An Unexpected Party – Short Story – The Vampire and the Aunty

Article | Dec 2023

Co-published by Get YA Words Out and edited by Seth Malacari, An Unexpected Party brings together the stories of emerging authors from the LGBTQIA+ community.

Read a short story from the collection.

 

THE VAMPIRE AND THE AUNTY

LIN BLYTHE

 

 

          The mind is like a garden,

          Where mycelium sprouts, garlic flowers,

          Chilli blooms and pepperberry flourishes.

          Its fragrance draws outsiders,

          Who uproot and poison our bowers—

          How our pride impoverishes.

          A roof of cloudy glass keeps warmth in

           And keeps white robes out at all hours

           Why risk the stars if your child perishes?

           A song of the Jerlipiur people

           (author unknown)

 

 

‘But garlic is good for your health!’

The short human stood with their hands on their hips, eyes blazing through their visual aids.

Kif checked her translator. Two hundred hours until it completed a dialect scan and could generate her foolproof responses. So much for Arehi implants being hi-tech. ‘I do not,’ she repeated, which seemed to be the best option of the lot. ‘Bad for my immunity.’

‘What? Who told you that, your aunty? You come to my table, take Aunty Diya’s seat, eat me out of my yum cha dinner and now I bring you to my home, what? You spit on my cooking?’

Back on the Suraci, the crew had had the occasional argument or heated moment, but it never lasted long – well, not more than a few days — but this felt different. This ‘Aunty’ mortal, in their little jumpsuit, standing in their kitchen, was already impatient and expecting a resolution. Kif consulted the guidebook again. Median life expectancy is one hundred and twenty years. Right, so they would die before long.

‘Aunty, I mean no harm,’ she said.

‘Mm-hmm. Eat up.’

Perhaps this was the only resolution.

As Kif gobbled down her second bowl, she wondered what would kill her first. Would it be the garlic, which might counteract her solar meds? Would it be her gravity meds? Prolonged disconnection from the hive? Did she care? The soft slippery noodles were to die for, soaked in kecap manis, ground peanut, birds-eye chilli, crushed fresh ginger and garlic.

 

Before she had ended up in the Aunty’s flat, Kif had expected to spend her first 296 hours on the Jerlipiur northern station, at a minimum, laying low and letting her guidebook catch up. The view of the cloudy planet below and the black above took her breath away but she had mimicked the disinterested expression of the stationers, just in case. All of them looked unhappy at all times — their expressions were all in their voices — as they threatened and pleaded with hangar operators, merchants and hawkers, waving purple discs in their hands. Not wanting to make a scene, she’d paid thrice the listed price and left the hangar operator snickering.

Everything had been going to plan. She and her comrades had spaced themselves, swindled an emergency shuttle and landed here. They’d spent the 102 hours of transit talking, and then Kif had napped while the others had sexual relations. Then, they parted ways: the random number generator selected her as the one to take Space Station A. The three planet-bound comrades were grim as they took their fair share of the high-gravity meds. They had the lowest chance of survival.

How was she, a rookie stowaway, meant to know that taking the one spare seat in the galley (correction: for-profit eatery), would make a local stick to her like carbon scoring?

‘Oi. Can’t sit here, daughter,’ the mortal snapped. They tended to a plate of rice spilling out of an aromatic brown leaf.

Kif got up immediately. ‘Please take my sorry …’ her translator whirring, she snatched a phrase she’d heard used when addressing a superior, ‘… Aunty. –’

‘My son must’ve stood me up again. Why does he book lunch when his business meetings always run overtime. Must be wool in his ears. Where you going?’

‘I –’

‘Can’t any young people make time for their elders anymore? When I was your age, I made dinner for my mother and grandmother every night. What say to that, huh?’

Kif thought about her answer long and hard. ‘Please take my sorry, Aunty—’

‘Enough, sit down before the staff bother us. What you want?’

Blood. ‘Hungry.’

