Thursday, June 30, 2016

6/30/16

Drone of the Source
By Wesley D. Gray


I.

Three floated from the landing capsule, drifting through purpureal mists
interwoven among the jagged spires of razor-glistening ice and rock.
Rippling vibrations swept the air, resonance deep in the hollows of our chests,

a sonic siren pulling at wants and dreams,
a droning pathway leading us eagerly toward the source.

Tubal formations with hollow cores provided passage into the deep,
and as we left the surface behind, our hungers only flourished,
enticement swelling with the tides of undulating atmosphere.

Darkness soon gave way to the warmth of blissful auras,
greens beaming in gleaming mists, revealing the walls around us,
crimson stone encasing the fluorescence of crystal essence.

As we descended, a madness overtook us;
greed and a need for the source thrust conflict upon us,
and as we clawed and screamed, I was overcome, my body flung—
for a time, I floated in darkness.

II.

Gentle pulsations of oscillating wind aroused me to my course,
the spiraling cavern ultimately spilling into a void where vibrations thundered,
rippling sonic waves pulsing, pulsing, pulsing, pressing upon my lungs as I strained for breath.

The source—
an immense humming sphere of lustrous jade—
lay before me, a sprawling haze of space between,

and as my eyes squinted to adjust,
I saw countless shapes of black and yellow
jittering along its tremendous surface.

Seemingly triggered by my presence,
the forms erupted from the sphere,
forming a blurring fog in orbit,
then all at once returning,
settling back to quivering stillness.

The resulting shockwave gripped me,
ripped me, pinned me to the inner wall,
and as I fought to stay conscious,
I faced my former comrades.

III.

Gray faces loomed behind glass slits,
eyes bleeding red,
their expressions stretched and gaping;

translucent wings fluttered from things—
terrible, wasp-like things—
clinging to their backs:

segmented shells black and yellow
clenched their bodies hip to torso,
ebony legs encircled neck and ribs,
and extending from pincered maws,
probing tips pierced men's skulls.

Eyes of innumerable facets mirrored my horror-stricken face,
and when my eyes met my own reflected,
something broke within me, and I fled through winding caverns.

But as I turned a corner to face a giant, wasp-like creature,
my pursuers easily forced me facedown to jagged crystal;
the thing incessant, hovered closer, vibrations terrible throughout my flesh.

The sonic call soon calmed me,
and as the creature attached itself,
wings giving rise into mist

while tendrils from its probing appendage
intertwined with my neural pathways,
I soon recognized my place.

Always,
we work for the hive throughout the endless tubal complex,
harvesting the essence of nectar from the undying crystals,

always returning to feed the source;
always, for a master purpose I do not know,
and one I shall never dare to question.


- - -
Wesley D. Gray is a writer, an author of fiction, and a poet. When he isn’t writing, Wesley enjoys a wide variety of geeky activities, but mostly, tabletop gaming with family and friends. He resides in Florida with his wife and two children.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

6/23/16

Feeding Time
By David K Scholes


Had my long inter-dimensional journey come to an end? I wondered. Yet if so this world didn’t look much at all like the final destination I had envisaged

Then I realised I had only been diverted because of my overwhelming need for sustenance. An automatic survival mechanism of my kind. .

For a time I remained silently frozen, observing my new environment.

The apparently dominant indigenous species hereabouts seemed very small, very frail and something else. Ephemeral.

My sensory systems are not like most sentient entities'. Light, sound, smell, taste, touch do not mean so much to me as to some others. Though I can smell some things. Such as fear. No, emotions are what guide me.

Here in this place, this world, this dimension, this reality there was a veritable morass of emotions. Fear, hatred, envy, greed, prejudice, happiness, sadness, love, desire and much much more. Though not the full gamut of my vast experience there were even some emotions that I had never witnessed before.

One emotion though, at least in this immediate area, was predominant. Vanity. How utterly intriguing. I would have thought these creatures had more to worry about than mere vanity.

* * *

At first I fed indiscriminately on the emotional undercurrents. Mostly the darker emotions, as I find these best satisfy me. I neither knew nor cared what affect my feeding might have.

Then, fully sated, I reverted to my silently frozen observation mode. Had these rather pathetic creatures detected me? If so could they or would they do anything about it? I rather doubted it. Though there were some races capable of giving me pause.

The time came for me to continue my journey, yet I was reluctant. After all it had been a long time since I’d had any fun.

* * *

I amplified the effect of certain emotions. Downplayed the effect of others. I could
delightfully feel the overall emotional shock my actions were causing. I was more interested in the changes in the structure of this world’s whole emotion field than the physical effects I was having. Such as the conflicts that I caused ranging from small local disagreements to major wars. These physical things are not things worthy of my notice.

