Apex Magazine has just published my short story about a young materials scientist who develops a very peculiar superpower: vaporizing cars. It's called "Twilight of the Eco-Terrorist."
Here's how the story begins:
The first time I vaporized a car, it was because I was in love.
I was seventeen, and Lawrence had eyes like chips of black glass. We'd parked behind the donut shop, between two trash bins that blocked my car's windows. I was on top of him when it happened, marveling at the way bones made a bas-relief map of his skin, willing every cell in my body to touch every cell in his. I bent down to kiss his lips but they weren't there. The air was in confusion; my body sank into his as if he had become honey, and then steam.
We had trained ourselves in the silence of covert intimacy so thoroughly that I kept myself from screaming by reflex as Lawrence sublimated into thick vapor, our connection torn into its constituent molecules. And it didn't stop there. I was so deep in concentration that I kept sinking through solids gone muddy, the old Chevy station wagon vaporizing around my body, hood and windows curling into steam. I disintegrated my way through a layer of reeking blacktop before I came to a stop, hands and knees planted in the stabilizing dirt. A melted blob of tar oozed down my bare back. When I stood, it was at ground zero of a car bomb explosion: a hole bitten into the ground, surrounded by a few distorted engine parts.
I walked home naked along one of those smog-shrouded highways that cut through even the most remote towns in Southern California. Every time I stumbled into the light-puddles of street lamps, I wondered if the police would catch me. But the early-morning streets were deserted. In the morning, I told my father that I'd totaled the car and didn't want to talk about it. Lawrence's picture was in the paper: Local Boy Missing. Nobody even questioned me. Why would they? Our relationship was a secret. Lawrence was terrified that people would discover us stretched out half-naked on the Chevy's carpet-covered cargo volume. We lived in a traditional-values town, and his family was churchy.
A prejudice that had once seemed like superstition at that moment mutated in my mind, becoming something truthful and portentous.
* * *
I went to college in a big city. Even five hundred miles away from my hometown, I was always just one thought away from the steaming hole where I'd deconstructed Lawrence. Somehow I had killed my boyfriend and melted my car, for reasons none of my materials science classes could explain. How could I make friends with my lab mates when I had done with my bare hands what they required lasers and liquid nitrogen to accomplish?
Read the rest at Apex Magazine