Besides the ten stories, there are also several interludes written by Martin, mimicking real newspaper articles, book excerpts, or magazine retrospectives presented in a in-world style. The story starts in August of , when an alien being nicknamed Dr. Tachyon arrives at a military base in White Sands warning mankind of a deadly virus developed by his own race.
In September 15 of , the alien virus is released over New York City. Jetboy , a veteran fighter pilot, sacrifices his own life trying to stop it and becomes a legend. The virus kills ten thousand people in the first days, and mutates many others. The earlier stories deal with the s aces, among then the Sleeper , a man locked in perpetual transformation, and the Exotics for Democracy, the world's first superhero team, that rises to meteoric fame and later plummets to disastrous fall in , when America starts to persecute the wild carders.
The later half of the book introduces several major protagonists and offers glimpses of important historical events of the s and s. In , America starts to accept wild carders again, and the Great and Powerful Turtle becomes the first public superhero of the new decade. In , the pimp Fortunato gains the powers of dark magick and stumbles onto a sinister conspiracy. In , shy nerd Mark Meadows becomes the greatest champion of the hippie movement when his wild card ability activates. In , Bagabond and Sewer Jack are both made social outcasts by their superhuman powers and drift among the urban detritus of New York City.
In , Senator Gregg Hartmann tries to gain the nomination in the Democratic Presidential Convention, courting the support of the oppressed jokers, but the Senator hides a dark secret. The last story is set in the present day at the time of the book's publication of It shows the harder-edged and crime-infested streets of New York in the eighties, and the arrival of Yeoman , the bow-and-arrow vigilante dedicated to a bloody vendetta. Interludes and subplots in the stories introduce several important locations in the Wild Cards universe.
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One friend told us he was stay- ing with a girl named Sue in St. Another spotted him ice fishing on Sheriff Lake. Mostly, I watched her sleep, the hardest task of all, to see her in repose, her face still pinched with pain. But it was just me. My husband, Paul, did everything he could to make me feel less alone. What did he know about losing anything? His parents were still alive and happily married to each other.
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My connection with him and his gloriously unfractured life only seemed to increase my pain. Being with him felt unbearable, but being with anyone else did too.
The only person I could bear to be with was the most unbearable person of all: In the mornings, I would sit near her bed and try to read to her. I had two books: So I started in, but I could not go on. Each word I spoke erased itself in the air. It was the same when I tried to pray. I prayed fervently, rabidly, to God, any god, to a god I could not identify or find.
I prayed to the whole wide universe and hoped that God would be in it, listening to me. I prayed and prayed, and then I faltered. God was not a granter of wishes. God was a ruthless bitch. The last couple of days of her life, my mother was not so much high as down under. She was on a morphine drip by then, a clear bag of liquid flowing slowly down a tube that was taped to her wrist.
Sometimes when my mother woke she did not know where she was. She demanded an enchilada and then some apple- sauce. During this time I wanted my mother to say to me that I had been the best daughter in the world. I did not want to want this, but I did, inexplicably, as if I had a great fever that could be cooled only by those words. But this was not enough. I was ravenous for love. My mother died fast but not all of a sudden. A slow-burning fire when flames disappear to smoke and then smoke to air. She was altered but still fleshy when she died, the body of a woman among the living.
She had her hair too, brown and brittle and frayed from being in bed for weeks. From the room where she died I could see the great Lake Superior out her window. The biggest lake in the world, and the coldest too. To see it, I had to work.
Books for adventures in the great outdoors – swimming, running, cycling, exploring
And then more quietly she said: I wanted to take her from the hospital and prop her in a field of yarrow to die. I watched my mother. Outside the sun glinted off the sidewalks and the icy edges of the snow. It would turn out to be the last full day of her life, and for most of it she held her eyes still and open, neither sleeping nor waking, intermittently lucid and hallucinatory. The nurses and doctors had told Eddie and me that this was it. I took that to mean she would die in a couple of weeks. I believed that people with cancer lingered. I decided to leave the hospital for one night so I could find him and bring him to the hospital once and for all.
