We are not Alone: Many Blessings

Novel Publicity wants you to know: We, are not Alone. 

As a response to negative mainstream news, Novel Publicity and its affiliates reached out to authors all over the world to come up with a positive response to all the turmoil we are exposed to in the world. There may be days you feel alone, like you, are not part of your wider culture, days that you are discriminated against, or even worse, the target of hate crimes.

Below, you’ll see a personal message from the author, followed by a short story or poetry, exclusive to our blog, resources, and information on The Trevor Project.

We’d love to hear your comments, and even better, we’d love you to participate in this series and see how long we can keep up the momentum. If you’re interested in providing a personal letter and short work of fiction on this theme, please submit to our blog.

Enjoy & help us spread good karma by sharing this post!


By Ashleigh Gauch:

I hope this letter finds you well, safe and sound with little fear for the future. In times such as these, when the threat of regression and judgment nips at the heels of the disadvantaged among us, such hopes are optimistic at best. Even if you’re not well, I hope you find strength in these pages to carry on.

I have a confession to make. Our little secret. I’m neurodivergent. Specifically, I have ADHD, a disorder that has plagued me all my life. If I had a dollar for all the “oh look a squirrel,” or, “apply yourself,” comments I’ve received, we’d both be sitting in a beach house somewhere without a care in the world.

Yet, even as darkness threatens the dawn of this beautiful age, I’ve found renewed strength in my disorder, because I’ve come to realize it bestows as many blessings as it does hardships.

The wild, disorganized mind makes connections other people have never bothered to make, and fashions worlds many would never dare explore. For writing, the creative decisions and ideas almost always come during the hours when my medication wanes. When I’m on it, I can focus well enough to bring them to life.

I take risks others would fear considering, and observe movements my neurotypical friends have to strain to see. Nature shines bright and beautiful when I hike off of my medication.

These struggles and bright patches inspired CarrionSong, because even as we speak, attitudes are shifting. “Neurodivergent,” is replacing “disordered,” or “feebleminded,” or the ever-present “retarded” in the daily vernacular. “Differently abled,” is catching fire, and all around us our comrades are recognizing the beauty in the chaos that these differences in our brain really bring.

Xiu is autistic, not ADHD, but she and her struggles were inspired by my autistic friends who longed for a world where their “shortcomings” could be augmented while still preserving the wonderful focus and depth of interest their disorder brings.

I envision a future where these differences are not only accepted, but embraced, celebrated. Augmented not out of existence, but into functionality. I see a world where judgmental people are seen for the bigots they are, and talent is recognized regardless of ability. I believe this world will come into being regardless of the opposition, because as humans we’ve marched steadily towards progress and acceptance, regardless of the whims of the few in power.

This, beloved reader, is the world of CarrionSong. And whether you’re neurotypical, or divergent as I am, I hope you find safe haven and a beacon of hope within its pages.

Many blessings

CARRIONSONG

 

No pulse, no breathing. Doctor Greensfield is deceased. No further information.

Xiu rolled her eyes at the augment, stifled a gag when the overlay faded out to a gruesome display. Her longtime colleague lay splayed on the ground with a pool of congealing blood beneath his body, organs exposed and face frozen in a permanent scream. It was the fourth time she’d visited the site since their arrival, though mere hours did nothing to soothe her aching chest or dam the river threatening to burst from her eyes.

Thanks, I think I knew that already.

Dr. Fitzpatrick and Dr. Kuang worked silently, taking samples of tissue from around the wounds. Light filtering through the trees provided just enough illumination for their work, though they’d have to wait until morning to take photographs for forensic reference.

“Anyone got a cause of death?” Xiu’s voice trembled.

The signs were clear. Something or somethings had ripped the good doctor apart. No signs of feeding. Whatever killed him had done so for sport or because he was perceived as a threat.

Or because it was curious.

She shuddered.

“Anyone?”

Her eyes met Dr. Fitzpatrick’s as her augment sprang to life. It highlighted his tight shoulders and scrunched brows and flashed its interpretation into her visual cortex.

Annoyance.

“Okay, I get that you were close and all, but you’re really rushing us. We’re analyzing DNA strands found around the wounds as we speak, but it could take time. Please, for the love of science, be patient.”

Tonal processing and interpretation appeared in white text.

Tightness, short breaths. Frustration.

Xiu sighed.

Modulate tonal response, gentle and apologetic.

