Flight Of The Untethered Balloon
By Christie-Luke Jones
Awake from slumber, son of Terra.
Pull back the shades and gaze upon the vast, artless oceans,
Where form and faith and fear and folly,
Lay slain by inky nothingness.
Phosphorescent bastards of a benign Aztec god,
Weigh heavy on idle pupils.
Lifeless imitations of a distant Heimat.
Intrepid explorer, cartographer of the stars,
Basking in the glory of silent applause.
How insignificant you seem,
On that sprawling midnight canvas,
How muted your refrain in the sweeping symphony of the void.
Go back to sleep, last-born of Gaia.
For the dawn chorus will never come.
- - -
Christie-Luke Jones is a poet from Oxfordshire, England. He is fuelled by the Gallic blood that courses through his veins and fascinated by the more macabre aspects of the human condition
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Flight Of The Untethered Balloon
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Virtual Reality Traveller
By David K Scholes
"It doesn’t actually take you to other worlds, dimensions, or realities,” he warned us. “It just provides a virtual trip to places of your choosing. Unless of course you press this big yellow button here. Then you actually get transported to the place you are only visiting virtually.”
With that the salesman pointed to a bright yellow old fashioned style button. It looked out of place among the otherwise sophisticated instrumentation. It was well contained inside a formidable looking metal grid. Also there was a “press only in an emergency” sign near it.
“If you press the yellow button then the company disclaims any and all liability for the consequences,” said the salesman.
“Why do you even have the button there then,” inquired Joy.
“If something should go wrong in the virtual reality travel and you should inadvertently end up on another world it might get you back here. You get Earth back on a virtual reality visit then pressing the yellow button should get you back here. No guarantees of course,” he smiled.
I wondered if they were actually daring us to press the yellow button. If we virtually experienced a world we really liked and might be tempted to actually go there. Even stay there.
Joy and I took a step or two backwards and took in the whole virtual reality traveller.
It was big compared to most virtual reality machines. A metalloid matrix inside a scarcely visible sheath of energy. A large robotic shape overall. Inside the metalloid matrix there was a comfortable amount of room and provisions for two people for a while.
“It looks more like a late model battle droid. Such as the type used in the Dleene wars,” observed Joy. I nodded realising I knew there was something familiar about the thing.
“Well, if we accidentally end up in some god forsaken place and the yellow button doesn’t work I guess we could do worse than be piloting a Dleene war battle droid,” I laughed though not very convincingly.
“Of course you can go anywhere in this, virtually,” the salesman said. “To any of the worlds, dimensions, or realities charted by Earth or its allies.”
“Which allies?” asked Joy.
“All of them,” responded the salesman “including the Dleene,” he turned somewhat furtively to see Joy’s reaction.
“Ooohh!” was all she could say. We both knew the Dleene would have charted many more worlds than Earth ever had. It was beginning to look like we could go almost anywhere.
“I think we’d like to have a trial run,” I replied. “Virtually speaking,” I added. My attempt at humour falling flat on the salesman.
* * *
Joy and I had ourselves a wild ride. Without even leaving Earth. All were virtual reality visits and yet it all seemed so real. As if we were actually there. We lost all sense of time, as we moved from world to world, and could have been at it for hours or even days.
Finally though we ended up, virtually, in a world deep in the Dleene Empire which proved to be not quite as inviting as we had expected. In fact the place was downright grim. Like something right out of the Dleene wars. .
“This is as good a time as any to end the virtual reality travel,” I said to Joy, shuddering a little. We went to step outside only to realise that we still seemed to be stuck on the Dleene world. “Time to find out if the yellow button works,” I said. “This is an emergency.”
I pressed the yellow button and absolutely nothing happened. I pressed it again then really hit the thing with the same result. “I knew the damned thing would never work,” I yelled “it’s probably just a dummy switch or something. Well let’s hope this virtual reality traveller really does also double as a battle droid because from the look of what’s up ahead I think we are going to need it!”
“I thought the damn war was over,” replied Joy, starting to tremble.
* * *
“That couple’s virtual reality traveller disappeared,” said the sales assistant “I guess something took their curiosity and they couldn’t resist hitting the yellow button then?”
“No, I don’t believe so,” replied the salesman. “I think there was one of those occasional accidents. The computer shows it was a Dleene world they were visiting virtually when the accident happened.”
* * *
One month later the virtual reality traveller that looked a lot like a late model battle droid was back parked in the lot. More than a little the worse for wear and with no human occupants. The fail safe mechanism (if the yellow button didn’t work) that always eventually returned them to Earth had finally cut in.
“You, uhh, you did tell them about the fail safe? Didn’t you?” enquired the sales assistant.
“I forgot,” replied the salesman apologetically “and I never thought they’d need to know.”
“We could contact the Dleene,” offered the assistant ‘just to let them know what happened.”
“Over just two of us Earthers? Not likely,” replied the salesman.
- - -
The author has written over 140 speculative fiction short stories, many of which appear in his six published collections of speculative fiction short stories. He has also published two science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and 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 about to publish his latest book: “Human Hunter and Other Science Fiction Stories.”