I looked over at Eddie, half lying on the little vinyl couch. None of us will leave. I rode the elevator and went out to the cold street and walked along the sidewalk. I passed a bar packed with people I could see through a big plate-glass window. They were all wearing shiny green paper hats and green shirts and green suspenders and drinking green beer.
A man inside met my eye and pointed at me drunkenly, his face breaking into silent laughter. I drove home and fed the horses and hens and got on the phone, the dogs gratefully licking my hands, our cat nudging his way onto my lap. I called everyone who might know where my brother was. He was drinking a lot, some said. At midnight the phone rang and I told him that this was it. I wanted to scream at him when he walked in the door a half hour later, to shake him and rage and accuse, but when I saw him, all I could do was hold him and cry.
He seemed so old to me that night, and so very young too. We lay together in his single bed talking and crying into the wee hours until, side by side, we drifted off to sleep. I woke a few hours later and, before waking Leif, fed the animals and loaded bags full of food we could eat during our vigil at the hospital. We listened intently to the music without talking, the low sun cutting brightly into the snow on the sides of the road. This was a new thing, but I assumed it was only a procedural matter. When I opened the door, Eddie stood and came for us with his arms outstretched, but I swerved away and dove for my mom.
Her arms lay waxen at her sides, yellow and white and black and blue, the needles and tubes removed. Her eyes were covered by two surgical gloves packed with ice, their fat fingers lolling clownishly across her face. When I grabbed her, the gloves slid off.
Bouncing onto the bed, then onto the floor. I howled and howled and howled, rooting my face into her body like an animal. Her limbs had cooled, but her belly was still an island of warm. I pressed my face into the warmth and howled some more. I dreamed of her incessantly. In the dreams I was always with her when she died. It was me who would kill her. Again and again and again. She commanded me to do it, and each time I would get down on my knees and cry, begging her not to make me, but she would not relent, and each time, like a good daughter, I ultimately complied.
I tied her to a tree in our front yard and poured gasoline over her head, then lit her on fire. I dragged her body, caught on a jagged piece of metal underneath, until it came loose, and then I put my truck in reverse and ran her over again. I took a miniature baseball bat and beat her to death with it, slow and hard and sad. These dreams were not surreal.
- Neither Pity, Love, Nor Fear (Margaret Frazer Tales).
They took place in plain, ordinary light. They were the documentary films of my subconscious and felt as real to me as life. My truck was really my truck; our front yard was our actual front yard; the miniature baseball bat sat in our closet among the umbrellas. Paul grabbed me and held me until I was quiet. He wetted a washcloth with cool water and put it over my face.
Nothing could ever bring my mother back or make it okay that she was gone.
Wild Guide Wales and Marches book - Wild Things Publishing
Nothing would put me beside her the moment she died. It broke me up. It cut me off. It tumbled me end over end. It took me years to take my place among the ten thousand things again.
To be the woman my mother raised. To remember how she said honey and picture her particular gaze. I would want things to be different than they were. The wanting was a wilderness and I had to find my own way out of the woods. It took me four years, seven months, and three days to do it.
Wild Cards (novel)
It was a place called the Bridge of the Gods. To Texas and back. To New York City and back. To Wyoming and back. To Portland, Oregon, and back. To Port- land and back again. The map would illuminate all the places I ran to, but not all the ways I tried to stay. It would only seem like that rough star, its every bright line shooting out. Which meant that no one would.
I finally had no choice but to leave her grave to go back to the weeds and blown-down tree branches and fallen pinecones. To snow and whatever the ants and deer and black bears and ground wasps wanted to do with her. I lay down in the mother ash dirt among the crocuses and told her it was okay. That since she died, everything had changed. My words came out low and steadfast. I was so sad it felt as if someone were choking me, and yet it seemed my whole life depended on my getting those words out.
