The Fire Wizard's Apprentice
By Kate Franklin
The fire burned well as the people gathered around, enjoying the warmth. Even a few feet away, the ever-present chill numbed their bones. The boy stood close and watched as the older man lifted a heater from the pile and placed it on the fire. Even though they were not related, he thought of the Fire Wizard as a father. He thought the wizard felt that way too because he often looked closely at the boy, and sometimes he seemed about to ask him a question. The boy, now nearly as tall as the wizard, had started going with the men, searching for heaters and whatever else could be salvaged from the rubble of another world. It was only one of the changes that had come over him lately.
The Fire Wizard knew things about how the world used to be, when days were warm and people lived in big dwellings, rather than huddling together wherever they could find warmth. Everyone gathered heaters and brought them to the center of the village, but only the wizard chose which ones to burn. "Books," he called them. He'd close his eyes, holding a book before deciding to burn it. Sometimes he fed sticks or pieces of old trees into the fire, but only in the early morning, for warmth, never at night. Night times were the best. The folks all sat around, as close to the fire as they could. Feeding in one book at a time, the Fire Wizard closed his eyes, and as the smoke rose, he'd tell stories that kept the others listening in rapture. He told about amazing people doing fantastic things: building dwellings that shone like the rain when it froze on the bare tree branches, crossing a great sea, even traveling to the stars.
The boy treasured the stories. "HOW do you know?" He had asked. "Please tell me how you know about these people and this other world." With a smile and a nod toward the fire, the wizard answered, "IT tells me. The fire tells me about the world that was before."
Now as the boy approached the wizard, he looked around to make sure no one else was in hearing range. "What about these... feelings, these pictures..." He stammered and looked around again. "I've been seeing things when the books burn." There it was; he'd said it out loud for the first time. It had been clawing at his gut for some time now.
The older man stopped feeding the fire and looked up."What do you see?"
The boy tried to describe how, when a book caught the flames, he'd feel different kinds of things. "It's like... people are talking to me..." he stumbled, looking for the right words. "Sometimes I feel happy or excited...sad sometimes." Often, he felt intrigued, as if he knew a little bit about something and wanted to know more. There were bad feelings too, fear that made him tremble and look behind all the tree stumps and boulders. Once he had a sense of revulsion that made him want to run away from the fire. "I didn't like that. I felt scared and kind of sick."
The wizard put his hand on the boy's shoulder. "The fire warms the others and cooks their food, but the fire is more than that to you, isn't it?"
"Yes," he said, with a steadiness he didn't feel. "I see people doing things and wearing strange clothes, riding things that aren't animals. Sometimes I don't understand their words, but they're busy, talking to each other, going places. Places I could never have imagined."
"Yes, that's how it starts; it's how the fire talks to you. I have so much to teach you ---" He stopped as an excited group rushed into the clearing. "Come, Wizard," they shouted. "Come see. We found a place with lots of heaters. It looks like enough to keep us warm for a long time." They followed the crowd to a place where rubble had been cleared. "We were digging here and look...."
There was a narrow opening, just big enough to slide through. Inside it was filled with books. They were lined up or in stacks that went nearly to the top of the place. The boy gaped in awe at the amazing numbers of books. He felt it already - the energy of so many fires.
"The Wizard said they had huge places, where they kept power," one of the diggers said. "This must be one of them."
"This is a power place," the boy whispered.
"Yes," the Fire Wizard nodded, scanning the area and smiling at the boy. "This is a place of great power."
- - -
Kate Franklin lives in Sarasota Florida, where she teaches college English. Her novel, The Tattooed Mermaid, was awarded a Silver Medal in 2013 by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. She has short stories in a variety of print and on-line publications.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
The Fire Wizard's Apprentice
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Sonic Boom Pencil Lead
By David S. Pointer
Retrofuturistic word stockings over her tan ankles onto my imagination’s burning wall
Retro-futuristic word syrup hand-dipped in sadistic insanity chocolates withheld
Retro-futuristic word rot tossed like animal parts out to the poem’s edge
Retro-futuristic word-list wanted posters for the ventriloquist’s humantriliquest in linguistics class pairing off with containment field dictionaries
Retro-futuristic word-stick ponies to gallop into the hundred year trance aboard a writer’s desk not yet built to burn down with midnight oil
Retro-futuristic word-kisses for all the blessed creative flock classmates trying to birth tough, magical poems into airship balloons
Retro-futuristic techno-talk between teachers, students and the entire fellow- traveler-world to include the last blade of elephant grass elsewhere
Retro-futuristic smoke signals uploaded into multimedia lab special space probe extravaganza
Retro-futuristic word-mystic reporting for outpost duties telepathized or stated clearly on assignment into implanted memory obscurity
- - -
David has been writing for almost 25 years.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
By DS Peters
One day you will find this
in a slow tumble drifting
surrounded by the dust and debris
the dark matter splattered with mottled DNA
the refuse and shards of memory
the vibrating strings and infinite nothings
