Citizens of Elsewhen
by Kameron Hurley
Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land, drawing no dividend from time’s tomorrows.”
– Dreamers, Siegfried Sassoon
We drop through the seams between things and onto the next front.
The come down is hard. It’s meant to be. The universe doesn’t want you to mess with the fabric of time. Our minds are constantly putting down bits of narrative into our brains, a searing record of “now” that gives us the illusion of passing time. In truth, there is only “now,” the singular moment. We are all of us grubs hunting mindlessly for food, insects calling incessantly for mates. Nothing came before or after.
But because time is a trick of the mind, it can be hacked. And we have gotten good at it. We had to. It was the only way to secure our future.
Who’s got the football?” Elba says from the darkness beside me. “Lexi?”
It’s en route,” Lexi says. “I’m rerouting the coordinates. Coordinates are 17,56-34-12 knot 65,56-22-75. Confirmed placement.”
Recording,” Elba says.
And there is light.
Our brains start recording moments again, rebooted from our last jump. I half-hope this is some new scenario, a fresh start, but the chances of that are slim. We do these over and over again until we get them right. Because if we don’t get them right…well, shit, then we don’t exist.
We only remember our successes, never our failures. This helps with team morale, or so the psychs told us back in the training days, back when everything was burning, the whole world coming apart, and we got tapped to save it.
When they first started sending us back to secure a better future, the teams could remember every failure. It led to weariness and burnout; only the very stubborn or very stupid can stand living with the memory of compounded failure. Teams engaged in Operation Gray could endure more drops if we only remembered the good times. The successes. It kept us pushing forward.
For the failures, we had the logs. Our logs told us how many times we’d dropped in, and what we’d tried before. The trick, for me, was to pretend the log was from some other team. I pretended I was reading a report about somebody else who failed to complete the mission. I told myself my squad was coming in fresh to solve a problem someone else fucked up. Don’t think too hard about the fact that you were thinking the same thing every time you failed beforehand, or you’ll get stuck thinking about it, round and round, and then you’re not good for anything.
The light and shadow transforms into our current coordinates in space and time. It’s the last month of autumn in the year we call 4600 BU (before us), known locally as the year 1214 Ab urbe condita, or 461 C.E. by some old alternate calendars. We are in the Western Roman Empire in what is known around here as Hispania, which will become Spain, then the European Alliance, then the Russian-US Federation, the Chinese-Russian Protectorate, then Europe again, and eventually, after several more hand-offs, the province that in my time we call Malorian. I know this area, its future, because I was born sixteen kilometers north in the city of Madira. I know this coast because I will, more than three thousand years from now, walk upon these same beaches with my mothers, and raise a little orange flag during a parade celebrating the anniversary of Unification. My first visit here was also the first time I’d ever eaten a lemon, and the sharp, bitter taste is tied so closely with my memory of the coast that I taste lemon as we take in the sight of the sea just to our left.
A soft, salty wind blows in from over the Mediterranean. My bare toes sink into the sand. I bowl over and spit a mouthful of vomit. Beside me, Lexi has taken the jump worse. He’s lying on his side, frothing and seizing. Elba stumbles over to him and shoots him up with a stabilizing agent.
I pat at myself as the gear bags materialize around us.
Got the football,” I say.
We’re nothing without the gear. Without the gear, we have to start the fuck over again. We’ve stumbled naked into camps before, no plasma, no flesh fix-up, no anti-bacterial mesh, nothing, and for all our knowledge, we’re useless without those things. It wasn’t being dumb that killed so many of the people we’re here to save. It was simply not having access to what we did.
The wind is crisp. I shiver as I tear open the gooey sac protecting our gear. I make a guess at how all the clothes are supposed to go on; my AI still hasn’t completed the download for this mission. I lace on boots over sandy toes. The clothes part is always haphazard, never quite right. I don’t care what anyone says – it’s clear every time we jet into some other time that we’re aliens, strangers in a strange land. Go back far enough, you can claim godhood, but fewer people fall for that than the old stories would have you think. Better to say you were sent by a mutual acquaintance, a family friend.
