Plugs

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

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

David Kopaska-Merkel’s book of humorous noir fiction based on nursery rhymes, Nursery Rhyme Noir 978-09821068-3-9, is sold at the Genre Mall. Other new books include The zSimian Transcript (Cyberwizard Productions) and Brushfires (Sams Dot Publishing).

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

Archive for the ‘Trent Walters’ Category

In Human Management

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Summer was over.  Ripe melons on the yetrop trees occasionally burst in the sun, scattering dollops of sticky juice across the ground to the pleasure of the ants and flung its feather seeds on the wind.  Pairs of harburt birds flapped lazily over the orchard, in search of cattle that Takashi let amble too far from the stinging reach of his air-pellet gun.  He hated harming life.

Apart from one person, Takashi’s life was idyllic and calm.  While the world toiled in automated towers scratching the upper atmosphere, Takashi absorbed the soft chirr of insects and rustle of tree limbs, watching over cattle grazing.  That one person was his laser-packing boss, Brunhilda, whom he half-admired, half-despised and who stopped by daily to say that the cattle had grazed the wrong pasture, or that he ought to kill the harburts.

Often she wore an invisibility shield to creep up on Takashi and catch him idle.  Although she rarely did, she demanded action on postponed chores:  Prune back the yetrops in the southwest; thin the northwest thickets; cull the nonproductive silk-milk goats wasting resources–a chore he often neglected until she’d done it herself, dinging his life rating to upper management.  He’d never looked at his life rating but suspected he’d fallen to eighty percent of his allotted two hundred years.  He could have knocked some off hers, but it would have hurt him more than her in terms of guilt.

One afternoon, lounging under a yetrop, a ripe melon burst on his head.  Takashi spluttered, wiped the sticky juice stinging his eyes.  Brunhilda stood over him, not smiling.  “You have unfinished work.”

“I’m on break.”

“It’s overdue.  Your dog–”

“Nana.”

“–was to be recycled last week.”

“I put in for a stay.”

“Denied.”

Takashi stood.  “She’s my companion.”

Brunhilda stepped into his space.  “Your companion is deaf, lame, half-blind, not even human.  Help me out here.  I’m trying to get into human management.”

“What do I get?”

“I won’t ding you.”

Takashi glared.  He grabbed the laser out of her holster, briefly pointed it at her, then off to the side.  A harburt squawked and tumbled.  Its companion dove after.

“Great.  How about the dog?”

“Recalculate resource distribution, and get back to me.”

Resource distribution buoyed for the area, allowing Nana’s stay of execution, but she died shortly thereafter.  Takashi took sick leave.  That Brunhilda was displeased about the entire affair was the only comfort Takashi had.

Sunlight on Broken Columns

Monday, November 29th, 2010

This is the final piece in the Hollow Men series.  Three others have appeared (now revised):  part I, part II and part III.

The way to the land leviathan, half-submerged in sand, was dry and empty.  At dawn I dug a shallow trench and draped a cloth over the top to bury myself under.  At dusk I cut succulents for their amassed water, gathered my gear, and marched on.  Ahead the glowing eyes of the leviathan winked sleepily beneath the lamplight of the moon.

My heart felt a pang as the memory of a breeze rustled distant poppies and the glorious waxing-moon colloquies on the probability of existence, the purpose of purpose, and the electability of those electing to use nonexistent words.  Yet I could no longer lay with my hands pillowing my head and chew the stems of bittersweet clover, much as I longed to sense the heat of a companion’s elbow seeping into mine.  The world swelled with too much.

As the hours waned into morning, details of the leviathan’s general features spread apart: no longer a lounging leviathan but a ramble of crumbling buildings left to ruin.  When light pooled at the horizon, what had been eyebrows raised into an archway of tiny wedding bells weakly, brokenly tinkling their march.  The leviathan’s eyes became nothing more than mundane dimension portals.  The images that the portals cast drew me closer.

The scenes were vaguely familiar, changing each time as the eyelid of one screen slid over another:  me as a child I’d dreamed of was laughing and log-rolling all the way down to the bottom of the screw, the giant man my imagined self had assembled crossed deserts and mountains in a few strides, and me again as a man attaching pipes to construct a bridge spanning the screws.  One corner of my mouth drew up.  I touched the portal screen to visit these alternate realities, but a tough if thin, milky film separated me from penetrating this eye.  It further hardened and clouded over under my palm while I pondered the dwarf’s warning, the silliness of dreams, and the water leaking from my eyes.

They closed, and I dreamed of piecing together a giant to help me build bridges.  The screen softened, my hand slid through, and I toppled.

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