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"Aunt Dalilah smiled at him as if he were a prince rescuing a damsel in distress in one of her favorite ballets. But he was no prince at all. He was the school custodian, who often invaded our dance class. His probing blue eyes followed our every move. Usually, we'd find him sweeping, washing windows, painting, or cleaning our mirrors. He was always there, and our dance instructor never protested his presence. My friends and I dubbed him the Heebie-Jeebie man because he was so creepy."

"Bene had a new sound. His dreaded hair was rough as sandpaper and she could hear the dreadlocks shifting together. His steps were soft, but lifeless, flesh-like thuds against an ungiven surface. And Kaizah could hear a rattling in his chest or throat, like mucus drying and trying to break free."

"In the morning, our home was a mess. The parlor was turned upside down, doors flung off the hinges; pictures of my wife and I were shattered, leaving scratches in the polished wood floor. The bedroom door was slightly breached, too. If they had come any further inside and done a more thorough search, they would have found the two of us, holding on to life, wishing that we had never moved to Plantation Meadows."

"Dr. Lewis stepped forward to shake my hand and then I saw what the aquarium held. I felt myself involuntarily intake a gasp of air. Inside the water were four objects that looked like tubes mixed with mushroom stalks. Some kind of sea-life, except they glowed. The amount of light was more than some kind of bioluminescence that didn’t need the darkness to work. It was as if they were holding sunlight itself. The doctors laughed at my reaction, but I was too busy stepping forward, not blinking, watching the light. 'What is it?'"

"At the University of Cincinnati, the professor and novelist Austen Wright said in class one day that there weren’t any rules for writing fiction. No rules. I was somewhat dumbfounded for a while, but over time I realized exactly what he meant: you can do anything you want—as long as it works; the challenge is making it work. Successful writing is about the execution of the material as much as it is about the material, and whether something works is always a matter of context. What works in one story will not work in another."

"On a Halloween night, a ghost enters her bedroom and pulls out her heart and leaves, his skeletal fingers red and sticky. Since then, she struts around blank-eyed and strangely numb. Until after a year, tired and helpless, she visits him with a proposal. He tips his head to the side. Are you sure? It’s a bargain for life, his voice guttural, rasping, like scratching over her skin."

"According to the stories, angels had descended and breathed into the bodies of early proto-humans that burning particle of God called the soul, and like the angels the resulting creatures were tireless, sleepless, and heaven a living memory in them. "

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