I give another heave, spitting more bile, and blink as my AI completes the mission download. The AI’s presence is a warm, comforting one, sitting there in the back of my head, dutifully making connections faster than a non-augmented brain, and storing more information, more quickly, than a civilian. Four hundred years before I was born, AIs were considered separate entities, a different consciousness, like something that lived on its own. They stuck them into people’s heads and gave them names. But that drove far too many people mad. They tore off their own faces trying to get the fucker out. It was better if subjects saw the AI as a part of themselves, an enhancement to their own intelligence, instead of a separate entity.
The AI is how I knew that this was former Visigoth territory, only recently brought to heel by the Western Roman Empire. I knew Majoram, the Western Roman Emperor, had been killed in the summer at the ripe old age of forty, and this being early autumn, there was a heated battle for the Emperor’s title still raging here in the west, led by Ricimer, the head of the army who’d had Majoram killed.
But the lofty milestones of history don’t prepare you much for the sort of work we do. All it does it provide greater context for what we’re walking into.
As we suit up, we don’t ask dumb questions like where is she? Where are we headed? The memories are already pouring in. We have other things to talk about.
Lemon cake,” I say, continuing the last conversation we can remember; the one we were having after our last successful extraction, killing time before the next jump.
Can’t talk about food,” Lexi says; he gags again.
I miss cheeseburgers,” Elba says. “You remember those cheeseburgers at that diner back in… the woman on all the pills? That green vehicle? AI says the colloquial year was 1955.”
Should have killed us,” I say. “You know how they processed meat back then?”
Still mad they pulled us before I finished,” Elba says.
Sorry,” Elba says.
I heft my pack; I’m the muscle on this trip — every trip — but you don’t want to carry stuff that looks too much like a weapon. We aren’t permitted to kill anyone anyway. You kill someone you aren’t supposed to, and you start over.
We’re four to one,” Lexi says, knotting the laces of his sandals. He spits again.
I figure he’s referring to the fact that the log says our failure last time was because the subject bled out.
Your mistake last time,” I say. “That’s four to two.”
Bullshit,” he said. “She’d have died of an infection if she hadn’t bled out.”
Who dropped the antibiotic mesh?” I say.
We are dressed in linen tunics, knee breeches, and long coats; the clothes aren’t well-worn enough to pass muster, even if they are the right cut for whatever class we’re supposed to be, and I’m sure they aren’t. When I ping the AI about that, I learn that we tried a more patrician style of clothing on our first drop, and got run out of town for it. This one apparently worked to get us past the settlement gatekeepers. I wasn’t going to argue with the AI’s memory.
Up the dunes,” Elbai says. “You can shit on each other and walk at the same time, right?”
“Memory serves, we sure can,” I say.
We walked up off the sandy beach. There’s not much I can recognize here, except the sea. The sea has washed up all sorts of detritus. There’s broken pottery and tiles, rusted bits of metal, tattered riggings, and refuse of all sorts. Far up the beach, I see what must be beach scavengers. They are headed the other direction; I’m not sure if they witnessed our appearance on the beach.
Here and there are the jutting ruins of more sea trash, old shipwrecks, discarded implements, reminder that though this place is three thousand years before our time, the world here is already ancient. We’ve been further back in time, much further, but had found the results to be less precise. The further back we go, the more complicated the mathematical models become. Too many variables. Turns out reverse-engineering a future by fiddling with the past can be…complicated. And often, terribly messy. Careening through space-time wasn’t exactly what I’d had in mind when I signed up to serve and see Unification through. But here we are.
“If it’s the bleeding,” Lexi says, “I’ll prep the line first thing this time.”
On the other side of the dunes are a series of caves. The wind changes, and I catch the smell of the fires. Cave dwellers like these tend to choose these areas because they dislike the oppressive reach of the states. It was a wonder they weren’t slaves under some Roman landlord, but our records of Roman activity and expansion have never been exhaustive. Everything that is the past is fragmented. Our models do better tracking people through genetics – births and deaths – than across cultures and kingships and writs of sale on clay tablets that wash away over time. We can read the histories of our bodies in our blood – but less so the history of our cultures.
Our presence is noticed immediately by a young girl scouting on the rocks. She runs into the village for the headwoman. The AI tells me they are fisher folk, protected from engulfment by the wider body politic largely by geography. The able-bodied men are either dead or gone trawling, clinging to the edges of the beachhead, no doubt, worrying after fish.
