Painting above by Debbie Plowman

Monday, November 30, 2009

NOV ISSUE


Proudly Presents

THE FOLD
by G. Alden Davis
© by g. alden davis
click pic to begin reading Part 1



RABBITS RUN
by Sean Manseau
© by sean manseau




THE TIME-EATER
by Adam Bolivar
© by adam bolivar




CARINA NEBULA PANORAMA
by Shaun A. Lawton
© by shaun a. lawton




A NEW METAPHYSICAL
STUDY REGARDING THE
BEHAVIOR OF PLANT LIFE

by Shae Sveniker
© by shae sveniker




GRAVEYARD WALTZ
by Daniel José Older
© by daniel josé older



The NOV ISSUE of the FoFaSF would not be possible without its contributing authors. Heartfelt thanks, gratefulness, and much respect go out to G. Alden Davis, Sean Manseau, Adam Bolivar, Shae Sveniker, and Daniel José Older for truly outstanding contributions.

The NOV ISSUE is the last issue for 2009. Be sure to check back next year in JAN, 2010, for a real surprise.

Thanks to all contributors, the Freezine has amassed just enough momentum to warm its drives enough for it to coast by through winter.

If you or a contributing author you know would like to present a slice of your fiction for either daily serialization or, for shorter works, full-on display for our Friday Flash Feature--then by all means, email your submissions to freezinefantasysciencefiction@gmail.com. Highly trained nanoparticulars will do the rest.

Thanks also to all you Followers and Subscribers to the Posts and/or Comments: you are the feet attached to these pedals, only its not a bicycle. It's a freaking meme-machine at the mercy of your involvement (or lack of, as it were). So keep on stumbling upon, digging, clicking, tweeting, and sending your love and approval onward and out to all your friends, let them know that a new outlet for speculative fiction has emerged and with their continued involvement and support, can only grow wilder and more insane with each and every issue that dares to come into fruition.


GRAVEYARD WALTZ

by Daniel José Older



Janey found me at my spot on the cemetery hill late one Sunday afternoon. It’s true, I owed my future daughter-in-law for getting me that nice job at the overnight care center for troubled kids, and I owed her even more since I got my ass fired for holding midnight salsa classes, but that’s another story.

As she got closer, I turned down the music and retrieved a Malagueña from my pocket. When I got the graveyard gig, my boy Ernesto’d bought me an i-thing, a slick little music player, and loaded it up with all my favorite old salsa guys, but it never sounded right; those tiny headphones, and even though it’s supposed to be higher caliber, you can imagine what becoming so many zeros and ones does to a song. Instead, I just bring my record player to work. Yes, it’s a pain, but the quality is incomparable. The i-thing sits in my jacket pocket; I keep meaning to accidentally leave it outside the middle school across the street for one of the kids to find.

Janey says my name, Gordo, as she puffs her way up the last steps to where I stand chuckling. They call me Gordo because I am gigantic in the old world of rhumba and salsa, a legend. Also: because I am fat.

I can see by her face that she’s come to collect up on that favor so I head her off at the pass: I thought we were straight after I got you that jar full of cemetery dirt, I say with a wink.

Yeah, she says, turns out that was just you being nice.

Really? I say.

Turns out I need a bigger favor, and then we’ll be straight.

Janey works at this swanky save-the-children spot on Lorimer, teaching kids how to be well-behaved, properly speaking little robotrons. But of course, when the grinning overlords aren’t looking she always slips in some Malcolm X shit or a little hint about how to get one over on the cops. Anyway, the kids she was working with, they decided to build this monster--that’s what the cemetery dirt was about apparently--they needed all kindsa ingredients to make it work. It was supposed to be like a team-building exercise or something, you know from one of those corny books. Then Janey ended up throwing in a little of that Panamanian juju she inherited from her bruja granny and the damn thing came to life. Frankenstein-style, but she says they just caked it together from mud and clay, not a body.

Whenever I start a new job, I like to find The Perfect Spot. You’ll see me circling the place like a dog looking for somewhere to sleep. I’ll try one, smoke a Malagueña, take a nap, let it settle into my body. Then I’ll try another. At the cemetery, the Perfect Spot is on top of this tombstone speckled hill--a little sheltered outpost that affords me a terrific view of the midnight traffic on the BQE and beyond that, the sparkling city. From here, it’s obvious that those skyscrapers are just lit up gravestones, different books in the same library.

The sky grows dark over the city as Janey tells me her story. The beast was supposed to help their community. Something that would look good in a brochure, I suppose. But instead it cut loose, took out into the Williamsburg night. Janey and the kids went after it, and when they finally caught up, what does it do? The thing ate a hipster. Hipster is what they call these new-fangled white people that’ve been moving onto the block--the ones with the tight pants and big glasses. Now Janey has a serious clean up job on her hands.

You know, I say, the river’s really good for that kind of thing.

She says it’d bother her not to give the kid a proper burial, being that she was partially responsible for his death. And, he’d probably start troubling her dreams.

So here I am, at three AM on a soggy September morning, lugging two ominously heavy trash bags up a hill towards a shady grove of trees. I have a shovel and a flashlight and I’m trying to ignore the way one of the bags is knocking against my back as I walk, like it’s trying to get my attention. Still, the thrill of adventure is tickling me like it hasn’t done since Nesto’s mom made me give up breaking and entering. Perhaps it’s tinnitus, but the dead seem to be humming excitedly, a quiet droning to accompany my journey. Most people sneak around graveyards to steal bodies; here I am bringing one in. And I work here. If I’m caught, at least they will be confused. But then they may think I’m the one chewed up the boy. I walk a little faster.

Untold stores of ferocious grace remain in these old bones, however hidden beneath lard and cholesterol. The hole gets dug pretty fast but I‘m a sweaty disaster when it’s done. Just as I heave-ho the two bags in, the crunching of tires on gravel announces the imminent arrival of graveyard security. I probably know the guys; I play dominoes with a few of them at shift change, but still--this would be difficult to explain.

I’d like to say that I grappled my way down; even a controlled tumble would’ve been something. There wasn’t time for any of that though: I plummet. I felt sure my girth traveling at that speed would’ve given the planet a jolt, but the splintering bones and squishy body parts I land on break my fall, saving my ass in more ways than one. I try to breath as quietly as possible as the patrol jeep rumbles close and then wanders away.

It’s a few hours from dawn and I’m lying in a fresh grave with two trash bags full of severed hipster parts, so I sit up and light a Malagueña. I’m pretty sure I haven’t had a stroke or heart attack. Everything hurts slightly more than usual; perhaps I’m bleeding internally. That, at least, would be poetic. I close my eyes and pull a stream of smoke down my trachea to survey the damage. Things seem to be in working order.

I exhale and follow the cloud up into the dark sky, above the tombstones, above the trees and highway, above the sparkling city. Souls are rising into the night. It’s just graveyard souls at first, but then I start seeing people I know. There’s Old Corrales and Ruben, my bass player. Sylvia Delacruz, who used to give me head in the back room at Rio’s. By the time Nesto Jr. and Janey float by, tears are rolling down my face--which hasn’t happened in a few eons. All I hear is the swarming hymn of the dead and the clackity-clacking body parts beneath me. White pus is oozing from the torn up hipster’s limbs and slow-mo flooding through the streets of Brooklyn; a rising tide. The last few scattered souls float up into the sky and all that’s left are kids, thirteen and under. It’s a whole orchestra of the little guys, each armed with instruments and they’re putting up a fight, coming at the pus with everything they got. I hear them laughing and chattering as they blast homemade fire bombs from trombone cannons, and beat back the waves with flame-throwing tubas and sharpened, electric-guitar spears.

The chattering and laughter of children blends with scattered birdsong as morning breaks around me. Everything is back to normal, but nothing will ever be the same. I sit up, take in the crisp new day air. It’s a beautiful morning, but something terrible is coming. Perhaps Janey saw the same vision, and that’s why she does what she does. Either way, my own path is clear: I’ll drop off this i-thing in front of the middle school. While I’m there, I’ll see if they need anyone to teach music or sweep the floors or both. Maybe at the school there will be a nice spot for me to smoke and ponder in between classes. I’ll see what this new day brings. But first I have to get out of this hole.



~ ~ ~


~ ~ ~


NOV ISSUE
IS COMPLEAT

Friday, November 27, 2009

A NEW METAPHYSICAL
STUDY REGARDING THE
BEHAVIOR OF PLANT LIFE

by Shae Sveniker
Los Angeles, CA





John and Emma were smoking on the street after watching a science fiction movie. It was about these aliens that had abducted an entire city's worth of humans to a research station in space, which was built to look exactly like a city. It even had highways, rivieras, and skyscrapers. The aliens were exchanging the people's memories to see how they act when given different lives.

"...so you don't eat meat because you're disturbed that the thing you are eating used to be alive?" John asked. John had never dated a vegan before and she was pretty adamant about her views on omnivores.

"Yeah," Emma said, "it freaks me out so bad, I can't look at it, a slice of flesh, sitting there on a plate. I can't look at it without thinking it used to belong to a part of something that had a consciousness and a life. It might have been a shitty life or a good life, but it was a part of something that used to be living, that knew it was alive."

"Hm..." John said.

They walked down the street in the dark, sweet-smelling drizzle. The streetlamps reflected in the puddles. Suddenly it began to pour harder, big, fat, raindrops, the kind that belong in a Texas thunderstorm, the kind that soak your shirt after a mere second; John had parked the Plymouth a few blocks away so they began to run. It was raining harder and harder, and trash began floating down the gutters.

Laughing, John and Emma ducked into an awning. The rest of the block was mostly unlit, there was no one else on the street, it was very picturesque. John, pork-pie hat wet from the rain, held Emma close, her red lipstick pointing up at his face like the paint of a helicopter landing pad. Even in those bright red four-inch heels she was only as tall as his chest. He was a big man though, who liked to wear ties. Even from so far away, he felt her breath on his face, they were both smiling, he felt nervous, like mice were running circles in his stomach, so he pulled her closer and they kissed. It was very romantic.

"This is very romantic," he said.

"You make me laugh," she said.

"So let's get to know each other better," he said. "Stick with me, kid, we'll go places."

"Alright," she said. "But let's wait a minute to see if this rain lets up."

So they talked about why Emma was vegan and other things similarly inane. It didn't matter. They felt like they had known each other for a long time, and were comfortable around each other even though they had only met that night.

"So, I just won't eat meat when I'm around you, OK?" John said.

"You don't have to do that," Emma said, "It's just my choice."

"No, it's about respect, ok? But also, if you're around it'll be easier for me to eat healthy."

"Whatever," Emma rolled her eyes, but she was still in his clutches, so he kissed her again. It really was quite romantic and silly.

The rain was still heavy and John held Emma close to him, she leaned against him "I heard from a friend of mine about a new metaphysical study regarding the behavior of plant life," he said.

"Oh yeah?" she asked, "How reliable is this source?"