the leftover scraps of our self-styled lives
these rusted chains and barnacled anchors
one day you will find all of this and allow it to float
into the great black wyrm of the multiverse
You might wonder what happened
or perhaps you'll know too well
having passed so close to your own self-annihilation
yet you survived
and thrived to flower into this burgeoning
bounding, singular multiplicity
this search and salvage civilization
this conglomerate of survivors
and knowledge delvers
the excavators, as it turns out
sifting through the spinning dust
the dreams of eternity
forgotten, fired, and ashed
iris drinking deep a dark beauty
cravings of the flesh, delusions of a soul
Jiminy on a fiddle, tapping shoes
and the heart of a child in flight above the zephyr clouds
but sluggish rivers at night softly gurgling
beneath the brightest white of swiftly falling snow
warm lips on cold earlobes
and love only love everlasting love gentle love
love on the fingertips and on the breath of the last goodnight
all obliterated and particled
unraveled into the most basic components of indetermination
sub-atomic yarn frayed and singed
each dimension a fuse leading fire to the next
the first dimension now a drizzling splat
the second a wire crinkled and throbbing
the third dimension a splinter-misted wraith
the fourth is filling with a yellowing pus
the fifth and sixth are graveyards for abandoned dreams
the seventh dimension is tangled in a loop
tangled in a loop
tangled in a loop
forever reliving the ascending fury of its own demise
the eighth is a wide-eyed and whispering fear
the ninth, tenth, and eleventh are calmly waiting, clasping hands
and the twelfth dimension smiles, as it has lived through all of this before
One day you will find all of this
when the division of days and nights is no more
and the apex of midnight envelopes every sight
and you will endeavor to understand the obsessions, the drawn lines
the minds that could not process the sensory uploads
all of it twisting in the wake of a ruptured Higgs boson
all of it transfixed by the gravity of the mirrored singularity
all set aglow by the energy of the devouring wyrm's spindle-spire
and all returned to the dark fabric
to become precious potentiality once more
if you will only let it go
- - -
DS Peters is a writer, a traveler, and a plotter.
Thursday, September 4, 2014
The Plastic Suitcase
By Eric Suhem
The little boy sat by the pond, tousled hair in his eyes, feeling the cool grass between his toes, smiling as he looked at the fish swimming in the water. Steve remembered this pond from his childhood.
Steve was awoken from his dream by a shrill ring of the cell phone. “We require your services at corporate immediately. Catch the next plane out,” said the voice on the phone line. Steve put plastic clothes into a plastic suitcase. He put a plastic toothbrush onto plastic teeth, brushing with even strokes.
Zoom, Zip, Bang! Steve thrust himself into the synergy of the moment. "Give me a plastic Pina Colada, baby, I'm here to stay!" he said to the flight stewardess. He whispered sweet nothings into the ear of the other stewardess, who was splayed out upon the plastic food tray, delighting in the peanuts, Sprite, and napkins that were sucked into her writhing spray-shellacked beehive hairdo nudging itself against the industrial tan fabrics of the reclining seat in the preceding row, occupied by the portly businessman.
Steve’s plane landed at the airport and he walked through the plastic terminal, staring forward with a steely glint, checking his media devices, texting appropriate responses. After looking at his plastic agenda for the corporation’s ball-bearing and therapy advertising campaign, he got into the new rental car, air conditioning on, friendly fumes of lacquer and paint solvents filling his lungs. The temperature, as always, was 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
When he arrived at corporate headquarters, the employees flung themselves at his feet, kissing his hard plastic boots, their lusting eyes craving his image. Steve entered the conference room, where his team showed him charts and graphs. The team milled about, commenting, pursuing deep-seated needs, hoping to find an advantage and gain Steve’s favor, carrying out Freudian agendas as they acted upon the murky volcano lurking deep within their unconscious. Later, Steve and the management team bonded over martini olives, brilliantly reforming the ball-bearing and therapy advertising campaign into a cultural force.
Steve woke up the next morning, writhing amongst the secretaries on plastic sheets in the plastic bed, administrative lacquered plastic fingernails slicing thin rivulets of blood into his back. Festive, hunching orangutans flew through the dark spaces of the hangover in his skull, while he prepared his mind for the next gathering of hard-charging entrepreneurs, looking to create a new tomorrow for the rest of us, little grey monkeys trimming nails from their bulging toes. Steve decided to step outside and walk around the ponds and rivers of the corporate grounds.
He saw the little boy sitting in the grass by the pond, still smiling at the fish in the water. The boy waved to Steve, and Steve waved back, seeing himself from long ago. A sadness and regret started to overwhelm him. He blinked and the boy faded away, waving goodbye.
Steve regrouped and looked at the water, deciding that there weren’t enough fish. "What about piranha? What about carp?" he demanded. Steve got on the phone and decided to make things happen, placing a call to facilities, with a dictum of restocking corporate’s plastic ponds and rivers with piranha and carp.
His coup at corporate complete, Steve packed his plastic suitcase and left headquarters for the next assignment, located in a climate where he was sure to find more succulent piranha and carp. Instead he’d find blood on a broken air conditioner, a story that would end with hard nails in a warm room.
- - -
Eric Suhem lives in the orange hallway.
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