‘Yes yes, you want order for you? Ah, you don’t know this place. Hey! Hey!’ Aunty waved her hand in the air and glared around the room until a silver four-wheeled creature lurched up to them.

‘Ha gow, xiao long bao, cha siu bao, siu mai,’ it beeped.

Haiyoh, one of each but not the ha gow. No one wants your frozen prawn. They say it’s been frozen for centuries hah, think anyone would eat it they knew that?’

‘Of course, valued customer.’

‘Hah! Stupid waiter. Can’t even stay loyal to your boss.’

‘Enjoy your meal, valued customer.’

Over the next hour, Kif gained a lot of intel and would need many more hours to sift through it and record what was valuable. Aunty Ovee Zh was ninety-two, of average weight and height for Jerlipos, widow of Aunty Diya Zh. They had three adult children, and Woolly Son Epun she saw regularly as he often came up to the station to meet clients, but Woolly-headed Epun didn’t show up half the time due to said meetings going overtime. ‘Stupid boy could take the spare room at my place instead of up and down to the planet. Then he could at least have tea with his mother.’ Aunty Ovee had five children in-law and nine grandchildren with a tenth on the way, at which point ‘the babies stop or Diya’s inheritance won’t be enough to give everyone gifts. That woolly son of mine says he’ll pay for lunch then doesn’t show up, so what happens? Does he think I can walk out without eating or paying? Give me that bill, silly girl.’

Aunty handed over an awful lot of those purple discs. Kif understood that stationers performed labour in exchange for these ration tokens. What she didn’t understand was why nobody questioned her. If only she had finished downloading the guidebook from the Arehi mother corporate, then she might understand, but there had been no time. And now she was being taken back to the mortal’s flat, which made her heart pound. This was also clearly a local custom and so refusing came with more risks.

While Kif slurped away at her second free meal, Aunty studied her with interest.

‘You used to working for food?’

Her mind went back to the yum cha bill. ‘Yes, Aunty, I –’

‘Good. You start tomorrow. Where you from?’

‘Areh. Migrant. Worked repairs on ships for money.’ That had been her assigned cover story. Her comrades would deliver their own variations when questioned. It was risky mentioning Areh, but their mother empire had ensured that no civilisation other than hers would be able to travel between galaxies. It was only realistic.

Haiyoh, long way to here. You bring vampires with you again? Not much people left after last time Arehi were here, thousand years ago.’

‘No, Aunty, no vampires.’

Aunty pressed a small bowl of yellow liquid into her hand. ‘Drink up, it helps you heal. Go rest. Spare room all ready for the son that never comes.’

Before she could construct another sentence, the little mortal-woman left her, singing something mellow under her breath.

 

Deep in the galley of emissary-class rover Suraci, many years ago, Kif drew the tube away from her mouth, licking her lips of residual blood … the feeder tank, a hulking silver beast that exposed its underbelly of nipples to the room.

‘… We approach a Green Solar System with eleven planets, two of them habitable and nine of a gaseous, icy composition. Our rock harvester colleagues will be pleased to hear this, and so they will be here in a few decades …’

‘Praise be to our mother corporate Areh …’

… Her comrades erased their names from her RAM so they could not incriminate each other …

One of them with short white hair spoke with their hands … next shift, we go.

 

Kif woke to her stomach churning. Objects blurred in and out of her vision until she located something that looked enough like a waste channel. She hobbled over, little needles of pain filling her knees, a feeling that was numbed by hot pulp that forced itself past her teeth and down the brown pipe. She heaved, dribbling down her neck and onto her clothes: she’d need to clean that. How many hours of sleep had passed? It felt like a moment ago she had set herself down. More pulp, there goes the rice—

‘ – child? Is it the garlic allergy?’

‘Not a child, I’m centuries older than you,’ Kif grumbled to herself.

