All good things must come to an end, and that includes the seven-week blog tour exploring the state of black science fiction in 2012. I have to thank the brilliant Alicia McCalla for coordinating the blog carnival and inviting me to participate in such a spectacular online event. It was a pleasure reading the work of my fellow scribes as we grappled with questions of race and injustice in sci-fi and speculative fiction and paid tribute to our literary [super] heroes.
To celebrate our final post, each member was asked to write a short piece using the prompt of a bracelet. My short story is below, and I encourage readers to check out the offerings of other members. I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the weekly discussions – whether on Twitter, Facebook or on the blog. The winner of a signed copy of Escape from Beckyville and an Escape from Beckyville T-shirt is L.M. Davis.
The Scarlet Bracelet
by Nicole D. Sconiers
Of all the things Jemory remembered about the body hanging from the tree, those yellow baby doll shoes haunted her the most. They were patent leather and newly polished, as if the dead woman had been on her way to a dance. From where Jemory stood at the edge of the crowd that day, she couldn’t make out the woman’s features. Her sleek black wig was askew, caressing her broken neck. Jemory wore a similar wig. The only adornment on the woman’s lifeless arm was a thin red bracelet, the size of a hospital wrist band. The mark of an outlaw.
Now as Jemory let herself into her apartment, locking and bolting the front door, she unpinned her wig as she headed to the bathroom. Her scalp itched. She longed to scratch it, to knead the knotty tendrils. Dropping the wig on the sink, she undid the braid that circled her head like a bristly crown. Several strands caught on her scarlet bracelet, and she yanked it free. She removed a small unmarked jar from the breast pocket of her jacket. Unscrewing the cap, she scooped out a dollop of pale yellow paste and massaged it into her hair. She bought the shea butter for $100 from a gap-toothed Nigerian man on Crenshaw who sold it on the black market. It was pure, unlike the chemically enhanced stuff the salons and beauty supply stores used to sell before they were shut down. She watched as he kneeled by a wooden table in his kitchen, spoke a few words in Arabic and pounded the nuts with a mortar and pestle. The constant thwok-thwok-thwok sound of shells being crushed was somehow comforting. Finally, he rose to roast the kernels in a large metal pot. It was such an intensive process for so small a bounty.
But it makes my hair feel alive, Jemory thought as she rinsed her greasy hands in the sink. She refused to weigh down her coils with the white B-9 Kreme that black women were required by law to use to permanently straighten their hair. She heard that the smelly stuff caused uterine tumors, that constant application caused the wearer to go mad. Indeed, she saw many blank-faced women stumbling through the streets of Los Angeles, their eyes as deadened as their long flowing locks.
I’ll have to take my chances. Jemory’s real hair was growing longer now – stronger – and soon it would be impossible to hide beneath her wig. Maybe that’s what gave away the stranger with the baby doll shoes. A woman who loved her unprocessed hair enough to risk public execution was dangerous indeed. Jemory knew of several black women who hid their fugitive locks beneath hair pieces and extensions to fool the Tuft Force or T4 as they were called. The enforcers were known to pick random women off the street, especially those wearing red bracelets, and yank their hair to see if they had submitted to the caustic silkiness of B-9 Kreme or if they dared defy the decree. Woe to the ones with woolly strands.
Jemory fingered her bracelet. It was locked and would emit radio waves if the wearer attempted to break it, alerting T4. The red wristbands were etched with serial numbers indicating women who once wore afros and kinky twisted styles and dreadlocks in public before the purges. She was serial number JF-28094579. An inmate who would never know the smell of true freedom, as smoky as raw shea butter, as yellow as baby doll shoes swaying in the wind.
Catch up on the discussion:
Check out other participating members of this seven-week blog carnival:
Winston Blakely, Artist/Writer — is a Fine Arts/Comic Book artist, having a career spanning 20 years, whose achievements have included working for Valiant Comics and Rich Buckler’s Visage Studios. He is also the creator of Little Miss Strange, the world’s first black alien sorceress and the all-genre anthology entitled Immortal Fantasy. Both graphic albums are available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online book store outlets. Visit him at : http://blakelyworks.blogspot.com or http://blakelyworkstudio.weebly.com.
