art above by Prince Satyrn

The Year of Perfect Vision

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


by Gil James Bavel

Mission Day 722:
15:20 hours
Unknown Ganymede station
Second Shift

I finished recording the door mechanism and put my helmet back on. One last bounce onto the ledge and over the paperweight that sat between the doors. The second robot stared me down as if we were about to draw on each other in an old 20th century western. Instinctively, I looked back at the defunct robot to see if I could get access to my tire tool. It appeared as if, when it had powered down, the first robot’s magnetic inductors had failed, because the tire tool was lying on the floor next to it. I leaned over, reached down, and took it confidently in one hand.

I then approached on the second robot’s position, brandishing the tire tool in front of me. The robot backed up tentatively and I then knew how I was going to manage my way. I threw the tire tool down, past the first robot’s dead hand—about four feet further down the hall. The robot backed away immediately. It didn’t want to tangle with metal objects on the floor. I continued this, tool over metal hand, until I had backed the robot up against its original door. I made sure to leave the tire tool in its way so that I’d be able to pick up the first robot’s hand. Grabbing this, I made my way back to the T-junction, to the consternation of the second robot, unable to advance.

Now I was ready. I removed my helmet and prepared to activate the actuator that would play the signal from the door. First I held up the robot’s spherical hand and set it inside the ducted indentation. Then I pressed the button in my helmet. From the additional interface emerged a small button. I leaned forward and pressed it with my forehead.

The ceramic indentation pulled the robot’s hand out of mine with a strong electromagnetic field, and I felt a grinding underneath me. Looking toward the chasm, I saw that the rail in the middle was opening, and the bridge was extending into the darkness beyond. Lights flickered on. Success!

Smiling, I put my helmet back on, but then remembered how I had gotten here. This was the last place I could go. Wherever this bridge led, there was the end of my journey. To be prudent, I waited until the grinding stopped, which was at least ninety seconds. When the bridge had extended all the way, I grabbed my helmet, clipped the plasma torch back onto my jumpsuit, and took a first tentative step onto the bridge. Sturdy enough. I made my way across the bridge, being careful not to look down. There was something really strange about the gravity here, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. It was somehow stronger, but it should be weaker, I thought. It felt more like Luna’s. No matter.

On into the darkness I walked. It took me about a minute to get across to the other side, where I found another hallway much like the one I’d left. This door had another simple button, which I pressed. The door opened and I was greeted by a warm temperature, and a warmer glow from the lights inside. And here I could smell life. This was a familiar smell. Someone was indeed here. And I had questions.

I was in an outer access area, with simple accommodations and a hydroponics bay. It was not unlike the one in our installation, smaller, but also older. It looked as if one half had been recently cleared and new vegetation was growing, the other half was full of familiar veggies and fruit. I looked at some of the food there—I knew better than to touch it, but my mouth watered at the thought. It had been some time since I’d eaten. Focus.

Looking around, I could see a restroom and a shower/locker area to my left. There was only one shower, with a detachable wand and a metal bench. It could not service more than a few people. I wondered who lived here. To my right, I could see a hatch above the ledge near a drink station, and a round bin next to a cabinet with two doors in front. The hatch appeared to be closed, but was round, and looked as if it might accommodate a cylinder about eighteen inches wide.

I grew curious and opened the doors to the cabinet. Napkins, silverware, food paste tubes, condiment packets—someone not only lived here, but received regular shipments from home. But not from the Friday Run ships—they would have told us. I’m sure they would have. The occupants of this station also received fuel from somewhere—perhaps the auto-bots that mined Io for H-3, hydrogen and other ores. I stepped on the lever to the bin and a similar chute to the hatch above led down into the dark. Waste disposal. Fairly well planned out for such a small population. I unclipped the plasma welder and held it firmly in my right hand.

Ahead of me I could see another door, this one with a familiar panel on it—it looked exactly like the ones in our installation. So it was the company. I pressed my fist against the entry button, and the doors parted. Beyond was an all-too-familiar sight.