Light filled the room as Aunty Ovee marched through the doorway, drawing herself to a full height at Kif’s elbow. Between belches, as Aunty held her by the shoulder, Kif decided that this little mortal was her shift leader. It was unorthodox, but all the principles of the Arehi mother corporate applied.

When she was finished, she followed orders: down ginger tea and congee, change into Ovee’s son’s old clothes, press a heated stone to her stomach and lie on her side in a foetal position. Twenty-one hours later, she was woken, fed more ginger tea and congee, emptied her bowels and told that she had had enough sleep. Following detailed and sometimes shouted instructions, she reset the waste cycle, reorganised the contents of the dresser into eight outfits, fixed the inventory tracker and synced it with the supply schedule of the station, seasonal availability of produce, and Aunty’s calendar. Notifications would now go to Kif’s implant, allowing her to screen them before sending on the relevant items to Aunty’s visual aids.

Once Aunty understood that she slept once every 128 hours, she began to let her sleep for at least twenty hours. Too much, according to Aunty Ovee, too little according to Kif, but it was a good enough compromise. In those peaceful twenty hours of slumber, Kif learned what it was like to dream. She dreamed of the events leading up to her desertion of the Suraci ship; sometimes she dreamed even further back, unlocking memories she shouldn’t have. She saw herself on a white table, surrounded by white robed medic officers who plugged needles into her wrists, her belly, her skull, changing her. It was painful to see, so she decided best not to think about it for now.

Aunty Ovee watched every spoonful of chicken rice enter and leave Kif’s mouth. Kif hoped she thought her clumsiness could be attributed to her poor health, not a lack of practice with cutlery.

‘So, no garlic for you, hah?’

‘We will try again some time,’ Kif said. Her implant told her that her digestive system was acclimatising to this new diet.

‘Hmm. You speak better now. Any food you want?’

Kif thought about her answer. ‘Just blood,’ she said, then, when Aunty’s thin eyebrows rose, she added, ‘blood-rich foods.’

‘Ah, you from one of those crowds that worships the vampires?’

Kif coughed, sending the rice the wrong way.

Haiyoh, concentrate on eating. We hear about the vampires, the ones your Arehi mother corporate made. I was a teacher, you know, so I knew all the stories of mother demons, plague bearers, dead babies; all of them stories been around since the Blood and Cloaks, since those Areh ships did it. My wife, your Aunty Diya, she got sick, you know. Now you take this old person shopping.’

Did mortals always transition conversation topics this fast? Kif shoved more rice into her mouth, hoping her guidebook would catch up. ‘Do we have enough rations, Aunty?’

‘No, but you say you work for more rations. I explain it to the blood sausage hawker – they understand. Then I go to family dinner at the yum cha, take a nap, and come back for you.’

‘Yes, Aunty.’

 

Clouds of ash billowed through the atmosphere before Kif’s eyes, like a hand smoothing gunpowder over its glassy surface. Who knew which planet this was or when it was …

‘… least one of the species will dominate an ecosystem and reduce its diversity …’

… on the infovis holo display … the yellow dot, flashing with warning.

‘A hidden trove, waiting to be found by an unintelligent people,’ the shift leader’s lover mused. ‘Is it the absence of knowledge that turns technology into magic?’

‘… blow to the food production, combined with disease, means population will be set back by around 870 years from their current position. Casualties are … about 29% of the population.’

… Her colleagues board the shuttles, hooded in pristine white cloaks, cloaks that were deep with pockets of concealed Arehi tech. The fabric was sewn to their skin, for it could not be removed. They had 300 hours to spread awe and fear for the Arehi mother corporation: to invade dreams, drink blood and liberate temples. To fuel allegiance to the corporation when it came knocking for bodies, rocks, blood. And then they would be consumed by the robes and their shuttles would burn, for 300 hours was considered the safe window in which an Arehi could not be turned. The robes would linger until they were imprinted in the minds of the locals, uploaded to their stories.

Three more spaced themselves, one of her comrades signed, their hands punctuating the sentence firmly.

