Thursday, September 24, 2015

9/24/15

The Benefactor
By David K Scholes


I liked to think that I enjoyed a special relationship with him. Being present at first contact.

I remember seeing tears roll down the Benefactor’s beautiful alien face when, as we learned later, he absorbed the enormity of the the human condition. The full extent of human joy on one hand and human pain and suffering on the other. The mixture of indescribable goodness through to indescribable evil, of total indifference through to total caring, of vain glorious pride through to modest humility that is humanity.

For all his vast experience in the Multiverse, it really seemed to shake him. Which made me wonder if things were different elsewhere. Perhaps not so complicated. He never did say. Except for a vague reference to the cooperative seeking after the truth approach to justice (rather than the adversarial approach) being the norm elsewhere.

His first act was I think an immediate albeit miniature show of defiance. In completely healing an impossibly deformed young girl that was under my care. The very first of countless acts of kindness.

Benefactor. It was the one name that had stuck among the many that people had used to describe him and his works. The name had a woeful inadequacy about it. As did all of the other names

Right at the outset he had warned us of those who might not like what he was setting out to do here. Those that did not believe in interference in the affairs of other worlds no matter how great the justification. Most of us couldn’t or didn’t want to believe that at the time. . .

* * *

I cannot presume to judge those who ensure order in the Multiverse. Perhaps from their higher vantage point the actions of the Benefactor on Earth went against some higher laws or code of conduct relating to non-interference in the affairs of others.

At any rate the time came that none of us ever wanted to see. When the decisions and actions of the Benefactor were challenged.

Elemental beings came to Earth. No less than three of the near omnipotents. Each born at the creation of their respective dimensions. Whatever else he might be I came to understand that the Benefactor was always a force of the Multiverse and such a force could only be countered by another force or forces of the Multiverse.

* * *

I remember the three Elementals waiting for the appearance of the Benefactor outside the NorAm city of Chicago, seemingly impatiently. When he did not manifest immediately they showed their displeasure. Destroying the megalopolis (if that’s not interference I don’t know what is). Though we didn’t even know it at the time, the Benefactor’s response being so swift that within a nano-second of its destruction he re-created Chicago in its entirety. Some later said with minor improvements.

Many people had never actually seen the Benefactor in the flesh and his image never could be captured by any means known to us. So, knowing that he would have to confront the Elementals, and with world wide television coverage, it seemed like everyone waited to see him appear. This time he was recorded on camera. People genuinely wanted to see what the Benefactor really looked like and what he was going to do about the Elementals. There was definitely curiosity but it was mixed with the very real fear among us all that much or all of the good done by the Benefactor might be rolled back. That he might not even survive the day.

* * *

The nature of the conflict between the Benefactor and the Elementals was such that it was rather difficult to tell who won and who lost. Except to say that it was somewhat protracted and that there was a sense of the Benefactor at least holding his own against near omnipotence.

Throughout it all there was no further attempted destruction of Earth cities. The Elementals seemed to have realised the futility of this. Yet the confrontation raged on, in, and well beyond the Earth. The contestants variously taking energy and even mystical and spiritual forms.

After it was finally over we never saw the Benefactor or the Elementals again.

Yet there was never any evidence of any of the Benefactor’s past good deeds being reversed. More than this, some new acts of goodness flowed on for a little while. The examples were too many to count. Yet they did ultimately come to an end.

One of those later acts of goodness has always stuck in my mind. It related to an elderly woman, the very last still living survivor of the holocaust. A woman who had never known a peaceful night's sleep since those horrific times was granted exactly that. A peaceful night’s sleep and beautiful dreams of her pre-Holocaust childhood for all of her so few remaining years.

It was an act of kindness that both typified the Benefactor and also reminded us of what we had ultimately lost.

For the historians of Earth though it was enough. More than enough to consider the Benefactor the winner over the Elementals and whatever force they ultimately represented.

The winner by a technical knock out.


