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by Nelson Stanley


They called themselves the Raders, and if you didn’t know, you’d swear that they were waiting for something: a bunch of boyed-up cookers, second-string hot hatches and shopping trollies adorned with bazzing body-kits parked down at the overcliff again, throttles blipping in time to the breakbeats. Throaty roar from aftermarket back-boxes you could shove your fist up, throb of the bass counter-pointed by an occasional crack as a cheap six-by-nine gave up the ghost. Occasionally a sub overheated, leaving nothing but ear-splitting midrange and treble howling into the gale blowing rain off the sea.

Mya had pushed half a pill into Maggie’s hand when the red XR2 picked her up outside the all-night Turkish takeaway, and Maggie regretted dropping it already, though at first she’d thought the high percentage of whizz in it might lend her enough chemical bravery to finally say what she wanted. Now her eyes rolled in her head and the rush made it difficult to speak. Sparks came off the edges of the headlights splitting the mizzle outside. Her nervous system uncoiled and re-knitted itself, reducing her to a warm soup through which the uppers fizzed and popped.



[Full story after the cut.]

Hello! Welcome to GlitterShip episode 72 for June 10, 2019. This is your host, Keffy, and I’m super excited to be sharing this story with you. Today we have a GlitterShip original, which starts off a new issue that you can pick up at, on Gumroad at, or on Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and other ebook retailers.

If you’ve been waiting to pick up your copy of the Tiptree Award Honor Listed book, GlitterShip Year Two, there’s a great deal going on for Pride over at StoryBundle. GlitterShip Year Two is part of a Pride month LGBTQ fantasy fiction bundle. StoryBundle is a pay-what-you-want bundle site. For $5 or more, you can get four great books, and for $15 or more, you’ll get an additional five books, including GlitterShip Year Two, and a story game. That comes to as little as $1.50 per book or game. The StoryBundle also offers an option to give 10% of your purchase amount to charity. The charity for this bundle is Rainbow Railroad, a charity that helps queer folks get to a safe place if their country is no longer safe for them.

Our story today is “Raders” by Nelson Stanley. Before we get to that, though, here is our poem, “Vampiric Tendencies in the Year 4500” by Renee Christopher.

Renee Christopher is an SFF writer and poet currently making it through her last Iowa winter. Noble / Gas has nominated her poetry for a Pushcart, and her first short story can be found in Fireside Fiction. Follow her on Twitter @reneesunok or on Mastodon


Vampiric Tendencies in the Year 4500

By Renee Christopher


Moon-sewn mothgirls clot          near light,

their search for glow similar

to mine. The door left          ajar          allowed us both

alternate methods for creation

creatures merged          with cosmic teeth.

Stars managed to adapt          find those who,

thick as molasses, gleamed

upon the trellis          of a new future.

But what I look for flutters past

a stand of deer          —bright and wingless,

with champagne fingers

and summer tongues.

At least, the searing          reminds me

of a time when the sun burned hot

and fast.          Now the blood 

I need drips neon from above,

filters through          decadent soil

in a system unknown. In this quest

for light          source, I am not alone.


Nelson Stanley works in an academic library in the UK. His stories have been published recently in places like The Dark Magazine, the Lethe Press anthology THCock, Black Dandy, The Gallery of Curiosities, The Sockdolager, and Tough Crime. One of his stories was included in the British Fantasy Award-winning anthology Extended Play.



by Nelson Stanley


They called themselves the Raders, and if you didn’t know, you’d swear that they were waiting for something: a bunch of boyed-up cookers, second-string hot hatches and shopping trollies adorned with bazzing body-kits parked down at the overcliff again, throttles blipping in time to the breakbeats. Throaty roar from aftermarket back-boxes you could shove your fist up, throb of the bass counter-pointed by an occasional crack as a cheap six-by-nine gave up the ghost. Occasionally a sub overheated, leaving nothing but ear-splitting midrange and treble howling into the gale blowing rain off the sea.

Mya had pushed half a pill into Maggie’s hand when the red XR2 picked her up outside the all-night Turkish takeaway, and Maggie regretted dropping it already, though at first she’d thought the high percentage of whizz in it might lend her enough chemical bravery to finally say what she wanted. Now her eyes rolled in her head and the rush made it difficult to speak. Sparks came off the edges of the headlights splitting the mizzle outside. Her nervous system uncoiled and re-knitted itself, reducing her to a warm soup through which the uppers fizzed and popped.