Have you deleted the shuttle?

Yes, Kif signed.

And we know our destination?

Yes. The ship will pass through the system but not stop. The last visit was recent and still inspires fear.

 

The third time Aunty Ovee brought Kif to family dinner, the children and grandchildren stopped asking Aunty questions about Kif and started asking Kif about Kif. As Kif served Aunty the plumpest, fluffiest cha siu bao, then served the rest of the table, the eldest daughter-in-law, Sutant, took issue with the wait-droid. At least this routine was comfortingly familiar.

‘… and don’t give me the soggy ones that have been sitting in your trolley all day like you did last time.’

‘We pride ourselves on serving only the freshest food made by expert hands.’

‘Well this wasn’t fresh or professional, you hunk of metal. We don’t need you down at home you know, and I wonder how your manufacturer convinced the station dwellers to pay for you. You can’t even hold a conversation!’

Yes, valued customer.’

‘The rise in wait-droids can be attributed to low labour costs and the professionalisation of the human workforce,’ Kif said.

‘According to who?’

‘Jerli zine, Stationer variant, volume 886, issue 9412. Humans are simply too qualified to want the same jobs as droids, the study would suggest.’ Now that her guidebook had spent enough time processing local content, she didn’t hesitate to use this knowledge.

‘Please take a seat, valued customer.’

Haiyoh, no fight in them anymore. No fun.’

Although she’d never admit it, to Kif, Sutant was beautiful. It was never the features that mattered: it was the way she paired fitted shorts with stiff blazers, or soft boleros with sweeping a-line skirts, and brought it all together with her copper piercings and eyeliner. Everything she wore shone, like she wanted to be confused for the droids she hated so much. All these observations Kif kept to herself, knowing that few would understand her appreciation was purely aesthetic, and devoid of attraction.

The family let Sutant continue griping until the Woolly Son arrived. This was the first time he’d made it to a lunch with Kif in attendance. A shiny brooch was fastened to his teal skort, right above the knee: the shape of an eye made from black stones, signalling his allegiance to a popular worship franchise, The Limited Sky.

‘Sorry I’m late, Ma.’ Epun patted Aunty Ovee on the cheek and the wait-droid assembled a chair for him next to Aunty. He looked around the circular table and the faces that rose from its top, winking and smiling at the little ones, a few nods at the older ones. His eyes stopped on Kif, then he smiled. ‘New clothes today!’

Kif glanced down at herself: on Aunty’s instructions, she wore a loose red tunic with gold and black geometric patterns stamped around the neckline, waist and hem. A gold belt delineated the deep pockets, and matched her gold stockings. She’d bought boots that were well worn, then replaced the frayed laces with stiff red ones, and bought a more expensive pair and multicoloured stockings for Aunty.

Slowly, uncertainly, Kif smiled back. ‘Thank you for letting me borrow your clothes. I am eager to return them to you—’

‘Keep them. Don’t fit me anymore.’

‘She bought Ma new clothes, too.’ A grandchild had spoken, xeir eyes fixed on Aunty’s.

‘Little one, how do you know these things?’ Aunty Ovee patted the grandchild’s hair.

‘You never buy yourself new things. Too expensive you say, not worth it for old lady like you.’

Kif choked on her bao, the tang of pepperberry sliding down her throat. Epun stood suddenly.

‘Eh, another meeting?’ Aunty Ovee asked.

‘Kif, please accompany me to the waste-cycles.’

One look from Aunty told her that this action had her approval. She followed the flapping tails of his jacket to the most expensive part of the yum cha: a boardwalk with a glass floor, revealing the inky blackness of space below. Embedded in the railings were thin tanks made of glass. Tiny air vents and strategic moving blue lights gave the illusion of water, at least in an abstract way. Little metal creatures with sharp ribs, diamond- shaped fins and heads with eyeless sockets zigzagged back and forth, like they were swimming.

