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

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

Jason Fischer has a story appearing in Jack Dann’s new anthology Dreaming Again.

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).

Archive for the ‘Islands in the Stream’ Category


Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

This entry is third in a series. Feel free to revisit Basilisk Tracks and Bats on Fire before or after reading.


Michaela wondered how they knew to come here to die. Was it something like how sea turtles always found the same beach they were born to lay their eggs?

No one had ever photographed one of the great birds actually coming here to die. It happened so infrequently. Still, gatherings like this, with great numbers of the aggressive, territorial birds were rare. Her group was in luck.

François would have loved it.

She fingered the Phoenix feather he had bought her. He had given it to her before their first kiss. He had been that sure. Even now, she still carried it with her.


The island mountaintop was littered with giant bones. One by one the giant birds dropped from the sky and perched on the macabre roost of bleached rib cages, beaks and skulls. The group’s transport lifted from the waves, hovering high into the air for a better vantage. This was as close as they dare come.

Something bumped the transport. A young Roc. Defenses fired. Flares. Water. Directed blasts of sound. The bird held on.

Michaela composed a frantic message to François on her PDA. “Dearest One. I am sorry. I do not know how to untie this knot we got in, but there is still so much love…”

The boat lurched. A big flare exploded and the Roc let go. The rest of the group scrambled for their cameras as if this were routine.


The Rocs sang. Their mourning vibrating with the flickers of the endless stars above. What worlds, what sights had the departed bird seen? Scientists said they flew between worlds. In the quantum spaces between realities. They saw possibility. They lived in worlds that could be and that never would be.

Michaela held the phoenix feather up. Rich orange shimmered through the stringy fiery red veins. It was perfect. And for a while there she and Francois had been so perfect. She brought the message up on her PDA. She stared at the little glowing screen, counting each bell she wished they hadn’t rung, then hit delete.

The transport hovered above the waves. The stars lit the deck. The Roc song was the most beautiful thing she had ever heard and she couldn’t hold her tears back much longer. Oh, Francois, she thought. She released the feather and let the night wind take it.

Bats on Fire

Friday, July 10th, 2009

Dusk’s last light was almost gone and the evening sky’s rich blues were on the verge of black. Michaela sat on the cliff top listening to the waves crash against the rocks below- her eyes on the sky, peeled for a sign of the bats that didn’t come.

“I knew I’d find you here,” Francois said.

He was right. After everything, he still knew her better than anyone.

“Did you see them tonight?” he asked.

Bats are true creatures of love, Michaela thought. They live in vast colonies and go by feel, navigating not by sight or reason but by what feels right to the senses. Nothing more. Nothing less. The same had brought her to this town. That and her job for the rockstar. The need for a stable life for her son was why she stayed, that and the warrants waiting for her in New York along with all the drama and empty people.

When the job dried up and the rockstar moved on, it was the bats that kept her here. They felt right. Despite the daily struggles to keep Bennett in school and healthy and fed they were always there. Then along came Francois.

“No, didn’t see them,” Michaela said.

“Maybe they’re full or feel the coming storm.”

She’s met Francois at a show one of the rockstar’s protégés was putting on. They talked all night. He didn’t judge her about all the New York drama she was running from. In the days and weeks and months that followed they talked every night. He brought her groceries and helped with what bills he could. He was kind to Bennett even took him to the aquarium for his birthday to see all the fishes he was so fascinated with. Bennett was thrilled to see his first real shark.

The night they first kissed Michaela dreamed the bats from the cliffs were on fire- beautiful golden flames that did not consume them. Every night since then she had dreamed of them spiraling out of their seaside caves into the night, their wild flaming patterns streaking across the sky.

Their love was real. Genuine emotion in every word, every touch. She could not imagine a life without him and he said neither could he. Then the rockstar called. Wanted to hire her. Just like the old days, but back in New York. So why wouldn’t Francois help her. He always wanted to live in New York. Catch was she had to get there and set up on her own. Francois could hire a lawyer, pay all the bills, protect her from the drama and make her troubles go away. Why wouldn’t he? If he loved me unconditionally, he would, she thought.

What you don’t own, owns you, he had said. These things are for you to face. If I make these things disappear, something else will rear its head at you even stronger to get you to listen to get you to face what you aren’t.

Ever since then she hadn’t dreamt of the bats. Not on fire. Not at all.

He didn’t understand what love was and she didn’t think that would change tonight. She looked into the night sky hoping for a sign the bats might come after all.


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