- - -
The author has written over 140 speculative fiction short stories, many of which appear in his six published collections of speculative fiction short stories and two published science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and the Beam Me Up Pod Cast sci-fi sites and more recently Farther Stars Than These. He has also been published on 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is close to completing a new anthology of short sci-fi stories and is also writing a “Human Hunter” series for the Beam Me Up Pod Cast site

Thursday, September 17, 2015

9/17/15

Ashima Gone Babylon
By Matthew Lee


Sir:
     As a close personal friend of Luke Serapis, one of the crew currently at the Osiris Mining Base on Ganymede, I am writing to you regarding information I have which could aid your rescue mission. According to CNN this morning, NASA have lost communication with the base, and I fear my misgivings about the situation were correct. I have been advised to contact you first.
     Luke and I have been exchanging emails almost on a daily basis since he left Earth, in which he has described to me in some detail the events that have taken place, and in particular the condition he refers to as “Going Babylon”--information which will hopefully prove extremely valuable. On a professional level, I am electrified by the prospect of samples being obtained from the subterranean sea, and as Luke’s close friend, concerned. Understandably. Also, with luck, by revealing these snippets of our compelling correspondence to you, I will pave the way to clearing NASA’s somewhat tarnished name.
     As time is clearly of the essence to everyone involved, I have collated the email samples into five parts.
     Part 1 (Touchdown to In a While, Kocourdile) - In one email, Luke says that Engineer Pavel Kocourek “had the mind of another” when he destroyed that mining equipment. He details the declining atmosphere in the base until the shuttle Peto arrived with the replacement parts and to haul the crazed Czech back to Earth.
     Part 2 (Ashima Gone Babylon to Drillin’ Tonite) - I was intrigued by his reports of Ashima drinking “half the water supply in one morning” and then moved when I read that her eyes had gone “filmy and milky”. He said the change that came over her was more abrupt and more complete than that which had come over Kocourek. As you may know, Ashima’s relationship with Luke was intimate, (I have discreetly omitted some of the more sensitive details he gave me, but, naturally, these could be provided) and he suffered immensely after Commander Meredith unlawfully decided to put her in isolation. Then he goes into considerable detail about the altercations that took place when they realised Ashima had actually welded herself into that room. This would be of help should the Commander’s various misdemeanours be investigated.
     Part 3 (Non Compost Mentis to Got any Chapstick?) - Personally, when the plants in the hydroponics section yellowed, I didn’t blame the Commander for accusing Luke of having poisoned the soil. But I do have Luke’s comprehensive version of events - that Ashima had somehow tapped into the water reclaimer so that moisture would enter her room but not come out. The seal was hermetic even before she welded it shut. It would be interesting to know how this compares to your official version.
     Part 4 (Personas non gratas to Hot Water) - His queer ideas that you insisted on going ahead with the drilling project “only to get samples before the Chinese did” and that “you were disregarding his warnings” possibly illustrates how the dehydration was affecting him. He also describes the strange noises that came from behind Ashima’s door. These he describes as “sloshings” and “gurglings” and “like a pack of angry killer whales mating”. Admittedly, at this point, I was was actually starting to worry.
     Part 5 - (I’ll Huff and I’ll Puff...) In the last email I received from Luke, he talks about the Commander’s decision to force his way through her door with cutting tools. (Can’t say I blame him. I learned how terrible dehydration is during a heatwave in Anguilla.) And as you lost contact with the base at this point, we can only speculate on the way things progressed from there.
     I believe my information would help the prepare the rescue team for their findings on arrival at the base. It will not be pretty.
     Although some of Luke’s claims are quite far-fetched, let us not forget that he witnessed the events first-hand and his testimony should not be disregarded. I agree with Luke and urge that a serious study on “the Babylon Effect” is carried out before any further mining operation is planned. You may be right in speculating that the crew were affected by gas from the mines, or there was some other environmental factor that affected them so. In want of another explanation, it may just be that Luke was right when he felt “something or someone down there was telling them not to drill into the subterranean sea”.
     I pray for the success of the mop-up operation. And should you desire complete versions of the emails, please do not hesitate to contact my agent. Naturally, exclusivity can also be offered.