‘Are you boinking my mother?’

Kif’s guidebook went into overdrive.

‘Look,’ he continued, ‘you may not be from around here so I’ll break it down for you. In Jerlipiur, a family is an elder feeding milk to an infant. You get what your family gives. You may come from some cushy foreign government that spoon feeds you from the moment you feel hunger, but you can’t have her. She has lived on Ma Diya’s inheritance in this plush station for years and to what avail? And now you come along and — explain yourself, tell me that I’m wrong.’

She sighed. ‘I am aware that you lost your Ma Diya recently, and that –’

‘Oh, you think you know about my mum? It was seven years ago. Don’t talk to me about her. I work in system security, do you know? I could have you spaced, or worse, sent back to whatever hole you came from.’

Kif processed his words. He had probably worked out that she was Arehi, but perhaps his job allowed him to investigate her further. ‘I earn rations for the both of us, two-thirds of which go to her children –’

‘Of course you do, how else do you get into her bed without her feeling she owed you, you  –’

‘She gave me sanctuary, that is all. We have separate rooms. I take no personal gratification from sexual relations – at best, it is like exercise to me, and at worst, it makes me regurgitate a full stomach – is that what you wanted to know?’

She returned to studying the metal fish, until Aunty Ovee came to fetch her. ‘Haiyoh, Kif, no need to scare him like that. Introduce new ideas to a mind and how can he say he is the same person? Come, we must go before the hawkers leave.’

Steering her out of the restaurant by her wizened arm, Aunty Ovee laughed and laughed, repeating the things said between Epun and Kif for her own amusement.

‘That boy couldn’t understand love if it hit him in the throat. Your Aunty Diya may be dead, but my heart is still in her mouth.’ Her eyes twinkled. ‘They say back before Blood and Cloaks, Jerlipiur culture was predominantly aromantic. Different time, then. Diya and I would be the strange ones.’

 

The Suraci share-bed, the five vampires crammed together on it, sucking and enjoying their last drops of blood … Speaking of the crewmates they would never see again, never sleep with … Kif wondered not for the first time how some lived their lives driven by these desires, these distinctions between one peer and another. To her, many individuals were beautiful, like an elegantly built ship, gleaming amongst the stars. That was all.

‘Oh, that reminds me – could anyone find out anything more about Areh?’

Everyone shook their heads. Their mother corporate was too much to process, which was probably why so many vampires spaced themselves after learning the truth. She was grateful she’d found her comrades, even if she would never see them again.

 

After that encounter with Epun, Kif saw a lot more of the children, who now insisted on taking Aunty out to meals and shopping, even paying for her on occasion. Kif had more time to do cleaning and technical repair work in return for rations, as well as time to herself.

Aunty Ovee was ‘over the moon’, as the locals liked to say. ‘You see, another grandchild comes into my life, what. Now my children must take me shopping, pay for my lunch, for they think they must fight for their inheritance! Works every time.’

‘Every time?’

‘Did you think all those grandchildren belong to my kids? Some look nothing like! Haiyoh, thought you were polite not to say so.’

‘You adopted some?’

‘They feel threatened then they get over it. Then it’s time for another.’

Eventually, Aunty Ovee extended her newfound influence to have Kif minding a grandchild once every few cycles. She would tutor xem in computer languages, physics and history – hopefully enough to get xem into any professional workforce so xey wouldn’t be stuck in ‘volunteering’. Xeir mother, Sutant, suddenly had a heightened awareness of labour issues. Besides, who would say no to unpaid services?

The child played with xeir hair, staring off into the distance.

‘Little one, tell me about something in your planet’s history.’

‘My name is Trepzi,’ xey huffed. Trepzi drew xemselves up to xeir full height, which was not much. ‘Are you a you-know-what?’

‘A what?’

‘A vampire. Is that why you like blood sausage so much?’

‘No, it’s because I’ve got a blood condition.’

‘Yeah. Like a vampire. Do you have a reflection?’