The augment flashed confirmation and shifted her vocal cords to the appropriate tone for apology. “I’m sorry. It hurts.”

She slipped her hands into her pocket, ran her fingers along the surface of a cube designed for sensory stimulation. She tapped the ventral buttons. The familiar click click sent waves of calm through her body.

His expression softened. “I understand. With your unique…struggles, it must be hard for you.”

Calm, pity.

Xiu’s breath caught, fist clenched around the cube.

“I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.”

“Neurodivergence is always a consideration, whatever allowances have been made for it.”

Calm, authoritative.

Bigot.

Xiu snorted. “It’s never affected my work.”

“No, but it affects your emotions. I was trying to show concern.”

Apologetic, shaky. Manipulative.

Modulate tonal response, even and calm.

“You have to understand how sensitive a topic…”

“It’s strange that you’d augment despite having the resources to cure.”

“I’ve been told how different I am all my life because of my autism. The augment is there to make up for what all of you think are my shortcomings. It hurts to have it considered now, even in kindness.” The strain came through despite modulation.

“Still, out in the open on a hostile planet isn’t the place to discuss such things. Do you have any observations to add to the investigation?”

Neutral, curious.

“Yes, actually. You see these marks?” Xiu knelt and swept her hand over Greensfield’s thoracic wounds. “These look a lot like surgery. If we weren’t on a planet confirmed to lack intelligent life, I’d call it vivisection. Whatever killed him wasn’t hungry.”

“Maybe something bigger scared it off.”

Doubt.

“It doesn’t look like the work of just one creature. Scavengers have been bold enough to take meat from our hands, yet nothing will touch his body. Isn’t it strange?”

“Not that strange. Especially considering we haven’t been away from Earth long enough for another intelligent species to replace us.”

Doubt, frustration.

Xiu forced a smile. “My background is in xenobiology. I think I’d be the most qualified among us to make such observations.”

“I understand your credentials, but the evidence is shaky. I believe your relationship with Greensfield is compromising your judgment in this case. You want this to be meaningful, I get that. I just don’t see it.”

Condescension, annoyance.

Xiu’s smile shook at the edges.

Fitzpatrick cupped his hands around his mouth. “Come on people! We need to get moving! Time is money, and if we don’t report to the Galactic Council soon, there’ll be hell to pay!”

Anger, nervousness.

Why would he be so against the idea of intelligent life on Earth? Is it just because it’s coming from me?

When Fitzpatrick turned and headed back toward camp, Xiu gritted her teeth.

#

When Xiu returned to camp, she found Dr. Kuang waiting in front of the white tent she called home. Though they’d never been close, she often collaborated with his division when she needed chemical analysis for her work.

Their eyes locked.

Tension around the eyes. Pity.

Modulate tonal response, cordial, cheerful.

“I’m surprised to see you here,” she said. “Come to offer your condolences?”

“Yes, but not for the reason you think. I overheard your conversation at the site.”

Shaky but certain.

“I don’t know why you’re so nervous. You of all people should understand.”

“Which is why I wanted to talk to you. Had I the degree of functionality you do, I would’ve chosen augmentation over the cure. I miss the capacity for focus and pattern recognition, the intensity of interest. It’s easier to communicate now, but I don’t feel like myself anymore.”

Wistful, nostalgic.

Modulate tonal response, gentle.

“Thank you. I’m all right, he irritated me more than anything. I’ve faced more scrutiny for augmentation than I have for any of my research. I don’t understand why they even invented it if the choice comes with so much judgment.”

“I agree. I admire your strength. My condolences for your loss as well.”

Sad, regretful. Affectionate.

“Thank you. It means more than you know.”

“I hope we find out what happened to him. I’ll let you know when the analysis comes back. They assigned it to my division, so I’ll be able to get it to you first.”

Shy, affectionate. Kind.

Xiu stared at him while tears clouded her vision. Silence hung in the air between them.

Kuang looked down. “Take care then.”

Uncertain, awkward.

“I will.”

He headed toward the large central tent they’d used as a field lab and paused at the door. When his gaze met hers, her augment lit up and flashed:

Pain.

Xiu broke contact and looked up just in time to see him duck into the tent. Her own pain pulsed in her chest. Thoughts spun into a whirlwind so volatile she couldn’t capture any one long enough to interpret its meaning. She shuddered and slipped into her tent before the dam broke.

