Sunday Shorts—Salto Mortal, by Nick T. Chan

coverOh, how I loved this story. It begins in a truly dark place: a woman in an abusive relationship with a border-guard who is making a break for it after a particularly brutal beating, one painful step at a time. Her progress is halted, however, by her realization she’s left a digital opening for him to find her.

And then she finds the alien child.

The layers of this story peel back in tiny reveals that are paced so perfectly I had writer envy alongside my enjoyment as a reader. The border wall is explained not to be just a mere political wall but one to keep out alien monsters who have destroyed the country the heroine came from—but are they monsters? The alien child is far more communicative than any alien she has heard of before, and as she tries to figure out if she can barter this alien to cover her attempted escape, the story unravels further mysteries and throws so much into question.

Ultimately triumphant, the tale left me happy on multiple fronts, and also wishing there was more—I want to know what happens next, and where she goes from here, and what it will mean for humanity.

Which, I guess, is one of the best signs of a short story done well, really.

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