Something like a video studio, with a room-wide telescreen on one wall, and a camera on the other. I could see other things in my peripheral vision, but straight ahead of me—impossibly—was First Director David Chenowith of the Company. He was seated behind his command center desk, and seemed truly startled to see me. He regained his composure and put down the pad he was working with. He spoke with a familiar voice, but now it was uncompressed and, in real life, raspier than I expected.

“Well, son, I must congratulate you on your ingenuity and tenacity. I imagine you must have a dozen questions. I was truly sorry to see that Ganymede Base was compromised by the rogue comet.”

I could no longer contain my rage. “Compromised? Compromised-?” He obviously had eyes on our base, hell, he had probably had eyes in our base. “Okay, so it’s a rogue comet now. Did the Company know it was coming? Could they have saved the crew?”

“No, son. There was no way to save the crew or we would have, you must understand that.” He looked me unflinchingly in the eye.

“How much lead time did they have? Why have another base so close and not evacuate the crew? Why did you let them die? I loved her!” I was exasperated.

Chenowith shifted in his chair and crossed his legs under his desk. “They knew the risks when they signed on. It’s a dangerous life out here. That’s why you’re paid so well. Why your families are provided for so well in the event of your deaths. The benefits and perks are better than any other in the Corps. Earthside officers don’t make the kind of money that you do,” he said, matter-of-factly.

“What possible reason could you have for not evacuating us?”

“There was nothing we could do. We suspected the comet would affect the stability of Ganymede, but we weren’t sure. If it did, telling the crew wouldn’t do any good. If it didn’t, it would have been a close call.”

“Why did you disable the JSDA?” I asked.

“We did nothing to the array. We only modified your Commander’s COM system software so the alarm would not sound. Knowing there was a potential threat would have done you no good. Panic would have ensued, and no one would ever have survived anyway. Frankly, the only reason you did is because you were already outside in your suit. I must credit you for your ingenuity on making it this far,” he replied.

I was getting angrier with every word he said. “We all could have survived down here! Look at the room! It’s bigger than our entire installation!”

“But there are no supplies for a team as big as yours. My needs are small. As you are now aware, I am the only one here. I was the first settler sent here, and it was because of my advanced age that I was approved at all. When I came here, we did not have the advances in radiation shielding and plasma field control that we enjoy today. I have been through three bouts of severe radiation poisoning, and let me tell you, it’s no fun, son.” Chenowith looked at me.

“Neither is losing your entire team! We all could have survived until the Friday Run in here!”

“But who would have gone back?” he answered. “In the cargo hold of a shuttle? No one would have survived in the hold. It’s not meant for human transport. It’s not pressurized and has no radiation shielding. The Friday Run ship only seats two, you know that. Would you have drawn straws? Killed each other? Left five to die? We had no way of knowing for certain that you would have been affected at all. Predicting the effects of short period comets is hardly an exact science.” He set his hands in his lap, and leaned back in his chair.

“You should have given us the choice. We could have moved the fuel storage tanks away from the installation. We would have taken our chances.”

“Then how do you know that it wouldn’t have been something else to go wrong?” He queried.

Chenowith’s answers were getting dodgier and dodgier. His confidence was eroding and I could tell. It was palpable. He kept his composure, but I could feel his authority waning.

“And why have you been sending us messages from here as if you were on Earth? What’s with the pre-recorded background?”

“I’m sorry, son, but you’re not authorized for that level of clearance. Suffice it to say that the Space Corps and The Company deemed it mission-critical to have a commander off-site, and that will have to be enough for you.”

That tied it. Waving my plasma welder, I said, “I’m coming over there, old man, and I’m going to burn the answers out of you.” I advanced on the Director’s desk.

“I wouldn’t advise violence, son,” said Chenowith, and pulled a micro laser pistol from his lap, pointing it at my head. “This is the one weapon that, fired in here, will cause the core no harm whatsoever. It will, however, leave you quite dead. I’m sure you’ll see that I will be able to shoot you well before you can reach me.”

