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"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.

Heart Seed

Shannon Fay is a Clarion West graduate and a writer living in Nova Scotia. She has written tons of short stories, and is currently working on a historical fantasy novel. She can be found online at ayearonsaturn.com and on Twitter @shannonlfay.

The Queen had been in control all her life. She had conquered any enemy nation that had posed a threat, had crushed dissent within her kingdom with the thoroughness of a wildfire. The only thing she feared was death itself; surely her land would fall into ruin without her. So when a Witch appeared and offered her a way to outsmart death, the Queen had accepted, swallowing the small seed that would guarantee her eternal life. But instead of invulnerability the seed brought pain. A thorny, scratchy pain that grew within her.
The Queen had the Witch brought to the throne room.
"You said it would make me immortal." The Queen's voice was as dry as a dead tree branch.
"I said it would allow you to live beyond death," the Witch said. "You must take your heart and bury it in a special place if you wish for any part of you to live on."
With no other choice, the Queen rode out with the Witch. They passed decrepit village after village, the Queen's war and the subsequent famine having sucked the land dry. The people watched them go with hollow eyes long past hunger.
Eventually they came to a field.
The pain in the Queen's chest had grown worse. It now felt like a clawed hand reaching out from within. Queen shuddered as her heart pushed through her skin, its veins now branches, flowers sprouting at the joints. She could already feel her life fading away.
"Quick," the Witch said. "Bury your heart here!"
"What will happen when I do?"
"This old you will die, but a new you shall sprout."
The Queen knelt down and buried her heart in the ground where soil met clay. She was no longer in pain but she could feel her life energy slipping away.
"This new 'me' that will sprout," the Queen asked, "will it have my knowledge? My memories?"
"No," the Witch said.
The Queen felt a twinge where her heart used to be.
"Then how shall she rule?" The Queen's vision was growing dark but she could still make out the Witch.
The Witch shrugged. "Hopefully, better than you."
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Author Comments

This story was inspired by a picture prompt featuring a beautiful queen holding her own heart, flowers blooming off of it. I'm happy with the story I wrote based on the image, but now I'm really tempted to write the story of the new seedling queen that will sprout. Maybe someday....

- Shannon Fay
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