Thursday, November 12, 2015
By AE Reiff
You must not grudge to find the same soul in leviathan or in behemoth, since they divide the world into land beast and the water beast whose gigantic size are as if a world to themselves. There is a whole herd of Texas behemoth in the uplands and I don't mean the Nazi auroch transplants that escaped big game ranches. These are often spotted and browned, but have so trampled the earth into mine tailings, shards and shreds of rock and dirt that one wonders what they eat at all, but they go up into the thousand mountains to forage trees. There are no natural enemies there unless you count peremptory lightning strikes. It is said they do not breed, that there is only one and that it waits to meet its mate in leviathan. Such a joining of male and female, land and sea, is rather more than any Greek fantasy. But this singularity does not account for the massed hulks that look more like landslides than reconstituted mastodon. Living higher up as they do the lightening strikes are more frequent than foreseen, keeping the population manageable, if one can speak of managing behemoth. But the polyploided escapes from labs also included rats as big as cars, coyotes as big as parking garages, or at least that was the myth current in the cities below.
Mabinog colonists down by the water, hang with their backs to the land and gaze out to sea, the poems of Kiss embossed in holograms behind them at Dulce Port. They sit on jetties, reverie on Ocean Inhaesio, extasis, seeking the thing, not the thing's reason. Too new upon the land to even carry succubi in their hands, eyes open on keypads while their ears hear the roar, they wait in the smell of salt for leviathan. Think that sculptors and the piscine shapes of women know what goes? How many fishes in the deep blue sea? What’s the cause of simplicity in priests?
Tidal influence at Old Town reaches pretty far inland. In the water light of several moons hunted by wolf and cub, single rectilinear, curvilinear, pi, it is the mind that sees not the eye. Old Dame Trot some cold fish had got, and as the mind is bent, delusions come to temples, labs, board rooms, sanctums as Ezekiel sees in the visions of Elohim, where elders swing their censers before idols, hitty, pitty within the wall, and images of death dress up as life, inverted. Light as wave in water refracts to disperse chromatic aberration. Galloping Galloway, look at your neck; there you will find the strap. The standoff between draggle distortion and dreary convention collaborates physical forms; pickled pig is made of pork.
I point to the arch center of the Quandarists, the rearranged curves and planes of lines, Picadors on the verge. People against nature, Rhetors against Neptune, beds of Querist hothouses, nature is innocent compared. Flames and reactions make beautiful acceptance of infierni. Down at the dock they get in and drift from shore. After a while the evening news, the weather is unfamiliar. The way things go, none believable, the land itself is fabricate. The boat moves further to the outreach of history in the aquarium humane. Submerged ruins intersperse with dreams, voyages make strange and vivid optics of waking slumber, unconscious from the ground. I'd never seen a ship that sailed that wide.
Such changes observed here I believe are capable of explanation either by errors of observation or seasonal change. The Colony not only produces several vegetations per year with different appearances, but its aspects vary over years. Seasonal variation affects a sapling that catches fire, hisses, drips and spits before it is the dry trunk, or as a thorn bush that goes up in whoosh, visibility combined with invisibility among the colonias. A twig coming from this plant could simulate this shift. Archuleta is a case in point, which did not possess land only to itself. At least five caves honeycombed that region, but plenty of others were visible from the peaks, a magnificenza waiting to be discovered with stupor and deception. I caught sight of several who kept their heads and even their chests above the tide of transverberation which the eye and the wave equivocate together. Simple rectilinear, curvilinear pi, Fibonacci ratios, golden sections, fractal repetitions the mind sees, not the eye. In the mind bends, delusions came to the temples, labs, board rooms, sanctums of foreheads such as Ezekiel saw in that vision of Elohim, elders swinging their censers before idols, images of death as life, inverted. The standoff of distortion and convention collaborating is as good an idea of self similarity as a human skew. Old Town was a marine museum of the mind where Dedalus heated onions in a pan. If these firings were apocalypses, Greece emptied of all its whales, a cave of white onions, then the pine will die in the fire! A thousand springs flow into this lake against thought and forethought. When stone hits glass the breakage conforms to gravity and glass. Then reason covers her breasts. Only the tension in the circle of artist, glass and stone and the freedom to act and crack unknowing reveals the submerged. Yes that is a little simple. Crack the stone, conceal the stone, railroad ties connote forced labor, famine stone denotes starvation and slavery. Of course I wept, tears ran from my eyes as if I were burning wood to make charcoal.
Believe that and read the Great Wall as a kiln opening that asks, what is the seventh seal? I hate to spoil the ending. Round as an apple, deep as a cup. The most peculiar case is the Ulysses, the other face of Judecca, of strange riddles in steady air, that put to rest natural causation. The regularity of the caves, uniform width, their systematic radiation exceeds any ordinary natural contrivance. What they are not helps to decipher what they are.
