To our right, the Reaches fell away into bottomless blackness. We struggled down a narrow trail, hugging close to the rock, every hundred yards or so coming upon the mouths of inner caves that coiled away where our lights could not penetrate. We hurried past, feeling the exhalations of dry air from deeper galleries, no one wishing to linger on those thresholds despite the escape they offered from the brink. Read More
Runick shoved a rolled-up towel against the bottom of the door to keep the smell of pot out of his room; it filled the corridor with a sickly scent and made him ill at ease, a distraction where he was going. He drew the curtains to shut out the grey October light, cutting off his sight of the campus paths, students rushing everywhere in a light rain. Read More
Crawling down the fire-scarred steel corridors of the enemy’s lair, he says to himself, So,evil dogs … I see you quake in dread at the mere thought of my arrival! Read More
YOUR STYLE GUIDE—USE IT WISELY
by Marc Laidlaw
Director, Style Enforcement Agency
The sky above the spork was the color of a TV dinner, burnt to a crisp. Silver foil peeled back by the laser heat of a toaster oven. Charred clots of chicken stew, succotash, nameless dessert, further blurred by a microforest of recombinant mold like a diseased painter’s nightmare of verdigris. Read More
Kirkendale stands at the back of a church, the grey aisles before him draped in dust and shadow. Tonight he is to speak. Tall side windows frame slats of pallid light. The pews are ancient and smeared, populated raggedly. He sees only the backs of worshipers’ heads; they nod sluggishly, tilting, as if on snapped necks. Their faces are not visible. Read More
This is my confession.
On this 13th day of the Third Moontide of the Smoldering Beagle Year, at the urging of both Professor Tadmonicker and my own troubled conscience, I, Maven Minkwhistle, set pen to paper. Never again will I type a single character; the mere sight of the clumsy old Underwood fills me with self-loathing for the misdeeds I have done, the falsities I have perpetuated in this already too-false world. I pray that this manuscript will not meet with incredulity in a public that has learned to doubt my word—indeed, my very name. It is not an apology, for I know that society finds such fawning to be more offensive than any crime. Nor is it an eleventh-minute attempt to polish my reputation with further pleas of innocence. I am more concerned for my father—dear Father! I never wanted it to end like this. Read More
They had been walking London all day and Marlowe’s feet were killing him. The other three men were used to gravity but Kit had been away a great deal recently, and the long stints in space had begun to tell on his joints and muscles. Each return was harder than the last. He recalled what it had been like to see the globe of Earth “above” and then to rise into that pit of gravity, ascent becoming descent, as what had looked like heaven turned into hell. He swore to himself that he had taken that plunge for the last time. One more journey outward, at the completion of his current mission, and then no earthly power could draw him back again. Read More
East of Patchogue, the shopping malls and tract homes give way to the last remaining forest on Long Island. This is not wilderness, nor has it been for many years. From the highway, you may glimpse ruined radio towers and abandoned cars crumpled like old tin cans; you will note the gradual ruination of houses as manicured lawns turn unruly, porches slump, colonial homes begin to seem^antigue but merely decrepit. Snatches of weedy ponds flicker past. Old men shamble through hedges, clutching paper sacks. A jailhouse sits in the county seat. Sand replaces fertile mulch; skeletal firs impinge on stands of hardy oak. Grass grows longer, sharper here, like quills jabbed into the sand. And then the road narrows, clotting traffic in its constricted artery, forcing you to crawl along with fellow motorists, inhaling their bluish exhaust. You have seen the familiar world falling away for miles now, green shade giving way to inhospitable hummocks: surely the culmination of all this will be something truly alien, a scene of lunar desolation if not the ripe festering of Bosch’s Hell. Over the roofs of cars made soft-seeming by the heat, over the tipped-back heads of beer-swigging teens in convertibles, you crane to catch sight of the end of the world, the abyss into which all these cars are streaming….
It was in a sweltering dusk that Charlie stumbled on a tombstone and lay panting in the grass. He longed to stay where he had fallen, to sleep for days in the peace of the old graveyard, but where the dead were buried, the living must be near. He needed a more secluded bed or else he would surely be discovered. Read More