Jupiter 1

Captain’s Log, June 3, 2232: Being a pre-EoE, I still find it difficult to adapt to the council’s not-so-newly-chosen calendar system. At least my personal logs are still allowed to use the old system. I think they humor me with this. Or maybe they just pity me for being so old. It doesn’t matter, I will die eventually, and the old system will be forgotten. It seems entropy will not be denied my generation, and honestly, we would not deny it if given the choice. We have entered Jovian orbit and preparations have begun for construction. J told me he loved me this morning.

Captain’s Log, August 1, 2232: Construction has progressed to the point where we are required to take permanent residence in the core. Many of the crew and passengers were nervous about this, but the move completed without incident. J told me he loved me yesterday.

Captain’s Log, September 21, 2232: Construction is nearly complete. The attraction system has proven to be a bit of a challenge, however — the metallic hydrogen is far more volatile than the probes reported. We have made it work because of course we did. D is investigating what went wrong with the probes. In other news, a divide has arisen between some of the crew and passengers and the council have deemed it my responsibility to squash it. Since when does my job description include arbitration? J has not told me he loved me in 11 days.

Captain’s Log, September 30, 2232: A crew member has been murdered by a passenger. One of the elites took it upon himself to enact revenge for some petty little grievance that didn’t really matter to anyone. The elite has been consigned to a jail cell; cells I thought we’d never actually use. The crew member’s remains were given to the recycling system per protocol. I have assigned D to investigate what might be the cause of all this nonsensical squabbling. Construction is complete and the H attractor is fully operational. It will take another 412 days to harvest the energy required to get this thing moving. J told me he loved me last night.

Captain’s Log, November 1, 2232: The Halloween festival was a disaster. A riot broke out between the crew and the passengers leaving 15 dead. This is unacceptable and not just because we literally need every single person on this vessel. I have issued a quarantine dividing the crew from the passengers and they are no longer allowed to interact until I have figured out some way to solve whatever this is. Side note: even the council has started bickering amongst themselves. J told me he hated me this morning.

Captain’s Log, November 29, 2232: By some miracle (not really–she knows what she’s doing), D has discovered the source of our rampant hostility. (It’s a good thing, too, since I punched J in the face two days ago and I haven’t seen him since.) A combination of the metallic hydrogen’s excessive volatility, the gravitation neutralization system, and Jupiter’s massive gravity have caused an imperceptible hum to propagate throughout the vessel. It seems this hum was the cause of our agitation. Gravengineering (why did we let this word happen?) has determined that we cannot shut down the grav-n system to make the modifications necessary, so we took a portion of the audio system, turned it outward, and matched the frequency to cancel the hum. The effect was instantaneous. Much weeping and apologies could be heard throughout the vessel and afterward, and we’ve done little more than sleep for the past week. J and I made love today for the first time in what-felt-like forever.

Captain’s Log, January 15, 2233: A side effect of our make-shift hum-canceling system has caused us all to be sleepy all the time. We made adjustments that seemed to help, but we still require more sleep than should be necessary. To compensate, we adjusted everyone’s sleep schedule adding additional 45 to 75 minutes depending on the individual’s physiology. For the crew, this means less time to get things done, but we’ll make it work. Yes, Recorder, I am aware that I started those two sentences with a preposition; I thought I turned off the grammar check system for my personal logs. J and I are making love regularly and I have no complaints in that regard.

Captain’s Log, June 3, 2233: It has been one year since we reached Jupiter. J has insisted that I begin using the new calendar system. The years are longer and the days are slightly shorter in the new system and it is technically the year -274 BNE. Preparations have begun for the launching of the larger moons out of Jovian orbit. Goodbye Ganymede. Goodbye Callisto. Goodbye Io. Goodbye Europa. J told me he loved me twice yesterday.

Captain’s Log, July 1, 2233: The four large moons are now safely on their way out of the solar system. Callisto will eventually make its way back and fall into a stable orbit becoming another dwarf planet, but everything will be gone by then. Preparations have begun to attract the remaining 65 moons into the atmosphere. J and I had an argument that was resolved amicably.

Captain’s Log, September 9, 2233: The 65 moons have taken their residence in the atmosphere altering its shape. The new spherical shape is more than adequate. Everything is going smoothly. The H attractor is ahead of schedule and we will be launching on November 1. The council convened on whether to delay launch or adjust the new calendar system. I was amused. They decided to adjust rather than delay. Like much of the crew, J is depressed, and he has not told me he loved me in 3 days.