"Not really, but listen anyway," he said "These scientists, or students, or whatever, were growing two tomato plants with the exact same variables, like, in the same room, same fertilizer, same light, everything the same. So these plants were growing really well and they were tomato plants and fertilized each other's flowers and shit and they bore fruit and they were both very healthy and their tomatoes tasted good on soy-meat sandwiches, you dig?"

She laughed and said "Yeah I get it, one of them is a control, so what'd they do to the variable?"

"You're very sharp, you pretty thing!" he said. She dug her head into his ribs. "Ouch! Ok, so one day, one of the scientists or students or whatever, came in with a big pair of scissors and chopped one of the tomato plants to bits vicious-like and killed it. The scientists or students or whatever then kept taking care of the other plant exactly like they had been, with just the right amount of attention and fertilizer and everything, and they just left the dead one there."

"Whoa," she said, "that seems cruel to me for some reason..."

"That's not the half of it, get this, the living plant started to wilt, and within the month, the poor thing was dead! Isn't that terrifying?"

"Yeah, that's pretty funny" she said. John then looked very sad, let go of Emma, turned his back, and started walking away.

"No, no it isn't," he said.

She laughed, "Oh, come on! Yes it is!" and reached out to him, but when she grabbed the left sleeve of his sport-coat, his arm felt out of it, severed at each socket, including his fingers, twenty-five pieces in all fell to the ground. Then his left leg buckled in some very unnatural ways, then the rest of him, like a well-dressed mannequin made of puzzle blocks, until he lay there in two-hundred and six pieces; not that Emma was very much bothered by how many pieces of John were suddenly dead and silent and unmoving at her feet.


~ ~ ~




Come back Monday, Nov 30
and read Graveyard Waltz,
by Daniel José Older

when the FoFaSF wraps up
this month's issue

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THE FOLD:12

by G. Alden Davis




Elongated crystals emerged from the cave walls and pointed into the vault. The hum of electromagnetic waves grew strong, as an energetic field grew between the crystals, running through and around the miracles and objects gathered.

The energy hummed along, obeying its natures and flowing through the circuitry of crystals, metals, intention and age. It carried with it the information of each artifact, converted to light and stored in the building signal. As it wound through the vault it grew in intensity, gathering data and strength.

As I watched, each of the objects was seemingly cataloged, and the tone of the energy changed with each addition. The vault began to reveal it’s true nature as the crystalline web in the walls began to glow.

The geology wasn’t lost on me--quartz, iron, silicate--every element was present to create a kind of electromagnetic storage device, and the revolving energy that was sparked by the beings was starting to hum through the vast array of objects. It was reading, and recording, each object. In addition to the direct components, it gained all the memories of the ages stored in each object. One by one the immense picture of history on earth was formed and recorded into this enormous natural databank.

The history of Earth--the true history without political distortion--was all around me. I could feel the ancient tides, the horrible warfare, the spiritual heights. I saw that the energy had wound through me, collecting me into this planetary and galactic history.

Intense, elated, but exceedingly calm, I began retracing my careful steps through the vault. It would not do to tip over a statue or knock over an urn. I simply wished to withdraw from the chamber and allow the recording to go on unimpeded.

Besides, the effect of learning one’s true place in the great scheme, well let’s just say it is humbling and leave it at that.

I made my way back out of the vault, and stopping at the portal, I pulled down the gypsum panel that formed the seal. It must have been electromagnetic, as suddenly the overwhelming hum was reduced to a dull vibration.

I walked back through the winding gut of the slot canyon on legs that threatened mutiny. As I approached the mouth, the warm and familiar glare of dawn was visible on the redrock rims. I quickened my painful stride, limping faster to the opening.

The warmth reached me first, and it was like coming home. It was mother and her homemade bread, all safe and buttery smooth. As I neared the opening my heart swelled, and I shed a tear. Exhausted, amazed, transformed, I emerged from the shadowy slot canyon into the full bright of the morning sun.

But it was not the sun, and it was not the day.

Before me was that sizzling glass and gold sphere, that world in itself of energy and light. It had returned, and positioned itself at the canyon rim so I would walk right to it.

It was close enough to shake my clothing, to vibrate the threads or the atoms in the threads, just from its throbbing force.

As I watched the massive Mer-Ka-Ba spin, I saw an aperture open in the energy shell around it. It sparkled open, dripping out sizzling globs of glass and gold.

It hovered in place, door open, its invitation palpable in the desert, pre-dawn dark.

I know that I could have walked across the flat for days, and the sun would never have fully risen, remaining instead just shy of the horizon. I had slipped somehow just beyond the place where the gears of time get their grip. This was a world where time drifted but never seemed to proceed. It was a land of delirium, tribulation, and waste.

I could have walked forever beneath that sky of fixed stars and frozen time. My limp would soften to a sob and my face would crease from the hours of peaking wince. The planets would remain fixed for days on end, and the haunt of a distant whispering would be all that remained of the wind.

I was in a plane of earth that is untouched by the living, an eternal unspoiled rock apart from time and utterly uninhabited by those of the flesh. It was a realm where spirits met, perhaps. I could fathom little purpose other than that, and of course the massive library of objects and information that was situated to my back.

Was this a part of earth’s future--or distant past? Some uninhabited eon on a rock rich with iron and quartz, that could easily be used as some kind of cosmic memory bank?

The answers stood ensconced in brilliance within the open door before me. I took a step forward. Even as I formulated questions, I could hear answers in a musical, jewel-like voice.

“What is this?” I asked myself.

“Home.” The answer came like a single, sustained note.

“Am I dead? Did that sting--”

“Initiation. Transformation.” Came the double-bell answer.

I stood in an antechamber that seemed to be made of stained glass windows and colored beams of sunlight. To the left a column descended, and a figure stepped from it.

It stepped from the overpowering light and I saw glimmering golden feathers, hammered metal and circuitry-like jewels. Something with the head of a falcon regarded me. It pointed to another crystal column I had not seen before. Where we in the same room? Had we moved?

Within the crystal column I could make out vague shapes; all were dragonfly-metallic green, and gold. Lights winked from complex surfaces. I saw a helmet of sorts, a visor of emerald, a suit of scales and under everything a circuitry humans wouldn’t produce for a thousand years.

It took me weeks to grow comfortable in that radiant suit of wonders. I climbed into it that first day, when Horus assisted, but he isn’t much for explanations. I learned how to move around, and most of all use the helmet, over the following days and weeks.

I say weeks although there are none onboard, of course. I still hold to human time but they assure me that will pass. I’m also certain that I will never forget what happened, I’ll never lose the vision of life in my green New Hampshire. I may have been reborn in that wasteland of redrock wilderness, but my first love was the green of nature as she fought to regain ground in the spring.

I will never forget anything, again, as I am now guardian of the eternal record. The Akashic record--often claimed a myth, is a very real and remarkably tangible thing. It is an organic, perhaps even alive, array of minerals, magnetics, and energy that combine to be the best memory bank in creation--in fact, one so great that it not only records a copy of the information for a true duplicate; it is a hologram of everything that has happened.

Why am I here? Well, it turns out that gods get used up, piloting this sun-machine through the skies of a trillion worlds. They eventually wear out, and need to be swapped like a sparkplug in your Chevy.

That whole thing with the sting and the wild psychedelic ride was a kind of test--an initiation. Even though I suspect it killed me, I guess I did OK.

Nothing here is even close to my former life. Existence is driven primarily by duty.

I am now one with Akashia, the living library. I feed it the latest information collected as we travel the dimensions, locating full artifacts from worlds and adding them to the record. When there are no duties to perform, I sift through the Akashic Array and study the myths of distant, foreign worlds.

Is there a lesson here? A Moral? I doubt it.

I got lost in my life, set adrift in the wasteland, and suffered harm to my body and mind. I found how much our senses define our reality. As everything I knew dissolved, something new was revealed. Only by letting go of my old life could I grasp this new existence. That is the essence of transformation.

So love your lives, readers, but cling not to them overtight. Make them what you will. Allow them to drift on occasion. Walk the halls between memories. Peer into the spaces between dreams. It is there, within those sacred interior spaces, where some of the answers lie.


~ ~ ~




Tune in tomorrow
for the Friday Flash Fiction

A NEW METAPHYSICAL
STUDY REGARDING THE
BEHAVIOR OF PLANT LIFE

by Shae Sveniker

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

THE FOLD:11

by G. Alden Davis




The first step was torture and the second one was worse. I was a rag doll, torn across cactus and left to bake in the sun. I drug my feet up the boulder path that remained lit by the glow of godlings. It seemed the molecules themselves had taken on light, inspired by the energy that had flashed by. In any case it was a simple thing to follow their path in the hour before dawn. That warm awakening was late, in fact, made truant by the Sun-Chariot landing and delayed for some time while the galactic treasures were unloaded and brought to--where? As I stepped with care over rocks and into the twisted sandstone slots, I asked myself a final time if I really wished to continue.

I thought of everything--the car, the cooler full of sand, the sting of the cave bug, the incredible timeless trip of my mind on that terrible venom. I was stabbed in the hand, tore open my foot, walked countless miles, got caught in a flood, and was hammered by debris. Along the way I had seen Spanish miners from a previous century get caught by an ancient curse.

Did I really want to locate the vault these creatures had taken their treasures to?

As I pondered this fundamental issue my feet were moving mechanically, bringing me closer to the location in question. They had chosen a slot that was a near-horizontal path, winding its maze at the bottom of sheer and vertical walls. I followed the sparkle of their passing until I reached an end. It seemed a dryfall--the skeleton of a waterfall in stone. A dead-end cliff rose a hundred feet before me.

I stood at the cliff base and peered at the sandstone patterns. One could often see pictures in the grains. I relaxed my eyes and allowed them deeper perception.

Slowly the darker grains formed a shape, like a handprint, and I responded by placing my crucified palm against the cool rock. Ever so gently I pushed.

There was a sound like a stone sarcophagus sliding and a darkness appeared to my left. A corridor had opened as a stone slab was counterweighted up and back.

The path went into the cool dark, the glow of god feet still bright enough to navigate. The sinuous nature of the snaking way brought to mind my previous adventure, and I thought dimly to look out for stingers.

Farther back in this winding crack, the smooth sandstone gave way to strands of glassy selinite and gypsum. It wove throughout the quartz sandstone like a crystalline grid, revealing nubs and streaks at first but as the cave went on it became more pronounced, like bars and blades that thrust from the understone. I saw rusted spheres embedded in the walls, among the shards of crystal; small iron deposits called Moki stones by the ancients.

My scientific mind was battered and bruised, you see. It was not immediately clear what I was walking into. The geology, the elements exposed, the iron and crystal…

As the twisting tunnel lost its previous outer light, a purplish glow from ahead began creeping stronger into my sight. It was like UV, like blacklight, that strange and mysterious wavelength known for its fluorescent properties.

Without further puzzle, or trap, or damaging fall, I turned the corner and walked straight into the main vault of those inhuman gods.