Why? Even with the augment, how did I manage to mess it up again? He was just trying to help, and my feelings got in the way again. Fitzpatrick is right, my feelings always get in the way. I wish Albert was here. He’d understand.

The image of his death-frozen face brought a wave of sorrow. She fell to her knees and rocked back and forth, private tears streaming down her face.

I can’t let this get to me. I was chosen for a reason. My work is essential. His death may hurt, but it showed me something important. I need to figure out why.

She wiped away her tears and took deep, stabilizing, breaths.

The only way I’ll know is if I go back. I have to.

Determination filled the void where sorrow had taken root. She returned to the copse where Greensfield’s body rested.

#

The sun slipped behind the trees, leaving little more than shadows to guide her. Too dark now for photography. Why hadn’t the others moved Greensfield? The abandonment risked proving her theory about scavengers wrong and compromising the wounds.

No one thought to bring a forensics expert. I guess xenobiology and chemistry doesn’t make me an authority on how to care for a dead colleague.

Even in the encroaching dark she recognized his form, though something felt off as she approached.

Movement. A scavenger?

She slowed, straining for a better look. A creature perched on the corpse, like a living shadow. It lifted its head.

She gasped.

A crow?

Her studies on Earth biology often featured crows, as they were easily accessible in the cities where studies on urban wildlife were done before the Abandonment. Opportunistic, social, omnivorous songbirds with a harsh call and early signs of tool usage.

Another swooped down from the trees, landed next to the first, preened itself, and kept a wary eye on her. A third followed, then another, until the glade filled with birds.

Shit.

The first, which she decided was the alpha, turned its attention back to the body. It pecked at the exposed organs while the others watched Xiu.

They’re scavengers, but it’s not eating. Why?

The alpha hopped down and let out a long series of harsh calls. Four birds took off into the twilight.

Xiu turned around, took a step toward the camp. The birds launched into a cacophony of scolding cries. She took another. One dove and scratched her face with its claws.

They don’t want me to leave.

Her heart thundered.

What do they want?

The alpha hopped toward her, tail flicking, and looked at her before letting out harsh burst, this time in a different interval with a different tone. It cocked its head, stared at her while the rest of the flock sat in silence. Waiting.

Does it want me to reply?

“Hello,” she whispered.

The alpha burst into a similar series of caws and paused again, head cocked.

“I don’t think you understand me.”

More cawing, different tempo. The crow hopped forward and pecked at her foot, then tilted its head toward the body.

It hopped away when she stepped forward. Repeating its cawing pattern, it gestured again, and she took another shaky step. By the time she reached the body and the shadow above her coalesced, it was too late. A hidden net lifted around her, and her stomach dropped when they took off.

Strings of vine left red welts on her skin.

Her head crashed into a tree branch, and the world went white.

#

To Colonizal-

Initial reports are promising, global temperatures have lowered enough for recolonization. I cannot advise doing so, however, as we’ve encountered another problem.

Hostile intelligent life has colonized Earth. As you know, current intergalactic laws prevent colonization of any planet where intelligent life has been discovered. This represents a major loss of profits for our company, one I’m not willing to risk.

We’ve lost one of our own in an attack, a second has been captured. Luckily the hostage was our native xenobiological researcher.

Recommendation: eradication. Hostage expendable.

Signed,

Dr. Samuel Fitzpatrick

#

Xiu awoke high in synthetic trees, surrounded by a partially collapsed plastic dome and scattered remnants of ancient human life. Behind her, a large crow cawed, hopped up to her face, and pecked at her nose.

“Ow!”

The crow hopped back, tail flicking. Cocked its head and let out a quick, raspy caw.

“I swear you have to be trying to talk to me. This doesn’t make any sense otherwise…”

It cawed again and pecked her hand, hopped over to the back of the room and pecked a laminated picture of two humans, a man and a woman, leaning against one another in a frilled white dress and black suit respectively.

Marriage ceremony.

Thanks.

The crow cawed and pecked at the picture. Its first caw was low and raspy, followed by three higher pitched caws in rapid succession. Memory oozed through the cracks in her mind. It was the same series of caws she’d taken to mean “follow me” from the leader the night before.

She picked the picture, studied it, and turned to the crow, who took it from her and laid it back on the floor.

“Why did you show me this?”

Its tail flicked again, wings rustled. It hopped over to her, released the same series of caws, and handed her the picture again.

“Look at this.”