Captain’s Log, September 30, 2233: An unspoken sadness has fallen over the entirety of this vessel’s occupants. We don’t talk about this, but there are survivors on Earth, albeit ultimately doomed survivors, but they are people nonetheless. Jupiter was not only necessary for the evolution of Earth, but remains necessary for this solar system’s sustainability. By removing it, we are effectively sentencing Earth to a much quicker death. If only they had come with us.

Captain’s Log, October 29, 2233: We held a memorial for Earth today. D organized it. Is there anything she can’t do? J cried like most everyone else.

Captain’s Log, October 31, 2233: This marks the end of this log system. Post-launch, I am required to make a new public log system using the new calendar system and of a more formal tone. J and I had a long conversation about hope last night, and I feel much better about things. I do wish I could see this journey to completion, but, honestly, those experiences are intended for the next generation.

The Shannon Ferry

2017 NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge #1

“How does it work, mister?” The old helmsman was in a daydream and found himself startled by the young boy’s question. He turned around.

“Well, that is a very interesting question, isn’t it? But, how does what work, exactly? How does the wind blow? How does the water flow?” The helmsman raised an eyebrow and swept his arm outward. “How does this mist form? And, why does it always smell so much like some wondrous childhood memory that I can’t seem to remember?” The old man’s face carried a puzzled look.

“No, sir. I mean, none of those things. How is it that the boat knows the way across? Mother says that only this boat knows how to cross The Shannon. She says that all other boats get turned around and wind up right back where they began. She says that only this boat can reach Albion.”

“Well, now, is that what she says? Well, tell me this: how do you know it is the boat what knows the way across and not the helmsman?” He studied the boy’s face while the boy pondered his question. “Hmm… Have you ever heard of magic?”

The boy looked up and his eyes came alive. “Oh yes! We had a magician in Beland! He could heal people and make fire! He made the sky explode every year at the festival of Bel! Oh, but…” The boy’s face turned sullen and tilted downward. “He… Well, he died when the… Well, mother says he saved us, anyway. She says we’re going to Albion to start over.”

“Oh, is that so!? Well… forgive my disbelief, but, I can scarcely believe that you know no magic. You are practically brimming with it like a tea kettle about to blow its whistle.”

The boy was taken aback. “N… No, sir,” he replied as he shook his head.

The helmsman grinned and winked at the boy. And then, with a wave of his fingers and a mumble of some words the boy did not understand, he drew some of the mist into his palm. The mist began to take shape–the shape of what the boy thought must be a fairy. A misty, winged ballerina pirouetted on the helmsman’s freckled, wrinkled old hand. And then with another wink, the ballerina was gone. The helmsman leaned down and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Magic exists in everyone if you know where to look.”

The boy’s eyes might have bulged out of their sockets had the helmsman not interrupted the amazement running through the boy’s mind. “Now it is time to get back to your mother, if you don’t mind. I have a ferry to attend.” The boy turned to run back to his mother. The helmsman brought his hand up to his temple in that sort-of half-salute one does when they’ve remembered something. “But, before you go.” The boy stopped and the helmsman pointed toward the far corner of the deck near the bow. “You see that man slouched in the corner? He must be asleep, and sleep on the Shannon is the most peaceful of sleep. It is said that it can conjure the most fantastical of dreams. Do try to not disturb him, if you please.” The boy nodded, thought better of running, and decided to walk back to his mother, instead.

The ferry drifted along the water as if floating on a cloud, with nary a hint of list or pitch or some other disturbance in its course. In fact, if not for the sound of the lapping waves, the passengers might have believed they were truly sailing the skies. No shore could be seen in any direction and it was often difficult to tell which direction they drifted, causing unspoken doubt and fear to propagate throughout the passengers. The helmsman suffered no more disturbance until the ferry reached the other side.

He plopped the gangway down on the shore. The passengers made no attempt to hide their relief and then their excitement redoubled at having reached Albion. They departed post haste, nearly barreling over the helmsman before he had a moment to step to the side. He stood at the gangway and wished them a good evening and thanked them for their patronage. He noticed the boy was being shuffled along by his mother and gave the boy a wink and a grin. After the last passenger stepped off the gangway, the helmsman raised it and the ferry departed.