I saved the best until last. Experimenting with their vanity. Pumping it then deflating it only to pump it again.

How does an entity that has known great fame and adoration cope with sudden anonymity? Not so well I observed, at least not for selected members of this race.

Then finally, and as is my way, I tired of it all.

Yet this great tapestry of emotions, this vast feeding trough, was too good to remain unknown. I needed to leave a signal, a sign post for those of my kind that might come this way.

Before departing I created a multi-dimensional emotion beacon high above this world. One permanently fuelled by a never ending source of energy. The vanity that ever arises here.

Then before lapsing into unconsciousness for the still long journey ahead I was briefly amused. A rare occurrence indeed. The thought that I was known among my ilk for my kindness. Of course all things are relative.

Any others of my ilk visiting here would not be nearly as generous as I had been.


- - -
The author has written over 150 speculative fiction short stories many of which appear in his seven published collections of 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. He has also been published on Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is currently working on a new collection of science fiction short stories.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

6/16/16

Nothing Stern Can Stay
By E.S. Wynn


Rainy day. Sun shines silver through the haze of clouds over Roseville Bay. Crumbling chunks of cement cling to iron spires rusted and worn to blood-red pikes by time. Grimy sand, dark and flat with the leavings of steel and soot and the oil of the polluted cities now sunk beneath the waves lies heavy with the death of the world.
Nothing lasts, old men used to say in the days when there were still men old enough to remember the hazy stories of the time before the end.
Nothing, not even steel, can stay.
But the truth is that some things do stay. Things maybe more meaningful than steel, soft things that somehow survive the harshness that weathers all things sterner. Soft things, like the messages in a caress. The heat of sun on skin. The glory of the sun boiling over clouds at the break of a newborn day.
Seagulls scatter as a beige van rumbles and rolls to a squeaking stop on the sand. Old German box with bald tires, armored and rigid in the sides. Almost Nazi aesthetic, but for the weathering, the peace signs spraypainted on the sides. The door clangs open, black jackboots hit the beach, dig in, but instead of a gun, her coal-colored hands hold an infant swaddled in a quilt stitched together from shreds of jean denim. The mother is a soldier only in the wars she fights for her children. Her uniform is all rags and shredded camo, her dreadlocks wound up inside a grease-darkened bandana. Her backpack hits the sand like a bomb, canvas sides quaking, so close to breaking at their stitched and re-stitched seams. Rolling out from under her full and bountiful breasts, her belly is swollen with hope, painted with pigments and symbols stolen from the ruins of the old world. Her smile spreads wide and inviting, and she laughs as the others pour out of the van behind her.
They come in all colors. Wild, primal, shouting joy to the heavens. Faded shades of red and blue, of milk-tea and dishwater blonde fly as they run. Pants, shirts, vests, rags tied up in lengths of dirty hair – everything they wear is reassembled from shreds of the world that once was. Another woman, only just showing the signs of future fullness in her henna'd belly, stops halfway down the gritty beach, drops pants cut from the flags of fallen nations, squats and pisses triumphantly as she laughs at the sky.
No one remembers the words of the old world, yet the air is full of sound. Shouts and cries, screaming laughter and a thousand other shades of celebration echo through the day, play with the soft slushing of surf and sand. Splashing, hooting, pointing – footsteps cut deep into the beach, then the rhythm of hands drumming on the bottom of a time-worn bucket rises into the day. Near the van, the woman with the child in her arms squats down, picks something from the sand. Some shard of something once worthless, now a treasure sweet enough to make her squeal.
Nothing lasts, nothing stern, nothing like steel. Nothing lasts that stands resolute and resistant to change. Flow, chaos. Softer things than steel. Those are the things that stay. The joy that comes with living, with eating, playing, mating. Nothing more, nothing more than what it is to be human, what it is to be alive.
Nothing sterner, not even words, can stay.


- - -
This story appears as part of E.S. Wynn's 62nd book, Gold Hills, Rust Valley: 20 Tales From Apocalyptic California.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

6/9/16

Stint on the Vine
By David Castlewitz


The viewport showed the Earth's curvature, a hint of the sun, and the blue sea below dotted with patches of green and brown, but the scene lost its appeal after a handful of days into Jared's three-month-long stint, a job that subtracted twice as many months from his three year prison sentence for embezzlement.

The monotony, broken by the arrival of only a single robot-driven ship bringing ore from the distant asteroids, grated on Jared's sense of worth as day after day he monitored the space elevator, a delivery system rooted in the Pacific Ocean at the equator and reaching past the Earth's outer atmosphere into near space. Freight cars collected ore from the depository beneath Jared's cabin and rode the steel and plastic cable to the Earth's surface. Further out in space, beyond what Jared could see, an attached counterweight provided momentum to keep the system in geostationary orbit.