We’ve come for Junia Marcus,” Lexi says, “to assist in her time. We saw a storm swing low over the bay, and a two-headed gull led us here. I am Silvius Varis Alexander, freedman of Silvius. I knew Junia’s mother, Salia Marcus, freedwoman of Silvius. I’ve been sent here to assist her daughter for the kindness Salia Marcus once did for me.”
Since we’d had this conversation before, the language was already in the banks of the AI. By this time, most of Hispania was speaking Latin, though this dialect could better be described as Sergo Vulgaris, or common speech. I had a grim memory of speaking for six hours on a spur of rock outside a remote cabin in Antarctica, well after the Thaw, trying to get a young girl out there to speak to us so we could get some kind of idea how to untangle her language and figure out where subject was holed up. She was far more delighted to speak to us the same way people had done from time immemorial, using gestures, exaggerated expressions, and sounds of encouragement and disapproval. Children were often much more accepting of strangers than their parents; children still believed in magic.
The headwoman is leery of us, but Lexi has a way of ingratiating himself. It’s his talent. And I know things are desperate inside the caves. Lexi is the one with the anthropology background; Elba came through via the medical team, and I signed on to be a front line grunt, way back when. Or forward. Funny how shit turns out.
“She is young,” the headwoman says, finally, “it has been difficult. Your prayers are welcome, but men are not permitted within the birthing room.”
Lexi knit his brows. I blink, tapping into my AI to see if I’m remembering something wrong.
“Shit,” Elba says, in our squad patois, “that’s…new. How is that new?”
The AI confirms that the headwoman has never made this assertion before, not in all… four times we have attempted this mission. A wave of vertigo overcomes me.
“It’s a blip,” Lexi says. “A crossroads.”
“Fuck,” I say.
I’ve heard of Crossroads before, read about them plenty, but never encountered one in all our drops. Crossroads are moments in time when your mission is rolling over concurrently with another team’s. As they rewrite the timeline ahead or behind you, it writes over all of your prior work; it means your log isn’t going to be much good, because what happened last time technically happened on some other timeline. Listen, time travel’s fucking complicated. I don’t pretend to understand it, and I’m not here to lecture about it. All I know is what I got in training. All I know is the parameters we were working under just got rewritten.
“Grab Lexi’s gear,” Elba says to me. Then, to the headwoman, “The two of us will attend her. Time is of the essence. We have been warned that she is in grave danger.”
There is more back and forth, but the headwoman finally escorts us into the caves, just me and Elba now. I have Lexi’s gear, but that doesn’t give me much confidence. I’m supposed to be here to watch their backs while they do this shit. Not that I haven’t gotten myself elbow deep in blood and guts when I needed to, but I didn’t like having one squad member down.
We hear Junia before we see her. She is grunting and panting in the dim light of the headwoman’s lantern, surrounded by four other woman. She does not scream, not yet. Beside her is a gory, deformed fetus, still and silent, half covered in a length of linen.
“Are we too late?” I say, because last time I never made it this far. Lexi took point, and we lost her.
“No,” Elba says, kneeling next to the nearest woman, gently placing a hand on her shoulder, murmuring, asking her to move aside.
“It’s the bleeding,” I say.
“You always say that,” Elba says. “I don’t want to do this one again. Especially if we’re at a Crossroads.”
“Prep the line,” I say. “Lexi was going to.”
Elba sighs, but she does it, can’t help doing it, because she knows as well as I that bleeding to death is how most of these women go. Blood loss, infection, or eclampsia are the top three causes of death for women during and immediately after childbirth. The children, well… there’s a lot more that can go wrong, there. But it’s not as often that we’re here to save the children. Nine times out of ten, we’re here to save the mothers.
It’s the loss of these women, and often, their children, that cost us our future.
Junia is young, maybe fifteen, which makes hemorrhage or obstruction more likely. Like the other women, she has fine black tattoos on her face, and hands covered in ash. I didn’t notice any of that on the headwoman, and I don’t have a memory of those tattoos from the AI. Another new twist, then. The world itself is literally shifting under our feet.
They have pulled her up into what I recognize as a birthing chair; there is blood and shit and piss and afterbirth collecting there, all mopped up with straw and piled over to one side. An older woman comes over and cleans it all away.
Depending on the society, and the time period, complications from childbirth killed roughly one half to one quarter of all women, with one’s chances of dying that way going up with every birth, if one survived the first. I knew from the records that this was the girl’s first birth, and that meant there were more variables. A woman who’d had one successful birth was more likely to have others. New mothers… well, that often ended poorly.
