Monday, April 4, 2022

“Ties That Bind” • by Melissa Mead

After a bit of floundering around, this week The Pete Wood Challenge returns with seven, count ‘em, seven new flash fiction stories. First up is “Ties That Bind,” by our dearly missed friend and frequent contributor, Melissa Mead

“Please, leave them alone,” I begged the Wizardly Enforcers. “They haven’t hurt anybody!”

The Captain stared at Lizabette, trying to form a friendly smile with her lipless mouth. At Aaron, shielding the twins with his remaining arm. The twins stared wide-eyed: their usual expression, thanks to their lack of eyelids.

“Leave them alone?” the Captain bellowed. “They’re a zombie horde!”

His shout woke baby Lina. I wrapped her in my Necromancer’s cloak and rocked her, careful not to jar anything loose from her tiny, fragile body.

“They’re not a horde, Captain. They’re my secondhand family.”


Frequent contributor Melissa Mead passed away in mid-February. It was a pleasure to get to know her through her fiction. Until she sent us “I Don’t Hate Tiny Tim. Really!” I had no idea what her real life was like, as unlike most writers, she was always strangely reluctant to talk about herself. She preferred to talk about her stories and other writers. 

Rather than say more, I will re-post what her sister wrote after she passed.


My oldest sister, Melissa Mead, passed away peacefully this evening at 8:43pm… my parents, sister and I were all able to be by her side tonight thanks to an incredible hospital staff. We were beyond blessed to have the past 12 days to visit one on one and talk… share stories, fears, questions, laughs, hugs and a lot of love.

Thank you for all of the prayers and thoughts, they were much appreciated by all of us.

For those of you who don’t know Missy as well… she was the strongest, smartest and kindest person I know. She was born fighting at only 2lbs with cerebral palsy… beat odds and shattered misconceptions and stereotypes throughout her life. Backed by the most incredible parents in the world she was the first disabled child to be mainstreamed at Shenendehowa, paving the way for a future of inclusion and education. She and my dad helped make Clover Patch Camp into a place where children with disabilities could learn, grow and experience nature. She went on to earn a bachelors and a masters degree from SUNY Albany, of course with high honors all while once again beating impossible odds and fighting what should have been a lethal case of autoimmune hepatitis. Nothing ever stopped her or got her down… she lived a life of humbled success, drove her own van, owned and lived in her own house all while being a published author and very well respected science fiction writer. Even while at the hospital her focus was always on everyone else being okay, she spent her life trying to make the world a better place when it already was just because she was in it. I have watched her in awe since the day I was born, and I will continue to strive to be more like her every day. Nothing is the same without her, but I’m at peace knowing everything was amazing because of her.


If you’re on Facebook, you’ll find Melissa’s page here:, and can post a note there. In her author’s bios, she always listed as her blog site. It’s a group blog, and I’m a bit surprised to find that her last post was a plug for the New Year’s story she wrote for us, “That Darn, Dear Cat.”

Personally, I’d like to point you to “Time Machines” on Daily Science Fiction, as she wrote it for our For Sale, Used Time Machine contest, but sold it there. 

Melissa was a bright talent. She will be missed. I’m told her favorite charity was the Center for Disability Services, and if you’d like to make a donation, you can do so at the link.


Álex Souza said...

A true genius of the short short. She's published 32 times in Daily Science Fiction, and they also made a beautiful homage.