She would always be my mother, I told her, but I had to go. The only place I could reach her. The next day I left Minnesota forever. I was going to hike the PCT. It was the first week of June. I drove to Portland in my Chevy Luv pickup truck loaded with a dozen boxes filled with dehydrated food and backpacking supplies. We pulled into town in the early evening, the sun dipping into the Tehachapi Mountains a dozen miles behind us to the west. The town of Mojave is at an altitude of nearly 2, feet, though it felt to me as if I were at the bottom of something instead, the signs for gas stations, restaurants, and motels rising higher than the highest tree.
By the worn look of the building, I guessed it was the cheapest place in town. I watched him drive away. The hot air tasted like dust, the dry wind whipping my hair into my eyes. The parking lot was a field of tiny white pebbles cemented into place; the motel, a long row of doors and win- dows shuttered by shabby curtains.
I slung my backpack over my shoul- ders and gathered the bags. It seemed strange to have only these things. I felt suddenly exposed, less exuberant than I had thought I would. Go inside, I had to tell myself before I could move toward the motel office.
Ask for a room. I pulled a twenty- dollar bill from the pocket of my shorts and slid it across the counter to her. She took my money and handed me two dollars and a card to fill out with a pen attached to a bead chain. Leif and Karen and I were inextricably bound as siblings, but we spoke and saw one another rarely, our lives profoundly different. Paul and I had finalized our divorce the month before, after a harrowing yearlong separation. I had beloved friends whom I sometimes referred to as family, but our commitments to each other were informal and intermittent, more familial in word than in deed.
They both flowed out of my cupped palms. She was watching a small television that sat on a table behind the coun- ter. Something about the O. When she finally gave me a key, I walked across the parking lot to a door at the far end of the building, unlocked it and went inside, and set my things down and sat on the soft bed.
I was in the Mojave Desert, but the room was strangely dank, smelling of wet carpet and Lysol. A vented white metal box in the corner roared to life—a swamp cooler that blew icy air for a few minutes and then turned itself off with a dramatic clatter that only exacerbated my sense of uneasy solitude. I thought about going out and finding myself a companion. It was such an easy thing to do. The previous years had been a veritable feast of one-and two-and three-night stands. I stood up from the bed to shake off the longing, to stop my mind from its hungry whir: I could go to a bar.
I could let a man buy me a drink. We could be back here in a flash. Just behind that longing was the urge to call Paul. He was my ex- husband now, but he was still my best friend. The vented metal box in the corner turned itself on again and I went to stand before it, letting the frigid air blow against my bare legs. Wool socks beneath a pair of leather hiking boots with metal fasts. Navy blue shorts with important-looking pockets that closed with Velcro tabs. Under- wear made of a special quick-dry fabric and a plain white T-shirt over a sports bra.
In spite of my recent forays into edgy urban life, I was easily someone who could be described as outdoorsy. I had, after all, spent my teen years roughing it in the Minnesota northwoods. But now, here, having only these clothes at hand, I felt sud- denly like a fraud. I thought with a rueful hilarity now. My backpack was forest green and trimmed with black, its body composed of three large compartments rimmed by fat pockets of mesh and nylon that sat on either side like big ears.
It stood of its own volition, sup- ported by the unique plastic shelf that jutted out along its bottom. That it stood like that instead of slumping over onto its side as other packs did provided me a small, strange comfort. My trial run would be tomorrow—my first day on the trail. Was I supposed to hike wearing it like this? I took it off and tied it to the frame of my pack, so it would dangle over my shoulder when I hiked. There, it would be easy to reach, should I need it. Would I need it? I wondered meekly, bleakly, flopping down on the bed.
It was well past dinnertime, but I was too anxious to feel hungry, my aloneness an uncomfortable thunk that filled my gut. What I had to have when it came to love was beyond explanation, it seemed. It was for Paul. Fresh as my grief was, I still dashed excitedly into our bedroom and handed it to him when I saw the return address. Back in mid-January, the idea of living in New York City had seemed like the most exciting thing in the world. There was the woman I was before my mom died and the one I was now, my old life sitting on the surface of me like a bruise. The real me was beneath that, pulsing under all the things I used to think I knew.