“You Won't Feel a Thing” by Garth Nix is a prequel to his novel Shade's Children, and is featured in the Ellen Datlow/Terri Windling anthology After. I haven't read the novel, but the story is an interesting tale, full of people forcibly enhanced/changed by alien-technology. Part-human, part-animal, with special, almost magical gifts.
This story “[starts] with a toothache.” One of the main characters, named “The Arkle,” has a severe toothache. Through following The Arkle as he thinks about his tooth and the pain, the reader gets background on this After world, and we learn how many adults simply disappeared in a flash while children were herded onto strange vehicles and sent to be experimented on. The imagery touches upon the horrific events of the Holocaust. Some managed to escape as adults before the full transition and maintained most of their humanity. This story deals with a few of them.
The Arkle must visit Doc, a genetically enhanced human with great medical skills. However, because he waited too long, she is forced to take him to a forbidden zone, the only place where her special abilities are at full power. It's dangerous, due to the “Overlords'” monsters, and an ex-companion, Shade, who searches for them in order to exact revenge.
More than anything, this story serves as an introduction to the novel. Not much happens, but you do get an interesting back story and detailed vision of the world Garth created. It's well-written and flows nicely, and is worth the read in order to get a feel for the characters and setting of the novel.
Nancy O. Greene started writing at the age of nine. Her short story collection, Portraits in the Dark, received a brief mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2007. Other works have appeared or will appear in ChiZine; Lovecraft eZine; Cemetery Dance; Tales of Blood and Roses; Haunted: 11 Tales of Ghostly Horror; Shroud Publishing's The Terror at Miskatonic Falls; Dark Recesses; Flames Rising; Smile, Hon, You're in Baltimore! and others. She has a BA in Cinema (Critical Studies) and a minor in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Southern California, and is a Fellow of Film Independent's Project:Involve.