Nathan Toronto writes science fiction and stories based loosely on a Christmas theme, exploring humanity, faith, and violence.
Rise of Ahrik (100,000 words)
Rise of Ahrik is a science fiction story about the meaning of love in the face of war and violence. Under women’s rule, children are betrothed at birth to reinforce a peace that has stood for a thousand years. But when Zharla is forced to marry a man she doesn’t love, she starts to uncover troubling secrets. She suffers a brutal attack in the dead of night. Her new husband, Ahrik, leads a shadowy force of clone soldiers. A rebellion over men’s rights threatens women’s rule. The impossible uncertainties of war leave Zharla wondering what she can possibly do to protect the only world she has ever known.
“Turning Point” (3,000 words)
“Mommy?” Sarah tugged at my sleeve and said, just a bit too loud, “Why are they dressed like ninjas?” Wide-eyed and flush with embarrassment, I put a finger to her lips.
“The Mouse King Wakes Up” (1,500 words)
When the Mouse King woke up, he had a splitting headache. He reached
up to his forehead and found a bump the size of a golf ball. He wondered why that crazy girl had to wear hard-sole slippers. Who wears hard-sole slippers anymore?
“Snow in Jerusalem” (6,000 words)
I used to think that snow in Jerusalem was odd, but there has been snow here every winter since peace broke out. Well, at least some call it peace. It would probably be better to call it barely-suppressed violence, but it is the closest thing to peace that the city has known in modern times. There is a State of Palestine, with its capital in the eastern portion of the city, and there are no more suicide bombers terrorizing the Israelis. Though rare, there are still knifings and other such attacks, and many people are still fixed on hatred. But the so-called peace has held. For four winters it has held.
“The Shepherd’s Faith” (2,000 words)
“Avi! Avi!” Shmuel was breathless as he scurried in from the night air. “What is it, Shmuel?” asked Avi. “I hope you brought the Passover lamb.” His brother often did many things besides the things he was supposed to do. Avi suspected that this was such a time. Panting, Avi’s younger brother ignored the question. “Avi.” Shmuel put his hands on his knees and sucked in a heaving breath. “You’re never going to believe what I saw.”
“Tamales and Atole“ (3,000 words)
Leticia waited. In fact, that was all she ever did. Wait. For her life to change. For morning to come so she could mix the corn masa for the tamales and atole. For afternoon to come so she could start stirring the atole while the tamales cooked. For night to come so she could sell them. For her to make enough money to buy food for her mother and siblings and to buy ingredients for the next day’s tamales and atole. If there was any change in her life, it was the same change day after day after day…
“Trash City” (3,000 words)
It’s true what the guide book says: you can smell Trash City before you see it. It’s one of the few places in Cairo unappealing enough to tourists that the locals stop and stare as you go by…. I went there on a whim—what better place than Cairo to see a mini-city dedicated to trash? I thought for sure that the guide book’s writers had oversold Trash City, had made it seem more than it really was. I was wrong.
“The Land” (poem, 150 words)
In the land of twisted stories,
Where truth was known by name,
Men saught offense for nary a glance
And saw in hate, eternal fame.
“The Fourth Wise Man” (1,000 words)
I had to reluctantly accept Derset’s suggestion. “Tzedek,” he said, “Surely you must see that this is the promised meshiach. He could free the Jews from the Romans in Palestina. You must come with me.” The signs were strong—our prophets had been right—and when the star appeared I knew we had to leave Esfahan that very night, especially if we were to be in Jerusalem by pessach. The problem was that I had no money to travel, and no gift to present.