He had me there. My mind was reeling. He had secrets he was keeping and I was determined to find out what they were. Or die trying.

I was acutely aware of the fact that I had nothing left to lose.

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for Part X

1 comment:

  1. I love how the climax (and anitclimax) builds and build, and that there's a genuinely cool cliffhanger in this chapter!


Archive of Stories
and Authors

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's

Sean Padlo's exact whereabouts
are never able to be fully
pinned down, but what we
do know about him is laced
with the echoes of legend.
He's already been known
to haunt certain areas of
the landscape, a trick said
to only be possible by being
able to manipulate it from
the future. His presence
among the rest of us here
at the freezine sends shivers
of fear deep in our solar plexus.

Konstantine Paradias & Edward

Konstantine Paradias's

Konstantine Paradias is a writer by
choice. At the moment, he's published
over 100 stories in English, Japanese,
Romanian, German, Dutch and
Portuguese and has worked in a free-
lancing capacity for videogames, screen-
plays and anthologies. People tell him
he's got a writing problem but he can,
like, quit whenever he wants, man.
His work has been nominated
for a Pushcart Prize.

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris's

Edward Morris is a 2011 nominee for
the Pushcart Prize in literature, has
also been nominated for the 2009
Rhysling Award and the 2005 British
Science Fiction Association Award.
His short stories have been published
over a hundred and twenty times in
four languages, most recently at
PerhihelionSF, the Red Penny Papers'
SUPERPOW! anthology, and The
Magazine of Bizarro Fiction. He lives
and works in Portland as a writer,
editor, spoken word MC and bouncer,
and is also a regular guest author at
the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival.

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz's

Tim Fezz hails out of the shattered
streets of Philly destroying the air-
waves and people's minds in the
underground with his band OLD
FEZZIWIG. He's been known to
dip his razor quill into his own
blood and pen a twisted tale
every now and again. We are
delighted to have him onboard
the FREEZINE and we hope
you are, too.

Daniel E. Lambert's

Daniel E. Lambert teaches English
at California State University, Los
Angeles and East Los Angeles College.
He also teaches online Literature
courses for Colorado Technical
University. His writing appears
in Silver Apples, Easy Reader,
Other Worlds, Wrapped in Plastic
and The Daily Breeze. His work
also appears in the anthologies
When Words Collide, Flash It,
Daily Flash 2012, Daily Frights
2012, An Island of Egrets and
Timeless Voices. His collection
of poetry and prose, Love and
Other Diversions, is available
through Amazon. He lives in
Southern California with his
wife, poet and author Anhthao Bui.


Phoenix has enjoyed writing since he
was a little kid. He finds much import-
ance and truth in creative expression.
Phoenix has written over sixty books,
and has published everything from
novels, to poetry and philosophy.
He hopes to inspire people with his
writing and to ask difficult questions
about our world and the universe.
Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, Utah,
where he spends much of his time
reading books on science, philosophy,
and literature. He spends a good deal
of his free time writing and working
on new books. The Freezine of Fant-
asy and Science Fiction welcomes him
and his unique, intense vision.
Discover Phoenix's books at his author
page on Amazon. Also check out his blog.

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

Adam Bolivar's

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. He has been
a Romantic poet for as long as any-
one can remember, specializing in
the composition of spectral balladry,
utilizing to great effect a traditional
poetic form that taps into the haunted
undercurrents of folklore seldom found
in other forms of writing.
His poetry has appeared on the pages
of such publications as SPECTRAL
CTHULHU, and a poem of his,
"The Rime of the Eldritch Mariner,"
won the Rhysling Award for long-form
poetry. His collection of weird balladry
and Jack tales, THE LAY OF OLD HEX,
was published by Hippocampus Press in 2017.

