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Tall, Dark, and Wriggly

Anthology

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What is it about tentacles that capture the imagination like nothing else? From The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife to the eldritch horrors of Lovecraft, what horrifies us often arouses us, too. Whether it's the taboo, the inherent wrongness, or something that can't be defined, tentacles capture the imagination, and these stories wrap their slippery appendages around our minds and won't let go.

Julian has the salt of the sea in his blood, but his father spurns him as weak and the others in the fishing village whisper that he is cursed. He's willing to do anything to prove himself and to make his life on the water, including A Bargain with a strange man of the sea... a man who has tentacles instead of legs and untold wealth to tempt him.

Niall is a Netrunner also known as the Timberwolf, fierce and cunning in his information raids. But when he's captured in the real world by tech giant Erik, also known as The Wheelman, Niall is Chained to the Wheel in real space and used for Erik's pleasure in the Net. And when Erik comes to test him, it will be with the awe-inspiring lower body of an octopus and a mingling of pain and pleasure that Niall no longer wants to escape.

Aaron might be innocent to the ways of the larger universe, but when he escapes his luddite world to make his way on a space station, that innocence becomes a slight asset. His arranged employer, Ilyan, is charmed by his wide-eyed purity and his acceptance of others, no matter how strange. And as their bond grows, Aaron begins to find his Home Among the Stars.

Jonah is a human researcher on an alien world, making his way with the help of his lover, Othosh, but when the two fail to check in for a Deadline or two, they may have to answer to the Earth Corps forces who look at the two mated males and see only a tentacled monster and his kidnapped human hostage.

The first time Julian ever saw the sea-man was on the day the fleet left him behind. He'd run out to the end of the docks, already knowing he was far too late, and stood there, fists clenching and unclenching. He had struggled not to spill a single tear as he watched the sails billow full and carry the fishing fleet away like a flock of gulls.

He'd turned listlessly to begin the shameful walk back into the village when some strange bit of movement had caught at the corner of his eye, and he'd turned toward the stone breakwater to see a shirtless man wading casually through the water. Wading where the sea floor was at least twenty feet down. Julian had raised a hand to shield his eyes, and just as the man's motions had drawn his attention, Julian's gesture made the man turn toward him. The man, unfamiliar, stilled for a moment before diving beneath the gentle waves.

For a moment, Julian had stood entranced, thinking that he must be swimming toward the dock, but the sun had glinted off of the clear, unbroken stretch of sea for too long, and Julian had realized with a chill that he'd witnessed a visitation from something... unnatural.

Nonetheless, the creature had been beautiful, the sun glistening wetly across the type of muscles that Julian would never know on his own body. And though Julian had known that he should return to his home and begin to plan his strategy to prove himself, it had been an hour or more of hopeful waiting before he'd been able to pry himself away from the harbor.

The next day, he was up early to mend the tears in his father's second net, hoping to earn his way back onto his father's ship. It wasn't his fault he was spindly or that no amount of work seemed to build up his frame, but there were other skills he could exercise, and he was talented at finding the places where the fish were thick in the water. He was blamed, nevertheless, for his inability to haul his fair share of the nets. Or to drag his brother Paul back aboard during the frantic tossing of a midsummer storm.

-- from "A Bargain" by D.K. Jernigan

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Length

41,600 words
98 pages

Release Date

May 09, 2014

Book Type

Anthology

Categories

Gay

ISBN

978-1-62757-006-0

Cover Art

Kohaku

Keywords

M/M, dubious consent, tentacles

Contributors

Angelia Sparrow
D.K. Jernigan
Gryvon
Peter Hansen