Waves thrashed at the rocks below the edge of the cliff. An occasional dark shape—a seagull, perhaps, blown off-course and away from the bins—fluttered into the edges of the headlights’ glare and then reeled away into the greater darkness. Hydro and tobacco exhaust vented through half-opened drivers’ windows and flavored the edges of the sooty exhaust smoke from a dozen engines running too rich. One or other spun dustbin-lid size alloys on the wet, loose tarmac with an angry howl, holding it on the handbrake, then—just when you might think that a clutch was about to melt—drop it hard so that fat low-profiles tramped up into the suspension turrets as the tires found purchase, slewing away to nail it down the narrow cliff road, returning from its circuit a few minutes later to rejoin the loose congregation in the car park.

“See. What I mean is, we could be like… See? We don’t have to like… What I mean…” Maggie trailed off, frustrated not so much, perhaps, by her inability to articulate her emotions than by the inefficiency of talking as a medium for expression itself. Why couldn’t she just touch Mya, and have her know exactly what she meant? How she felt? She chewed savagely upon the inside of her bottom lip and fervently wished she’d brought some chewing gum, breath fast through her nose. She started to roll a ciggie, but her hands were shaking and tobacco and papers seemed alive in her hands.

In the driver’s seat, Mya was doing her lippy in the rear-view, an action made more difficult by the way she was surfing the breakbeats pulsing from the stereo, pausing occasionally to puff on the spliff hanging out of the other side of her mouth. With a sigh that seemed practiced she twisted her lippy shut and dropped it amongst the scree of empty Embassy No.1 packets, roached Rizla cartons, baggies and half-crushed tins of cheap cider littering the dashboard.

“Look,” she said, placing both hands on the steering wheel, as if what she had to say required anchoring herself more firmly to the car, “With you now it’s all ‘What I want’ and ‘What I think is’ and it just… I knew it’d get like this. Knew it. What you don’ get is, I don’t care. It’s over, girl. Let go.”

Chemicals rushed into Maggie’s head like someone filling up a bath. She was frantically rubbing a rolling paper flat between her thumbs, gaze pinned to the wrinkled rectangle as if somewhere upon it was written a way out of this, a way to get Mya back.

“I suppose I do need you,” Mya went on, leaning back in the Recaro and idly picking at a blim-hole in the upholstery while puffing luxuriantly on her smoke. “But not the way you need me. I can’t be the thing you want, y’know? It was fun, while it lasted, but is what it is, girl.” She glanced over at Maggie. “But you can still help, if you like.”

Maggie—lorn and reeling from the chemicals thudding through her central cortex—tried to answer, but all that came out was a small hiccuping yelp. She nodded frantically.

“Jesus fuck,” Mya said, and shoved the j toward her passenger. “D’you wan’ some of that?” she said, and it seemed to Maggie that there was love in the gesture, in Mya’s voice, real love, an outpouring of care and concern, and even if it wasn’t what Maggie wanted—that surging roil in her groin, the brimming of her heart that accompanied her memories of the two of them twined together in Mya’s bed, under the Congo Natty poster, the way Mya held her hand in public once or twice, walking back through the rain and the ghost-haunted dawn, hoodies pulled up against the wind—then, still, it unlocked such a river of sweet-flowing sadness inside Maggie that she thought she might melt, right there in the XR2, melt outward in a great silent wave of warmth that blossomed from some secret core inside her body and pulsed through her, turning her flesh to something at once liquid and as evanescent as smoke.

“Jesus fuck,” Mya said again, peering into Maggie’s face. “If you vom all on my Recaros I swear down I will kick you out right here, get me?”, but Maggie knew she wouldn’t, knew she wouldn’t do that, and she was right.

Outside, other cars were gathering, as if drawn by the bass or the lights, as if boyed-up hatches were sad deep-sea creatures, huddling together for mutual warmth around some abyssal vent.