Dr. Jeremy Shiga, Associate Professor of Marine Biology, Oslo University

PS. Personally, I don’t believe that Kocourek and Ashima were actually working for the Chinese. But, you never know, do you?


- - -
Matthew Lee is currently teaching English in Zaragoza, Spain, and sometimes feels like he spends more time correcting writing than producing it. One of his goals is to tip that balance. Occasionally he thinks about his native England.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

9/10/15

A Previous Life
By Donal Mahoney


Sammy had been sitting in the bar for four hours drinking his usual gin and tonic, one drink after another, and even he would admit he was soused if he could put a sentence together. He didn’t have to talk, however, since he was the only customer left and there was an hour to go before closing. All he had to do was tap on the bar twice in front of his empty glass and the bartender would give him another drink. The service was wonderful.

Then two men in trench coats and fedoras walked in and sat down a few stools away from Sammy. They ordered a couple of beers. They seemed to be concerned about something and Sammy always liked to listen in on other people’s conversations.

“We need more room,” the big man said. “We can hardly take any more people. But they keep coming down and we can’t send them anywhere else. You would think we were Las Vegas and the drinks were free."

“Where will we get more room? We’re not talking real estate here,” the little fellow said. “No one thinks this place exists anyway. They think we’re a figment of someone’s imagination. New arrivals are always surprised.”

Then the big man said, “Oh, some people know we exist but they think we only get dictators and used car salesmen. The common belief is everyone else goes upstairs right away, provided there is an upstairs. More and more people think there may be nothing at the end.”

The little guy thought about that for a moment and said, “Well, I heard two women arguing the other day about where cats and dogs go. I know we don’t have any cats and dogs. Where would we put them? Pretty soon we’ll be getting Boomers. They’re a fussy bunch. We need more room now!”

Sammy didn’t know what to make of all of this. He wished he wasn’t drunk so he could join the conversation but all he could do was listen. The two men finally left and Sammy told himself he’d come back tomorrow night and ask the bartender who the hell those two guys were. Then he tapped on the bar twice in front of his empty glass.


- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

9/3/15

Concert
By J.R. Bradley


Finally the hum of the crowd faded along with the lights. Mist curled across the stage, appearing to glow green. Suddenly a figure appeared in the mist. The crowd erupted into cheers. The figure raised its hand towards the sky and the first chord of the music thundered. The stage lights burst on, revealing the figure in the haze. His violet eyes gleamed in the spotlight, instantly the brume evaporated, uncloaking his band mates. He smiled as he snapped his fingers and a puff of pixels appeared, forming the shape of a guitar. He then reached out and grabbed it, earning a roar from the crowd. With a smirk he waited for his fellow musicians to summon their instruments. The deafening roar from the crowd was a signal to let Neon know his band mates were ready. “Are you ready to rock!?” he shouted as he drummed the strings of his flashing guitar.
Dev was beyond excited, he always loved concerts. While jumping to the beat of the music he bumped into someone. He turned and shouted “What do you think of Neon and his band!?” His neighbor smiled and responded “there’s only one word to describe that guy. Rock lord!” shouted the young man with red and orange contacts as he flipped his neon orange hair off his sweaty forehead.
“He looks happy” the young man sitting beside Dev’s bed whispered. “It was one of his dreams to be at Neon’s concerts. He always said he wished it would never end.”
Tri, standing at the foot of the bed smiled. “We’ll tell the technician to keep it playing.”
Dev cheered when Neon started up yet another song. He turned to man with the red and orange eyes and shouted “I wish this concert would never end!” The orange haired man smiled.


- - -
J.R. Bradley has been a visual artist and an author of short stories since middle school. More recently they have combined their love for music and writing as a music reviewer and podcaster. This is their first micro flash fiction piece.


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