Enjoy this moody drabble from Malaysian writer, Nick Tan!
Who Sits Beneath the Unlit Lantern
Qi Jin set the bowl of steaming noodles beneath the unlit lantern at her doorway. The landlord was coming up the street, banging at his tenants’ doors, collecting the rent she could no longer afford.
She hurried inside and bolted the door.
The lantern flickered to life, illuminating the silhouette of a child squatting beneath, slurping up the offered noodles.
From their thin shoulders reared a shadow, skewered by gleaming ridges of bone. Teeth and twined horns tapering into emerald flame. Eyes of scorched jade. Ears pricked at the footsteps of the approaching landlord.
“Taotie,” whimpered the child, “I’m hungry.”
Nick Tan is a Malaysian spec fic writer based in Aotearoa NZ. They also publish under the name Nicole Tan and their short fiction has appeared in Anathema, Translunar Travelers’ Lounge, Bracken Magazine, and the Year’s Best Aotearoa NZ Science Fiction & Fantasy Vol. 2. They can be found on Twitter @moxieturbine
Nick Tan also features in our Southeast Asian Fantasy drabbles collection: