Excerpt: Skipper, tourists, jellyfish

There be new stories coming up in Strange Horizons (March), Tor.com (April), Lightspeed and Shadows and Tall Trees (both a little later). Until then, here's an excerpt from a current project, for your delight and titillation.

"Observe," says Skipper and points at a spot in the wall that seems to glow with its own light. "Do you know what this is? Anyone?"

None of the tourists speak. Skipper scratches at the ice with his finger. It's surprisingly porous: before long, his nail has punctured the surface and whatever it is that makes the glow pours into his hand. It looks vaguely like a cross between a jellyfish and a starfish, its greenish luminescence faintly lighting Skipper's face from below.

”Those jellyfish I showed you from the boat, right,” and he makes a stabbing motion with his other hand, like with his boathook, ”this is another part of its life cycle. They attach themselves at the bottom of the icebergs, see, and kind of seep up through the ice. If I hadn't taken this little thing out, she'd have made it all the way up to the top. It'd have taken her, oh … a year or so.”

Ninni thinks of a year, two years, pushing herself up through solid ice, and has to remind herself to breathe.

”And then?” someone says, a little man with the most expensive ski suit of them all.

”And then she's gourmet food for the seagulls.”

”That's it?” Ninni says. ”There must be some point to it.”

”Of course,” Skipper replies. ”She lays eggs in there, and then the seagull shits out new little jellyfish babies into the ocean.”