Plugs

Read Rudi’s story “Detail from a Painting by Hieronymus Bosch” at Behind the Wainscot.

Trent Walters, poetry editor at A&A, has a chapbook, Learning the Ropes, from Morpo Press.

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.

Sara Genge’s story “Godtouched” may be found in Strange Horizons.

Archive for October, 2010

Zuihitsu in a Field of Stars

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Of everything I’ve seen, every place I’ve traveled, nothing has quite prepared me for the Earth’s glow as I approach home. It’s a bittersweet thing to return to one’s place of origin, so long after having left, with little knowledge of what to expect. Of what happens next.

I scan my notes, make a few more. I reflect.

602,223. Things That I’m Lucky to Have Experienced

Memories of a happy childhood. Clean mountain air. Running naked through the path of sprinklers on freshly mown grass. Images of family, parental love, school and accomplishment.

Vast fields of stars, stretching as far as the eye can see. A comet blazing across a backdrop of asteroids the size of cities. Cracks and bangs from all around, as sunlight expands the hull, at once identifiable and frightening in the constant reminder that only a thin layer of metal separates me from the dark and cold of space.

First contact with a sentient alien race. Being the first to learn a language no one on Earth can yet speak. An understanding of self that can only come from living in a culture that is not your own. Validation of a significant place in the universe.

True love.

656,767. Augmented Things That Should Have Remained As Nature Intended

Snakes.

765,005. Things That Cannot be Cloned

A puppy who wags his entire body while his tail seems to stay in one place. The one marigold in a field that leans away no matter what you do to turn it toward the sun.

The sharp tongue of a woman born with money and never weaned off its sense of entitlement.

The unexpected.

821,211. Things That Are Irrecoverable

A body if life support systems and hull integrity have completely failed. Communications if the antennas have burned out. A planet if some unknown disaster has befallen it.

Certainty.

900,989. This is How We Remember

Backup the brain and the experiences, and hope that most of what was still is.

Write things down. Memories and observations. Hopes and dreams. Thoughts both good and bad.

A life is these things, and more. Sometimes less.

1,001,455. Things We Must Never Give Up

A child’s questions when her eyes are full of wonder and the future lays before her, still unbroken. The understanding that she may follow her dreams. Encouragement that she should do so.

Hope.

Perhaps it should, therefore, not bother me that these notes will likely burn up on re-entry. All the images, the videos, the logs such as this. Probably no one will know my thoughts. No one will know who I once was, what I experienced, what I became.

Descending does not necessarily mean the end.

A soft landing is always possible.

The Kosmomancer’s Apprentice

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

I stood at the top of Zhezh Mountain. Below me lay the fires of the city, littering the plain like fallen stars, and the Palace the brightest of them all. In there, somewhere, slept the Overlord. I clenched my fist around the hilt of my sky dagger.  The memory of him burned in my heart, all asprawl on his throne, his fingers waving dismissively at my master as they dragged him off to meet the axe and then for me, the coal to my left eye. Mercy, he called it.

Beside me the goat gave a low bleat, and I came back. “Tonight,” I whispered.

I led the goat to my makeshift altar, a simple flat rock the length of me. On the goat’s side I painted the constellations with elderberry juice. The Archer. The Dragon. The Dagger. Each of them circled the star-shaped blackness in the white of the goat’s chest. Then I readied the dagger.

If I fled afterwards, they might not catch me, but it would not be enough.

Chanting quietly, I slit the goat’s throat and let the blood pour out on the altar. I drew the forbidden patterns with trembling fingers. Then I flung up my hand with a cry, facing the night for the first time.

The stars wheeled overhead as I waited and despaired. Then I saw it, faint at first, then stronger: the hairy star, the star of ill omen, the falling star, the comet with its tail pointing down at the palace like a dagger. All would see and know the Overlord’s end writ large in the stars, and though he might thrash and rage as I did when they took my eye, it would do him no good. Soon he would sleep forever in the crypts.

I sat on the cold ground and waited for them to find me.

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