A series of five caws, each rapid but at a lower pitch, and the crow took the picture.

“Give it to me.”

After a series of repetitions, Xiu had no doubt it was trying to teach her something. The longer it took, the more its tail flicked and wings rustled, signs she now took to mean agitation or wariness.

Augment, take note.

Trembling, she issued a series of commands to modify the augment’s protocol and allow for direct language interpretation. It would be difficult to build her own dictionary and body language protocol for herself, but she’d done it once before on Io.

The next time the crow flicked its tail, her augment lit up.

Irritation.

Xiu suppressed a small squeal. It worked!

Her companion cocked its head, studying her.

What do you think of me? Come to think of it, you seem to know I can learn your language. Can you learn mine? Or do I have to learn to repeat yours?

She cleared her throat. The crow flinched.

Here goes nothing.

“Give it to me,” she said.

The crow paused.

“Give it to me,” she repeated.

It hopped over to the photo and picked it up. After five muffled caws, it handed it to her.

Xiu set the photo down and pointed to it. “Look at this.”

The crow repeated the four caw series, then pecked at the photo.

“Yes!”

It jumped back and ducked low, wings and tail flicking. She lowered her volume. “I’m sorry.”

Not that you can understand me, but I tried. Still, this is a huge breakthrough. Given time…

A flurry of commands to her augment solidified the vocabulary. Two concepts weren’t much. Were they verbs, commands, or whole sentences? But it was a start.

Her companion bobbed its head several times, released a flurry of caws in rapid succession, and took off.

She waved goodbye and sighed. It was possible to teach them English, at least to a limited degree. Learning how to communicate back would otherwise be nigh impossible without recording equipment. Even with the technological assistance she’d be parroting for quite some time before she’d be able to code nuances into the translation system.

She slipped her hand into her pocket and a wave of relief washed over her when she found the stimulation cube still safely tucked inside. As her fingers explored the familiar surface, an electric shock ran through her veins. If she could manage to build a dictionary, start diplomatic relations between the two species…it would be her life’s work, the greatest contribution she could make to mankind.

Who would ever guess 50,000 years was enough for another intelligent species to evolve on Earth?

Her heart froze.

We were sent to scout for recolonization. Under current law, this disqualifies Earth.

#

Dr. Fitzpatrick –

Correspondence received. The board agrees with your assessment. An armed squad of reinforcements has been deployed.

ETA: 20 Sol-days.

Please do everything within your power to discredit any proof of sentience in this hostile species.

M

#

Crow language is more complicated than I’d realized.

Two and a half weeks passed in the treetop compound. Each day brought new revelations about crow communication and their society. Male crows were the chattiest, and often the most playful, though it was difficult to sex the birds without direct confirmation.

Xiu marveled at the intricate structures the flock had built within the ancient city. Nests stuffed themselves into impossible cracks and crevices. Entire families of a dozen or more occupied buildings designed for two or three humans. Young crows banded into packs, while their middle aged parents tended the old and infirm with additional food and care.

Xiu’s earlier classification of the crow leader as alpha proved incorrect.

In human terms, she was more of a squadron leader. She, along with the other crow she’d mistaken for male when she’d awoken, had taken it upon herself to interpret and teach Xiu the more difficult parts of their language.

Today, she sat in one of the larger plastic domes in the city and watched the fledglings take their first attempts at flight. Thick vine-netting similar to the net they’d used to capture her patched holes in the dome. An occasional falcon or hawk settled on the netting, then fled at rounds of raucous, scolding cries.

The sixty birds surrounding her displayed less tail flicking and preening than in previous days. Bits and pieces of her limited vocabulary flashed through her augment as parents issues commands to their fledglings.

Take off, push harder, catch the current.

Their language was tonal. True songbirds.

A fledgling, she’d nicknamed Aiia, was weeks ahead of the rest. Though small, her feathers were more complete, more mature, and she caught the wind with unusual grace. She defied her father’s orders, and one particularly powerful gust sent her sprawling toward the ground.

Several of Xiu’s guards erupted into panic, and her augment nearly overloaded from attempts at translation. When they recovered Aiia, bits of bone and slowly seeping blood stuck out from her right wing.

Xiu’s training kicked in. She tore off one of her sleeves, then ripped the fabric into thin strips. Aiia let off a series of mewling, nasally caws, several of which her augment couldn’t interpret, but the final flashed clear.