A second ship didn't boost his morale. And the once-daily ritual of speaking to some faceless man in the control room bobbing in the Pacific Ocean didn't help. After a week, a collection of seven endless days with the same view, the same dawn that wasn't dawn, Jared didn't want to talk. He grunted. He hummed. He coughed, but the invisible communications manager at the base of the space elevator insisted he make his report.

"All clear and ready and able," Jared said. No wonder so many of his predecessors attending to the ore carriers walked out of the hatch. The monotony begged for suicide as a release. He had a thousand books on an eReader, a library of trendy movies to watch, and puzzles to challenge his mind. But reading gave him headaches, movies made him long for the outdoors depicted on the tiny screen attached to the wall above his bunk, and many of the puzzle pieces weren't magnetized and they floated around the cabin.

"We want to try something with you."

Jared pictured this communications officer as a mechanical man with a pointy head.

The man in control continued. "There's this experiment we've been working on."

Jared peered into the blinking lights across the face of the control board. He grabbed the bullet shaped microphone.

"Do you want to know about it?"

Jared nodded, and then realized that the man at the base of the elevator -- what newscasters and pundits called The Vine -- couldn't see him. Why didn't they have video communications? Why voice only?

"What's the experiment?" Jared asked. "Video? You're sending up a video module?"

"No. We tried that once, but the sitters -- you folks up there -- objected."

"I wouldn't object."

"We have something better."

Jared waited to hear more.

"We'll need to try it tomorrow, though," the droning man said.

Jared didn't think the man in control sounded sorry about the wait. He should sound sorry.

"There's a lot of interference down here. I need to sign off until tomorrow."

Jared squeezed the microphone. Shook it. But not even a feedback squawk broke the silence that filled his room. He floated to his bunk bolted to the curved wall. He caught sight of himself in the mirror above the sink next to his bed. He shut his eyes. He didn't like how he looked.

Was this why previous sitters-on-the-vine objected to video?

An alarm -- a triple clang followed by a soft whistle -- jolted him awake. An ore ship docked. So automatic and robotic that Jared had nothing to do with the sequence of steps that pulled the ship in and locked it in place. He watched on a monitor. Afterwards, he used a joystick to maneuver a camera to scan the area for loose stones or other debris that might obstruct the next carrier.

That's the job, he'd been told by the recruiter. After the ore ship unloads, check for debris. The robotic scanners miss the tiny pieces, the dime-sized shards that clog the works. Scan with the camera, then clean with a robovac.

With the arrival of several ships spaced within an hour or less of one another, he had little time to bemoan the loneliness of the job. But then "busy" ceased, waiting returned, and the communications officer again told him about the experiment that would soon be sent up.

"You'll see," the man droned. "It'll be something you'll like."

Jared clung to the promise. Even when he stared at the hatch that he could so easily open, the double doorway designed for extravehicular activity -- space walks -- the thought of the promised experiment kept him from ending the monotony.

He had something to look forward to, much as he had as a child when his mother promised him a trip of one sort or another, or promised summer camp with fishing and hiking and new friends, or promised promises that he'd like what's coming.

Alone in his capsule, waiting for the next ship to bring ore to the space elevator, Jared toyed with the idea of what the promised experiment might be.

Not video. He didn't want people to see him.

A virtual companion? That would be great.

Some special food producing machine would challenge him to be creative with breakfast and lunch and supper. There'd be more than just ready-to-eat-meals in a paper package.

Puzzles pieces that didn't float away and movies that absorbed instead of teased would be welcomed.

As he neared the end of his stint-on-the-vine, Jared prodded the droning communications officer to send up the experiment before his time in the chamber came to an end and he returned to Earth.

"We're perfecting it, this experiment," the droning voice said. "Be patient."

Jared nodded, enthusiastic about the promise and patient enough to keep waiting, with never a thought of walking outside and ending his life as so many sitters had before.


- - -

Thursday, June 2, 2016

6/2/16

Lost Deities
By Teddy Kimathi


A gigantic statue of Buddha
slowly melts in a city’s outskirts in Thailand.

Lady Liberty slowly drowns into the Atlantic,
as New Yorkers writhe in terror.

Gods’ heads in the Easter Islands roll away
like marbles into the ocean.

Man’s history has been erased,
after destroying symbols that immortalized
his rich, historic past.

Gigantic, flaming mushrooms have carried
man’s history with them.


- - -
Teddy is a fan of reading anything that makes me seek the mysteries of life. He has published poems and fiction stories in various journals. "The Milky Way In Words," is his first poetry book, available in Amazon.


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