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

Luc Reid writes about the psychology of habits at The Willpower Engine. His new eBook is Bam! 172 Hellaciously Quick Stories.

Kat Beyer’s Cabal story “A Change In Government” has been nominated for a BSFA award for best short fiction.

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

Archive for the ‘Heaven & Hell’ Category

Heaven Is a Place where Nothing Ever Happens

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The bar was packed. Everyone was there. The band on the carousel dais played my favorite Talking Heads song, the name of which escapes me (it goes bop-bop, bopbopbop–but then a lot of songs here do). And me, I was sandwiched between my two favorite people, Julius and Endiku–arms slung over shoulders, beer from mugs sloshed on sandals, bodies swayed, voices bellowed at the top of our lungs yet somehow still in tune. To be perfectly honest, my two favorite people are usually whomever I’m sandwiched between. Also, to be perfectly honest, my favorite song is usually whatever’s playing. The ambrosia, however delectable, tasted flat. It needed more hops. I’d been hesitant to complain to the management.

During the bridge, the lyrics of which we never seem to know though Endiku kept singing off-key anyway (which the walls of heaven somehow resonate into a kind of harmony), Homer dashed to my side. “Did you hear?” Before I could shake my head, Homer had babbled on breathlessly, “Sure-footed Mercury said that knobby-kneed Pandora entered heaven with a Bowie knife, then vanished after he spoke to her.”

Julius and I guffawed. Long-winded Homer was forever making up stories. “Yeah, right,” I managed after catching my breath. With the back of my hand, I wiped away tears of laughter.

Endiku, off in his own world, catching sight of my tears, wrapped both arms around me. “Everything’s fine now, David: We’re in heaven.”

“You guys, burn me up.” Short-tempered Homer stormed off to find a more appreciative audience.

Time is difficult to measure in a place like this, but it couldn’t have been long before our corporeal forms began to rise, pirouette, and swirl about the hall like–well–Lincoln Logs in a toilet, getting faster and faster until our bodies slammed against the walls and tapestries that dematerialized as soon as we struck, our bones snapping on impact.

And then I was ordering another ambrosia, arms slung over the shoulders of my two favorite people. “Now be honest with me, fellas,” I asked the guys concentrating hard on not holding my sibilance for too long. “What’s the last interesting thing that’s happened up here?”

Endiku gave me a funny look. “You think nothing interesting happens because you already know so much.”
“Damn straight.”

Long Live the Dead

Monday, September 15th, 2008

In terms of continuity–although it should stand on its own–this is the last of the Pandora series. The order is 1) “Meet the Extraordinary Ordinaire,” 2) “The Bug-a-Boo Bear,” 3) “Chop Chop,” 4) “Byzantine,” and 5) “Long Live the Dead.”

Pandora scaled Olympus. Oblivious to the world, she snagged her skirt on prickly shrubs and scraped her palms each time a stone slipped out from under. In her right, she carried a knife, gripped blade down. When the climbing grew too steep, she held the hilt between her teeth.

Finally, she reached the Hall of Gods. Apollo, Hera, Zeus, and others lined the jagged walls in colorful repose inside their mile-high, mahogany-framed portraits. Towering above, the statue of Athena was so life-like that Pandora’s footfall stuttered. Should she give obeisance? Only when Athena stood serene as death’s box, did Pandora pass.

Swift-winged Mercury caught up with her and, glancing at the knife, inquired of her business on Olympus, but she sprinted up an unobtrusive spiral staircase built of pearl bricks and silver mortar. Mercury pursued her not. Pandora grabbed a flaming torch from the wall and hastened on.

She paused at a landing to catch her breath and lean out a window. Old Olympus, below, sparkled with the gleam of emeralds and rubies. High above, the tower’s pinnacle was, to the naked eye, invisible. She soldiered on.

Her legs nigh quaked with rubbery fatigue as she reached the topmost stair. Without hesitation, she approached the sleeping figure on the cot–his hair a flowing golden mane–and plunged the knife hilt-deep into his chest.


Pandora jerked the torch from the wall and hurried up. On the landing, she caught her breath and, shaking off her deja-vu, continued.

At the top, she tiptoed to the sleeping shape and plunged the knife into his chest. He raised a feeble hand as if in whisper, but she wasn’t interested in listening to this jerk.


Pandora’s fingers lingered on the torch before removing it. She cautiously ascended.

At a landing, she saw the Hall wink brightly, sighed and clambered up.

Her legs were spry as she arrived upon the height. She approached the figure on the cot, plunged the knife toward his chest.

A firm hand gripped her wrist before it touched the man. A voice from nowhere and everywhere asked, “Have you learned naught?”

“That you’re cruel? Yes. All blame me if something goes awry, but blesses you if right.”

“Because you lack capacity, you look and think you see.” The figure, whose vague features grew more featureless as she watched them, pointed. “The window.”

Pandora glanced at the floor-to-ceiling window, then the figure–which became a child’s thin rendering of a man–now slept as if it never stirred.

She crossed the chamber to stand inside the window–its frame a cheap, pressed wood-pulp–saw the Hall below; above, the tower rose–if she could believe her eyes–beyond the stars.

« Older Posts |