‘Let’s talk about vampires.’

The child took the bait. ‘I know they say vampires came from Areh and then the Blood and Cloaks happened. Or they came after. But actually, I know the Areh made the Blood and Cloaks happen.’

‘Really?’

‘Yeah. They sucked all the blood out of my great great great great great great great great Aunty.’

Kif started to calculate the generations, then decided against it. ‘How do you know?’

‘Ma and Mama and Ma Mee told me, obviously. And they say if you don’t know how far back your ancestor is then just say great times eight.’

‘So what happened?’

‘They sucked everyone’s blood. Then they gave everyone a cough. Maybe they gave it when they were sucking the blood. Then they killed everyone with the cough and the blood and since then we have,’ xey dropped to a whisper, ‘demons.’

‘Demons? What do they do?’

‘Everyone knows. How come you don’t know?’

‘I’m not from around here.’

‘Whatever. They’re in my dreams – but I’m not scared. When I told Mama and Ma and Ma Mee about my nightmares – I mean my dreams – they told me and my siblings these scary stories about them. To protect us or something. If we know what demons look like then we can … we can not die.’

‘The demons, does everyone see them?’

‘They say that everyone sees them when they’re little.’

‘What about adults?’

‘You’re not supposed to talk about them! Do you not have any where you’re from?’

‘Maybe,’ Kif shrugged. ‘I heard Aunty singing something the other day – are there songs about the—’

‘Everyone knows the songs.’

‘Can you sing one for me?’

Trepzi pouted, but began to sing almost immediately:

The mind is like a garden,

Where mycelium sprouts, garlic flowers,

Chilli blooms and pepperberry flourishes.

Its fragrance draws outsiders,

Who uproot and poison our bowers—

How our pride impoverishes.

A roof of cloudy glass keeps warmth in

And keeps white robes out at all hours

Why risk the stars if your child perishes?

 

Kif stamped her feet in approval, as was the custom here. The child beamed, then frowned when Kif’s eyes went glassy. A message had appeared in her peripheral vision – not from Aunty but a blocked number. A comrade.

Areh is gone.

 

Several cycles (or ‘months’) later, Kif decided she was ready. She waited until Aunty Ovee had settled onto the mat with her tea, before beginning her rehearsed questions.

‘Why do you live as a stationer?’ she asked.

‘Eh?’

‘This is for Trepzi’s tuition. Trust me.’

‘Mm-hmm. Your Aunty Diya’s place, this place, was left to me.’

‘Why not move downstairs with your children and grandchildren?’

Aunty Ovee snorted. ‘The children might complain but they don’t want me down there — not with the sickness.’

‘What sickness?’

‘Ah, I forget sometimes you are from Areh, and don’t know these things.’ Kif highly doubted that Aunty ever forgot that. ‘Your mother corporate Areh only tells you nice things. Since the Night of Thin Blood and White Cloaks – young people call it Blood and Cloaks now, too lazy to say the whole thing – there’s blood sickness, very contagious. My grandmother used to say it was because they drank so many people’s blood back then and then those people made babies, that it probably gets passed down. Other sicknesses, too. White spots, insects that infect instead of just pollinating like they meant to.’

‘What else do they say about the Arehi, about the mother corporate empire?’

Aunty looked down at her tea for a while. ‘Are you upset?’

‘Why?’

‘Your planet. Gone. I heard the news but hid it from you.’

‘No, I already knew.’ Kif took a deep breath, deeper than usual. ‘I have contacts. I told you I’m Arehi, but it’s a bit more complicated than that.’

‘You’re a vampire, lah.’

Kif gave herself several moments to process this. ‘How did you know?’

‘Obvious. You used to want blood and told me when sick you were alive for centuries. You don’t sleep then you sleep for hours. My children never did that.’

‘Then why haven’t – why haven’t you panicked? Or told Epun? Or had me killed?’