Inside, in the thick dusty warmth blowing out of the demister, Maggie shucked off her hoodie and T-shirt, down to her bra, worming her shoulder blades into the fabric of the passenger seat. Though she rolled her eyes at this, Mya was at least calmer now that Maggie had smoked herself into a place of happy burbling. She cranked down the window as a battered G1 CRX pulled up, fishtank lights glowing underneath the sills and an acre of filler across its back three-quarter panel as if it suffered the ravages of some terrible disease. The relentless, tinny grinding of mid-period Sick of it All pounding from the CRX met the XR2’s sweetly dubbing Jungle, twisted in the rain into a horrifying new hybrid.

The boy in the CRX, baseball cap pulled down low, leaned out the window and put his hand out for a fistbump, got left hanging, pulled it in reluctantly and settled further down into his Parka.

“It’s nearly time,” Mya said to him.

He sniffed. “Aye.”

“You gonna lead?”

He shrugged, somewhat restrained by his seatbelt. “Thought you were gonna. As it’s, like, your party n’that.”

All around the car-park hatches were circling now, splashing through the puddles: a well-loved 205 GTI with engine mounts so shot that it kangaroo-ed on the clutch, pitching the front-end like an obsequious underling kowtowing to its superior so that the add-on plastic chin spoiler spat a spray of gravel in front of it. A cooking Sierra twin-cam done out to look like a Cossie decided to show the front-drive pretenders what they were missing out on, and started power-oversteering around the edge of the circling hatches, back end slewing dangerously close before a hefty stomp on the throttle and an armful opposite-lock sent it whirling away. Maggie, eyes rolling saucer in her head, could only see trails of light, fireworks steaming in the dark, light spidering out of itself to scrawl the night, after-images licking at the edges of the rain.

“Where we going?” she said, struggling upright in the seat, pulse thrumming up through her, a solid lump in her throat.

“We’re gonna take a trip to Faerieland,” Mya said as she took the XR2 out of the carpark, the Raders peeling off after her, each trailing a respectable distance behind the other, jostling for position down the narrow slip road. “The land of the dead, the shining place on the hill where the Good Stuff comes from, where they take you when it’s all over.”

Maggie watched the empty wet streets go past, everything wet and filthy, the streetlamps chrysanthemum bursts of light. The Raders peeled off and followed one-by-one in a continuous rising and falling of fat aftermarket tailpipes and tinny drum’n’bass, punctuated occasionally by the telltale clunk-woosh of a dump valve some joker had bolted on to a naturally-aspirated Golf. They snaked down the road leading from the overcliff, overly-fat radials whispering across the wet tarmac then ka-thumping awkwardly as they bottomed out on the potholes because they’d lowered their suspension by cutting their coil springs with an angle grinder.

“Think on,” said Mya, checking her reflection in the rear-view, “Think, Maggie. A place—well, not quite a place—somewhere they talk in the high-pitched whistle of bats, words you hear not with your ears but something lodged in the back of your brain. They got stuff there, one tiny hit’ll burn through your soul, let you touch the face of God and strip away your skin, make you forget all the shit life drops in your lap.”

Beyond the glass, the neon frontage on dingy shops and cheap bars spread and blurred in firework streaks. Maggie convulsed in her seatbelt, clawing at the tensioner as it ratcheted too-tightly around her stomach. The XR2 lurched over a speed-bump outside Syndicate—the townie girls lined up on the wet pavement clutching their purses, tugging ineffectually at two inches’ of skirt as the rain blew in sideways from the seafront, the young boys with too much hair product reeking of cheap body-spray and grabbing their crotches as they shotgunned cans of lager—and for a second Maggie thought she might actually be sick, but luckily it passed.

“A place where you never have to think,” said Mya, idly flicking ash off the end of her j as she took to the wrong side of the road to pass a dawdling hatchback—big swoosh of locked brakes against wet tarmac, cacophony of horns blaring into the night—“Where you never get hungry, or sad, or old.”

Maggie opened her mouth to speak, but Mya chose that moment to take the inside, getting both nearside wheels up on the curb as she passed a recovery lorry turning on to the main road, orange spinning light sending weird tiger stripes strobing across the interior of the XR2.

