13DWF Day Thirteen: "Ynè-Kee’s Journey" by Jay Sturner

The final tale of The 13 Days of Weird Flash is "Ynè-Kee’s Journey" by Jay Sturner from our very first "Winter '22" release.

13DWF Day Thirteen: "Ynè-Kee’s Journey" by Jay Sturner
Jay Sturner, author of "Ynè-Kee’s Journey"

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and ghouls – it’s been a delightful time spinning yarns with all of you for these past (lucky) thirteen days. While we started this event to hawk books (more on those below), at its core, Weird Fiction Quarterly is much more a community of writers than a bunch of inky glyphs electronically etched onto paper and bound by some mysterious Amazon printing press we can only commune with via book orders in The Cloud.

And this gaggle of writers are not ones to be content to just pound out enchanting flash fiction four times a year. They’re out in the world reading, performing, and meeting readers like you.

Tomorrow (Dec. 7th), Denise Dumars will be reading her story "Čert", which will be featured in next month’s second annual Winter ’24 volume. You can join her at the Anaheim Central Library at 5pm. Don’t be late!

Next Monday (Dec. 11th), for y’all Southerners, Can Wiggins will be featured at the Appleton Auditorium as part of their Victorian Christmas Ghost Stories event at 7pm.

And next Saturday (Dec. 16th), Robert J. Sodaro will have a table at the the IncrediCon Comic & Pop Culture Festival in Poughkeepsie, NY to meet readers and fans of his stories and comic work.

On that same day (Dec. 16th), Jayaprakash Satyamurthy will be performing at Neo-Decadence Saturnalia as part of an online event from 1 to 3pm.

Finally, Nora Peevy is still raising funds for her medical expenses at her GoFundMe page. And she’s not working alone on this, as the Canine Brigade has sent Willow to provide a little extra motivation to donate and share Nora’s campaign. 

I have some additional stuff to share, but you’ve been patient long enough, so we’ll get into that after today’s story and Q&A.

Today’s tale, “Ynè-Kee’s Journey” by Jay Sturner first appeared in the very first Winter ’22 edition of WFQ. Jay is an award-winning poet, fiction writer, and naturalist from the Chicago suburbs. He is the author of several books of poetry and a collection of short stories. His writing has appeared in such publications as The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Space & Time, Spectral Realms, and Not One of Us, among others. He mainly writes fantasy, horror, and science fiction, but occasionally writes in other genres. He is also a professional birdwalk leader and former botanist.

Ynè-Kee’s Journey

By Jay Sturner

To Shayne Keen (for introducing me to the band King Buffalo, from which an image in a song of theirs led to the creation of this story).

Ynè-Kee froze at the sight of her own face peering down at her from the emerald flame of an aurora. This vision, the shaman said, was a sign that a journey must be taken, and that closure was its purpose.

Next day, after making preparations, Ynè-Kee spent extra time with her son. Part of her did not want to go, as the boy had just lost his father and sisters in an unexpected raid. In her own grief she went up the hill every sunset. There she watched light dance across the boreal landscape to distant waters where it was lulled beneath the horizon. She wondered where all that light went, and if it was better there.

After saying her goodbyes, she climbed atop her mammoth and headed west through the snow.

Several days into her journey, under a setting sun, Ynè-Kee arrived at the sea. A pair of eiders zipped over her head from the leaden waves. As she idly followed their flight, she looked over her shoulder and discovered a cloud of wispy fog seeping out of the trees. This fog, she noticed, was stretching toward the coast like breath returning to a mouth. Ynè-Kee’s people believed fog held dark spirits, and a shiver of fear joined her many shivers of cold.

Ynè-Kee thought about what to do. Not far away she observed a canoe leaning against the icy edge of the shore. Better to get off land, she thought, than to face whatever lurked in that fog. So she got off her mammoth and considered the canoe.

By now the fog had channeled itself into several human-like forms, bent and misshapen. Arms unfurled outward like tentacles.

As shadows stretched across the blue snow, Ynè-Kee noticed, as she so often did, the play of light between descending sun and landscape. In the darkening shine of things, the fog-shapes morphed into aspects of her deceased loved ones. Ynè-Kee gasped.

Her next thought was she must return home, for she feared tricksters in those shapes, and could only think of her son anyway. He needed her, and she found herself missing him. But she remembered the shaman’s words: The journey will attend to your grief. So she took a deep breath and opened her arms to the ghostly approach.

The shapes went quietly by. They weren’t her loved ones, just wisps of fog.

A trick of the light? No, she’d seen them, had even sensed them. And yet, if the purpose of that vision was to melt away her grief like spring snow, then it did nothing to drain it. The mammoth, sensing her despair, extended its truck affectionately. This she stroked, weeping.

At length she plucked a frozen tear off her cheek and placed it on her tongue. The taste was bitter. She left the mammoth and climbed into the canoe, pushing off with the oar. Calmly she floated out into the wake of the setting sun, and there disappeared into that dance of light between sun and sea.

Q&A with Jay Sturner

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

JS: I think I write weird fiction because I’m such a fan of it. And it’s fun to write in a genre where imagination is paramount (or at least should be). I probably started writing it when I was a pre-teen.

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your contributions?

JS: I’d like to think I’ve developed my own style, but if I had to choose anyone I’d say H.P. Lovecraft and Lord Dunsany. Lately, there’s been some inspiration from Norse Mythology.

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

JS: As a poet I appreciate the challenge of saying more with less, and that certainly applies to the 500-word format. The challenge is knowing what to trim in order to tell a tight story without sacrificing my initial vision.

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

JS: Many of my stories have an environmental theme or twist. I’d probably ask authors to write in that category.

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

My website contains a large selection of previously published stories and poems. Information about my books and other publications can also be found there.

Now onto the other updates…

When this event began, I wrote that we were in the process of putting together our first annual hardcover omnibus, and we’ve made great progress on that. Most of the layout is complete, we have a new foreword, and we have a special guest contributor who has shared a new piece with us that hasn’t been published in a prior WFQ installment (or maybe anywhere else) before.

We’re probably about three or four days away from being ready to submit the book to Amazon and getting it out to all of you. If you’re reading this via an e-mail, we’ll be sending an announcement when the book is out. If you are not a subscriber yet, join us for the release announcement, as well as a couple other surprises we have in store for you.

Thank you again for joining us and we all hope that we made these past days weird enough for you. The 13 Days of Weird Flash may be over for this year, but we're just getting started.

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