Plugs

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.

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

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.

Archive for the ‘Ken Brady’ Category

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.

Don’t Let the Door Hit You

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

“How was your first day?”  says the woman standing in front of him. She’s 50 or so. Middle management. Uncomfortable and avoiding his gaze. He can’t remember her name. Peggy? Pinky? Something with a P.

“Just like every other day,” he says. He shrugs.

She smiles a bit too widely, as if trying to mask her disdain for him – the lowly mailroom clerk – but doing a shitty job. That’s fine, he thinks. She’ll be here herself one day. You can only stay comfortably in the middle for so long. Falling is easiest.

Patty? he thinks. Maybe Polly?

He can’t really remember anyone’s name anymore, even the ones he’s worked with for decades. The long descent from chief executive to mailroom clerk is all he’s got left. The blurry remnants of an enthusiastic start, a somewhat satisfying career, an occasional breakdown. Something in the back of his mind nags at him, tells him things aren’t supposed to be this way. Something’s backward.

But what’s the point of questioning when you’re on your way out?

“Just leaving,” he says. “Getting ready to go.”

“Well,” she says. “This is goodbye, then.”

She waits, as if for a cue that she’s allowed to go. As if she has to ask his permission.

“So long, Pankaja,” he says. Her smile drops away. For a moment it seems as if she may start crying, but then she spins and rushes out the door. Maybe, he thinks, he wasn’t supposed to remember anything after all.

“First day,” he mutters, the words lonely and barely audible. “Or is it the last?” He can’t remember.

The former president cleans off his desk, empties the trash, turns off the mail room lights, and exits.

Everything fades quickly from memory.

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