It was a hoard worthy of the eldest dragon, a vast pile so immense that it exceeded all fairy tales, all myths, all dreams. It was the treasure of worlds, the best of forever, the finest materials in the heavens.

As I fell to my knees I beheld what was before me. I saw a massive amethyst chest, with twin eagles carved in detail atop it, facing off with outstretched wings. It was lit internally by something deep in its hollow. Just behind was a gold and cobalt array, like a chandelier or star-map, with winking gemstones placed in meticulous, visual rhythm. To the side was a stone panel, the lid of Palenque’, revealing one of the god-folk launching some kind of dimensional craft. There were statues of crystal, columns of gold, artifacts of finely carved gems. There were manuals and matrices, the scrolls and books of a thousand lost people. I got back to my feet, and staggered through the vault of wonders.

I saw a thunderbird carved of ancient wood, a totem pole with menacing grins, a headdress made of the last remaining Quetzal. I saw a drum carved out of tourmaline with a skin like spider silk. I saw a staff of bronze studded with sapphire stones.

There were rows of urns and boxes and chests, some rather plain and others incredibly refined. There was a jar carved out of ruby, and urn made of quartz.

There were clay jars stopped with copper, short lead wires out the top. Stacked in rows were crates of wood, crates of iron, copper and bronze. There were glass crates bound in iron, and containers carved from massive jewels.

Everything glowed its own color, and these dweomers combined over the hoard to make a scintillating display of light and hue.

From where I stood at the center I could see the patterns of arrangement, of order, that every object had been placed in. I could see the effects but couldn’t fathom the logic. I was certain that all was in place and that nothing should be moved.


THE FOLD concludes tomorrow with Part 12

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE FOLD:10

by G. Alden Davis




Garuda, familiar from visits before, beat her wings and scraped the sky above the caravan of gods. She beamed twin spotlights from her wide, scanning eyes, as if seeking a landmark back in the cracks of canyon and drop. She flew on ahead, making broad passes with her luminous, revealing gaze. While I watched this miracle in flight, her form would waver and change, looking at times to be made of fire and at others of metal and bolts. Her wings made lofty strokes, yet between the winds I thought I could hear a faint, humming grind.

She canted her wings and screeched around the tip of a hoodoo cliff. Her gleam reflected off the sandstone labyrinth for several turns, then it too was gone.

The column of godlings had begun to pass my hiding hole, and I was afforded the closest of looks at their many abnormal feet. With shock that dulled to a humming amazement, I watched as they revealed a diverse bloodline from feather to scale to skin. Some went bare while other were clad in the grandest examples of footwear from historical to artistic to fantastic.

Some wore sandals of gold wire, wound around extruded trigon shapes that curled from beneath fat jewels like a minimal starfish clutching a soft shard of driftglass. Buckles of similar silvered glass were studded with cut stones that winked like distant stars.

Other feet were shod in boots, from light skin-tight styles to heavily armoured, thundering warboots. One wore calf-high supple second-skins, riveted with tiny copper studs and folded over at the tops with leather fringe. They laced with ancient rawhide straps that crisscrossed the shin in an irregular but balanced fashion. Rather than a series of zigzags down the front, the laces instead formed alien ideograms in their strapping. There at the top hung a wooden loop woven with a web of gut, decorated with beads and bone.

Another was strangely western with an upturned silver toe and a star of metal at the heel like a strange and otherworldly spur.

Some feet were bare, and it was the horror of these limbs that pushed my breath out from my lungs in a heaving gasp. If the cry had been any louder I am sure they would have turned then and rooted me out.

Some of the feet striding in front of me were clawed, with long slender digits ending in nails like talons. The skin was scaled like the claw of a hawk, and indeed a hind digit thrust from the heel. Above the ankles thick scales formed lateral bands around the leg, which was thin and wire-strong at the bottom and thickened with muscles nearer the knee. A group of these passed, and the shimmering glisten of their feathered scales sent a shiver through me.

I recalled a dancer from this birdlike tribe, spinning and dancing to a drum cadence that even in memory hammered my skull in a mezmer which bordered on trance. Those firelight rhythms remained with me like a shadow cast by a sound.

Another group passed close together, in a formation. They all wore metallic boots, wrought with slender pipe-like workings that bore gears and cogs along their interconnected lengths. These odd switches clicked back and forth as the boot stepped, and then all synchronized to one resistant, springing force as the tread passed through it’s various stress points. All along the arch these tiny appendages forced and released in crablike succession, testing and resisting the push of the ground beneath the weighty mass of whatever was wearing these incredible boots.

While they passed directly in front of me I could only see their feet, but farther along the procession I could steal the occasional wider glance.

To the right I saw them approach in a narrow crescent, breastplates and helmets glittering in the odd light. The left provided a glimpse of their curving backs, winged shoulders, tapering or feathered tails. The line curled from the opening crack way back into the canyon, headed back into the twist I had narrowly escaped. Most animals and many creatures I could not name were represented in the shimmering, metallic forms.

Amongst the receding backs I saw shoulders heavy with mantles of metal scale, then harnesses of leather and glass, and armour that was welded into place as a seamless, impenetrable shell. There were cloaks of all arrangements, from folded wings to enormous, over wrapping swaths. One cloak I saw must have been made of bendable liquid crystal; it displayed abstract animations that played across the wrinkled curtain of the wearer’s back. This was tucked beneath a mantle of some material that seemed like leather, but was studded regularly with rubbery, raised knobs.

From the approach I made out faces, and of course every one seemed hidden by a primitive, artistic mask. Some were formed from bark, rough holes cut for sight. Others were leather stretched on golden wire frames. Some, admittedly the rarest of them, seemed formed of crystal by a smooth and mark-free tool.

I saw masks beyond count or countenance. One was crafted from human skull, jawbone tied in a fashion to speak, hair spiked with blood, teeth filed to points in a shark-like skeletal grin.

One was a radiant golden plate, curved just enough to maintain the secret, whose surface was treated with a liquid and shining sheen. Looking at it hurt, like staring at the sun.

There were winged helms, eye slits in several colors of chrome, mouthpieces like rebreathers in deepsea scuba gear. There were helms with hearts engraved in gold on cobalt gunmetal with runes at the edge of every glowing seam.

As their burdens were taken past, I could see in some detail what rested so heavily on the carts and rickshaws. At first I doubted my eyes, but after several carts revealed similar content, I relaxed and watched as the treasure of a thousand worlds went by.

A group of kachinas approached and passed, their arms wrapped tight around a burden of baskets. Each was woven in the distinct patterns which identified their tribe to others in neighboring lands. I could not read it, but was left to appreciate the information merely for the geometry it used. I saw baskets brimming with corn, and fruit of all kinds.

I saw gold blocks, perfect cubes a foot to each side, stacked in pyramids on pallets made of glass. Each golden cube was engraved with tiny figures whose raised edges glinted with an odd, interior light. It was a remarkable combination of circuit and fiber optics. Although I guessed it to be impossibly heavy, each ziggurat pile rested on a thin glass pallet, only three inches thick, which hovered about two feet off the desert floor.

Tiny lights embedded in the edge of the glass plate strobed on and off in staggered succession, as if rotating through a repeating, alien message. A narrow tether like serpentine chain was held by one of the walkers, who pulled it gently behind. A low, almost subsonic rumble came from beneath each plate.

Next came a larger burden, a great metal wheel clamped edgewise on the glass carrier by two mechanisms made of copper and crystal. Only able to view the lower few feet of the disk itself, I was nonetheless able to see the many figures and shapes inscribed on it’s surface. Fierce animals of unknown species occupied square tiles that ran along the wheel’s outer edge. Beneath were studs of silver and stars of precious stone, a pictogram of the heavens describing unfamiliar constellation.

Toward the center were more beasts, and the limit of my vision. A massive artifact, it sat on a thicker pane of glass than the rest, and it was drawn by two rows of bronze-skinned primitives that must have been slaves. These beings had a slightly nonhuman appearance, like a primitive link between mankind and something else.

More treasures passed, the rows and ranks uncoiling from what must have been a vast craft indeed, if a vehicle really described what the Sun-Chariot was. Did it move as we know it, and if it did who could say if its outside moved at the same rate as the interior chambers?

Gold, silver, and bars of a greenish metal I didn’t recognize all went past. The sight of it was overwhelming, not only because of the value but due to the craftsmanship inherent in the objects themselves. The artwork and scientific instruments of these weird beings asked more questions than they answered at a glance. The curious nature and unknown functions of such objects burned at me, running second behind my punctured foot. Infection was creeping in.

When finally the last of the column passed, and had vanished around the far bend in the canyon, I was able to wrap a strip torn shirt around the red and puffy hole. Swollen as it was, my foot refused to fit back into my shoe. I forced it in, and the resulting nausea and lancing pain rolled into me, lodging deep in my throat like a bone. Gagging, I lost consciousness for a moment or two. Pulling myself together I crawled from beneath the rock.

Time had elapsed, unseen but steady as the procession of gods passed carrying their Akashic treasures.

The Sun Chariot was gone, and the true sun had failed to make its date with dawn. There was little flow left in the stream, having emptied its load of mud and gravel into the flatlands and flood plains.

I saw no lights out across that flat, and no lights on the distant hills at its perimeter. No signs of people, no towns or even a ranch. Everything had returned to stillness.

It was quiet save for a gentle wind.

My stomach rolled again as I stepped down, and it became obvious that wherever I was planning to go it would not be a fast journey.

I was right. It took forever.

Time had stopped for the god’s great down-loading, to allow the movement of treasures mythic and informative. All the knowledge of the universe and beyond, had passed before me in the form of icons, symbols and relics as the procession wound up-canyon.

Curiosity was compelling and it battled with my desire for safety. I was completely drained, and everything hurt. Some parts hurt without mercy, those wounded areas that had been stung, torn, and crucified by the desert. Other parts hurt from use- my hips seemed to be grinding into the tops of my legs and my neck screamed out when I turned my head.

I was done. Completely expended.

There was no way I could summon the reserves to track the god’s trail back into the canyons. My back protested the thought with a stabbing shock to my spine.

My eyes still saw a slight, aura-like glow down the path the beings had taken. I could note the openings into several slots and the option they took. They had been carrying miracles.

Miracles.

My hips screamed as I stood, and one by one each tortured part of my ragged body had cast it’s vote on the matter. My mind was hooked by the notion of wonders, and those crying parts of me would just have to come along.


THE FOLD continues tomorrow with Part 11

Monday, November 23, 2009

THE FOLD: 9

by G. Alden Davis



A pause seemed to interrupt the roar momentarily and my stomach dropped. I had reached a waterfall in the jagged canyon, and I was now in the dark air with all that debris, dropping quickly into the twisting slots. The fall felt forever. Then with a slam and explosion of pain the trunk caught like a bone in the stone throat of the tight, and the branch in my foot cracked off. Again I was falling, this time into swift waters that followed the initial violent front of the flood.