As Mya straightened up, fighting the bit of aquaplane as she brought it level, she continued: “There was this girl, see. She was just like any other. Stupid but not free. She met another girl, and fell in love. The sex was fucking epic—” and at this Maggie gave a low moan—“for starters, but wasn’t just meat-meet, wasn’t just something in the cunt or the brain or the blood. This other girl showed the first one things she’d never seen. A new way of looking at the world—” Traffic lights bloomed like fireworks through the rain-swept windscreen as Mya, faced with the inconvenience of a stop signal, took a shortcut through the carpark of a pub, narrowly missing someone’s Transit pulling out of a space then nipping back into the snarl of traffic, agonised howls of horns behind them like the baying of something monstrous. “A new pair of eyes.”

Maggie nodded, chewing on her bottom lip.

“The world seemed changed,” Mya went on. “Everything was magic.” The speed of their passage smeared the neon of a kebab shop across the night, and Maggie, her hand up to wave away a stray strand of hair that she swore was scuttling across her face like a spider, was left staring, open-mouthed, soul tightening in her throat as it sought to escape the skin, astonished at the colored lights crawling and twisting across her skin.

“She showed her things she never dreamed existed, never dreamed could exist. Then, her lover told this girl that she couldn’t have her, that it wasn’t to be. Where her lover came from, she said, that place was different to ours, and she had to go back there. She came from far away, from a place out beyond the days of working shit jobs for the man and burning up your nights in Rizlas and watching them drift,” Mya said, exhaling a long cloud of dope smoke. As it hit the windscreen and flattened out Maggie watched the coils interpolate and shiver in a slow-motion swirl, and the spirals twisted and convulsed and in the whirl there were bodies churning, moving against each other in a liquid tumble, figures clotted together and sliding through each other and as she watched featureless heads opened empty mouths in silent screams of ecstasy and lust—

Taking another big roundabout, Mya let the XR2 go sideways for shits and giggles, whoosh of tires on wet asphalt, and the stately procession of the Raders followed, each making the same playful half-wobble in the Ford’s wake, then out on the ring-road past industrial estates lit up garishly by high-powered halogens.

Maggie dry-swallowed the lump in her throat, convulsed slightly, gasped out:

“I think I’m gonna need another pill, if we’re going to a rave.”

Mya ignored her. “This other lover, she told the girl she was in deep, that where she came from they never died, but every so often one of them had to pay a price, tithe to the Man Who Waits, the Man Who Must Be Paid, and that it was her turn to pay.”

On the edge of a judder of chemicals as they sped down the pulsing freeways of her blood, Maggie found her voice:

“I’d’ve loved to have gone to a rave with you. We never did, did we? There was that big one, down by the river, in the old tire factory? We never made it,” and she trailed off, the memory of that night coming back to hit her: going round someone’s house to score, the crunch of the purple-y crystals in the baggie with the smiley on it. Too greedy to wait, they’d each cut a line that glistened like finely-ground glass on the back of a CD case, huffed it back, shrieking and clapping and giggling at the burn as it dissolved their mucus membranes. They’d staggered out of the dealer’s house arm-in-arm, already giggling, bathed in the streetlamp’s orange glow, hands slipping between hoodies and jeans against the cold. Before they knew it they were fucking each other raw in an alley behind the closed-down Tesco Express, panting against the bins, colors streaming from the edges of their vision as fingers worked in the cold.

Mya’s hand dropped swiftly off the gearstick, squeezed Maggie’s knee.

“Nearly there,” she whispered.

Maggie was halfway to replying “No, no you fucking weren’t, with the Mollie you took ages to come, I had to go down on you, knees in a puddle, my Diesels got fucking wet through,” when she looked up, and saw.

The lights of a deserted superstore glowing through the murk like the warning lights of a ship out at sea. To either side light industrial units glowered through the rain. Something that might’ve been a dog scurried through the puddles collecting on the uneven tarmac, shook itself, then squeezed through the gap in a fence and was gone. The road descended as it cut across a valley. At the top of the valley sides, brooding behind razor wire, huge dark shapes reared against the night sky. The XR2 turned up a driveway you could get an articulated lorry through, between steep banks choked with wet gorse. She pulled up in a huge open space across which the low-profiles bucked and jinked, big wheels nervous over the ruts. Ahead of them, a locked gate, skin of plate iron welded onto a framework of quarter-inch box-section, topped with barbed wire like icing on a birthday cake, stained with something that shone dark in the backwash off the streetlights, something that might’ve been oil.

