Frederick Luis Aldama

is an Arts & Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at the Ohio State University. He is the author, co-author, and editor of 33 books, including Long Stories Cut Short: Fictions from the Borderlands. He is currently completing a science fiction and YA novel. 


I wake.

I’m not in my bunk—one of hundreds that run up and down like a newspaper column in an abandoned structure. They say they used to build aviones here—we call nadvas today. They keep all of us chicashere; we work in the maquilas until we turn 21, anyway. Then they throw us to the wind where we must kill for comida and shelter. We’re tattooed. We’re chipped. They keep track.

I wake. I’m unattached. I can’t move. I have only images and thoughts to assemble into nightmares: blood, severed heads…. They keep me company.

We had to disconnect her brain. Diseased, her body betrayed her. Her brain is fed within a thick, wispy pink, oily blue fluid. They promise: Sentience can exist and grow within this gelatinous substance that flickers with 0I pulsations.

Months pass.

Are you sure it will work?

I wake. I roll over. I’m connected. I’m tentacle. More hot braceros than legs. I’m dizzy. The familiar siren roars. I climb down from my bunk. I line up ready for another day at the maquila.



*“Ella” is one of numerous interrelating fl ash-fiction pieces that make up Frederick Luis Aldama’s forthcoming sci-fi, 2041. After “The Event,” Ella lives in a Latinx future where English, Spanish, Mixtec and a fourth translanguage are used to communicate neologisms like nadvas—a word for everyday modes of flying transport.)