Plugs

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

Read Daniel Braum’s story Mystic Tryst at Farrgo’s Wainscot #8.

Susannah Mandel’s short story “The Monkey and the Butterfly” is in Shimmer #11. She also has poems in the current issues of Sybil’s Garage, Goblin Fruit, and Peter Parasol.

Ken Brady’s latest story, “Walkers of the Deep Blue Sea and Sky” appears in the Exquisite Corpuscle anthology, edited by Jay Lake and Frank Wu.

Fossil

by David

“Oh hi,” said the boy eating a ham sandwich at my kitchen table.

“Glad you brought your own food,” I said. “I’m tired of buying for all you kids.”

“I brought you a gift.” It wasn’t wrapped. I had never seen one in this condition before. It was 45 cm of polished wonder, grey spotted with tan, every leg bristle intact. It must have been collected live. I examined it from every angle.

He nodded, took another bite. I judged him to be about 16. His clothing was perfectly ordinary; his accent only noticeable because I was looking for it.

“So who are you?” I asked. He knew my name.

“Call me Chad. I’ve heard stories about you my whole life.” While he talked I gently picked up the trilobite and turned it over.

“Oh my God! The ventral surface too!” Through the translucent papery belly I could see everything from the interior was gone.

I made Earl Grey and we talked. Mostly I talked. He asked about my childhood in Missouri, how I met Phil, all the places I’d lived and which ones I liked best. They never answer my questions, but there was one I had to ask.

“I had a visit once from a girl younger than you. She was sick. She told me it was incurable. She said her name was Lane. What happened to her? She looked so much like my niece, I thought she must be…”

Chad held up his hand. “I don’t recognize the name. She must have been from after.”

I shook my head. “I know you all choose ordinary one-syllable names, never give your real names. But I could tell she was from somewhen close. Closer than you.

“My sister’s daughter disappeared at the age of 10; we don’t know if she’s alive or dead. But Lane looked so much like Laurie. I think Laurie survived. I think she had/will have children.”

Chad stood up, brushed the crumbs off his pants. “Thanks for the tea.” He held out his hand for the trilobite. “You know I have to take that back. I wanted you to see it. I knew you would like it, because my great-grandmother wrote about her visit. She mentioned the display case.”

I looked over the ancient creature carefully one more time, then gave it back. “Thank you.” I smiled, squeezed his shoulder, watched him fade out.

Lane had been fascinated by my fossil collection. She had even taken my picture beside the case.

end

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One Response to “Fossil”

  1. Morgan Says:

    January 14th, 2010 at 11:50 pm

    Damn, from your plug I thought the trilobites were going to time-travel by themselves!