t worry. You won’t offend me. I’m past all that.

If you want to eat, you have to work.

I know that’s a foreign concept to many people right now, not just kids, but if I can help turn anyone, if I can get you out of wherever it is you live – a place called “It’s All About Me” – I’ll consider us done.

Adding salt to the wound, this is also where I tell you I’m the one left to uphold tradition – our way of life, if you will – since everything changed forever. And I’ve not slept – as people understand that word – in quite a while. Too much going on.

But I overslept this time and those seeds gotta go in the ground today.

Last winter was hard – as they all are now – but sacrifices were made, and we didn’t lose a single plant. That’s what being part of all this means now. Sacrifice, then rewards.

Many people – not so many now, so let’s say most that are left – believe it’s about making it through winter, then busting out of hidey-holes to eat and drink and dance with a sweetheart in moonlit fields come warm weather.

It’s not entirely about that. And some make good workers when word goes out that I indeed need help. The lost, the scared, the runaways show up. No questions because there are no answers. Most leave – I encourage it – and I send them on their way with as good a meal as they’re going to get. Some stay, and I find a place for them. They’re special despite the damage.

If winter comes, can spring be far behind, as the old saying goes. It’ll be on time no matter what I do but if I don’t pick up the pace, then what? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

Again, everything goes in hardscrabble ground that yields little to nothing if we don’t stay on target. Not easy. There’s always trouble from those who don’t pull their weight but, like everyone since time began, demand the fruits of everyone else’s labour. Ah, youth! Here today, gone tomorrow. And then, what do you do?

You stick to the schedule, that’s what. Spring is for planting. When I’m gone? I used to worry about that – but I’ve trained a near-mute, deeply fucked-up but loyal girl who understands what’s at stake here more than most. Whoever or whatever that girl might’ve once been, I’ll give her this. Her mother raised her right.

We connected from the get-go and when one of the men got caught with his pants down, she sized up the situation and took care of him before I could reach his worthless hide. A shovel to the back of his head did the trick and, later, we planted him like we’ve always planted our sacrifices – scattered beneath the rows with the promise of harvest, his bonemeal a sacred gift.

Q&A with Can Wiggins

WFQ: Why do you write weird fiction and when did you start?

CW: While writing SF/F and straight-up horror, I started slinging Weird fiction several years ago after a near-death experience. To me, liminal spaces are just as valid and valuable as “real” places and deserving of our time and talents.

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your WFQ contributions?

CW: My literary icons are Ursula LeGuin, Zenna Henderson, Daphne du Maurier, Shirley Jackson, and Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman.

WFQ: What do you like most about the 500-word format we use? What do you find most challenging with it?

CW: What I like most about the 500-word format is how absolutely on point I have to be. It’s all waste not, want not, cut the fat but leave the muscle, a brilliant way to maintain focus to achieve the goal. What’s tough is wrapping it up without losing it.

WFQ:  If you were made editor for an issue, which theme would you choose to guide a whole WFQ installment?

CW: I would choose a theme around making deals with the devil or some such creature, not necessarily a djinn but why not? Why not something … Other? Versions of the ol’ “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” comes to mind.

WFQ: Where else can we read more of your work? Where can we find out more about you?

CW: You can find me in Test Patterns, The Phantasmagorical Promenade, Caravans Awry, 32 White Horses On A Vermilion Hill, A Walk In A Darker Wood, and Georgia Gothic, a Horror Writers Association of Atlanta anthology. My short story “MeeMee” was featured on PseudoPod 791: Flash on the Borderlands LIX: Down in the Park. My Lovecraftian story, “Boxing Day”, can be found online at shoggoth.net

I’m also on Facebook as Can Wiggins. I don’t have a website but I am working on it. Sort of.

Thanks again to Can for sharing her tale about life on the farm, and we’ll be back tomorrow, unless one of you has been taking notes and decides that Yours Truly has been the missing ingredient in your garden…

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