Thursday, October 17, 2019

10/17/19

WHERE THE WIND SAYS CRAZY THINGS
By Janet Shell Anderson


The moon had set when the alarm sounded for dire wolves last night. I saw them from the dark house, from the upstairs window as they crossed through the sketchy windbreak, three rows of old, twisted junipers and cedars. The wolves slid into the yard like shadows, almost invisible, as I watched through the spidery glass and thin lace curtain. They’d come for me, sat in a group near the bridalwreath spirea. A drone came down suddenly from the stock shed, and they left.

I’ve been out here in the Rainwater Basin since March, and it’s May now, I think. Now the sky’s velvet grey, sirens are quiet, the drone and wolves, gone. Day’s begun, and the rising Moon’s like a broken cookie above wide, empty fields. The people here went out on their enormous yellow and green machines a while back just at Moonrise. Since you can’t see the drivers on the machines, the huge things seem to be running themselves. A robotrain cuts across the far horizon.

No other people come here. The roads are dirt or gravel. Sometimes when it hasn’t rained, the roads raise their own dust that swirls in here to Utica Rainbasin as if it’s come to find someone. Maybe me. The wind talks long words, its own language.
I wear dusters now, long pants, boots, my hair twisted in a bun like people a thousand years ago. Or green and yellow gear if I ride the machines. These people here are like people a thousand years ago.

I don’t think the people back in DC where I’m from know they’re here. I think the people in DC think everyone out here’s dead, that the farms are run by AIs, the robomachines and robotrains take care of all of it, produce sorghum, X-milo.

We don’t have lights on at night. We have kerosene lamps in the day, no cars or trucks on the roads. Drones, though. Weird stuff. We eat at noon, sleep at sunset.

We have stock that talk. They have a lot of opinions, don’t know anything. Like cows, but bigger, they’re hairy, have humps, beards, big eyes. Their breath smells sweet. The dire wolves eat the stock if they can catch any, usually a calf; the stock kill the dire wolves if they can catch any, stomp them to death. I’ve seen bones of dead calves, smashed bodies of dead wolves out on the flat prairie. The wind sings over them. Oglala words the people here say. Storm words.

I’m Jesebeel Hanson, hiding out here with what might be my relatives--except they’re so strange--so no one from DC can catch me. I got a couple of questioners killed, probably. Back home. There’s war back home. DC was burning. I don’t know if these people here know it. I haven’t told them. I said someone wanted to hurt me, and they took me in.

I asked one of the people if the dire wolves might have cell phones, because I’m sure they’re after me. The woman, whose eyes are the same color as mine but look a thousand years old, said nothing.

One of our buildings says “Prairie Green” in faded old letters. When I asked the old lady why, she said, “The land is worth everything. Everything. None of them understand that.”

I don’t understand it either. It’s just mud or dirt under a broken cookie Moon, where the wind says crazy things.


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I have been published by Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Vestal Review, decomP, FRIGG, Grey Sparrow and many others, nominated for the Pushcart Prize, included in a collection of short works with Joyce Carol Oates. I am an attorney.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

10/10/19

Shiny Spheres
By Rollin T. Gentry


You smack the alarm clock and roll out of bed like any other day.

In the bathroom, you notice a golf-ball-sized, chrome sphere hovering inches above your head. You brush your teeth, standing beside your spouse, and realize that both of you have the same shiny sphere overhead. Neither of you says a word about them.

At breakfast, you notice that your children have spheres, and they also seem unaware. You turn on the news, and the anchorwoman has a sphere floating above her head. The co-anchor and the weatherman have them, too. The kids grab their lunches and backpacks. You grab your laptop, and the family heads out for the day after saying, “I love you,” all around. While dropping the kids off at school, you notice that the crossing guard has one, and a sphere accompanies all the other children, as well. You wonder if you are going mad. While this would be an odd thing to hallucinate, seeing odd things is a part of madness, isn’t it?

Alone in the car at a traffic light, you look around. All the other motorists have the same spheres pressed between the roof of their vehicle and their heads. You check yourself in the rearview mirror. You still have yours. Should you try to touch it? Definitely not while driving, but perhaps when you get to work.

Every person you pass on the way to your office has a sphere overhead, gleaming beneath the fluorescent lights. Everyone acts normal, though. Everyone is ignoring the spheres.

In your office, you close the door and reach above your head -- nothing. But not having a mirror, you wonder if the thing is simply moving out of the way when you reach for it. Down the hall, a family restroom complete with a diaper-changing table is the only place you can go that has both a mirror and privacy. You quickly dash inside and confirm your suspicions. The sphere is very adept at avoiding your grasp. After several attempts, you give up and stroll to the break room.

In the break room, you find one of your colleagues, with a sphere, toasting a bagel. You wonder how you should approach the subject?

"Good morning," you say, trying to maintain eye contact. You wonder, if you tackled this person, could you grab their sphere. Terrible idea. A sure trip to the loony bin. So you end up saying nothing, just filling a Styrofoam cup with coffee. Finally, your co-worker speaks.

"Care for a bagel?"

You've already eaten breakfast and don't even like bagels, but you say, "Yes, thank you." Your answer feels very natural. A bit of your anxiety fades. You wonder if the spheres have something to do with it. Are they from outer space or another dimension, perhaps? A collective consciousness, maybe? As you fill your mouth with bagel and cream cheese, you dismiss those strange notions and nod appreciatively to your colleague.

Your schedule for the day is filled with meetings. In every meeting, everyone has a chrome sphere positioned overhead. Remarkably, in every meeting, there is complete agreement among the attendees, not a single detractor all day.

At home that evening, the family sits around the dinner table and carries on pleasant conversation. Later, the family agrees to watch the same show on television in the living room, which is strange because the kids have TVs in their bedrooms, and their tastes vary greatly from you and your spouse.

In bed, the sphere repositions itself so that it floats above your forehead. You feel more peace and tranquility than you have in a long time. Slowly the sphere descends, until it rests on your forehead. You hear a humming. Listening closer, you make out the thoughts of what could be the entire human race. The sphere sinks even lower, slipping into your brain as if your skull were made of gelatin. The voices become clearer now. You make out the thoughts of a college professor halfway around the globe. You listen to his last independent thought:

"So, this is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, but a..."


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Rollin T. Gentry lives in Birmingham, Alabama where he works as a software engineer for a Fortune 500 company. He can be found reading and writing lots of speculative fiction during his spare time. He’s had stories appear in Everyday Fiction, Liquid Imagination, 365 Tomorrows, and others.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

10/3/19

The Rebellion of the Earth
By Deisy Toussaint, translated by Toshiya Kamei


It wasn’t the Apocalypse caused by the wrath of God. Nor was it an advanced civilization from outer space, much less the folly of humans who sometimes were on the verge of destroying it all.

It had to do with the determination of the depleted planet, already fed up with humiliations. It had to be haggard, parched skin that would one day scream sulfur blood and sprout rage through its pustules from its core.

With their memories and guilt as their only luggage, humans departed without looking back. Without knowing the destination. Without knowing why, but with the terrible conviction that they would never return.


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Born in 1987 in Santo Domingo, Deisy Toussaint is a Dominican journalist of Haitian descent. Her work has appeared in anthologies and journals such as Mujer en pocas palabras, El fondo del iceberg, and miNatura. She is co-author with Óscar Zazo of Operación Azabache: La invasión (2017).


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