If you’re feeling as though you’ve seen everything there is to see in modern fantasy, it may be time for you to check out Nnedi Okorafor. Nnedi is something of a rarity–a creative writing professor who can really write. She is the author of the 2011 World Fantasy Award-winning novel, Who Fears Death? She writes for and about children who have far more power than they understand, and this story is no exception.
Ulu stopped wiping up the mess and went to the window. Outside the palm trees were bending in the wind, sheets of rain falling from the sky. It looked fairly normal, like any other storm. So why don’t things feel normal, she wondered? She glanced back at the chemistry set and then at her parents. They were still standing where they were, frowning and listening.
“Something’s wrong,” her mother whispered.
“Ulu, come away from the window,” her father suddenly said. Ulu quickly moved into her mother’s arms. The three of them huddled together on the couch listening to the storm outside. The room still reeked of farts. Ulu imagined one of the creatures from her Moomin novels, a huge mangy hattifattener perhaps, hiding under the house, his butt in the air as he farted nonstop. But Ulu was no longer that concerned with it so much. Outside had started to sound like a battle was going on.
Those who have watched a thunderstorm closely know when they are finishing; the rain tapers, the thunder shrinks to a grumble and the lightening retreats. The wind moves on, too, Ulu thought groggily. She’d fallen asleep on the couch. Her mother and father were still sitting up, with stiff backs, their faces tense as they listened to every sound from outside. The rain had stopped and the thunder and lightning had gone away and the wind had settled but… Ulu sat up.
“I don’t know,” her mother was saying to her father. “I’m afraid to get up.”
Her father was staring at the window, his dark face glistening with perspiration, his lips pressed together. Then he walked to the window and opened it. He stuck his hand outside and frowned more deeply. Outside, Ulu could see the leaves and branches of the mahogany and palm trees were swaying angrily like grieving women.
“The air is still,” he said. “But the trees are still beating themselves up.”
Then it dawned on Ulu what was going on. But her fear remained because she had no idea how to make it right.