Help me.

When Xiu tried to pick up the little fledgling, the guards erupted into an angry series of scolding calls.

“I’m trying to help.”

Another round of scolding, more uncertain than before. Tears welled in Xiu’s eyes.

“Please.”

The squadron leader swept down and landed before Xiu. She issued a series of command calls. Silence. Watch. A brief flick of her wing and nod. Proceed with care.

Xiu picked up Aiia and tucked the broken wing against her tiny form.

Aiia’s complaining caws and whines agitated the guards. Still, the leader’s authority held.

Xiu carefully and set the wing.

Aiia’s breathing and rapid heartbeat slowed. When Xiu set her down, the fledgling stood and flicked her left wing, then her right, and hopped toward her parents. Her father bobbed his head several times, then cawed.

Thank you.

“You’re welcome.”

Gingerly, he took off, daughter in tow, along with the guards and several of the other fledgling-parent pairs. Leader-crow stayed, eyes fixed on Xiu. Her caws carried a note of urgency.

Follow me.

#

Even in broad daylight it was difficult to determine which sections of ancient bridges could hold her weight and which would collapse under it, but after a few close calls, Xiu made her way to the center of the city. Here, the sprawling nest and home of the squadron leader meshed with the nests of her extended family, each containing glittering baubles, shiny rocks, and bits of plastic detritus.

The leader repeated the follow call and flew toward the center, landing in what Xiu took to be her personal nest. Inside, she found laminated newsprint, faded to near incomprehensibility with age. Some were articles announcing the Abandonment, with pictures of humans, ancient crows at their feet.

They’ve been there since the dawn of civilization. Why didn’t we take them with us?

“Why are you showing me this?”

Your kind nearly killed us too.

“What do you mean?”

Your species left us with a broken world. We were lucky we survived. It may happen again.

What?”

You taught me many words. One means to make home. Your kind has said they want to make home here.

Colonize?”

That was the word.

“Yes, but our leaders will stop them.”

The old one, with the heavy skin and brown eyes. He has called to fight. He calls us enemies.

“They must’ve taken the kidnapping as an act of war!”

What does this word mean?

To fight, for a long time. Human against crow, all crows are the enemy of all humans.”

I don’t like that idea. We will mob humans if we must, but many generations ago, many humans used fire and pain to kill my ancestors. I do not want that to happen again.

“Neither do I. We need to meet with them. You have to take me back to camp!”

We can carry you back.

“Will you come with me?”

Why?

“There is a word, ambassador. It means a friend from another country or species. You would be the friend of all humans, the one who decides how we relate to crows. I think we need one.”

You choose me?

“If you’re willing.”

You trust me?

“Yes. Do you trust me?”

I would not have allowed you near our young if I did not.

“Then it’s settled. We’ll go at dawn.”

#

One hour spent riding in a net is never going to be comfortable. I really need to talk to them about finding a better way to get to the nest. Assuming this all works out.

Still, the view above the forest was breathtaking. Mountains barely visible from the ground shone sparkling white, rivers cut swaths of blue through the verdant landscape, and the ancient city melted into the thick trees comprising the true forest that had grown in its stead. Here and there, faded plastic and rusted metal poked out of the ground near the river, ghostly reminders of fallen glory.

Will we be wise enough to cede our old home to worthy successors?

A sudden drop shattered her thoughts. They were diving toward the center of her camp. How terrifying they must look! A cloud of black, blotting out the sun, carrying a green net with a person inside.

Brake!

The leader’s voice rang out, and Xiu was gently set down.. Surrounded by crows and an outer ring of confused scientists, she dusted herself off and spoke.

“I’m unharmed.”

The sound of pounding footsteps came from behind the crowd. She forced her mind back on track.

“These birds are sentient. They have a complex language and society. I have detailed notes. Please, don’t harm them.”

There were cries of ow and ugh as Kuang forced himself to the front of the circle.

“Dr. Kuang! I’m glad to see you’re still safe.”

“They could’ve killed you.” He took a step toward Xiu. Her crow guard erupted into scolding cries.

Fear, relief.

“They’re not dangerous, but they are protective. I propose an agreement labeling Earth a protected Sentient Zone, free from future colonization attempts. We have clear successors.”

A murmur swept through the crowd.

“As the most tenured xenobiologist, I’m empowered to make this decision. Discussion?”