For a while I was under, while my lungs craved to explosion beneath the coffee-stained boil of black. I could not force my eyes to open, against what I knew would be stinging, sandblasted grit. After several crumpling impacts with the canyon and large debris, I dropped once more into a free fall. This one stretched even longer, and with the added mathematical horror I calculated the velocity, terrified.

I dropped and dropped, first resisting the sheer scream at the back of my nerves. Then I succumbed to it, bellowed aloud. I yelped as loud as my howl would allow. My hand was stung with poison through the palm and now my foot was punctured; these stigmata should have seemed suspicious but all I had within me was a scream.

The sound stretched out behind my fall, chasing me down and scattering long echoes into every corner and crack. It became an eagle’s cry, a trilling flute, and then I struck the water, where my scream pushed back the drowning boil until I could resurface. Heavy shapes pounded past beneath me, and driftwood all but choked the top. I drew my arms up to protect my face and pulled in a burning lungful of dawn. I held like this and bobbed downstream with the churning logs while the sunrise hid just beneath the rim.


FOUR




The canyon widened out and water slightly slowed. Gradually the steep walls dropped until I reached a shallow flood-plain stretching for miles. Looking out I saw no sign of civilization- no gas stations, houses, not even a rusting junker abandoned in the wastes.

Across this space, from behind the far rim of redrock hills, something began to emerge. Heralded first by an enormous tentacle of energy that uncoiled into the sky, a blinding curvature crept up, bulging like a blister on the skin of space. Around its rim flared curls of fire, jets that stretched away for what seemed miles, coiling back like slow lightning returning to ground. As it continued to expose its radiant surface, these coronal discharges were lost in the overpowering glare of the thing itself.

My pupils shrank against the blast of light. This was no sunrise, I knew, and this was not the sun.

It rose like a predator, eating the night and consuming the stars in the sky. It was a hissing ball of golden light, an enormous jittering flare. It dripped gleaming liquid that spattered on the desert flat. Blocking the bulk of the unbearable glare with a hand, I could discern feathery plasma around the orb which spread like wings on either side. This image resounded in a memory, of history and hieroglyphs engraved in stone. It was the winged wheel of a gone time, the sky-chariot of a dead god. Its glare was frightening, and eerily familiar. It grew larger as it moved across the hardpan, gaining on my position with sudden intent. The wings at its side flexed and spread feathers. Hot slag sizzled out of the light, leaving a trail of fresh glass in the desert behind.

With breath caught in my thickened throat, I choked back awe and fear, held my ground even as my own blood fled from my face and fingers. My eyes were wide and rimmed with dirty tears, pupils minute in a sea of bloodshot white. My mouth was dry and my teeth crunched grit as I bit back my fright. Of all the wonders and horrors I had seen in this land of delirium, this single presence was the apotheosis, the stunning summit of all I had ever dreamed. It reached me in some interior sense, and awoke some dormant organ akin to my heart and mind, a third eye in my flat region of forehead. This bright in my eyes, including this newfound third, was a beam of information, a communiqué from far inside that searing orb to the deepest part of me. It stuttered out eons, whispers of history, of ages gone and those to come; of orbits, rotation, ecliptics, and drift.

As it neared I could hear its noise; a dim hum composed of one part sound and nine vibration, lower than audible but felt in the teeth and chest. The sizzling drips fell with the dying hiss of frying snakes. It was enormous, larger than any aircraft, and yet it gave no impression of mass. Energy scintillated like a second skin across the unseeable hull of bright, and the feathering wings were gossamer phased with gold. Intermittent sparks cascaded over the sphere, forming odd geometries. Then it slowed and stopped, hovering a few hundred yards away. Again it spoke, in broken words, of prayer, intention, and the treasure of knowledge. It existed at the behest of its pilots, given form by their current desires, and thus shone bright like a winged sun, a star chariot. It dominated the sky and chattered out those hissing, warding sparks.

While I watched from behind the safety of a boulder, the sphere itself began to slightly dim, and the sparkling lines and forms that danced on its surface revealed themselves to be complex sacred symmetries. The whirling runes and ley-lines revolved and spun down, until I could see that what had appeared as a sphere was actually a pair of pyramids overlapping to form a star. This star tetrahedron, counter-rotating in on its self-intersecting spin gave the illusion of a solid, spherical shell. At rapid speeds the energy that seeped from the centrifugal pull were drawn out into this whirling shell, much like the trail of electrons will form a basic, resistant sphere as material’s inner workings spun in orbits unseen.

Now slowing, I could discern that within those great, spinning energy fields there were shapes caught in half-shadow. I could tell little about these distant figures save that they were alive, moving with purpose.

The wings of the sky chariot spread to their limit, then collapsed in a fold as the two pyramids spun to a halt. Balanced at their base, they seemed less substantial than a dream. It lowered, until the discharges from its field lit the sand beneath it. As everything slowed, that sand patch cooked, and within minutes a thin disk of new glass had formed just below.

The roar of energy and force wound down to an oscillating whine, then died to a moan, a ghost of a hum, and within minutes, gone. Everything grew very still. Nothing crept through the wire-like desert scrub. Nothing sang songs at the dying night.

With a shuddering chuff a bright slit lined the lower edge. The light that came through was like a sheet of blue glass, a wide cobalt laser that grew taller as a panel slid silently up on the half-seen hull.

One by one emerged the processional of figures that I had seen in my dream the night before. In the dream I watched as they danced, demigods that seemed half animal dressed in armour of hammered gold. Did that not foretell of their intrusion into my waking life? Now here they were, emerging from some mystical craft and coming towards the very canyon that had just spat me out.

Behind me the water had slowed, over the initial flash stage, and it was more like a thin, snowmelt stream than the monster river roaring me over and out through the night. My body had been punished, to some unknown interior limit. My mind was the same, in a state of shock, its pain receptors blown and cohesive logic formed only on occasion.

I took an inventory of damages before looking back at the bright exit and what was making use of it.

The being in front carried something in its hands that shone white light around them. It sparkled off of bronze scales, golden feathers. Strange eyes shone from each.

Among the column I recognized an eagle, a lizard, a bat.

From the pages of myth and tabloid these beings strode, each one an agent of some animal-human composite. I saw the jackal-headed Anubis striding from that glowing portal, and behind him a host of slave-beings in tow. They drug unearthly burdens behind in their tracks, ransom that this god of death had once succumbed to. All these being bore a weight of glamour, a sheen of wealth unheard of on our world or the next. The creatures wore armour of gold, silvered inlay studded with precious stones. Even from where I hid I could tell that a great deal of their power was derived by a sublimation of precious metals and gemstones. They had magic, of a sorts to be certain. Where these animal men actually the demigods of legend? I did not at that time know.

I watched as the line stretched out, more and more of these breathtaking beings stepping through that tetrahedral port. Skinwalker, Manitou, Mars and the Lord all seemed to emerge from that slit in reality that formed about the counterspinning shapes. I dreamt and yet was awake, hypnotic in the grip of the sheer force of might that shone from these creatures. They had dominion, I felt this and still do. They had rights to this world that no man could grasp, only kneel and succumb to. A lump formed deep in my throat as one by one all the gods I knew stepped from the Mer-Ka-Ba chamber.

The feature each one shared is that they heaved under a burden, a weight of obvious treasures and chests whose contents remained more anonymous than their struggling trouble to carry.

By me they all walked, and I crawled to the deepest dark of the shadow I could find. Quiet as they were to noise, I crept into a hole in the sand that dipped beneath the stone. From there I peered at the brilliant parade, reminded of times as a child, in dream-parks all night and the young misunderstanding of prayer.

I could not believe the rattling procession of metal and bone that corrupted and blessed the narrow corridor of stone. That was the crack that had minutes before thrown me headlong away from the crags and bone-shattering quicks of a flash flood. Now the processional thundered up, through the mud and across slicks I hoped to circumvent.

At that time I knew that I must be here to witness this, it could not be heat-induced delirium. I was here to note that Gods still rode their chariots across our skies. They still fought in the cloudbanks above us and let thunder discuss their eternal struggle with anyone who would hear. They hammered in the waterfall at the back of a cave, they howled with the crying beasts who mourned beneath the moon.

Before me strode forms I had seen only in pictograms, strange beings of shadow on stone, and a herd of ghost buffalo thrummed lumbering through with buckskinned braves behind them. It was a stampede of a sort not matched before by the crashing pressure of flood. This flood of energy spanned the breadth of space, expanded time, and erased moments wasted in the grasp of disregarded pasts.


~THE FOLD continues tomorrow with Part 10~

Friday, November 20, 2009

CARINA NEBULA PANORAMA

by shaun a. lawton


photo courtesy of Hubblesite.com




The continuum of space in this region curves along the contours of an astronomical skull vaguely human in appearance. The skull lingers, the image of a face thrown from a ghost into a colossal mirror. It is comprised of slowly shifting loops of pregalactic dustmotes. They gather together to form a smokelike chalice, a shadow thrown from the excalligraphed egg developing right beside it. This egg is illuminated from within by green mossy patches in a star-sparked albumen draped in suspension across the vacuum, a whispered dream of things to come. The placental egg-sac mirrors a faint visage of an infant's ovoid skull, a superimposed mask of bone looking downward and away, fog and shadow drifting from its eye sockets.

This vast explosively forming egg of cosmic debris is ridden by a wide-shouldered warrior whose long dark hair blows in the solar winds. He oversees the development of this crucial nexus, formulating a sort of galactic nest. Past civilizations on Earth have often mistaken the great over shadowing skull's left eye socket and expanding nasal ring for the gilded butterfly wings of the rider's steed. These wings were construed in ancient times as being a part of the constellation Vela. In half forgotten myths, they once represented the sails of a mammoth ship named the Argo.

This region of deep space is now called Carina, and it's spirit guardian is the warrior rider Navis. Argo might have been the haunted egg gifted with the shadow of promise that we can now see Navis ride to defend; whatever the case, most legends like these are lost now, sunken below the waves of distant memory. This current glimpse of Navis's solar photoshadow serves as a reminder that he was assigned to preserve the egg-cache. Argo is a galaxy in utero, and it must be protected and defended from injury or evil, and allowed to fully develop.

The unfathomable stream of flowing hydrogen below Navis is an analog of the river Lethe. In the fulcrum of expanding space, seminality is reversed, hence the flowing hydrogen gas represents life. Yet it is a predatory life aiming to feed on the rich astral nutrients of Argo, therefore it represents certain death to the developing galactic foetus. The river of hydrogen passes along the equivalent, in outer space terms, of an underground cavern. The cavern is overseen by a couple of neighboring globular clusters: the astral rabbit and stellar black panther. The rabbit can be seen distinctly squatting on its haunches, in profile. Its left eye rolled back, forever on the lookout for marauders sneaking up from behind. The panther is below him, overlooking the astral river's source. Both these star clusters are guardians of Lethe's riverbanks. They patrol the entrance at the foothills of the interstellar mountains, from which grows the Sanguine Tree. This celestial tree towers munificently behind everything in that region. Wrapped in scarves of universal mist, the Sanguine Tree's roots grip the edge of a cliff face whose slope plummets straight into the starry depths. An enormous grinning troll with the power to hypnotize can be seen guarding the tree. The surrounding debris framing this entire scene is the shed outer coronal ring of Argo's flash birth. Various lords of light can be seen gathering for this event.

