A lengthy story for Interzone, and one that is well-wrought albeit more towards the weird than I prefer to read.
Robertson very effectively gets into the head of a grieving sister, whose brother has been recently killed in action, and who struggles to comprehend his loss. The story uses music and poetry to great effect, drawing on the Greek myth of Marsyas, flayed by Apollo (link), and the raw red skin of the figure haunting her dreams is quite vivid.
You could get fuller value from the story by heading over to Robertson’s website which gives some musical clips relevant to the story.
The story has an emotional intensity and feel to it that made me ponder as I made my way through it, as to whether Al was of the female or the male persuasion, as the story ‘felt’ like it had been written by a women (inasmuch as it’s possible to make any kind of attempt at guessing an author’s gender). But sure enough, Al is a he, and he’s a vocalist in a ‘drone metal’ band, which I believe means he’s a big lad, wears black, and sports a goatee. Or is that ‘nu metal’? I don’t know, kids today and their music. Well, Robertson is a poet as well, so he’ll be familiar with the words of the poet : ‘Gabba Gabba Hey’.