After a time, the helmsman stopped the ferry, weighed anchor, and sighed. Not one of the departed passengers had taken note of the man sleeping by the bow as they departed. He approached the sleeping man, bent down, and gave him a shake.

“No doubt you’re wondering why you can’t move.” The helmsman pulled out a projectile device and tapped it on his arm. “This is what you call a tranquilizer gun, and it is the best investment I have ever made for this job. You see, I shot you with this as soon as you sat down and the dart was small enough and the gun quiet enough that nobody noticed. It’s a shame nobody checked on you before they departed. If it’s any consolation, they never do.”

The helmsman grabbed the man under his arms. “It’s about time for the effects to start wearing off, so here, let me help you to your feet.” He heaved the man up and leaned him against the side of the boat. “The truth is, this ferry belongs to the Lady of the River, and it requires neither passengers nor helmsman to find its way. However, she requires payment, and some folks have need to cross, so I am here to ensure that payment is made. The tranquilizer gun is so great because, well, she wants you alive.” And with that, he pushed the man overboard.

Kazuki Hojo

Melissa collapsed on top of him in a sweaty, shaking heap of contentment and satisfaction. Kazuki couldn’t help but smile.

“I love you, Mel.”

“You better.” She sighed. “I miss electricity.”

“Well, there’s nothing to do about it, now.”

“I know.”

“We’re out of meat.”

“You’re always thinking about meat.”

“And?”

“You just like hunting.”

“We are out of meat, though.”

“Yeah yeah.” Melissa got up to go to the bathroom.  At least they had working plumbing. He lay there and stared at the ceiling waiting for her to come out. He wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to watch her get dressed.

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I See Darkness in My Dreams

I see darkness in my dreams.

The darkness hints at a sense of peace just beyond the tips of my outstretched fingers.  But it is never truly reachable, like a woman for whom you bare your soul but she refuses to give yours even the slightest of glances.  It is a short-lived respite and I welcome its frigid embrace for the quickening moment that I am allowed; for I will soon wake up, and that is never pleasant. This brief moment of darkness–this gentle kiss from the Night Mother–is all I now await; all I now desire; all I now portend.

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Fort Stupid

Whatever was calling to him, Zero was certain he liked it. The further he went toward whatever the thing was, the more of them he came across. And the more of them he came across, the more of them he got to burn.

If only he could get a damned vehicle to work. None of them worked. It didn’t matter how much gas they had, or what kind of condition they were in, they simply did not work. Damn all this walking. Walk walk walk walk walk. He wasn’t even sure how many days he had been walking.

But there were more of them to burn in this direction, and so he kept walking.

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Fort Hilltop

“Twenty-one adults and five children, all present and accounted for, ma’am!” Jasper was always so formal.

“Good, now go get some rest, and please do not call me ma’am.” Alice knew that last part would be ignored, as always, but she said it anyway.  She couldn’t help but like Jasper. He was eager to learn, willing to work, and hadn’t yet adopted the doom-and-gloom attitude of most of the rest of the group.

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The Bathroom Window

When I was a boy, I shared a room with my brother.  We lived in a small square house. I’m not kidding, the house was remarkably square from the outside.  I’m pretty sure it was the exact same dimensions on each side, but that’s not important.

My room was across the hall from my parents’ room.  They were the only two bedrooms in the house.  The hall was tiny, about twice as long as it was wide, and had one of those old-timey floor heaters in it–the kind that’s basically just a huge grate in the floor.  I still don’t know how those heaters worked, I just know that I used to stretch my legs across it in the morning to get warm in the winter. Our bedroom was at one end, my parents’ at the other, and in-between them was a bathroom.  Imagine a small room about one and a half the width of a doorway, and twice as long.  That was the hallway.  The bedrooms were on the ends, the bathroom in the middle, and the other doorway opened into the living room.   The bathroom was the only one in the house.

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I Have a Guardian Angel

I am an old man waiting to die. I’ve lost all desire, all drive, all interest in, well, anything at all. Heh, I don’t seem to do anything but sit here literally waiting to die every single day. The world took pity on me, probably because I’m so old, and stuck me in this place, which is barely better than living on the street.  At least I get food every now and then.

Let me tell you my story.

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