I hold out my arm.
“Not yet,” Elba says, and the wave of vertigo comes over me again. She blinks rapidly. The women around us shimmer, stutter-stop, like a bad projection. Two of them wink out altogether.
Junia wails, now, and the head of the second child begins to crown. Elba coaxes away the older woman. I shield what she’s doing. Elba makes a small cut in Junia’s perineum.
“We need you to push now,” Elba says.
Junia cries, “I have been pushing! I have pushed! What do you think I’m doing here?”
There is a woman at her left, a sister or cousin, who murmurs something in her ear, and together they breathe through the next set of contractions. Attending births the way we do feels obscene, often. We have appeared during a time of crisis, an intensely personal time, and often we come between a woman and her family. It’s not their fault, what lies ahead. If we could leave well enough alone –
The child’s head comes free; I see the cord wrapped around the throat, and I firm my jaw. Elba cuts again, and I wince. I have seen this enough that I should not care, but there is something intimately gory about birth that cannot be matched on a battle field. It’s this knowledge that we are at the crux of life, where everything begins and ends. On a battlefield, most of what happens are endings.
Elba pulls the child free. He looks obscenely large, mostly due to the size of the head. She sets him on Junia’s belly. The cousin ties and cuts the cord. They want the placenta, but that’s not come yet. The placenta is when the bleeding will start, because it’s going to tear; that’s what the AI tells me, but how much has been altered since then?
The cousin is untangling the baby from the cord. She turns him upside down. Junia is exhausted, covered in sweat. She sags in the birthing chair, says, “Is he all right?”
I glance at Elba. The placenta is coming. I hold out my arm. She pulls the tubing from her pack and sets the line.
“What are you doing?” Junia says as Elba taps into her arm.
“You’re going to bleed,” Elba says. “I need to replace what you lose. It’s all right. We are friends of your mother’s.”
The cousin and the midwife – the only two women left in here after that last shimmer – are still attending the child, but the cousin turns as Junia flails.
“You’ll die if we don’t do this,” Elba says firmly. “Do you want to die here?”
“Save my baby,” Junia says.
I glance at Elba, but she does not meet my look. I know in that moment that we are no longer here for the baby. It’s strange, to see reports overwritten, to have our objective change in the space of a breath.
“We need to save you first,” Elba says. “Please be still. Do this for your own mother, a freedwoman. Would she want you to die this way?”
Junia gazes over at the child. The midwife has cleared his airways, and is massaging his chest. Elba sets the line in Junia’s arm.
I’m a universal donor, which is another reason I was put on this squad. They want a blood type like mine on hand. I guess you can be both, you know – the muscle and healer.
But as the blood leaves my body and enters Junia’s, and the bleeding begins, and Elba starts her work to still it, I, too, find myself gazing at the dead child. It would not have been difficult to save him. We have tubing we can snake down his throat; we have the gear to perform effective CPR. The AI tells me our mission has changed. I don’t know who it was that some other squad saved that changed it. Whoever they saved now meant our job was to leave this child to die, but it bothers me. Who are we to decide to lives and who dies?
I close my eyes, and I think of the future.
When it’s over, Elba and I pack up our things. They wrap the dead child in clean linen and the wailing begins. Elba has stopped the bleeding, and given Junia targeted antibiotics. She is stable. The AI indicates our mission is complete.
The headwoman leads us outside. Her lantern is different; made of paper instead of clay. As we step into the light, I see tents spread out all across the beach. The air feels different, too. The tents don’t look Roman at all. If I had to guess, I’d say they were Mongolian. But who’s to say, this far back? I hesitantly tap into the AI, and it tells me that yes, were are still at the same coordinates. The historical context, however, has changed. This is no longer Hispania, but Vestia, a newly independent country recently held by Persia. I had not noticed the change in language, but I suspect that was overwritten as well, as the world changed.
Lexi is sitting outside at the entrance to another cave, smoking a pipe and laughing uproariously with three women. He stands when he sees us. His clothes are different – a longer tunic, boots instead of sandals. I glance down and see I’m dressed the same.
“It’s been remarkable out here,” he says. “I’ve never witnessed a Crossroads event.”
“Let’s get back to the beach for extraction,” I say.
