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Am I coming in, Houston?
Sunday, April 28, 2013
|By Shawn Conlin|
Gerald was a simple man, born in the outter rings and raised by a farmer. He would often lay on the hay cart, looking up at the thick clouds that constantly covered the sky, and wonder what lay beyond. His mind would wander across myth and legend, across rumors of people who had broken through that dark barrier, and the impossibility of what they may have seen.
He sighed, got up, and brushed the hay off his breeches and scruffy brown hair. The first signs of the evening storm crashed across the sky; the rain was coming, a rain that would be enough to maintain the fertility of the farm, just enough to allow the sun through those clouds, but not enough to dissipate them enough to see the night sky.
In the morning, he wouldn't see the sun rise as more than a hazy, orange sphere through a thick woolen blanket as he worked the fields. He walked toward the house.feeling the dirt beneathe the leather soles of his shoes, occasionally scuffing it with his toe. When he got inside, he withed his parents goodnight, climbing onto the straw mattress that served as a bed and falling asleep.
He woke to the sound of yelling. He hadn't undressed the previous night, so he rushed outside to see what was wrong.
Something had burst through the clouds, giving the people a brief climps of black shapes high above, and for the first time an obscured view of the sun. It was brilliant, leaving a single rain of light to fall upon the fields, quickly fading.
Still more amazing was what it left behind. There was a small crater, about 5 feet wide; and in it sat an egg.
344 words, about 5 minutes, and yes, there will be more.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013
The fire was the only light for miles. it consumed everything; the walls, the door, the roof, even the darkness, lighting the surrounding forest with orange and red. It was a good thing that the earth was moist and the plants healthy and green, or there would surely have been a wildfire.
Not that it mattered.
She stood alone and barefoot in the yard, feeling the heat of the inferno. She didn't care; she stood numbly, watching. She had considered staying in the house as it burned, a kind of _punishment_ for her sins; still, the rationale part of her mind (what little of it was left) told her she had commited no wrong.
She thought back as she watched. She was happy here, once; the had thought it was an ideal home. It was solitary and quiet, surrounded by the smell of pine and oak, chilled with the sharp air of the high mountains; for a time, it had been perfect.
|Image by RhowVhinz Santos|
Over the next few weeks, she had become convinced there was something wrong. One night, when she moon was new and the sky outside was lit only by the stars, her son began acting strange. He began complaining of headaches and confined himself to his room. She hadn't been too worried then, he was a teenager, he could take care of himself; but now, if she only had recognized the signs...
He had killed himself later that night.
Slowly, one by one, they had started fighting among themselves or pacing. Her husband, her twin daughters, all had one by one become so enraged with the others, with themselves. They had faught and died, one after the other.
She could still remember the look of rage on her husband face as she slit his throat and the joy she had felt as his blood soaked her shirt. She could still remember pouring the gasoline inside the house, lighting it with a match leftover from her smoking days.
And now here she was; lost, alone, looking into the inferno that had once been her happy home. She would not remember those moments; if she did, it would only make it worse.
She didn't notice when the sirens pulled up. She didn't notice the cuffs or the shocked exclamations. She didn't really care as what was left of her mind was consumed even as the fire consumed the building and the darkness.
As she slipped into madness, she smiled.
_478 words, 17 minutes_
Written for Dee Solberg
Sunday, April 14, 2013
|Art by Deven Rue|
The steady, constant hiss of steam filled the warehouse, followed by the scrape of steel as the pistons pumped. Somewhere, the sound of a welder, the pounding of a hammer, deadened by the thin walls of the builder's work-room.
The builder sat on a tiny stool, crouched over a wooden desk, a pair of goggles atop his head and the welding gloves he usually wore tossed into a corner. By the light of a small lantern glowing with a violently white flame, he looked at a large piece of blank paper.
He nodded to himself, grabbed a pencil worn down to a stub, and began sketching like mad, the sound of the scraping led adding to the din, seeming a little out of place.
He started simple; a half moon shape. His pencil scraped along, adding small details; brass brackets, painted designs, grooves in wood. Occasionally, it would be joined by the clatter of a ruler against the paper as he measured or scale.
When he was done, he looked at it. He followed this by looking at a young woman in a photo on his desk; a woman wearing a fur shawl that hung from her shoulders, medalson her chest, a corset, and a pair of goggles not unlike his own.
He grunted his satisfaction, then rolled up the paper, grabbing his gloves and leaving.
Outside, the noise was louder; but he was so use to it he barely noticed. Workers of all shape and size scrambled, walking by with materials and tools as the shape of of a ship was seen forming in a channel in the floor, the open doors at the end revealing the unobstructed view of the sun.