“Yes. We need proof of sentience.” Fitzpatrick’s voice cut through the crowd noise.

Aggressive, certain.

“Watch.”

The squadron leader landed on Xiu’s arm and let off a series of caws. Her guard took flight in unison, rose thirty feet into the air, and flew in a perfect circle above the camp.

“Square.”

Another round of caws, and the birds’ formation shifted.

“Star.”

The flight pattern changed again, into a six pointed Star of David.

“That’s enough.”

Flock nosedived in unison, landed in guard formation surrounding Xiu with all eyes on Fitzpatrick.

“You could’ve trained them,” he said.

Weakness, hesitation. Fear.

“In two weeks? To do so would be a clear violation of scientific protocol. I’m a biologist, not a circus leader.”

“They murdered Greensfield. Your friend.”

Aggressive, angry.

Another murmur swept through the crowd. Fearful.

Xiu swallowed hard. This will be the hard part.

Modulate tonal response, authoritative, confident.

“Others have landed here before and tried to destroy them, but they have a special place in their collective memory for our species. We helped them rise to sentience, gave them ruins for nesting sites, left a habitat behind perfect for their expansion. They remember us. It was not murder. They dissected Greensfield to confirm that we are human. The scientific method, applied as far as biology allowed.”

“Then why would they kill Greensfield! Out of all of us, you should be the most outraged!”

Uncertain, fearful.

“I deeply regret his loss, but I’m certain it will never happen again. Their leader assures me.”

“And you really think you can talk to birds?”

Aggressive, doubtful. Angry.

“I know she can.” All eyes fell on Kuang. “And I know they’re sentient. Just look at the net they carried her in to bring her here.”

Uncertain, fear.

“She easily could’ve woven it herself.”

Doubtful, confident.

“I know she didn’t, because it’s the same net they carried her off in the first place. The same one you conceded existed when you took my testimony. I stand with Dr. Xiang.”

Confident, shaky.

Two young scientists from Kuang’s department stepped forward. “We stand with Dr. Xiang as well. The evidence is too strong.”

One by one, the other fifty scientists each stepped forward, with only two on Fitzpatrick’s side.

Xiu beamed. “So, we’ve reached a consensus?”

“Yes, but one more thing.” Kuang rounded on Fitzpatrick with a folded piece of paper in hand. “This man has a conflict of interest. I caught him wandering into the comms tent in the middle of the night, and this is what he sent out. An illegal militia is on route to destroy the crows. You, Xiu, were marked expendable.”

Confident, angry.

“What can you do to stop it? They’re already headed here.”

“Don’t worry. Before the meeting I took the liberty of informing the Galactic council that Dr. Xiang had reason to believe there’s intelligent life here.”

“It’s the word of one scientist. Two scientists.”

“The seed of doubt is enough. If they’re stupid enough to land, your precious Colonizal Co. will lose all rights it has to colonize any future planets, as well as hefty fines on its current projects. All I have to do is update the Council to let them know we’ve recovered Dr. Xiang, and you’ll have some serious explaining to do.”

“You’re bluffing.”

“Am I? Do you want to take that chance? I’d suggest calling them off before it becomes an issue for you and your company. If you do it fast enough, I might even think about refraining from telling the council about your illegal conflict of interest.”

Xiu’s augment lit up Fitzpatrick’s hunched shoulders, downcast eyes, and withered expression.

Defeat.

For once, I don’t think I need you for that.

Xiu chuckled and turned to Kuang.

“How can I ever thank you?”

Kuang kissed her on the cheek and blushed.

“We…can talk about that later if you’d like. Can I ask you something?”

Embarrassed, shy.

“Anything.”

“How did you figure out they were sentient? Apart from the net I mean.”

Curious, admiration.

“Xenobiology is my special interest. Language follows close behind. From the moment I laid eyes on Greensfield, I knew whatever killed him had to be intelligent.”

“Pattern recognition. I guess you had good reason to augment.”

Wonder.

“I’d have lost an essential part of me with gene therapy.”

Kuang cleared his throat. “Well, we need to find an ambassador. And I think I know just the scientist for the job. You have my support, always.”

Deep, quiet. Affectionate.

Xiu kissed him back, this time on the lips.

“I think I’d get lonely without an assistant. Besides, who knows? Our research has only just begun. I’m sure we can find plenty of uses for a chemist.”

