Adrian had a spectacular night on a date with Mike, who might be the man of his dreams. His life might be changing, and he’s feeling a sense of optimism when he arrives home to find an unexpected package at his front door. Fearing a basket filled with venomous snakes, Adrian instead discovers that his life is indeed going to change, but in wholly unexpected ways.
The gray-skinned, tiny-horned baby with violet and silver eyes is nothing Adrian could have anticipated. Nevertheless, he finds himself immediately in love with the peculiar child and desperate to protect her. As a gay man, he knows precisely how cruel the world can be to those who aren’t like everyone else.
Shut away from the outside world, devoted to caring for his unexpected daughter, it still doesn’t take Adrian long to learn that Abigail has a strange effect on people. Deciding it’s time to stop dodging Mike’s calls, Adrian hopes the doctor and potential lover might be able to answer the numerous questions he has regarding this bundle of joy.
Daemon Manx manages to surprise readers with a twist that’s so subtle in its build-up that no one is going to see it coming. It’s a challenge to craft such a surprise in so few pages, but Manx pulls it off admirably well. The reader will find themselves wondering how they could have missed something so huge, only to wonder why it’s such a colossal revelation in the first place. For a story that focuses so heavily on preconceived notions, it’s a spectacular feat that Manx forces the reader to evaluate their own preconceived notions by the time they reach the end.
Abigail is a short fiction nominee for the 2022 Splatterpunk Awards taking place at KillerCon Austin 2022 in August.