Title: Screaming Down Splitsville
Author Name & Publisher: Kayla Bashe (Torquere Press)
Publication Date & Length: February 24, 2016 – 11,300 Words
Screaming Down Splitsville takes place in an alternate 1950s where two groups of people with magical powers fight for dominance. Flip, a young lesbian, thinks her healing powers are completely useless. After her escape from a lab, she’s been grounded to a safe base, and while everyone else is on important missions, she keeps the fridge stocked and fixes the plumbing. However, when a chance coincidence sends her on a solo rescue mission, Flip has a surprising reunion with a woman from her past.
Unable to speak after a botched cleft palate surgery, Emma-Rose grew up half-wild in the Southern backwoods- until strangers discovered her magical powers and imprisoned her in a laboratory of torture. Her one salvation was the woman in the next cell, Flip. Now Flip’s returned, and according to her, they’ll both make it to safety. But Emma’s plans have failed so many times that she has no hope left to lose.
As the two women seek to evade their pursuers, their friendship rekindles, and they are forced to confront both enemies and insecurities.
Her eyes were strikingly, startlingly brown, as sharp as knives. She was dark-haired, tangle-curled, as skinny as a feral cat– and just as vulnerable.
Flip sat down hard, clapping both hands over her mouth to stifle a cry.
My Emma Rose, Flip thought. My girl in the next cell. No one else ever came for her. Had she not known she was here for all that time? Had she never escaped?
Slowly, she moved closer to the cage. Distrust flashed over Emma’s face, and she startled backwards. Don’t touch me, her instinctive sneer said. Yet for all her primal bravery, her thin shoulders trembled with fear more than cold. Flip dared to spread her awareness. Bruises speckling her skin, old wounds improperly stitched, intestines that knotted up for lack of food; a body that was digging into its deepest resources, and had been for some time. Emma’s chest rose and fell, as if she expected at any moment to fight for her life.
“Easy now,” Flip whispered. She raised her hands, splayed her fingers: I am holding no weapon. She took one step forward, then another. Knelt down, so close that Emma could have raked her nails across her face. Those eyes, brown as a tiger’s, stared solemnly back.
Consciously Flip slowed and deepened the rhythms of her body. She sent a wave of power towards Emma, soothing and comforting. “You remember me, I know you do. If you can still hear me, try to breathe with me, be with me. I came back.”
Stitches that had been ripped open by struggling closed neatly together. Bruises faded in seconds. And fierce tightness began to unwind from bony, pale limbs as the iron shackles of fear released their hold.
Kayla Bashe is a performer/writer studying at Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has been published by Solarpunk Press, Torquere Press, Vitality Magazine, and tons of zines. Find her on Twitter at @KaylaBashe!