In the gray flowing mist of the Lethe, astronomic cephalopods swim through on their way downriver. They migrate towards the floating amnion-veiled, empyrean foetus Navis defends. They wish to feed upon his winged egg. His sense of pride, from having been assigned this post, ever burgeons, like a peacock's tail feathers, in a ratio directly proportional to the development of the embryonic cache he helps incubate. Argo is the very motherlode of celestial particles that will coalesce to form a galaxy. By the time the brood hatches into sentience, Navis will have long evaporated into a mere memory of a ghost imprinted on the lens of their mind's eye.

Navis beholds all manner of nautilus spawn frilling towards him through the misty currents of the Lethe. He watches as they approach the great chain of glittering islands strewn along the borders surrounding his incubating egg's celestial nesting cradle. The frillspawn have begun their genesis of a long untiring journey towards the promised haven that awaits them on the other side of the necklace of islands. They strive to reach the head of the nest egg Navis has sworn to defend until his final dissolution.

Mysterious characters lurk within the clustering shadows in the cavernous regions by the source of the Lethe. Many naiads and hydriades dwell along the riverbanks there. They appear to orginate from a nearby rearing seahorse star cluster. This supercluster confers with a half-wolf, half-man cluster named Amnos. These two act out their roles amidst lanes of newborne galaxies. Not all star clusters have names. Some of these form like streaming capes, some resemble kites with twisting trails behind them. Various older myths claim these as the distillate ejecta of reincarnated manta rays and other marine life. Today they are simply refered to as nebulae.

Faces of the recently forgotten, half remembered, and totally imagined slowly form themselves out of the abstract vapors haunting the shallows of these riverbanks. Among the reeds they beckon the occasional wandering dryad to their doom. Many naiads come out to appropriate a chambered nautilus or other cephalopod, in hopes of riding it all the way to the promised gardens rumored to be hidden beneath the hatching egg's unfolding wings. Every one of the encroaching incunabula are knocked from their saddle by Navis's controlled sling bolts.

Among the most striking aspects of the composition (as revealed through gravitational microlensing) is how the great skull haunting the rider of the winged egg foetus resembles a shadow flag. A flag that serves as a reminder of a superimposed reflection whispering promises from an almost forgotten dream. That dream must be the lost echo of a song issued from contractions during this distant solar flux. The reverberations of this music awaken some of us today, one at a time, trapped out here on the lonely periphery of this isolated wharf, long abandoned in the annals of space. Gazing from our stranded pier with enhanced vision escalated through a glass monocle, the nearly disregarded tapestry of this lost legend calls out subconsciously a siren serenade. A requiem which tells of the harbinger of that winged bird of paradise. It sings of the forgotten forerunner and protector. It relates how the vision of our eyes equals the music of our dreams.


~ ~ ~




Tune back in on Monday Nov 23
for the continuation of
G. Alden Davis's THE FOLD


Thursday, November 19, 2009

THE FOLD: 8

by G. Alden Davis



It came down on them in a shower of rattling, the rustle of metal and feathers. Its thunder was the pounding of feet, it screamed like a giant, dying eagle. This call ended in a deep-throated growl. Everywhere shone with golden light, which reflected from where I dared not look, from whatever came down the hall and stood rattling before the two men.

There was a whisper of Spanish and the swish of a sword missing its target. An instant of silence followed, filled by an explosion of sound. The screeching eagle and roaring growl burst out and took on a lethal life of their own. The shatter of breaking glass and dying human despair mixed in the overwhelming din. The vicious roar and ferocious light went at the men like a chainsaw hollowing pumpkins.

I went to my knees and shook into the corner, hiding from the monstrosity that churned only feet away. If this were a vision from the remnants of the poison, then it far surpassed any nightmare I had ever been part of. Surely my mind would short out before rendering these scenes on its own? Madness grinned as my only retreat.

The chorus of thunder-calls, satisfied with its wet work, roared and jangled back up the stairs. The shimmering light receded. Only the dripping quiet remained with me in the dark. I was determined to stay there, curled in the corner, forever. It felt like I did.

After a while the faintest of moonlight made the bare angles of my surroundings navigable. Nothing had moved outside for hours. The copper smell of blood soured the air, but the dripping had stopped as the stuff had thickened on the steps.

These were steps I would need to navigate if I hoped to escape this charnel tomb. I looked out and up, seeing the faint doorway hundreds of feet up the thickly coated stairs. Near the top, bodies lay dismembered in a cruel pile, bloodless and without face. Staring at the distant doorway, I placed a foot forward over the remains and began to climb.

There were things like loose bricks laying scattered on the steps, but I gave them no heed at the time. In hindsight, had I then made the connection, much of the bloodshed and terror which followed could have been avoided. Instead my careful footing became swifter as I neared the outside, the above-ground.

Up and out I fled, into the mission’s central chamber, where the soft moonlight cast cobalt shadows, and dust from my haste formed swirls in the beams. My panic clenched before I could rush out the door, into the full stare of the moon and anything else. I stopped short and crept to the edge, peering out from a point I hoped invisible.

Outside was bright with buildings set fire; every structure was ablaze. Even the mission, I noticed behind me, was burning. There were black splashes in the sand, and more sinister shapes sprayed on the rocks. One large boulder, about waist high, had darkness pooled on its flat top. There were echoes of violence everywhere, and I wanted to leave. This canyon was a dead land, a hollow not only of stone but of soul.

Where could I go?

I had been lost in the desert for days.

I had fallen into a delirium following a sting from an unknown desert bug. In the time since I was bitten, the effects failed to burn off with sleep, exercise or fear, and I was certain that the night must have ended several times. There was the night of the drum circle, and just tonight the full moon brought bloodstorm revenge to a place stained by greed and the worst of men’s tortures.

On some occasions I had been unconscious during daylight hours, a void brought from injury and poison and a plunging fall underground. Now I was dizzy but not dreaming. Lengths of stark lucidity and the need to speak things aloud would be broken by deep silences and vivid hallucinations. I glanced back at my path in the sand to find my footsteps shrinking away too fast and coiling snakelike around the dunes.

The night could last forever. I would watch as the horizon slowly ate up the stars, returning them row by row to the other, invisible side of the world. There were always more stars, however, they spread without end.

My admiration for nature intensified and focused, until I felt the very core pattern of things in my heartbeat. I shone with this newfound connection, this powerful oneness. My eyes ached with the information I had forced through them, as if the pupils could not come to terms with the photon’s bounce. I saw the unbroken pattern of wind-washed sand fanning from horizon out and knew in a flash of the plan.

Then time returned with a pop and all that mattered was getting far away from this ruined hollow, going out and away from the remnants of slaughter and far from the native vengeance. I wanted to hide from whatever creature had killed those people, maybe even get back to my car and get out of here for good. I could report it to the local Sheriff, make a guess on the map, but I could never find this place again.

Wasn’t there something about the car though? Was it out of gas? Flat tires? I distinctly recalled an issue with driving out. My memory had areas of greyness and fog, and most of my arrival I couldn’t recall; the day I awoke in the blistering heat, baking in my car seat, was more like a dream or a movie half slept through.

Some of it was clear, but unreal, distorted. I knew that within a half-mile of the car was a dirt road, leading to one made of gravel, then on to a paved highway. I could get there on foot, hitchhike to the nearest town, and get a tow for my car. I could retrace my footprints in the sand. I went back to the stairway to look for a torch, and remembered those drenched in blood at the bottom of the slick stairs.

Putting a foot into the dark passage, I heard a whisper clear from halfway down the stairs. It was a pleading, final sound. It rang of the grave.

I chose to find a torch out on the surface, and returned to the door leading out.

The yard remained still save for the flame-induced shadows which haunted patches of the ground. I searched for signs of a bear or other animal, hoping that the violence required in the acts evidenced around me did not find their origin in a human source.

Overhead, the moon had lessened in size, but remained almost where it had been for hours. It struggled slower than I knew the moon to, but I ignored it in favor of finding a torch. I broke a flaming plank from what looked like an old water-trough.

The ghost-town wood burned fast and bright, and with my torch, I set out away from the mission at canyon’s end.

I hiked down the wash that led away from the mission, putting the blood and violence to my back. I struggled to remain focused on the path ahead, fought to keep out the memories of their screams. I watched the torch’s perimeter for the telltale glare of an animal’s shining eyes and increased my gait. I saw nothing but sage and cactus in the folds of the canyon walls until perhaps an hour later, when the channel forked on two dried creek beds. Both passages were half as wide of where I stood, and ran deeper into the rock. The twisting slots tickled at my memory. I chose one and headed into the oppressive maze.

The moon was setting, but if not for its waning light then travel at night through the region of narrows would have been impossible. Thin crumbling ledges and precariously balanced boulders were commonplace; pitfalls, drop-offs and sheer cracks appeared in unexpected places.

Certainly dawn lay just over the horizon, held back by the force of the stubborn night. In the last hours of darkness I squeezed deeper into the labyrinth.

At 50’ up there was a small ledge where I could perch out of reach of the growing waterfall. I knelt in the rain, shivering against the foreign sensation of cold. I had been burning in the sun for so long that I was caught between soothed and shock.

Blistered skin on my shoulders drank in the moisture, pain and relief came at once.

Enough dust had settled in my hair that mud ran down my face and stung my eyes. I pushed my head close to the falls and washed off in the torrent. The sense of shock wore off, replaced by a cooling relief. I would not die of thirst in this lost, western world.

A guttural sound spilled from my open mouth as I gulped in air and muddy water. My first drink in days went down with a garbled choke that I later recognized as laughter. I marveled at the alien sound and the feeling of elation that accompanied it. Surely I would have died without this gift from the sky. A moment of clarity rushed in, and for a flash my mind was free of madness.

In my mind I saw the car, somewhere out in the desert, its glass blazing like a jewel stuck in the sand. It was far away, to the west and north. I was not lost, after all. The car was out there, all I had to do was return to it and then reach the road.

Still splashing and drinking, I wondered how I could ever have cursed the rain. Why had the coming storm seemed so ominous? It was, after all, my ally in this waste.

Crouching on a shallow ledge, I drank first from cupped hands and then straight from the waterfall. I was delirious in the rush, elated in the present and unable to fathom further. I slung my arms through the cascade, watching the splash as my fingertips threw bright drops into the air. My strength was returning.

The solemn thunder was met by a rumble much closer, and the roar grew until it was a crashing truck, a derailing train. I looked up to see boulders, dirt and scrub boiling around the corner, up canyon. A flash flood was pushing this churning alluvium in front of its monstrous volume.

