55327_girl-writing_mdThis story was published in Clarkesworld. I’m going to call this one slipstream. It involves alien contact, but I think it’s really about zombies.

Jessica works at a gas station after school. She can’t get hold of her mom, so after work she starts to walk to Gram’s house. A man stops who knows her name and says her mom sent him to give her a ride. He beats her senseless, rapes her, cuts her up with a knife and throws her body into a ravine. She revives to find she’s been taken over by alien bacteria that are trying to fix the damage. She gets another ride to Gram’s house, but Gram is passed out drunk. She manages to get her mom on the phone, but her mom doesn’t have time to talk. The narrative actually goes downhill from there.

So, this story has high emotional impact, caused mostly by the level of violence and the fact that Jessica is so alone. Because the bacteria revive her from death, it has strong zombie overtones. Diversity is uncertain. The gals who give her a ride to Gram’s house suggest she is a Native American, but Jessica denies it. This is very well written and it definitely has something to say.

I’m going to pick at it a little bit. Robson covers some of the main questions in the story, but doesn’t answer all of them. The bacteria tell Jessica they crashed a spaceship and then lived in a bear for a while. As Jessica wonders, how do bacteria crash a spaceship? Are they lying? Also, this happens just about 9/11/2001. What does the 9/11 terrorist attack have to do with this? If the bacteria moved from the bear to Jessica, why isn’t there an immediate disease vector? She’s in contact with bunch of people. Seems like all she has to do is sneeze.

Regardless of picking, I’m going to give it another 4.5. I’d rather there was impact without this level of negativity and violence, though.