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Showing posts from 2017

Half Minus One

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Sequencing was the job of Harper Sigma, and getting him to shut up was more difficult than Splitting. So, we brought him along only when we needed him. Of course, hindsight’s 20-20, and now I was staring at a rotary dial phone with an ornate cathead receiver and a noose for a cord. 843, I try. 8.4.3, I try again. The line was dead as far as I could tell; the only response I got was a single, unconvincing tone, but it was all just the same. His mind was a steel trap. Quite literally. “What we got, Alpha?” Tau startled me. “We got… squat,” I mutter. Tau holds his hand up to his face to block the filtered sunlight that bounded through the broken windows and crumbling parapets. “You think he’s in there?” Robert Cutcheons. Man made of money. Man made of fame. Man made of death. “Yes,” I say, the gravity in my voice making me sound more confident than I felt. Beta sidles up next to us and reaches around my shoulders, hugging me reassuringly. He was kind that way. Kinder than I was. “That’s…

The Slow Fall of the Boulder

The sun never sets on Sisyphus because its orbit is highly erratic. That’s why the Kryzlakians call it Budat, the Sky Demon. So far from home, though, even a sky demon is good company. Truth be told, I’m not sure why I took the job. But, when planet calls you to duty, you don’t ignore the call. I stared out through the argon vapor at the horizon and caught a glimpse of Kryzlak. Right now, they’d be asleep, waiting for the sun to set for them. “Whatcha thinkin’?” I blinked to clear the memory of The Run from my mind, and focused on Darcy. “Just that I’m not sure how this is going to go.” “What? The delegation?” “Yeah.” He put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a quick squeeze. “Look, the Runs stopped two centuries ago, and we’ve made great strides in relations since then. Plus, I bet they wouldn’t have elected Ret-Abel if he wasn’t a great negotiator.” I patted his hand before checking the server for any updated messages. My hand hovered over the icon sent from Earth, the last transm…

Slipping Ghosts, Pt 3

She was a female from all outward appearances, and she appeared to be nearly human. Probably Delvian. I remembered seeing old features from pre-scorched Hollywood of this mythical race of people called Elves. Turned out to be not so much a myth. Delvians had pointed ears and slightly larger eyes. There was something mystical about them, like they could always peer into your soul.  And, they were uniquely sensual. At least to me.
I was certain she was Delvian.
“Anazia?”
She nodded.
“Then, where am I supposed to be?”
“When.”
I shook my head in confusion, my stomach clenching again. “Now?”
“Now, you should not be here. You do not belong in this biopool.”
“Biopool?”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “Yes. Bio. Pool. You do not belong in this biopool.”
“Look, I’m kind of new to this leaping from one place to another, and I just got jettisoned out of a nexus, and now I haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about.”
Anazia looked past me and up toward the sky. “They know you’re not …

Slipping Ghosts, Pt 2

She stopped moving. She stopped shaking, she stopped beeping, buzzing, and my sweat and blood froze in the cabin in front of me. Timeless. I was staring out at the nexus.
The Endemon was perched at the edge of the creation of space. And, I found it, here, in the Kartegan sector. At least, I thought that was where I was.
It, this nexus, was outside my window, shifting in and out of focus, an inflating and deflating balloon, a magician's scarf trick, a fractal explosion of kaleidoscopic color, one second blue, the next red and orange. It was crystalline, the sharp edges ripping through the surrounding blackness, tearing it like a knife and exposing me to the other side of the universe, then it was soft and tumbling on itself like the bubbles in a bathtub. It vacillated, varying in size so that I couldn't get a proper estimate of how large or small or far or close it was. I had to take measurements. I had to take readings.
I shifted, rapidly moving my fingers over the buttons a…

Slipping Ghosts

Bleak, they told me. Cold, they said. That the stars don't look the way they do once you get off the ground. That the only truth I'll find is loneliness.
When my ship has only enough room for me and equipment, loneliness comes with the title and deed. People, I mused, were always different in secret. Sometimes, the only person they feared was the person staring back at them in the mirror.
I was lucky, I supposed, to be able to surround myself with good people.  
I inhaled sharply through my nose, sniffed, and reached over to my notepad to scribble some notes about the passage of time in absolute zero, when the solar storms cease, and the dark matter matrix has been exploited for its holes.
Here, even light is afraid.
The Endemon, my vessel named for the first man to pull past light speed, hung in the Kartegan sector like a ripe plum seconds after falling. I quickly closed the window shield, and shook my head to refocus before I adjusted the nodes to scan for transplasmodic f…