I leapt up and my arms began to claw for a handhold. Even before I could look away from the face of the oncoming flood I was climbing. My arms and legs pistoned without command. Up I went as the locomotive wall hammered an invisible wave of air towards me. Only my hands, jammed into the wet sandstone cracks, could get me above the splintering tracks of the flood's descending train wreck. As the crest stammered past, I held fast to the thought I was safe. Then a sharp trunk of juniper pushed out of the top of the boil, and it seemed the horn of a giant Taurus, a metamorphic Minotaur in the passages of peril. Then the pain came sharp and hard.

The tip of the sharpened branch rammed straight through my foot and snapped, piercing me like an arrow from top to sole. I screamed at the pain of it, it had ripped aside the ball of my foot as it pushed through, then yanked like a shark before snapping me off the cliff with that single tug. I went into the churn of boulders and sharps pinned to the trunk of an uprooted juniper as surely as if I’d been nailed to the wood, through my foot. My mind was bright with the screaming of raw nerves. I held to the tree like a lifeboat at sea, and despite my foot’s pitched angle, as the rain hammered down on the roaring rush I tried to remain afloat.


THE FOLD continues Monday with Part 9

Stay tuned tomorrow for
Carina Nebula Panorama
by shaun a. lawton

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THE FOLD: 7

by G. Alden Davis




I couldn’t recall my last meal, and the poison would continue to weaken me until I could find something to eat. I needed something to absorb and expel the remaining venom. While I seemed more lucid now, I knew that somewhere in my veins there remained a great reservoir of the nasty stuff, held back by a twisted passage and ready to burst the dam, flooding my system with delusions, fever, and death. Unfolding from the sandstone hole, I took several shaky steps down to the canyon floor.

The area was filled with cool, cyan highlights and deep indigo shadows. The moonlight sparkled from the gypsum; winking stars the size of sand grains flashed along the ground. I looked out across the valley floor and was shocked by what I saw.

Standing in silhouette at the far end of the playa was a huge, square shape, obviously unnatural even among the erosion-sculptured features of the area. Made from materials native to the area, it nonetheless stood out from the cliffs, looking down on the valley floor from a single eyesocket high in it’s front. What I saw outlined in that socket identified the structure: a large bell hung there, in the top window of a crumbling, adobe church. A mission, I reminded myself, and approached the hulking shape on unsteady legs.

A hundred yards from it, I began to notice occasional artifacts thrust up through the hardpack like things attempting escape rather than items half-buried in the dried alkaline mud. Some of these forms were familiar; part of a wagon wheel was exposed, it’s spokes broken like snapped ribs. Far off to the side I could see other, less familiar shapes reaching from the crust. Some of those forms exuded menace from their rusted iron edges.

In what must have once served as the mission’s yard, I tripped over an object firmly trapped in the flats and slammed face-first into the ground. Stars erupted across my sight as pain exploded in my jaw. I felt my front teeth pushed through the soft flesh of my lip. The metallic tinge of the venom mixed with the coppery flavor of blood and again my stomach rebelled, heaving air and pink spittle. I got to my knees and looked back at what my foot had caught.

There was a wooden bucket half anchored in the dried mud, two of it’s slats freshly snapped off in my fall. Something odd had been scattered from the smashed container, and I crawled back for a better look. From the ruined bucket were spilled half a dozen objects that resembled giant nail-clippings, each fully as wide as my hand. I picked one up, and turning it over I saw the exposed bone, attached to the crescent of hornlike material I had thought of as a toenail. I was not far off.

Maneuvering it into the moonlight, I saw that I was holding the skeletal remains of a kind of hoof, likely a horse or mule. The chitin of the hoof itself was disintegrating, but enough remained of the ankle to discover a disquieting detail; the bone had been neatly shorn off by a blade, sharp and quick enough to prevent splintering at the stump. My reflexes were for once not slowed by the poison, and I threw the thing down in disgust. It hit the ground, rattling against the other spilled objects, and I saw to my unease that the bucket had been filled with dismembered hooves, now splayed out in the dirt.

Old as they obviously were, the violence of their past left a stain to the touch, and a tang to the eye that saw them. What of this place? I looked away from the scattered hooves and into the seeping night.

Shadows cast from moonlight leaned thick in the wedges of rock. The canyon was a box, and here at its end, jagged arms wrapped around the ruins. There were secrets held here, some still and silent while others screamed for release. I stood under the eye of the moon and felt primitive instincts seize inside me. Here in the box of unsteady cliffs, the crumbling remains of the mission held a murder of echoes, whispers and dreams no longer like sounds but more like captive raptors kept in a cage of bones. My skull was like that ruined church and those black birds beat at the backs of my eyes. Then the scream was in me.

I felt my flesh tear away in an agony of ribbons, surpassing the pain of the poison’s worst moments. Everywhere was red and all of it screamed. The last bit of my mind was ripped away in a storm of blood and angry wind.

The storm lasted a life and a half, each increment of time ended with more of my life torn way. Aching, and unable to focus, I feared my mind had been crushed out completely. When I came around, my bleak senses found that the night had remained and the moon had moved only a fraction.

Again there was that temporal jolt- that of hours passing within a minute- which made me feel like time was somehow broken- no longer a smooth drive but one showing seasons of frost-heaves. The way was cracked and jaggedly ragged; moments no longer butted up end-to-end, and in my carpenter’s mind I could not keep a grasp on that understanding. Everything fit in my universe. Measure twice and cut once. What if you measured twice and came up with wholly divergent figures? What if a short plank grew longer beneath the rule? I tried to judge time by the height of the sun and the depth of the shadowed walls. Even that method proved imperfect as the shadows themselves were undependable.

At the moment I observed this, the shadows were deeper than before and crawled thick up the clay walls, like black milk running backwards. All the shadows, cast by the moon, seemed to be slowly oozing upward as if drawn back to their lunar source.

The world around me was silent and flat in the aftermath of the red thunder. I smelled faint ozone and iron though the night was cloudless and riddled with stars. It was more a product of blood than rain, I surmised.

When I trusted my feet again, I stumbled towards the adobe arch leading into the mission. A small window shaped like a cross overlooked the gate, which once held up the crusted iron portcullis that lay aside on the ground, gnarled and beaten. The desert has few smells in old places, the air being too dry to work up a rot. But once within the threshold of that ruin, a murky odor hung sour in the air. It smelled of deep, sweet decay.

I cursed the lack of light and the throb in my skull equally as I stepped further into the entry. An enormous room surrounded me, with an ancient wooden platform directly above, accessed by narrow ladders. I could make out vague doorways in the walls at the far end, where the last of the moonlight streamed through broken roof beams. I marveled at the condition of the place, still shaken from the roar of the blood storm.

My eyes adjusted to the dimness and I moved across the room. The three doors seemed identical until I approached; the center one was intermittently lit by a flickering orange glow. The source of the light was distant and slim, from where I stood it was vague at it’s brightest. I went through the clay arch and faced a stairway leading down. It was brighter at the end of the stone steps two hundred feet below. From a chamber under the floor of the mission, the flame light filtered up. I heard movement, like the sliding of stone, from below.

I crept down the steps with a stealth that must have come as an artifact of the toxic sting. I was never before known for my agility, yet my feet refused to make even the slightest grit of friction as I padded the descent. I reaching a landing where a wooden door stood. From the edges of the timbers the quiet flare of light traced, it’s source just beyond this last seal. I reached to pull at the rusted latch.

My fingertips fused to the crusty iron as sudden voices sounded just beyond. Grunting words of a language I didn’t know, I heard an exchange of anger and the loud shuffling of heavy objects. More strained voices and a dull, metallic clunk. I pushed my face to the wooden slats, peering through the narrows warped in the boards. I found a slim view into torchlight, and within the slice of room I could make out shapes of men. They moved quickly and repeatedly, lifting and stacking something out of my limited sight. While I could only see parts of the men as they moved, what I saw made me realize that the venom had not passed from my veins, that the effects had not diminished. The toxins were going again, the strange hysteria had returned. Either that or I had somehow become lost in time.

Under torchlight, two men in armour toiled at a fevered, unseen labor. They uttered unfamiliar grumbles as they worked, casting nervous glances up at the door. I tried to use my newfound senses to inspect the men in detail, but was startled to hear noises behind me.

The stutter of human fear, screams that sounded like pewling echoed down the dark stairs from the darker night above. The rumble of hooves stamped by, amidst a terrible, nearing violence.

My eyes were watering as I put them back to the crack, searching for the faces of these men. I needed an escape if the bloodstorm had returned, I needed allies if it was worse. The men inside had loaded their limit and were struggling to shoulder massive, hide sacks. This done, they drew swords and advanced on the door, clumsy with the weight but still armed. I stepped back and splashed.

The stairs were dry and dusty when I descended, but now the barely audible flow was more apparent. Something wet was soaking into my shoes. I looked behind, the horror already forming before I saw the flood running dark down the stairs. I was sick with the overpowering copper stink of blood. I sank back, into an alcove, just as the door opened and the men stepped out.

They staggered into the cascading blood, their torches showing it for the nightmare red it really was. It covered their boots like oil, bringing both of them down together. They struggled, trying to right themselves, unable to get up with the heavy sacks twisted around them. They worked at it with the speed of fear, making simple mistakes in the rush to recover, to stand, to get out of the blood. The torches had dropped and sputtered as they lay half in the red pool at the base of the steps.

I dared a look up the stairs towards the source of the blood, not wanting to believe it was real. It had to be some kind of fever dream or vision. Near the top of the stairs, a pile of forms bled in torrents. I could discern only parts of bodies, clothing tattered and clinging wet to the limbs.

The soldiers struggling saw it then, and let out shrieks that not only decried horror, but recognition. They crossed their chests and began to pray, and I realized they were speaking Spanish, thick with an accent. As they prayed they unbuckled their armor, and wept.

I stayed back, out of sight, until the roaring thing thundered down the stairs and took the men to hell.


THE FOLD continues tomorrow with Part 8

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

THE FOLD: 6

by G. Alden Davis



I blew crust and what felt like rocks from my nose and inhaled, tasting the lungful of air for clues. The desert rarely gave off scents, save for the occasional waft of artemesia growing from lifeless ground. Despite my attempt, no trace of burned cedar or sage bundles remained to be smelled.

Did I not feast the night before? Did not those starry beings sit me at their table fires, and dance me proud around? The odor of that sweet flame remained only in my memory, but what had it meant? Had I been welcomed by the half-remembered folk, or had I fled in fear? It was plain that my mind had been knocked loose of its moorings and was not yet held fast; it recalled many possibilities and refused to take sides.

The war-dancers had been frightful in their beauty. Not wholly benign, they gracefully mixed swooping and whirling with motions of clawing, slashing. Even in recollection I was simultaneously drawn towards and repelled from these powerful figures. What had their dance meant?