Resources

Family Acceptance Project

2012 LGBT Homeless Youth Provider Survey

  1. Ryan, C., Russell, S.T., Huebner, D, Diaz, R. Sanchez, J. (2009). Family Rejection as a Predictor of Negative Health Outcomes in White and Latino Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Young Adults. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 123, 346-352.
  2. Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund.
  3. James M. Van Leeuwen and others, “Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Homeless Youth: An Eight City Public Health Perspective,” Child Welfare 85 (2)(2005): 151-170.

More about The Trevor Project

The following information is available on the Trevor Project’s website. We summarized here to showcase just a few of their amazing projects and resources!

Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.

The Trevor Project offers accredited life-saving, life-affirming programs and services to LGBTQ youth that create safe, accepting and inclusive environments over the phone, online and through text.

Crisis Interventions

Trevor Lifeline – The only national 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ young people (ages 13-24), available at 1-866-488-7386.

TrevorChat – A free, confidential, secure instant messaging service for LGBTQ youth that provides live help from trained volunteer counselors, open daily from 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. PT.

TrevorText – A free, confidential, secure service in which LGBTQ young people can text a trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention, available Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. PT at 202-304-1200.

Suicide Prevention Trainings and Resources

Trevor Lifeguard Workshop The Lifeguard Workshop is a free online learning module based on The Trevor Project’s in-person workshop, which is listed in the SPRC/AFSP Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention. The Lifeguard Workshop webpage includes a video, a curriculum guide, lesson plans, and additional resources for educators.

Trevor CARE Training – This training for adults provides an introduction to suicide prevention techniques based on Trevor’s CARE model (Connect, Accept, Respond, Empower).

Trevor Ally Training – This training introduces adults to the unique needs of LGBTQ youth.

LGBTQ on Campus – These online, interactive training simulations for students and faculty in higher education are AFSP/SPRC Best Practices for Suicide Prevention and were created in partnership with Kognito Interactive and Campus Pride.

Step-In, Speak-Up – These online, interactive training simulations for faculty and staff working with youth in Grades 6-12 are AFSP/SPRC Best Practices for Suicide Prevention and were created in partnership with Kognito Interactive.

Model School District Policy for Suicide Prevention – A roadmap to help school leaders easily navigate ways to bring suicide prevention policies and resources to their schools, developed in collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, and the National Association of School Psychologists.

Coming Out As YOU! – A pocket-sized guide to inspire critical thinking in youth who are questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trevor Support Center – A resource where LGBTQ youth and their allies can find answers to frequently asked questions, and explore resources related to sexual orientation, gender identity and more.

PSAs – Our current public service announcements, “Ask for Help,” are available free of charge for TV, radio, website, social media, and print use.

Community Resources

TrevorSpace – A social networking community for LGBTQ youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies.

Trevor Ambassadors – Local volunteer groups in select U.S. cities (Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.)

Trevor NextGen – Groups of young, motivated volunteers in New York and Los Angeles who raise awareness, develop leadership, advocate, and fundraise in support of The Trevor Project’s life-saving, life-affirming work.

Trevor Youth Advisory Council – This group of 20 young advocates, ages 16-24 from around the country, are trained by The Trevor Project to raise awareness about LGBTQ youth, mental health, and suicide prevention in their communities.

Trevor Advocacy Network – A way for Trevor supporters to take action to improve policies and legislation that protect LGBTQ youth.

If you are thinking about suicide, you deserve immediate support. Please call The Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.

To support The Trevor Project’s programs and resource development, you can donate here.

More from Ashleigh Gauch


Starward Tales is a collection of short stories, poems, and visual art retelling legends, myths, and fairy tales as science fiction.

This anthology is a delightful collection of fractured fairy tales and myths redone as science fiction, with a focus on diversity and non-Western tales. It features everything from a Chinese ghost story to Greek and Scottish tales. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality from my fellow authors. Plus, it’s free on Kindle Unlimited!

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author

Ashleigh Gauch is a Haida author currently living just south of her hometown Seattle, Washington. She went to college for nutrition but ultimately found her true passion not in the study of science, but in the genesis of science fiction.

Her work has been featured in the online periodical Bewildering Stories, Starward Tales from Manawaker Press, Uncommon Minds from Fighting Monkey Press, and the magazine Teaching Tolerance.

You can find Ashleigh on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter, though she makes no claims of using any of them properly.


Go Deeper with the Novel Publicity Guides to Writing & Marketing Fiction