With the last gleam of the wolf’s eye will fall the night.
 Robert of Tours speaks of this fragment being borne from the tomb of king Vraghur II of the Cirroghs, born in the 714th year before Our Lord, whose armor was carved into the likeness of a wolf, a prophecy of the fall of the Cirroghs at the proud king’s passing. (Jacques Etablant, 1310)
 Though the fragment be Cirroghic, no death of kings did it fortell but the death of us all, in the Plague God hath wrought upon us, the weak and the strong alike. So show the French their putrid ignorance. (John of Hampdenmontfordshire, 1351)
 Be it Cirroghic? And who the Cirroghs, pray? Though long extolled as paragons of ferocity, the learned man in modern days misdoubts that ever such men walked the earth. (Albert Burlowe, 1605)
 Good John, were thou but mistaken of the nature of the thing, yet thou art mistaken only of the year! Thus God doth visit on us finally the last and worst plague, and we perish like (illegible) (author unknown, London, 1666)
 The Cirroghs were a race of bean farmers residing in the valley of Dziban, though they were not known to write with the Old Dazibanic script in which the table is inscribed. Yet they did exist! (Caleb Blackford, 1884)
 Oh? Then why is it that Vraghur II’s breastplate recently surfaced during excavations in Dziban? (Blackford, 1884)
 But there was no wolf on it, so we doubt this tablet to have referred to Vraghur II. (Blackford, 1884)
 Never mind. The breastplate, it appears, was a hoax. (Blackford, 1886)
 An excellent conclusion, as the Cirroghs were slaughtered to the last man in the reign of Vraghur I. (Wolfgang Krunt, 1928)
 A 1952 excavation reveals evidence of surviving Cirroghs in Albania, however. (Dr. Janice Pitui, 1973)
 Which doesn’t prove it’s Cirroghic. (Dr. Walter Mordartur, 1974)
 Nothing in science is proven, as the occasional buffoon may forget (Pitui, 1974)
 But we talked about it a lot and decided it probably wasn’t Cirroghic anyway (Dr. Janice Pitui-Mordartur, 1976)
 A mistranslation; recently reviewed and retranslated as “With the last gleam of the sunset, will fall the night.” Appears to be an ancient snippet of amateur poetry. (Andre Hampden Etablant, 2017)
Dragons at Dawn
by Jason Erik Lundberg
A kilometer outside the fortress of the Green Empress, a small white rabbit huddled naked against a dirty concrete shed cracked with age and bombardment, clutching in her small arms a smaller version of herself, her shivering baby, the only one left alive after the incessant aerial bombings of the Dragonflies over the past four weeks.
The skies were the ever-slate of the Land of Grey Dusk, but the Dragonflies’ explosive ordnance threw up smoke incarnadine and lavender. Overhead, the massive insects droned, searching out any remaining warrens or burrows not yet obliterated by their patrols. The rabbit squeezed her eyes shut and held her little one tight as she dared, her entire body ajitter, anticipating the descending whistle of the ball of light and noise that would destroy her completely.
But instead she heard, “Psst! Over here!”
She eased up her right eyelid and saw a young girl poking her head out of a doorway in the shed, a doorway the rabbit was certain had not been there before. Within was dimness, but the rabbit skittered over and leapt inside onto a dirt floor. The girl slammed the door and the rabbit laid eyes on the motley assortment gathered there in the faint light: a tortoise, a cat, and two person-shaped *things* with spears.
“We’re looking for the Green Empress,” the girl was saying. “Can you tell us how to find her?”
“Do you mean to kill her?” asked the rabbit.
“What? No! I just need her to send me back home. Why would you want to kill her?”
“She did the same to my lifemate and my dozens of children. To her we’re pests to be exterminated.” Her one remaining bunny shivered and wept silently in her arms.
“Is that so?” said the girl, her facial features set hard and angry. “Well then, I have yet one more thing to discuss with her.”
“And then afterward you will kill her?”
The girl bent down and gently touched the rabbit on the arm. “No. I don’t believe in killing. It wouldn’t bring back your family. But I will make her stop her extermination, and there will be recompense for the survivors, you can be assured of this.”
The rabbit said not in a word in reply, but held out her precious baby to the strange girl, who took her. The rabbit closed her eyes again to concentrate, and despite her exhaustion both physical and mental, she touched her forepaws to the dirt floor and began to dig.
(This piece was inspired visually by Lisa Snellings’ evocative eponymous painting, and aurally by Linkin Park’s “Krwlng (Mike Shinoda ft. Aaron Lewis).”)