He seems confused at my lack of excitement. I’m tired. I palm an energy pack from the gear bag to help get my blood sugar back up.
Lexi asks for the details as we go back. Elba delivers them. I’m quiet. Finally, as we come within sight of the sea, he says, “Why does this one bother you, Asa?”
I shake my head.
“C’mon,” Lexi says. “I’ve seen you elbow deep in blood and afterbirth, untangling babies from malformed cords, cutting open dead women only to find dead babies inside, and spend an hour bringing those babies back. None of that shit bothered you.”
“Maybe it’s catching up with me.”
“Not likely,” Lexi says. “If it was going to catch up with you, it would’ve done so a long time ago.”
“How long you think we’ve been doing this?” I ask.
“Time is relative out here.”
It’s true. We can’t trust age. Each time we corporealize, we are made anew, copies of copies of copies. Those copies age only for the minutes, hours, or days we make landfall. Then they are simply reconstituted elsewhere, elsewhen.
“It all feels so arbitrary,” I say, gazing out at the wine-dark sea. “Who lives, who dies. We could save everyone, from every period. But we don’t. The Crossroads… we can see the consequences, if not with what we’ve done, than with what someone else has done just before us.”
“Don’t tell me you have a moral dilemma,” Elba says. She washes her hands in the sea, using the sand to scrub herself clean up to her elbows. “Everyone wants an easy answer, when it comes to morality.”
“Who are we to decide who lives and who dies?” Lexi says. “Yeah, I get that.”
“Who is every soldier, to decide that?” Elba says. “Soldiers have decided who lives and who dies forever. So have women like Junia, often. If that child lived, who’s to say they wouldn’t have sacrificed it to some god? The first one came out the way it did… they could have seen that as a bad sign. Humans have always decided who lives and who dies.”
“Now it’s an algorithm,” I say.
“Algorithms are made by people,” Elba says. “It’s the great moral dilemma. This is human, this is a life, this isn’t. Reality is every culture has struggled with that since humans started fucking. Foreigners aren’t people, slaves aren’t people. Women aren’t people. Most of us were considered somebody’s property, same as goats or dogs, right up until the new world, right? And even then, you get people squabbling about who’s really equal, who really deserves access to a doctor, or life-saving drugs, or food, or transit. Who deserves it, they ask. What they’re really asking when they say it is, who’s really human? Who deserves to be treated as human? Who has worked hard enough, scarified enough, gotten lucky, enough, to be treated like a human?”
“I just worry we’re fucking it up,” I say.
“Can’t think about that,” Lexi says.
I know that for a long time, in a lot of places, women were property, and so were the people they birthed. In other places, like this one, women’s bodies are collectively owned. It’s moral, here, for Junia to keep a pregnancy or end it based on what the community needs. And I get that moral order. I get it, when you’re just twelve people taking caring of each other, surviving because of each other, out here at the edge of everything. Morals change as the needs of society change. Individual freedoms are a luxury of the modern age, of a collective dedication to providing people with the ability to exercise those freedoms. Here I am, becoming a fucking philosopher. That’s what this work gets you. Too much thinking.
“Morality is made up,” Elba says. “We’re making it up as we go along. There is no right answer, no infallible, logical truth when it comes to morality. Do the right thing in this moment. That’s all we have hope for.”
“She’s right,” Lexi says. “No easy answers. No future. I knew there was no best way, no perfect future. Every utopia is someone else’s dystopia. I worry too, though. You ever wonder if somebody else will get the tech while we’re gone, maybe they already have, somebody who wants a different kind of future? You worry that just making this thing, assuming we’re benevolent… then finding out somebody wants something else, something worse?”
I stare out at the muddy horizon where it meets the sea. There’s a big black storm out there, all lit up from beneath by the rising sun. The sky is a bloody wound, beautiful.
“All the time,” I say. “I worry sometimes that it’s already happened. When was the last time we were back? We could be getting orders from anybody. I get that.”
“We have to keep going,” Elba says softly. “If we don’t create the future we’re from by re-engineering the past, we don’t exist. Unification never happens. Billions die. The Earth becomes a carbon-soaked sponge. We never see the stars. The sun eventually consumes all record of us. I’m a soldier first. I’ve always known I had a hand in who lives, who dies. This is no different.”