“Mya, babe,” said Maggie, “where the fuck are we?”

The rest of the Raders, fallen behind in traffic or cut off from the XR2 by stop lights, began to wheel out of the night on to the forecourt, pulling up in a rough circle. One by one, the engines died, leaving just the reflections of their under-sill lights on the wet tarmac and their headlights cutting through the rain, deepening the shadows on the huge organic-seeming shapes sprawled up the side of the valley. From behind the ringing in her ears, Maggie thought she heard a sound far-off like bells, irregular, plangent, as if they’d taken a wrong turn and were down by the sea and could hear the ships still rolling at anchor in the wind, or when you’d gone to a free party and got mashed and passed out next to a sixteen foot high speaker and woke up with your head ringing and chiming, every sound distant and jangling for the next few days.

Mya smiled, leaned back in the driver’s seat, pulled another joint from a crevice on the dash, held it by the twist-shut and shook it to level it out.

“This is Faerieland, babe.”

Mya, an easy smile playing about her lips, sparked up the j. Maggie, spiking on another wave off her pill, nodded, started frantically chewing out her lip.

“Is this like when we—”

Mya pressed a finger to her lips and the dry knuckle against Maggie’s mouth smelled of hash and tobacco and the pleasantly artificial tang of raspberry lipstick.

“This is like nothing you’ve ever seen,” she said, her voice a whisper. “Now. Why don’t you unclasp your seatbelt?”

Maggie fancied she could hear a sort of whistling twitter, a high-pitched oscillation at the edge of hearing, like weaponized tinnitus. The noise got under her skin, wormed its way inside her nerves, crawled along her limbs and set itself just behind her eyes, where it fluttered and beat against the inside of her head like a moth caught in a lampshade.

The noise—and whatever she’d taken—made it difficult for her to think straight. She rubbed frantically at her eyes, which seemed to have dried out, and a starshell burst across her vision.

“It’s nearly time,” Mya said, taking a deep hit off her j. “They’re here.”

When Maggie looked again, things were moving in the darkness at the edge of the headlights, detaching themselves with a slinking motion from the huge shapes up on top of the hill, flowing through the night, drawing near to the edge of the pale circles cast by the Raders. Then—just when she thought she might be able to see what they were—edging back, staying tantalizingly out of reach. They moved on all fours. There was the suggestion of an angular, branched shape, like a four-branch exhaust manifold. A headlight found the edge of one of them for a second, but they were gone so quickly it was impossible to make anything else out other than the suggestion of wet fur, oil-slick pelt, stealthy stalking in the ebon night.

“What the fuck we doing, Mya?”

Mya shook her off. She held her right hand out of the car, in the rain, as if leaning to get the ticket from a tollbooth, then let it drop. The headlights of the Raders went off in a volley, and the night bloomed with afterimages that writhed violet and ultramarine and a pure, actinic cobalt that burned into Maggie’s retinas as if she’d been staring intently at the base of a MIG welder. Through or under these distortions moved other, darker shapes, suggested by the gaps between the swirling colors on the edges of the twisting light. The chittering increased, like the noise a tweeter made if you wired it in when spliffed up so that it was grounding to earth via the RCA connector.

“The only way this girl’s lover could be free, was if someone could take her place.” Mya smiled at Maggie, and there was sadness in it, a sadness that wrenched Maggie so that she jerked and flopped, a spasming convulsion that took all of her strength from her and left her hanging from the seatbelt, spent and useless as a discarded condom hanging from a fence. She tried to raise her head and it sagged useless and boneless on her neck.

The darkness rippled and shifted. Something was pulling itself in to existence, shapes coalescing from darkness, shapes Maggie half-recognized, tantalized as they formed then—just on the cusp of understanding—flowed into something else. Waves of prickling heat chased themselves across her, as if she was coming up again, but she was cold, bone cold, breath shallow like one nearing death, alone and lost in some icy hell.

Mya slipped her own seatbelt off and stepped outside, into the hush. She opened Maggie’s door and unclipped the belt, and Maggie fell forward, body gone liquid and useless, all her bones melted into a delicious slow ooze. The kiddie from the CRX with the baseball cap appeared at her side, and together he and Mya hauled Maggie out of the seat, trainers skidding on uneven greasy concrete, half-carried and half-dragged her limp scarecrow body between them, laid her gently on the wet rough cement.