He walked to the room next door, nothing more than another wooden pillbox on the warehouse floor. He knocked on the door.
"Come in." came a voice.
He opened the door, walking in to see another man not much older than he was; skinnier, with a full head of
peppered hair. He looked up at the old, slouched man with hazel eyes.
The builder gave him the schematic. He looked at it, then back up at the old man.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" he asked. "There's no backing out once it's done."
"I know." replied the old builder, ringing a glove in one hand. "But she asked for it. It's what she would have wanted."
The skinny man sighed. "We usually use birds for this kind of thing."
"She was meant to fly." the old man replied.
"Ok, ok. I'll talk to the council."
A month later, a new ship was in the channel. A beautiful work with a mermaid figurehead and brass brackets, pounded into place by experienced workers, one of them an old man who had recently lost a daughter in a clan war. With one last pound of the hammer, it was almost done; but one thing had to happen.
A coffin was lowered into the hold. A priest uttered a few words of blessing, and the soul once bound to that body was bound to the wood and brass. A crystal, high upon the mast, lit with an eerie glow.
The ship Gale Winds, laden with food and crew, sailed off into the night, floating on currents of wind.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Maia was only six when it happened. She could distinctly remember the sterile white rooms; the shots; the long
talks with doctors whose names she barely knew, but was sure she had been told.
They had told her she was a very special little girl. They had given her kindness and gifts. They had fed her,
clothed her, and made sure she had wanted for nothing. All they asked was that in return she help them with their
She could remember, dimly, those who had gone before her. One by one, they had been taken to the project; they were told it was an honor. That they too were special. That she was special.
They never came back.
The project was called Yggdrasil, after the Tree of Knowledge in Norse mythology. She would sit in a comfortable, grey chair at the end of a steel catwalk, where behind her a cylinder stretched from ceiling to floor, filled to the brim with something she could not identify, the lights from above and below giving the fleshy mass within a kind of ethereal glow. They would pull down the helmet, hanging by wires and tubes, place it on her head...
...and the thing would speak.
It didn't actually speak, of course; in fact, that first time, it hadn't even communicated. The images that flooded her mind were random and disconnected, too fast for her to get a glimpse; but the doctors said it was progress, that no one had gotten this close.
The next time it happened, she was able to make out images; trees, plants, things she couldn't recognize but could relate to in simple terms; strange creatures with gill-like flues along their arrow-shaped bodies who flew through the air on their own biological jet-engines.
They were all very excited when she told them this. They laughed and congratulated each other on their breakthroughs, pride in their voices as they joked about what this meant to their future, to the future of the world.
She didn't really care. She now had these images in her mind, even if she didn't understand them; and now, it was an escape from the compound; a vision of a world outside of alabaster walls, wired fences and bared windows.
|By Abigail Markov|
At that moment, she was given a choice: go back to the jungle, where the scientists waited with their cheer and their treats and their sterile rooms, or slide into the ocean to see new things.
A little girl, Maia Strickland, sat in a chair, conscious and not. The world was chaos around her. The computers monitoring the creature were being infected by a virus of unknown origin and her brain-waves and those of the creature were indistinguishable. Economies collapsed, wars broke out, a huge amount of the population died.
When the dust finally cleared, she remained strapped to that chair, but something had changed. The smallest thing; and yet, the most important.
She was smiling.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
|Image by Andrew Clifton-Brown|
The colors use to mean something to him. Everywhere, shades of red and blue and purple and green; the streak of the headlights as the cars sped down the highway, as the sun painted the sky in its setting.
Now, there was nothing. It did not matter what colors there were; all was gray, and, in a very real sense, all was lost.
Jared was, at one time, a painter. Not a famous one, mind you; but he made enough to get by, and it gave him joy. it was a simple life; he would go out with his easel and canvas and paint landscapes, or sunsets, or people. All these colors flashing before him, onto his brush and onto paper, even more vivid than reality.
Then it happened. One day, late, he went to a new place; a quiet corner. Something happened; a chemical spill, something, there was a child involved and...
Well, he was lucky, in a sense. He survived. But he lost the colors; they didn't come to him any more. All his pigments, his tubes of oils, only saved by the labels.
It was months later that he finally started painting again. it was a strange experience, painting on his balcony without seeing the colors. He used his brush, and his labeled tubes, to paint the sunset as he remembered it; unable to see the colors, he only had guesses and ideas.
It was the most unusual, perhaps surreal, thing, he had ever done.
Later, when he showed iot to his friends. They were shocked; not by how bad, but by how well it was done. The vivideness, the shades, the almost serene quality about his first sunset.
In a way, his inability to see made his painting even more real.
Dedicated to Spoony McMooch