How could it have happened at all, in the midst of this vast desert, miles from any road? Surely it must have been a lucid dream, provoked by heat, exhaustion, and fear. My hand was swelled near the base of my thumb, turning a dark purple. Surely the venom had done its work, altering my state of mind by poisoning my blood. The fever that still burned at my skin was proof of that. Was that it, then? Had I reached that plane of visions visited only by the spirits of a dead land? Was my journey over or was I still within the outlines inscribed by some wicked insect?

I remained in the area for the better part of morning, watching the sun as it crept slow and spiteful into the sky. Had it not stopped completely the day before, refusing to move at all? Like a fading dream teases the memory, I couldn’t quite recall. I no longer knew how long I had been lost.

I made a thorough search of the area, on hands and knees, until it was evident that I would find no remains. At what I judged was noon, I set out towards what I believed was north.


THREE




Behind me my footprints snaked back away to the wrinkled horizon. I had traveled through the afternoon and out of the day, which seemed to never pass. The sun scraped its way reluctantly across the sky, heavy and dragging through a deep blue sea. The desert haze above brought out unseen richness in the sunset, a mass of molten fire sat gold and fat on the edge of the world. Mesas and other formations stood like shattered teeth in silhouette.

My stomach rolled and heaved, reminding me that while my brain might be drifting into strange spaces, my body still functioned in its most basic and biological way. I had not eaten in days, and while the poisonous bite was causing most of my delusions, it was certain that my unintentional fast was gobbling up my reserved energy and playing its own tricks on my mind.

I was walking towards the broken teeth of mesas in the dying ember of sun when the world turned suddenly and my insides knotted. I dropped gagging to my knees, heaving air in deep, shuddering grunts. A cold sweat broke on my forehead, defying my needs and shedding my last bit of moisture through my pores. My kneeling limbs were trembling, and my hands had begun to shake.

After choking up a lot more air and shuddering against a feverish chill, I sprawled in the dirt and made up my mind to eat. This decision came with the knowledge that desert plants were few, and those that proved edible were fewer. I couldn’t see myself hunting; I had not eaten meat for over ten years and had no desire to begin again by eating some wiry desert mouse. My stomach churned again, and I found myself drooling at the thought of it.

When I found the strength to walk again, I stood and dusted off. There was grit in my mouth, sand in my nose and rimming my eyes. Slowly but deliberately I started off in the night for the distant black hoodoos. There must be outcroppings there, possibly canyons. In the wrinkled landscape of tight passages like those I had come through before, rainwater collected in occasional waterpockets and was held year-round in these folds. Around these natural tanks plants could grow, and the thought of finding something succulent and edible made my feet stumble swifter.


The stars emerged, whirling slow and soundless above me. I was certain that an enormous time had passed, double or triple the length of a normal night. I was still half-under the effects of the venom and delirious from hunger, my vision fading intermittently in and out of focus. My mind had the same frequent blurring, reducing even recent events to another half-finished scene in a dirty, disconnected tapestry. I found a rock with a man-sized hollow and crawled in to collect my thoughts. It wasn’t warmer in the tiny cave, but the close proximity of the walls kept the chill from my skin, and for the moment I was somewhat comfortable. I felt I could almost sleep. Only the tang of metal in my mouth and the flutter of my feathered heart, both artifacts of the unknown poison in my veins, kept me awake. My body had completely exhausted itself and refused to move. Slowly my breathing slowed, and the nervous prickling of fear subsided. I guessed that the venom was not going to kill me, regardless of the hallucinations caused by it. I had been stung long ago, what I considered at least twelve hours but maybe a day or more. While the furious scenes no longer burned across my vision, I could feel their presence at my periphery, ready to charge back in and take over. Even here in the relative safety of the cave, I saw flashes of fire in the corners of my eyes, eruptions that never happened, yet lit the cave nonetheless in patches of liquid strobe.

After a length of time the chill faded and I drifted into the darkness of dreamless sleep.

I awoke to screaming stiffness in my back and neck, my limbs ached and my head felt tight and glassy. The taste of metal was still in my mouth, reflexively I tried to spit it out. In those first moments of waking I dealt with my own discomfort, ignoring my surroundings until I had rubbed the circulation back into my arms and legs. My clothing was damp, or rather drenched, in a cold sweat that smelled like a mineral spring. This odor rose from me like steam, almost visible in the weird light. I noticed the deep blue shadows and looked from the cave’s mouth.

The moon loomed enormous and close, filling the width of the sky visible through the broad canyon I was in. I had never seen it appear so large and near, but somehow it’s features looked unfamiliar. The face we have all seen, the ‘man in the moon’, was gone. In it’s place, formed from mountains and valleys thousands of miles distant, was the vague shape of a bird. It was made of deep shadow, its eroded lines striking chords within what the toxin had left of my memory. I had seen this bird-shape before, in a photograph somewhere.

It had been large then, drawn on a scale a mile or more wide. It was in a book on Earth’s mysteries, one of those big, unwieldy picture books. The ideogram of the bird had been carved in Peru, so large that it could not be seen from the ground, only from the air. The obvious question was of its origin, of what primitive engineers had manifested such an artwork and what purpose it might serve to a community that had never- and could never- view it.

Yet what did this mean- some strange moon in a sky not mine? I reeled at the sheer immensity of what lay exposed above me. Alien sky.

Stellar maps of unimagined brightness and exploding floral mass spread across the fat black back of the universe behind it. The thickness of space was accentuated by the mountainous rim of this new, strange moon.

As the shadows of a setting star moved down from the moon’s mountains, they became an invading force running full speed down from the peaks to the over-bright flats. Again, it seemed that whatever I gave focus to was literally taken from time, cut apart from the meter of moments and stretched at will. In this instance of that odd effect, the speed that the shadows overtook the sand was both stretched and sped: it took longer to complete but was spreading faster than life.

As I turned these memories around in my mind, I got a sense of cohesion. The pieces of the puzzle did not yet fit, but at least I was conscious enough to know that there was a puzzle, and that it needed solving. With that my stomach rolled over, empty and loud, and I dry heaved twice, expelling nothing but a string of saliva into the sand.

I was not only hungry, I was empty. Had it been days since I had eaten?


THE FOLD continues tomorrow with Part 7

Monday, November 16, 2009

THE FOLD: 5

by G. Alden Davis






I looked on with eyes widened by mad confirmation. My hands dropped to my sides as I beheld the only event I could honestly call spectacle. Instantly my mind leapt into a phase of heightened perception, and I understood this supernatural appreciation was the result of seeing what I stared upon. The act of beholding such imparted a mystic trance, and a subconscious exchange of information took place.

Still, I saw them, but they did not see me.

I slouched into the sand embankment, and using the partial cover of a monolith, crept forward for a better look.

They were all dressed in splashes of light the color of newborn suns. Some had scales of molten gold, some had wings of glass. At the core of metal and fire were forms like men. Crystal skins and their brazen augmentation of chrome and flame made them seem more like beasts in the care of dreaming gods.

I attempted to focus on faces but found only glistening masks.

One screamed.

“Kaaaa-“ it cried out like a Raven in a flutter of dust and dry desert tricks. It had a skull like an abstract bird, of that strange and flaming alloy.

“Chiiiiiii-“ continued another metallic dancer. This one warbled in the way of Coyote, a howl almost human at a moon resoundingly not.

“Naaaa-“ rattled the silver man of bones from the far edge of this comforting fire. He was, I saw, not a skeleton but one who wore an armour of bone. The shade he was, the death blanket. He coughed his syllable from a helm hammered to resemble a snarling skull.

Kachina? Was that what these odd godlings found to chant? I searched amongst my still accessible memories for a reference to this foreign word. Even as I examined it, that thought blossomed into an answer of experience:

I stood at the foot of a massive adobe wall, somewhere that I felt was near in space yet far in time. The wall contained strange handmade grooves, a code like Braille to an otherwise blind eye. This unspoken text proved to be just enough fingerhold for a slow and near drunken ascent. One hand after the other I managed to maneuver the cracks that had surfaced on that dried plane.

Others about me, who I knew as Folk and never feared, were all up and about in what looked like the outside of a vast system of buildings. They went along those trails of dents as if raised to grip the slightest surfaces, and when the angle proved too obtuse they crossed on ladders of gypsum and quartz.

As the moon crossed the sun in an eclipse not matched in ages, a lone child ran through the tiers of the clay fortification. “The kachinas are coming!” she proclaimed. Tears of shone mercy spread across her tanned cheeks. “The kachinas are coming!”

As I watched them dance their rings, singing in a hum of dulled, dreaming rumble, my fingers clenched miniature canyons from handfuls of sand. They became buried in the particular sea.

After a while, the shapes and forms were no longer separate from the sound of their drumming. They formed a single cadence beaten of the thin skin of the world. I held fast against the lengthening pull of their spell, pushing with great effort against that oddening thunder.

One of those sparkling shapes broke away and approached, still moving in time to the deep rhythm. As it drew near, unaware of where I lay, every step made a sound of thin brass chimes, like feathers of precious metals. At the apex of it’s glide, I managed to focus on it’s eyes. They shone like blackened hematite, hard and smart beneath fierce, metallic features.

The fire sent sparkling coronas spinning from the glistening, golden mask. It’s features were oddly asymmetrical, the design reflecting lines of a bird in flight. It seemed to be assembled from engineered, moving parts; a migration of fluid forms flowed across the blur of bird.

I saw in that tangle of spark the fury of a flaming hawk, whiling it’s dance in the way of the airborne. An echo of name surfaced from the deepest well of memory. “Horus?” that ancient whisper rasped, uncertain. “Katar?”


I snapped back to the grip of a reality based on an insect poison in my veins. For a moment the rattle of Silverbones thundered like the drums proceeding an army. All stopped. Calm and warm was everything I knew.

Then a crackle like black fire and bad light spilled into the dream. Something resembling the thunder of guns struck me straight in the chest. I fell back, or thought I fell back, forced into the sand by the blow of a bad cannon. What had gone wrong? All had been so pure a moment before. I could have run through forests until sundown, or even past that into the glass of night.

Around me raged a ghost-war, a battle in the brutal past, where men came after these brilliant godlings with weapons made to shed blood. Cannons were moved into place and fired. The violent crack that followed shook down those ancient walls.

People were lost.

Folk died.

A heave at my chest where the cavity of that chamber had struck left me breathless. The first tinge of cordite hit the air. It smelled of burning blood.

This race of Godlings I somehow had managed to oversee, apparently known as the “Kachinas”, had not perished in that black gunpowder age of whites and colonies and war. They had in fact remained in the same streams, lofted on the similar winds, and crept the rocks of long ago like fossils which glow only in the dark.

As a cycle of eons passed, that formation of heroic focus, never truly dispersed, had surfaced again on the curvatures of Earth.

For the night, I would dwell in their world.

Tomorrow, they would be in mine.

Awash in hypnotic glow, a sensation of motion overwhelmed me. I considered my surroundings and found them both strange and familiar, as in a recurring dream. I had the certain awareness that I was no longer caught in a vision, but had arrived at an actual, physical place.

