Most nights the alley behind Beamon’s Bakery is just an alley.
The street lamp bleeds piss yellow light, casting jagged shadows around the overflowing dumpster and discarded boxes. The walls are tagged with gang signs, claiming territory that was never theirs, yardage, bodies, souls, rights.
Some nights a transient clears away the broken glass, the random detritus, to squat for the night. Setting up camp here has its own rewards. The warmth that seeps through the bakery walls and through brick facing chases away the chill, but not the ghosts. This is the drawback, you see. The alley is never as vacant as it may seem at first, never as lonely as one may wish. The price of physical warmth is the chilling of your soul.
When Percy and Astrid met they’d no idea that only a few short weeks later they’d be getting married.
“Percy really swept me off my feet” said Astrid. “I’d just stepped outside the pub for a quick smoke and suddenly this guy was bundling me into his car.”
“It was love at first sight,” Percy confirmed. “I saw her and I just had to have her.”
Despite their unconventional first meeting our October couple are obviously very much in love. Sitting in their home, admiring the various objects of cult paraphernalia, including an antique sacrificial dagger, it’s also obvious that this was never going to be a normal wedding.
The Kickstarter has been launched for the Long List Anthology Volume 2!
Same premise as last year, to put together an anthology of works from the longer Hugo Award nomination list. This year, Galen Dara has been commissioned for original cover art–the art at the top of the post is not the final version, it is a color proof of the art, but the final version will be shared as soon as possible.
Check out the rewards, besides copies of the books there are critiques from Martin L. Shoemaker, Sunil Patel, Erica Satifka and myself.
“History,” spoke The University. Albert had no interest in History. Nor had he interest in Mathematics, Science, Language, Art, or any of the other schools of The University. But one did not question The University, let alone defy it. Tales skittered among the Uneducated about Accepted Candidates thrown back from the gates for a single … Continue reading DP Fiction #19: “Do Not Question the University” by PC Keeler
The Archivist held the three remaining beads in her left hand. Images flickered across her visual cortex: an unknown woman’s face, a sunset on a planet she couldn’t name, the dazzling color of a sea she no longer had the words to express. The beads felt cool and impersonal in her fingers, though what they contained was neither. She had only these few memories left and she no longer remembered if they were hers or someone else’s.
Around her, the machine chugged and whirred. The metal tubing that encased her pod vibrated. The glowing core rose in front of her, spinning slowly around its vertical axis.
In his future, I see a fish. It swims very near the white sand of the sea floor a few feet below the surface. Bright tropical sun pierces the clear turquoise water. Through his eyes I watch the fish for the entire six seconds, until time runs out and my consciousness is returned to the present.
I open my eyes and study him. He’s an attractive man with a kind face. He looks back at me expectantly from across the sitting table. Atop the checkered tablecloth sits a crystal ball, a bronze candelabrum with a trio of lit scented candles, and a few other useless props. I draw a deep breath, inhaling the smell of eucalyptus and mint, and try to decide which lie he would like to hear.
In order to prevent contamination on the space station, all the members of the shuttle crew have to be thoroughly sterilized. This means systematically cleansing themselves and their skin of all potential contaminates, including their hair. All crew members have to be completely shaved and waxed before launch. Despite this being her seventeenth mission, Yukino Kojima is always stunned at how easily her hair falls away beneath the barber’s clippers, gathering around her ankles like strands of silver fog and leaving a gray fuzz to be waxed off.
I heard that Hershel Schmulewitz, that blockhead, has also presumed to ask for your hand in marriage, which gives you two proposals to consider. Now, you needn’t worry that this will be a sentimental or a wheedling sort of letter. You already know how I feel, and I suppose Hershel’s not so much of a blockhead that he doesn’t feel the same way. I’m simply writing to lay out the reasons, plainly and concisely, why it would certainly be more to your benefit to marry me.
My roots felt only earth. Thin, and good for nothing but wild grass. As I stretched under the ground, I caught the tang of metal, something sharp and not yet rusted. Clean metal, likely dropped when this patch of land was well behind the battle line. Still, the promise it made helped me exert all my energy into those roots, willing them deeper and farther out.
Sunlight glistened off my barbed leaves, feeding its pale energy to my efforts.
I was not the only blood tree growing on the battlefield, and my concentration broke when my sister began chanting. She was double my height already, as if she’d focused her efforts on leaves and branches instead of roots, but her chanting told me she hadn’t needed to work hard below ground. By instinct I recognized the nature of her words, the cadence of syllables sighing from the pores in her leaves. She chanted the lives of those whose blood she drank.
He finds a forest clearing on a planet of perpetual night in the two hours out of a thousand years that stars spread twinkling across its sky. It’s pure luck that he lands there on his random planet sampling. It’s the most beautiful, peaceful, ethereal place that he has ever seen.
There are no people on this planet. It will never be inhabited. Life evolved to little more than trees (if they are trees, those branching things) that get their food from the soil beneath and what sun that struggles through the clouds. Rocky outcrops ring the clearing in sharp relief against the sky. Beneath the starlight, he forgets about his life and loneliness.
He’s still alone here, but it’s different in the fresh unsullied alien air that fills his lungs as he rests between untrodden grass and unwitnessed skies, different from spending each evening alone in a busy, crowded city, full of strangers he’s too shy to talk to and too scared to try and understand.
Clouds crowd back across the gap, shrouding starlight behind their familiar shield. Darkness falls to rule the clearing. Peter knows it’s time to leave.
He logs the coordinates on his device.
This place would be perfect.