House of the Blood Lotus, Ch 1

It burned within me, though it wasn’t as consuming as it had been in the past. When she was by my side. “You can’t kill- hell, you can’t even hurt someone with your a piece of computer paper.” But the words left my mouth much sooner than they should have. He wasn’t an ordinary assassin. He was a Dragonmancer of the House Blood Lotus. All he needed was a piece of paper. His grin twisted into a gnarled root, and he shook the ground with a guttural laugh, black tentacles of energy snaked from his back, and he was enveloped in a sheath of shadow. His fingers worked quickly on the paper, folding and folding and folding, luminous flashes shooting from fingertip to fingertip. His eyes ignited in a blue flame and the dragon he had been folding leapt from his palms. The movies have battle all wrong. There’s no clever tete a tete, there’s no reparte. There’s no exchange and dances, no evading by bounding off walls. There’s shouting, and desperation. No one wants to die anymore. Not since the o…

Messages to the Youth

MARS, GOD OF WAR
Upon
the bristling waves
of the sun's gracious heat,
our children will search in silence
unending.

ANIMALS DO NOT PANIC
As the
midnight cloud rode
on the warm ocean currents,
the orca bit at the shark, ready
for more.
-JR Simmang

MEASURE TWICE
I.
Grandpa stood by,
cigarette burning to the cotton,
because he liked to roll his own
and his doctor knew he would never quit
so he at least conceded cotton,
watching as I threw the two- by- four
to the ground,
shouting obscenities like the ones he taught me
because my parents never would,
and kicking the dirt until
the dirt even grew angry at my insistence. When I asked him why he was so calm
knowing that I would never finish my 4H project,
he said,
"Measure twice. Cut once."
II.
My car stalled on the highway on my way
to financial peace.
My eyes spread along the details work,
the last of my pennies in an effort
to console myself against the aging
dollar bills in my pocket,
and I balled up my fists.
I was too old to kick and scream and spit,

Pennsylvania Avenue

If a tree falls in the wood, and no one is there to hear it, does it still make a sound?
- George Berkeley, c. 1710
PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE
Stand there, young one, with your hands
cupped around your mouth and band
arm in arm with revolutionaries
lined up like clipped-winged canaries.
SHOUT, you yell, SHOUT! SHOUT!
BARK! BARK! BARK! foam all about
your mouth. Are your legs tired
from constantly being mired in the thick and fetid molasses,
the ignorant and -ist masses?
The winds keep blowing, blowing, blowing,
and you're showing, showing, showing, your creaks and cracks, and lip smacks,
your teetering, tottering fronts and backs,
your noise and toys and crocodile tears
hidden in the foliage of your fake fears are going to topple you over, kid.
And in the streets, they'll make their bid
carving you up to shove you in
your coffin stretched out over your skin.
A tree will fall in the wood, and crush
the ant, the boar, the stream and brush.
A tree that stood for countless ages suffers not from false out…

If You Need My, I'll Be On Kypton

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As I sat in Mrs Cameron's 4th grade classroom,
staring out the window at the yellow sun,
I pretended I could fly around the world
and stop trains and shoot lasers from my eyes.
Who didn't want to be Superman? I wondered.
Who wouldn't want to be able to outrun a bullet?
Who wouldn't want to catch bad guys?
Who wouldn't want to save the world?
Krypton was a real thing, after all.
It was as real as the oxygen we breathed.
There it was: certain, indisputable proof
that Superman could be me.
My eye spied that giant Kr nestled
underneath the Ar,
sidled up against the Br,
and the word NOBLE
drifting over to me in waves,
crashing into my white knight complex
and filling my lungs with the sweet oxygen.
But, we don't breathe oxygen, as I learned that day.
The air around us is mainly nitrogen.
It's colorless.
It's odorless.
It's invisible.
And, when it bonds to oxygen, it
makes us dizzy, makes us vomit, makes us sick.
And oxygen!
It's colorless,
odorless,

The Least We Know

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We’re Jewish. Well, most of us in Poland are, and the ones who aren’t aren’t Jews. I’m Alter. My wife, Dalit, is a baker sometimes. Other times, she is a woman and mother. God gifted us a child while we were late on in our years. We named him Eitan, though we knew he wouldn’t survive the winter. I had heard from my mother that her sister died before she celebrated her 6th birthday. The doctors call it Canavan’s. It must run in my family. “Alter, my brother!” my neighbor shouted as he burst through the door. “Gershon! Knock next time.” I shouted at him from the dining room. “Sorry, so sorry, but we must leave.” “Leave?” I stood and walked around the corner. “They’ve come for us.” I looked over to my wife, who put down her bread knife, wiped her hands on her apron, and glanced to our son. He was in a wheelchair, his legs never learned to walk. He made a burbling noise, and she caressed him with the back of her hand. “We’ll need help carrying him down the stairs.” “I’ll help,” offered G…