Moonlight on the Carpet 

About the Story

The first draft of this story was written at the bar at the World Science Fiction Convention in Boston, as part of the Two Beers And A Story Challenge. The rules of the Challenge were simple: write a complete short story in the time it takes to finish two beers.  I can usually finish a novel more quickly than I can finish a beer, but with the cheering crowd shouting “Drink!” every minute or two, by the time I reached the end of this story I found I had downed a full pint of Sam Adams and two-thirds of another. Not to mention participating in the singing, trash-talking, telling of rude jokes, and other miscellaneous hilarity (including the mating call of the Giant Clam).


“Vrrm, vrrm,” said Liam as he ran the little wooden car across the Persian carpet. It was summer, a hot humid North Carolina summer, and there was nothing else to do. Mommy and Daddy were away again.

The blue and gold pattern in the middle of the carpet, a thing the shape of the big black card in Mommy’s bridge deck, could be Laclede Island where they went every month at this time. Liam ran his car along the causeway — a long curve of blue and red and black — and through the stripe of bright white moonlight that crossed it. The babysitter snored in the armchair by the window; outside, in the darkness, seagulls called and the surf rumbled low.

Across the causeway and along the bay the little car sped, streetlights flicking past one after the other. But above them all loomed the moon, the full moon, outshining them all. Mommy and Daddy never took Liam to the island when the moon was full. Mommy said Esbat wasn’t for little boys…


Honorable Mention in Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction.


    • Aeon Speculative Fiction #12, magazine, December 2007
    • edited by Marti McKenna and Bridget McKenna