L. M. Davis, Author — began her love affair with fantasy in the second grade. Her first novel, Interlopers: A Shifters Novel, was released in 2010, and the follow-up Posers: A Shifters Novel will be released this spring. For more information visit her blog http://shiftersseries.wordpress.com or her website www.shiftersnovelseries.com.
Milton Davis, Author — Milton Davis is owner/publisher of MVmedia, LLC . As an author he specializes in science fiction and fantasy and is the author of Meji Book One, Meji Book Two and Changa’s Safari. Visit him at: www.mvmediaatl.com/Wagadu and www.wagadu.ning.com.
Ja Ja (DjaDja) N Medjay , Author — DjaDja Medjay is the author of The Renpet Sci-Fi Series. Shiatsu Practitioner. Holistic AfroFuturistic Rising in Excellence. Transmissions from The Future Earth can be found at: www.renpetscifi.com, on Facebook www.facebook.com/RenpetSciFiNovel or on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/Khonsugo.
Margaret Fieland, Author — lives and writes in the suburbs west of Boston, MA with her partner and five dogs. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines http://tinyurl.com/LifelinesPoetry is available from Amazon.com Her book, Relocated, will be available from MuseItUp Publishing in July, 2012. The Angry Little Boy will be published by 4RV publishing in early 2013. You may visit her website, http://www.margaretfieland.com.
Valjeanne Jeffers, Author — is an editor and the author of the SF/fantasy novels: Immortal, Immortal II: The Time of Legend and Immortal III: Stealer of Souls. Her fourth and fifth novels: Immortal IV: Collision of Worlds and The Switch: Clockwork will be released this spring. Visit her at: http://valjeanne.wordpress.com and http://qandvaffordableediting.blogspot.com.
Thaddeus Howze, Author — is a veteran of the Information Technology and Communications industry with over twenty-six years of experience. His expertise is in re-engineering IT environments using process-oriented management techniques. In English, that means he studies the needs of his clients and configures their offices to optimize the use of information technology in their environment. Visit him at: http://ebonstorm.wordpress.com or http://ebonstorm.weebly.com.
Alicia McCalla, Author — writes for both young adults and adults with her brand of multicultural science fiction, urban fantasy and futurism. Her debut novel, Breaking Free will be available February 1, 2012. The Breaking Free theme song created by Asante McCalla is available for immediate download on iTunes and Amazon. Visit her at: http://www.aliciamccalla.com.
Carole McDonnell, Author — writes Christian, speculative fiction, and multicultural stories. Her first novel is Wind Follower. Her short fiction has appeared in many anthologies and have been collected in an ebook, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction. Visit Carole: http://carolemcdonnell.blogspot.com or http://writersofcolorblogtour.blogspot.com.
Balogun Ojetade, Author— of the bestselling Afrikan Martial Arts: Discovering the Warrior Within (non-fiction), Moses: The Chronicles of Harriet Tubman (Steampunk) and the feature film, A Single Link. Visit him at: http://chroniclesofharriet.wordpress.com.
Rasheedah Phillips, Author — is the creator of The AfroFuturist Affair in Philly. She plans to debut her first spec/sci-fic novel Recurrence Plot in Spring 2012. You may catch her ruminating from time to time on her blog, AstroMythoLosophy.com.
Nicole Sconiers, Author — is an author and screenwriter living in the sunny jungle of L.A. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and she recently published Escape from Beckyville: Tales of Race, Hair and Rage. Visit her at: http://nicolesconiers.com and http://www.nicolesconiers.com/blog.
Jarvis Sheffield, M.Ed. — is owner and operator of TheDigitalBrothers.com, BlackScienceFictionSociety.com and BlackCommunityEntertainment.com. Visit him at: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com/profiles/blog/list?user=2stjwb1h216fd.