01: Mini Buddha Jump Over the Wall
02: The World, Under
03: Androcles Again
04: Look Into My Eyes, You’re Under
05: Shiftless, Hopeless
06: Cricetinae’s Paroxysm
07: Wind and Harmony
TUCKER’S GALLERIA – New Acquisitions
4. Potted Plants, A Trio (Artist: Jess Irwin)
Plants in terracotta pots, $153,000
Working in a faux bonsai style, Irwin presents us with immaculate cuttings from Ygdrassil, the Bodhi tree, and the Chankiri from the Cambodean killing fields. While not strictly bonsai, the artist has moulded miniature versions of these infamous trees into the timeless style. There are some responsibilities attached to the ownership of this installation as follows:
Incorrect trimming of Ygdrassil the World-Tree could result in various natural calamities, while destruction of the plant could possibly trigger either Ragnarok or a similarly destructive world-event.
The cutting from the Bodhi tree also needs some care. If the plant is butchered or neglected, specific knowledge will become forever lost to humanity. If the plant dies, a new Dark Ages will ensue.
The Chankiri must remain part of the set. It is only the influence of the other two cuttings that keep its malevolent nature in check. Previous owners have reported disturbing visions when sleeping in the same room as the plant.
For these reasons, it is a requirement that the purchaser be skilled in the arts of bonsai, or at the very least have a college-level accreditation in horticulture.
5. Chuck’s Diner (artist: Chuck McKenzie, under licence from NecroWares)
Reanimated homo sapiens x 5, kitchen appliances, furniture and fittings. $98,500.
This new installation from up-and-coming necrotiste McKenzie is a delicious exercise in irony. The reanimated corpses of former NecroWares employees continue to fulfil their contracts in this fully functional diner. The undead staff retain enough functionality to prepare and serve meals, maintain the equipment, operate the till, and can (albeit with some difficulty) engage in smalltalk.
The installation can be shipped holus bolus and reassembled in any location world-wide, though local laws may prevent you from running this as a business concern. Our legal department advises you to check with your local health inspectors, and to ascertain that your labour laws allow the undead to hold jobs that could be filled by the living.
6. Lyn Battersby (artist: Lyn Battersby)
The artist herself, the use of a neurotechnician, $67,000
What with the imminent tragic death of her husband in this very gallery, conceptual artist Lyn Battersby has pledged her own memories to this collection. She will take on a completely new identity, as determined by the purchaser.
The memories she is erasing are as follows:
a) Knowledge of all family and friends.
b) All memories related to her husband, Lee Battersby.
c) All skill-sets acquired since the age of 16.
d) All popular media ever experienced, including books, movies, and TV.
Purchasers must agree to be a party to the documentary crew filming Lyn’s amazing journey.
Carla backed up so she could see the reef better. A tessellation of almost-identical shells, each occupied by something vaguely resembling an octopus, individually as intelligent as a cat, and about half the size of a cryopod. As in a coral, the “animals” were connected, forming one colonial organism. It sounded like the cell right in front of her was the one that had spoken. Last time, the colony had been much smaller, and it had not understood her next question.
“Which one of you spoke?”
I am only one. There is no one else but you.
That was interesting. The first few visits, she had not been sure it recognized her as an independent entity. And the language lessons she’d broadcast from the buoy seemed to have been assimilated. Was it gaining intelligence as it grew? She went through the rest of the questions, recording the answers.
“I’ll be back next year. Your health and prosperity.”
As on her previous visits, it only responded to direct questions.
You have returned. Why?
The reef was huge, extending several meters above sea level and for kilometers along the sand ridge. The base was lost in darkness. She hovered above the waves on the seaward side. As always, it seemed that the polyp directly in front of her was the speaker, though she never could see an organ moving or vibrating. She set up a slow leftward drift of the skimmer, to see if the conversation stayed with the original polyp or moved with her.
“You are my research project,” she said. “I study you, to find out how you grow, how you think, what you do.” The reef was silent for a bit.
Again, why? Small organisms that I eat don’t visit me. Only you visit me, and you are not like anything else I know.
The voice moved with her, transferring seamlessly from one polyp to the next.
“I visit you because my people want to learn about others. Because we are not alone.”
Do you know others like me?
“I don’t,” she said. She and her Thesis Committee had agreed to say nothing about the fossil reefs stranded 100 meters above sea level. The reef spoke again.
I will create a motile form. It will transport my essence as you do for your “people.” There will be more like me. They will speak with you.
Your health and prosperity.