- - -
AE Reiff is a poet whose poems appear as fiction. His fiction appears as poems. There is this masquerade of nonpoetic themes of politics, history, espionage, although the war that backgrounds these has a long poetic expression defined from the beginning of time. These are indexed during business hours at Encouragements For Planting.
Thursday, November 5, 2015
By LELA MARIE DE LA GARZA
“Be so very still now,” Kaal whispered.
Leslie didn’t need this instruction. She knew the radar of the Semmes could detect motion from a far distance, and she was being as still as the rocks around them. She knew too that with its keen sense of smell the Semmes was probably already aware of them.
As if confirming her thought, Kaal said “He is scenting us now. Come he does soon.” Leslie heard crashing and looked through the telescope of her rifle. A vague shape emerged, and she held steady.
The Semmes had been terrorizing villages for a month. It ate everything that moved—animals, adults and children alike—and destroyed what it didn’t eat, ripping houses to splinters, trampling crops. The Semmes generally stayed with their peaceful herds in secluded parts of the planet Darius, but this one had gone rogue. It had to be put down.
Leslie had only a hazy idea of what the Semmes looked like, but she knew it was big. She felt the smallness, the puniness of herself and her rifle. How did I let myself get talked into this? She wondered.
The village leader, Tlak, had been very persuasive. “Came you did to our village with your strange powerful ways and your strange powerful weapons. Be you we welcomed with feast and dance. Ours spear and our clubs do stop the Semmes not. Devour all he will. But you with power can kill Semmes. Kaal, our bravest and strongest will go with you. Surely you do save us. And Tlak had crossed his arms on top of his head, a solemn sign of entreaty.
So here she was—in the most danger she’d ever known in her life. Why did I say yes? Why didn’t I tell Tlak that I wasn’t big enough, that my weapon wasn’t big enough? It had been a point of honor, and she had agreed. At that time it hadn’t seemed impossible to shoot a Semmes.
Now that it was coming toward her, she felt ridiculous. The creature was bigger than she ever imagined it would be, and she would have to wait till it was almost on her before she fired. A Semmes was covered with armor plate and had only two vulnerable spots: the single eye high on its forehead and the hollow of its throat. It had to be hit in both places.
Leslie forced herself to stay still. She was a good shot—if only she had a chance to fire. The Semmes looked something like a brontosaurus, but had six legs instead of four. It also had a long trunk which it whipped madly around at everything in its path. She heard Kaal’s sharp intake of breath as the creature rushed toward them. Leslie held her gun steady, waiting for the last possible second. Then the Semmes reared up on its hind legs and she had a clear shot into its neck. The Semmes paused for a few seconds, then kept coming. There was a sound, something between a scream and a roar, and Leslie was looking into its red baleful eye. She took her second shot.
That should have killed the Semmes, but it kept coming. “Now must we run,” Kaal urged, but Leslie didn’t need that warning. She ran. Kaal ran. But the pounding and crashing behind her told Leslie the Semmes was gaining. Any moment she expected a huge foot to trample her or fangs rip off her head. If I get out of this alive, she vowed, I’ll never do it again. Never! No matter how many entreaties they make, no matter…
Then a thud shook the ground as if one of the giant hanging stones had fallen. Leslie stopped and looked back to see the Semmes stretched on the ground, blood pouring from its throat and head. Kaal approached the beast cautiously, careful to stay away from the trunk. “Deads it is,” he announced, and dipped his finger in the blood. Then he approached Leslie. “I must put this on you.”
“Why?” Leslie shrank away.
“It marks you as a warrior. Great honor.” Leslie felt something slimy touch her forehead. “Now all will know that you braver are. There will be Leslie song, Leslie feast, Leslie dance.”
Leslie wasn’t sure how much she wanted this honor. The spot Kaal had touched seemed cold. Surreptitiously, she felt it. The blood was already dry. “When will this wear off?” she asked. “Or can I wash it off myself?”
Kaal looked astonished. “Oh no! Blood coming off never. Show to every space in Darius wonder greatness of you.”
Kaal didn’t know that word. “Ever now will you be called on for deed braves. Many villages. Must kill you the Great Ok. It has one the weak point under its tail. The Jacruse must hit in its open mouth only. Ears of Lacca…belly of Gro…
Leslie was no longer listening. She’d taken a vow never to do this again, but she wasn’t going to be allowed to keep it. She could run away from Kaal; she could run away from Tlak and the village, but she could never run away from the mark. There would be songs written about her, dances of her bravery performed, feasts given in her name. She would be honored throughout Darius, and she would belong to everyone who needed her strange, powerful ways and her strange powerful weapon.
Leslie shouldered her rifle and followed Kaal back to the village, striding straight and tall as a warrior should.
- - -
Lela Marie De La Garza has had work published in “Guardian Angel Kids,” “Passion Beyond Words”, “Black Denim,” “Yellow Mama,” “Bewildering Stories,” “Breath and Shadow”, and “The Western Online”. Her latest novel, “Mistral,” was published in December of 2014. She was born in Denver, CO. in 1943 while her father was serving in WWII. She currently resides in San Antonio, TX. with three and a half cats and a visiting raccoon.
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