Plugs

Jonathan Wood’s story “Notes on the Dissection of an Imaginary Beetle” from Electric Velocipede 15/16 is available online.

Jason Erik Lundberg‘s fiction is forthcoming from Subterranean Magazine and Polyphony 7.

Alex Dally MacFarlane’s story “The Devonshire Arms” is available online at Clarkesworld.

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.

The Hollow Men

by Trent Walters

This is the first in a series inspired by science, sound, T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” and armchair philosophers.

All the hollow men were walking, walking up the gently sloping grassy spire.  We followed them, the hollow men, climbing, climbing higher up the wildflower slopes.  We elbowed one another and winked.  They knew but one of three cardinal points and saw not the purple poppy and watery-blue cornflower, knee-high grasses stirring in the breeze.  We observed, we knew, we were aware.

At the top the spire ended in a cliff, and there the hollow men would topple, legs scissoring the air as if they still moved up.  They hit with a crescendo of resonant clangs like bells struck at a dark lord’s portentous wedding.  We stopped, patting ourselves on the back for averting the danger.  But then, weeks or months passed, the same men returned, pointlessly climbing, climbing.  Again they fell and hit with the clangs of a clock striking midnight.

Half of us–the bravest and the strong–volunteered to follow, for we the aware should learn more in the fall than these fools.  The strong and the brave landed with a shower, a heavenly choir of tiny bells.

A year later one volunteer returned–perhaps the least insightful of the lot we sent forth–his form mangled almost beyond recognition.  The others, he said, shattered while he alone remained.  We, he suggested, were also hollow, just of different stuffing and stuff.

This we could not swallow:  We were the aware, we the observant, we the knowing.

This is the first in the four-part Hollow Men series. Although this could be appreciated alone, three others have appeared (now revised): part II, part III and part IV.

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