Aunty Ovee beamed and sipped her tea. ‘You’re weak, lah. Not like vampire stories.’

‘How did Aunty Diya die?’

Haiyoh, why you bringing that up?’

‘It’s important.’

‘She was helping rebuild telecoms for Jerlipiur-8. They say a thousand years ago, before Blood and Cloaks, we could talk to other planets.’

‘And?’

Tears shone in Aunty’s eyes. ‘She got sick. Not sick like they do downstairs – mind sick. She saw the white cloaks in her dreams, in her congee – drove her crazy. Dead.’

Kif put a hand over hers, hoping this would communicate her condolences. Spoken words didn’t seem to be enough.

‘Your hands are so cold. That gave it away too, you know. I thought vampires were strong and fast. Are the others like that or they all weak like you?’

‘All weak like me,’ Kif laughed. ‘We’re designed to survive intergalactic space travel. That not superhuman enough for you?’

 

The dreams of being on operating tables, the patriotism of the Areh ship culture, which were all she could remember – although they never felt right. The Night of the Thin Blood and White Cloaks. Areh, the mighty empire that lay galaxies away: gone. Now that she had had thousands of hours to think, it all made sense.

Kif had come to this station hoping to hide and dissociate herself from the Areh mission, free herself from the myth. She and her comrades had separated in the interest of their survival, when the opposite was true.

By her estimations, she was about 734 years old, though she looked like a teenager to the people of Jerlipiur. That gave her approximately a millennia to live. That wasn’t much, but as she had learned from the ways mortals packed everything into a single cycle, it was enough time to make a start. She would train to be a neurological researcher, as her Aunty Diya had been. ‘That way you can stay here with me,’ Aunty Ovee had reasoned. She and her comrades would learn all they could about the white cloak virus that Arehi had created, the one that lay dormant in every mind until the slightest scientific progress was made. Thoughts of reaching the stars, contacting other planets, probably even some medical advancements – all seemed to trigger the white cloaks, which would haunt the host mind until their death.

She had centuries to live. That was enough time to learn how to remove the virus. Then, if there was time to spare after the viruses were removed, with the local’s minds no longer blocked, they would move onto planetary defence systems, hacking Arehi ships, liberating more vampires with the truth: the truth that Areh was gone and they were lone ships, serving a dead mistress that had presumably destroyed herself.

When she presented this Thousand Year Plan to Aunty Ovee, she was instructed to make several changes, which included a myriad of ways that her children and grandchildren could be employed out of this, however tenuous the link between the mission and their skills.

‘Also, child?’

‘You know I’m older. You should call me Aunty,’ Kif countered.

‘Ha ha. Very funny. You spend too much time with Trepzi, that cheeky one. When your friends coming for dinner?’

‘In two cycles, Aunty. I have scheduled the shopping already.’

‘Mm-hmm. Child, you should make some of those surgeries that make you vampire, give them to me so I can supervise you, lah. Otherwise you’ll be stuck with my children forever.’

Kif opened her mouth to remind Aunty Ovee that being a vampire was excruciating, when she saw the glint in Aunty’s eyes.

Haiyoh, thought you never learn a sense of humour.’

Kif laughed back. ‘Yes, Aunty.’

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lin Blythe authorLin Blythe is a proud spec-fic writer, a Eurasian/ABC and asexual woman. Her writing has been published in Overland online magazine, Left Turn on Red Permitted After Stopping: UTS Writers’ Anthology 2022, Moon Orchard and the Heroines Anthology: Vol. 4.

Since completing her Bachelor of Creative Writing at the University of Technology Sydney, Lin has written about her Malaysian Chinese family’s intergenerational trauma, as it seems to help her heal. She hopes her stories tear down the wall of complacency, crush othering and encourage readers to fight for justice and peace. Lin is a socialist, feminist and antiracist activist who lives on the unceded land of First Nations people. Always was always will be Aboriginal land.

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ISBN: 9781760992699

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