My temples held an odd expansion, as if a great lake was draining inside. I watched at it went, revealing inch by inch the secrets of it’s former depths. I focused on this interior scene and the distant familiarity increased. I had seen this lake before, watched as it died through the ages.

My arrival in the American Southwest was but a faded, year-old dream. I was not there anymore, of that fact my rattled senses were certain. I was in some other realm, some neighbor dimension. In a kind of synesthesia, I could perceive the age of this place. Beyond antiquity, the years stacked high atop me, pushing my breath out like a stone. Down into the ages I sank.

This was the Old World, a land that lay beneath creation like fossils trapped in the bed of a fathomless sea. Wind like undertow drug me down. Small cyclones of silt spun around my ankles. The wind rose to a roar, pushing me to my knees as it raced overhead. It was alive, and angry, tearing at dirt and stone and flinging it at me.

I choked against the dust. The air had taken on substance, it’s thick snakes knotting against the empty blackness of night. Beyond the translucent coils, an obsidian sky was littered with stars that shone in unfamiliar shapes. As the wind shifted and slunk off elsewhere, I was given a clearer view of the night.

The constellations I had come to know were gone, either removed or hidden in the profusion of specks overhead. The evening skies of Earth were no stranger to me; in my travels I had seen starscapes from almost every angle. I was aware that within the inky night, billions of stars lay distant and unseen. Even my most fanciful guesses at their true number was shown to be sorry and short by the profusion of clusters now above.

The brightest ones stood out clearly, so large or near that I could discern solar flares reaching out from their edges. Other were dimmer and more numerous, forming constellations of immense complexity and size. Smaller still, those most distant formed thin and vaporous clouds that stretched through space. These had a shifting luminosity like internal heat lightning bursting in soft thunderstorms. Those most distant and vague resembled blurry photographs of grainy, unrecognizable images.

As I stood starstruck, the thundering drums had slowly faded unnoticed into the desert quiet. Only the ingrained rhythm thumped on in my mind, losing cadence gradually with the speed of dying coals. Also silenced was the bright spangle of golden feathers, the rustle and metallic splash of dancers. All that remained was a slight breeze and the sound of my own heart, which slowed as my excitement and fear abated.

The silence made me aware of my exhaustion, whispered hopelessness and hunger to my weak and worried mind. Staring up at unfamiliar stars, wondering where I was, I sank into something like sleep.

Later (much later if my bones spoke true), I awoke to stiff and cramping limbs under the burning stare of day. My skin was dry and hot with fever. A rash had developed under my left arm and itched. My breathing was heavy and thick sand crusted my lips.

How long had passed while I was asleep? Delirious or not, I felt that a great length of time had passed, likely a full day, maybe more.

I desperately tried to summon tears to flush the grit from my eyes, but each blink only sliced painful scratches into the otherwise dry sockets. It was at least an hour before my disused tear ducts began to produce. From deep inside a rapidly evaporating wellspring, I drew out the moisture to cry. I made hardly a sound as I gave in to confused loss, weeping softly and watching the playa drink each tear as it fell.

Aware of a throb at the base of my skull and a tinfoil tang in my throat, I sat slowly up, my crying long since finished and dried. Cramps screamed in my forearms, and my eyes were sore and scratchy. Squinting, I looked around.

There was no trace of the event I had witnessed the night before. I stood in a slight basin, about a mile across, with staggering redrock cliffs and tan sandstone fingers surrounding the lowland flat. The desert beneath me alternated from loose sand to hardpack, with patches that were glassy and hard, as if the sand had been fused by enormous heat. Other spots were splotched in white where receding pools had left chalky, alkaline crusts. The looser dirt would have readily accepted footprints, but there were none visible in the dying, chemical dust. No trace remained of the howling dance. No fire ring stood cooling in the sun, no odd tracks of inhuman feet spotted the land. No feathers or fur stirred in the slight wind.


THE FOLD continues tomorrow with Part 6

Archive of Stories
and Authors

Gene Stewart's
CRYPTID'S LAIR


Adam Bolivar's
SERVITORS OF THE
OUTER DARKNESS


Adam Bolivar's
THE DEVIL & SIR
FRANCIS DRAKE



Adam Bolivar's
THE TIME-EATER


Adam Bolivar is an expatriate Bostonian
who has lived in New Orleans and Berkeley,
and currently resides in Portland, Oregon
with his beloved wife and fluffy gray cat
Dahlia. Adam wears round, antique glasses
and has a fondness for hats. His greatest
inspirations include H.P. Lovecraft,
Jack tales and coffee.


John Claude Smith's
BLOOD ECHO SYMPHONIES


John Claude Smith's
NOT BREATHING



John Claude Smith writes weird fiction,
something between Horror and Magic
Realism, most of it psychologically driven.
He's had over 40 tales and over 1100 music
reviews, interviews, and profiles published.
He is currently shopping two novels and
a collection to agents and publishers, all
while starting the third novel. Gotta keep
on keepin' on! Looking forward to Rome
in the not too distant future, but for now,
just looking for the next short story to
be written.


David Agranoff's
A PLANET OF YOUR OWN


David Agranoff's
THE FALLEN GUARDIAN'S MANDATE


David Agranoff is the author of the
short story collection Screams From
A Dying World, just published by
Afterbirth Books. David is a hardcore
vegan and tireless environmentalist.
His contributions to the punk horror
scene and the planet in general have
already established him as a bright
new writer and activist to watch out
for. The Freezine of Fantasy and
Science Fiction welcomes him and
his defiant vision open-heartedly.

David is a busy man, usually at work
on several different novels or projects
at once. He is sure to leave his mark on
a world teetering over the edge of
ecological imbalance. David's latest
books include the Wuxia -Pan
(martial arts fantasy) horror
novel called Hunting The Moon Tribe,
already out from Afterbirth Books.;
The Vegan Revolution...with Zombies,
[Deadite Press, 2010]; and
[Deadite Press, 2014]

Daniel José Older's
GRAVEYARD WALTZ


Daniel José Older's
THE COLLECTOR


Daniel José Older's spiritually driven,
urban storytelling takes root at the
crossroads of myth and history.
With sardonic, uplifting and often
hilarious prose, Older draws from
his work as an overnight 911 paramedic,
a teaching artist & an antiracist/antisexist
organizer to weave fast-moving, emotionally
engaging plots that speak whispers and
shouts about power and privilege in
modern day New York City. His work
has appeared in the Freezine of Fantasy
and Science Fiction, The ShadowCast
the collection Sunshine/Noir, and is
featured in Sheree Renee Thomas'
Black Pot Mojo Reading Series in Harlem.

When he's not writing, teaching or
riding around in an ambulance,
Daniel can be found performing with
his Brooklyn-based soul quartet
Ghost Star. His blog about the
ridiculous and disturbing world
of EMS can be found HERE.


Johnny Strike's
AS YOU WISH


Johnny Strike's
NIGHT FLAMERS


Johnny Strike's
THE HOMELESS MUTANTS


Johnny Strike will beat you with his guitar and leave you lying in the gutter wishing you had never dared enter his under ground world of fake passports, lucky amulets, rain soaked hotels, and occult mystique. If you don't leave nice comments under his story, he's sure to sic his band CRIME on you. He also wrote the novel Ports Of Hell (Headpress), recommended by William S. Burroughs. You don't receive kudos from William Lee himself unless you are the epitome of cool. Besides, have you listened to CRIME's album Exalted Masters? It was released in 2007 on the Crime Music label, on vinyl only, featuring a slew of their old rare hits. Its real punk music from seasoned veterans. Now go track yourself down a copy before its out of print. The Freezine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is proud to host the story that contains the line which titles his first collection, A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above (Rudos and Rubes).


Paul Stuart's
SEA?TV!


Paul Stuart is the author of numerous biographical blurbs written in the third person. His previously published fiction appears in The Vault of Punk Horror and Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror. His non-fiction financial pieces can be found in a shiny, west-coast magazine that features pictures of expensive homes, as well as images of women in casual poses and their accessories. Consider writing him at paul@twilightlane.com, if you'd like some thing from his garage. In fall 2010, look for Grade 12 Trigonometry and Pre-Calculus -With Zombies.


Rain Grave's
MAU BAST


Rain Graves is an award winning author of horror, science fiction and poetry. She is best known for the 2002 Bram Stoker Award winner for Best Poetry Collection, The Gossamer Eye (along with Mark McLaughlin and David Niall Wilson). Her most recent book, Barfodder: Poetry Written in Dark Bars and Questionable Cafes, has been hailed by Publisher's Weekly as "Bukowski meets Lovecraft..." in January of 2009. She lives and writes in San Francisco, performing spoken word at events around the country. 877-DRK-POEM - Listen. http://raingraves.com/



Icy Sedgwick's
THE PORCELAIN WOMAN


Icy Sedgwick is part writer and part trainee supervillain. She lives in the UK but dreams of the Old West. Her current works include a ghost story about a Cavalier and a Western tale of retribution. Find her ebooks, free weekly fiction and other shenanigans at Icy’s Cabinet of Curiosities.


Blag Dahlia's
armed to the teeth
with LIPSTICK



BLAG DAHLIA is a Rock Legend. Singer, Songwriter, producer & founder of the notorious DWARVES. He has written two novels, ‘NINA’ and ‘ARMED to the TEETH with LIPSTICK’.


G. Alden Davis's
THE FOLD


G. Alden Davis wrote his first short story in high school, and received a creative writing scholarship for the effort. Soon afterward he discovered that words were not enough, and left for art school. He was awarded the Emeritus Fellowship along with his BFA from Memphis College of Art in '94, and entered the videogame industry as a team leader and 3D artist. He has over 25 published games to his credit. Mr. Davis is a Burningman participant of 10 years, and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.


Shae Sveniker's
A NEW METAPHYSICAL STUDY
REGARDING THE BEHAVIOR
OF PLANT LIFE


Shae is a poet/artist/student and former resident of the Salt Pit, UT, currently living in Simi Valley, CA. His short stories are on Blogger and his poetry is hosted on Livejournal.




Nigel Strange's
PLASTIC CHILDREN


Nigel Strange lives with his wife and daughter, cats, and tiny dog-like thing in their home in California where he occasionally experiments recreationally with lucidity. PLASTIC CHILDREN is his first publication.


J.R. Torina's
THE HOUSE IN THE PORT


J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughterhouse ('90-'97), runs Sutekh Productions (an industrial-ambient music label) and Slaughterhouse Records (metal record label), and was proprietor of The Abyss (a metal-gothic-industrial c.d. shop in SLC, now closed). He is the dark force behind Scapegoat (an ambient-tribal-noise-experimental unit). THE HOUSE IN THE PORT is his first publication.


K.B. Updike, Jr's
THE GOLDEN THIRD EYE


K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin Virginia writer. KB's life work, published 100% for free: http://individuatechurch.50webs.com/