A shipwreck puddled on the ground, Maggie’s eyes rolled up to the looming outlines against the clouds, and suddenly—with a burst of icy clarity like a siren cutting through your high, telling you it was time to fuck off out of the rave and head for home—she knew where she was. This, this was the place where the dead go. She could smell it, corruption, the sickly smell of ancient automotive glass gone sugary and fragile, of prehistoric hydraulic grease thickening like wax as it seeped back to the tar whence it came, fishy castor-oil tang of gone-off brake fluid and the tired dead-dinosaur ghost-smell of very old petrol, an undercurrent of spoiling, long-banned industrial pollutants, the waxy whiff of chrome-effect plastic as it expired in the wind.

Immense effort, all she had, everything given to a squirm of her neck, cheek scraped by wet concrete, and she could see—how could she see? Vision finally adjusted to darkness or some passing benediction of whatever it was Mya had given her?—a makeshift board up on the slope, where someone had painted the word “FAERIELAND” in thick daubs of blue paint.

Behind and above it, the huge misshapen outlines against the sky resolved themselves, trompe l’oeil turning the vast near-organic mass to cars piled atop each other in collapsing columns, sprawling aggregation of vehicular death, charnel-house of discarded bangers, piles of engines rearing against the sky like hearts piled up after some battlefield atrocity, ragged rusting wings hanging off like torn pinions of dying angels, Mcpherson strut-assemblies unbolted but left attached so that they dangled from brake lines like new appendages extruded by some automotive nightmare creature testing which shape would be best to crawl out of its pit and stalk across the land, delivering vengeance to those who’d left it here after years of faithful service, those who deserted it to rot in the polluted air and sink slowly into the mire of mud and the butchered remnants of its comrades.

The place where the dead go. Faerieland. The land of the dead.

And, out from that huge pile of automotive corpses, out from under the shattered sills and pent-in roofs, flowing out like poison from trailing umbilical fuel lines and ventricles of disassembled engines, from the aortas of shattered fuel injection systems, from underneath chassis twisted like paper and from cracked-open gearboxes, out from the jeweled synchromesh and delicately-splined shafts of sundered transaxles and torn-open wiring harnesses spewing copper filaments like multicolored nerves, they came.

The real Raders, the OG crew. They poured into the space before the cars like oil hitting water, as their forms adjusted to the limits of their new environment. They made the stuff of the night sing across human neurons and their wake through what we call the real produced a noise like far-off carillons of many bells and a chittering like angry bats. As they came down the hill the air hummed with their presence, spat and crackled and buzzed like high-voltage lines in wet weather, like a pylon singing to itself in the rain. The scrapyard smell receded and the night filled with the evanescent, sickly-sweet smell of violets—flickering across the nose then gone!—then an overpowering burst of eglantine and woodbine, stopping up the throat like death. The steeds they rose had lashed themselves together out of the rotting pile of scrap: corrugated flanks flaking away in oxide scabs, stamping hooves fashioned from brake discs, hydraulic piping and flex from cable looms bulging like sinews at their shoulders, mismatched headlamps for the eyes, exhaust-smoke breath billowing out in clouds from fanged maws made from the teeth of gearwheels and the lobes of camshafts. Their hounds were vast and black and bayed silently at their sides, the thick ruff of their pelt giving way at the shoulder to gleaming metal that heaved and rippled like flesh along the necks that held their great steel-antlered heads aloft. Impossible, implacable, reveling in their alien exhilaration, driven by compulsions innominate and terrible, they poured out into the night, churning up the bank as they came for Maggie. She sat blinking—unbelieving—as her doom streamed down the hill toward her, heart thudding slow in her chest.

The Raders watched, for a time. Then, one by one, they fired up their engines and followed Mya’s XR2, as it swept back out onto the rainy streets.



“Raders” is copyright Nelson Stanley 2019.

“Vampiric Tendencies in the Year 4500” is copyright Renee Christopher, 2019.

This recording is a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license which means you can share it with anyone you’d like, but please don’t change or sell it. Our theme is “Aurora Borealis” by Bird Creek, available through the Google Audio Library.

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Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back soon with a reprint of “Désiré” by Megan Arkenberg.