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff's

David Agranoff is the author of the
following books: Ring of Fire (Eraserhead
Press, 2018), Flesh Trade (co-written
w/Edward Morris; published by Create-
Space, 2017), Punk Rock Ghost Story
(Deadite Press, 2016), Amazing Punk
Stories (Eraserhead Press, 2016),
Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich (Eraserhead
Press, 2014), Hunting the Moon Tribe
(Eraserhead Press, 2011), The Vegan
Revolution...with Zombies (Eraserhead
Press, 2010), and Screams from a Dying
World (Afterbirth Books, 2009).
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.

Sanford Meschkow's

Sanford Meschkow is a retired former
NYer who married a Philly suburban
Main Line girl. Sanford has been pub-
lished in a 1970s issue of AMAZING.
We welcome him here on the FREE-
ZINE of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking's

Brian "Flesheater" Stoneking currently
resides in the high desert of Phoenix,
Arizona where he enjoys campy horror
movies within the comfort of an Insane
Asylum. Search for his science fiction
stories at The Intestinal Fortitude in
the Flesheater's World section.
The Memory Sector is his first
appearance in the Freezine of
Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Owen R. Powell's

Little is known of the mysterious
Owen R. Powell (oftentimes referred
to as Orp online). That is because he
usually keeps moving. The story
Noetic Vacations marks his first
appearance in the Freezine.

Gene Stewart
(writing as Art Wester)

Gene Stewart's

Gene Stewart is a writer and artist.
He currently lives in the Midwest
American Wilderness where he is
researching tales of mystical realism,
writing ficta mystica, and exploring
the dark by casting a little light into
the shadows. Follow this link to his
website where there are many samples
of his writing and much else; come

Daniel José Older's

Daniel José Older's

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
Audio Anthology, The Tide Pool, and
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.

Paul Stuart's

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
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,
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

Rain Graves is an award winning
author of horror, science fiction and
poetry. She is best known for the 2002
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 -

Icy Sedgwick's

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

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

G. Alden Davis's

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 14 years,
and he swings a mean sword in the SCA.
He's also the best friend I ever had. He
was taken away from us last year on Jan
25 and I'll never be able to understand why.
Together we were a fantastic duo, the
legendary Grub Bros. Our secret base
exists on a cross-hatched nexus between
the Year of the Dragon and Dark City.
Somewhere along the tectonic fault
lines of our electromagnetic gathering,
shades of us peel off from the coruscating
pillars and are dropped back into the mix.
The phrase "rest in peace" just bugs me.
I'd rather think that Greg Grub's inimitable
spirit somehow continues evolving along
another manifestation of light itself, a
purple shift shall we say into another
phase of our expanding universe. I
ask myself, is it wishful thinking?
Will we really shed our human skin
like a discarded chrysalis and emerge
shimmering on another wavelength
altogether--or even manifest right
here among the rest without their
even beginning to suspect it? Well
people do believe in ghosts, but I
myself have long been suspicious
there can only be one single ghost
and that's all the stars in the universe
shrinking away into a withering heart
glittering and winking at us like
lost diamonds still echoing all their
sad and lonely songs fallen on deaf
eyes and ears blind to their colorful
emanations. My grub brother always
knew better than what the limits
of this old world taught him. We
explored past the outer peripheries
of our comfort zones to awaken
the terror in our minds and keep
us on our toes deep in the forest
in the middle of the night. The owls
led our way and the wilderness
transformed into a sanctuary.
The adventures we shared together
will always remain tattooed on
the pages of my skin. They tell a
story that we began together and
which continues being woven to
this very day. It's the same old
story about how we all were in
this together and how each and
every one of us is also going away
someday and though it will be the far-
thest we can manage to tell our own
tale we may rest assured it will be
continued like one of the old pulp
serials by all our friends which survive
us and manage to continue
the saga whispering in the wind.

Shae Sveniker's

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

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

J.R. Torina was DJ for Sonic Slaughter-
house ('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

K.B. Updike, Jr. is a young virgin
Virginia writer. KB's life work,
published 100% for free:
(We are not certain if K.B. Updike, Jr.
has lost his Virginian virginity yet.)