New story: Redaction

My story Redaction now appears in Issue 11 of the magazine Compelling Science Fiction. You can read it online for free, or get the whole bundle of 7 total stories for kindle. Compelling's stories tend toward plausible near-future SF, which is becoming an increasingly wild sub-genre in these dystopian times. 

I wrote the first draft of Redaction a few years ago, and it is my only published work that draws on my professional experience as a paramedic. At the time, I wanted to honor the beginning writer's maxim write what you know. There is some truth to this advice, and some deception. Writing what you know is a good way to build on your available knowledge, but it also risks descent into minutia and "inside baseball" that bores readers and distracts from the real story. So, much of the work in revising Redaction involved stripping out all the bits that made the story more accurate (for me) and less readable (for everyone else). I hope you enjoy the result. 

The day after

I work a strange schedule: 24 hours on, 48 hours off. In practical terms, I get up at 4 every third day, schlep to the firehouse to be on duty at 6AM, and work until 6AM the next morning. When I roll out of the station, I have exactly 48 hours to recover before starting the process over again.

Most days when I get off work, I go home, try to recoup a little sleep with a short nap, and have a day in which I write and run errands with low expectations for myself. I'm coming off a shift in which I've usually been privy to some horrible shit, and the primary goal of the day is to avoid and suppress it. I have a bunch of rituals designed to reinforce the firewall between the world of perpetual emergencies and the quiet of home, but it is work to maintain the defenses.

Over time, I've noticed something about the day I get off work. It's like the third rail of my days. I'm more likely to have an argument with my wife - so much so that I avoid discussions of meaningful topics. I'm overcome by strange and sweeping emotions. I have sudden, compelling ideas - maybe I should buy a strange wig at Goodwill and wear it to the Odesza show! - and tend to see myself as damaged, if not outright psychopathic for my ability to tolerate such constant doses of human suffering. 

Then I get a normal day, in which things feel pretty normal. Then I go to work. Those are the normal days.