I track the fingers of the sun. The sun looks brighter, this far back in time. The moon would too, at night, because every year the moon moves about an inch and a half further from the Earth. Go back far enough, and the moon is like a massive godly face in the sky, looming over everything. No wonder we worshipped it.
“I have to believe in our future,” Elba says. “I have to believe that as long as you and me and Lexi haven’t shuddered out of existence, there’s still a chance that future is being made out ahead of us. That’s all you can do, sometimes. Believe in the future.”
“If it was easy, everyone would do it,” Lexi says.
And then time stops.
There’s no transition between one time and the next, not that we’re ever aware of.
I wonder, often, if we are brought in to debrief, if anyone at all is left out there in our future to debrief. This deep into the operation I feel we are completely controlled by the algorithm.
I breathe out as my body corporealizes around me. My vision blurs. Flashing colors. A dizzying blur of red. The smell of burning forests.
“Coordinates,” I ask, before I can see, because Lexi’s AI always comes online first.
Every birth is a battlefield, a war between the life that exists and the life coming into being. Sometimes they fight to a standstill. Other times, they fight to the death. I’ve seen it every which way you can imagine, because they only call on us for the difficult births, of course, the ones that kill or change those involved so much that they alter the course of history. No one has seen more blood and death that we have. We are spared the happy births, the uncomplicated deliveries, though I have been around some of those, too, and they are just as dramatic. Because you don’t know what’s going to happen, even in our future, during any given delivery. We don’t have wars anymore, but we have births, and that’s enough fighting and dying for me. There’s still blood and shit and sweat and sobbing, but at the end of it you have two flushing, contented people enjoying life together. That’s our goal anyway – together.
I wonder how we can get there, from here.
And so we carry on, saving the lives of the women and children who will ensure the existence of our own timeline, of our own lives. We are the citizens of some other time, midwifing our way to that future.
by Mur Lafferty
A few years ago, Escape Artists co-publisher Marguerite Kenner and I considered putting together our own anthology with the concept of Space Marines Midwives, sparked by a Brooke Bolander tweet. For various reasons it never came to be, but hwe had already purchased several stories from solicited authors. We kept some of them to play on Escape Pod, which is how “Citizens of Elsewhen” came to be.
Time travel fascinates me. You can use it as a study of aging, of sexuality, and of course the butterfly effect. This is a visceral story, with a lot of emotion, but my favorite part that made me shiver and say “ooo that’s good” is when the world is changing around Asa and the crew, as someone else alters the timeline.
The idea of going back in time and killing Hitler is a favorite time travel trope, but instead of the global political ramifications, I think about the smaller, personal ones. If there had been no WWII, then a great many of us might not exist. Troop movements, deployment, the effect of the war on people’s mental well-being, even just someone moving within the country to serve at a different army base would change someone’s social network and future love life.
In this story, the child dies, the mother lives. And we wonder what effect this girl’s life will have on the timeline at large. That’s what makes this story so good, because we leave the story wishing for more. I want to know what else these time travelers change, and what it does to the world, and, most importantly, when do they know it’s time to stop?
This week’s quote is from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: “It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.”
About the Author
Kameron Hurley is the author of The Stars are Legion and The Geek Feminist Revolution, as well as the award-winning God’s War Trilogy and The Worldbreaker Saga. Hurley has won the Hugo Award, Kitschy Award, and Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. She was also a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nebula Award, and the Gemmell Morningstar Award. Her short fiction has appeared in Popular Science Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and many anthologies. Hurley has also written for The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, The Village Voice, Bitch Magazine, and Locus Magazine. She posts regularly at KameronHurley.com.
About the Narrator
New York Times bestselling author Alethea Kontis is a princess, storm chaser, and Saturday Songwriter. Author of over 20 books and 40 short stories, Alethea is the recipient of the Jane Yolen Mid-List Author Grant, the Scribe Award, the Garden State Teen Book Award, and two-time winner of the Gelett Burgess Children’s Book Award. She has been twice nominated for both the Andre Norton Nebula and the Dragon Award. She was an active contributor to The Fireside Sessions, a benefit EP created by Snow Patrol and her fellow Saturday Songwriters during lockdown 2020. Alethea also narrates stories for multiple award-winning online magazines and contributes regular YA book reviews to NPR. Born in Vermont, she currently resides on the Space Coast of Florida with her teddy bear, Charlie. Find out more about Princess Alethea and her wonderful world at aletheakontis.com.