banner art above by Charles Carter

Thursday, July 9, 2009


by John Shirley

They hired two fast enta'tallies from the village near the woods, and rode the tall, galloping two-legged beasts toward the starcraft—tallies, the mounts were called, for short, with a profile like three-yard-tall human beings but with flattish, reptilian heads, triple-jointed arms ending in pincers, and enormous, leathery legs. From a good distance a tallie rider looked like a child riding piggy-backed on a human adult.

They rode the tallies across the fields, toward the windbreak of poplars and brush that here divided the Gollden estate from the Grelle.

Jann didn’t much like riding tallies: the saddles held one almost vertically in line with the animal’s spine, yet you felt you might at any time fall off backwards, and the ride was bone-jarring, rump-rawing.

Vonn a Vleet, however, was a great tallie rider, and much preferred them to the sky-herds—he made himself ride the behemoths, now and then, “because a man should conquer his fears”, and he showed no outward sign of terror when he did it, doubling with Jann. But Jann had seen Vonn’s white knuckles on the behemoth lines, his quiet relief on returning to the yielding soil of Paradine.

Now they leapt over fences and irrigation ditches, zig zagged between hay ricks and herds of stock, startling sheep into bounding away. They came to a dirt road that wended beside Glimcrack Creek, and followed it south till they were within sight of the windbreak.

Vonn signaled with his hand, in the mute gestures the S’Leorna used when hunting.

We will approach under cover. We will observe without being seen.

Why? Jann wondered. There were laws—the Kastillians might be getting away with bending them, but they would submit when confronted. They had to, really. Jann was, after all, a DemiLord, one of the fifteen most powerful men on this planet. They would have been instructed to show at least a modicum of respect to the local hierarchy. And they would not want to pay a fine to the Terran Authority for recklessness.

But again Jann deferred to Vonn and reined his tallie to a trot. They approached the starcraft slowly and indirectly.

Jann felt an almost perverse relief on seeing that the ship was still there. He could make out the mercuric gleam of its triple hemispheres between the tall green poplars; the breeze brought him a few murmurs from the ship’s crew, or perhaps passengers, and the oily smell of landing fuel.

Vonn signaled to dismount and they tied the beasts to a wiry shrub near a patch of green grass.

Vonn a Vleet took the lead, half crouched as he eased up to the windbreak of trees and scrub. In an open field just fifty yards on the other side of the brush-lined fence was a group of Kastillian soldiers, most of them listening to an officer reading from a wordboard, maybe giving out sentry and maintenance assignments; they were all male, in the patriarchal tradition of the Kastillians, most of them in chin-to-toe deep-blue EKCW uniforms— the acronym standing for Enforcement of Kastillian Collective Will. Kaswills, in the vernacular.

LCD letters marched along their epaulets and armbands, indicating their rank and medals. Most of them were armed with stropps; some carried microwave pulsers. Looming over them was the triple-rounded silvery bulk of the spacecraft, big as a Lapis Mall, its windows sealed. It was shaped something like a legless insect landed on its belly, with head, thorax and tail-section connected by complex tubes. Along a ramp up into a circular hatch in the “thorax” a couple of Kaswill Lowers herded three tallies, using electronlashes. The stolen tallies, raising their heads to give out their eerie wails of distress, were probably from the pastures of Gollden Manor.

Crouching beside Vonn and peering through the brush, Jann tensed with outrage. “Do you see? It’s said they like the taste of roast tallie. They’ve stolen at least three for their dining table! First they kill my behemoth and now they steal the Gollden’s stock!”

“Keep your voice down, boy,” Vonn hissed. “Yes they’ve killed your animal, they’ve stolen a few beasts—but ‘do not pursue the Stinger back to its Hive’.”

“Old sayings won't save our stock from these thieves,” Jann grumbled softly. Their conversation continued in whispers. “I don’t understand why we’re hiding. There is a treaty, the law is with us—and I am a DemiLord. I say we identify ourselves, Vonn, immediately. We demand the animals back-- and demand their landing papers. It’s likely they have no permissions whatever. If we emanate Kreitos, as you taught me, they'll respect our authority!”

“They just might be immune to our emanations of Kreitos,” said Vonn ruefully. “And of course they have no landing papers—not when they land in secret. But do you think they’ll let a couple of local bumpkins order them about? That's what they'll think, DemiLord or not. They’ll laugh in our faces—they may do worse. There are rumors of offworlders taking slaves on Paradine...”

“What? The Kastillians use slaves onboard ship, it’s said—but no one from Paradine could have been taken! We're protected by treaty! We have allies!”

Vonn shrugged. “I don’t know that it was the Kastillians. But then--why are they here?”

“Let's demand an explanation. We have the force of the treaty--we have the Terran League...”

“The Kastillians know full well that the Terran League will fight for us reluctantly, if at all. The balance of power between Earth and Kastillia is chancy, Jann.” Vonn turned him a narrow eyed look. “You didn’t read the System Histories I gave you?”

Jann looked at the Kaswills: Lower, Intermediate, Advanced and Higher orders, each order with its various sub-ranks, now spreading out to their various tasks around the starcraft. “I don’t think this is the time for a scholar’s examination.”

“This situation is the examination, boy—” He seemed to be counting the sentries, tracking their movements about the clearing.

“What do you think we should do, then?” Jann asked.

“Nothing. We will report this...”

Jann had a sickly feeling of disappointment in his mentor. Had the legendary warrior surrendered to the cowardice and cynicism of old age? "That will do no good. We need to confront them—find out what they're up to!"

Vonn shrugged, still watching the sentries around the starcraft. “They could claim anything. They could be up to anything. Security is an illusion. There is none.”

“You’re not hearing me, Vonn!”

“I tell you for the last time, keep your voice down, you fool!” Vann hissed. "I have reasons to avoid a confrontation. More than I have time to explain."

Jann suddenly felt like striking the older man—instead, he looked angrily away. The Kastillians were still at their enigmatic tasks, seeming unaware they were being watched.

Vonn glanced back as one of the tallies snorted and pulled free of its stake, shuffling toward forage. “That badly trained beast is going to wander into their line of sight and call attention to us.”

“The Kastillians may do a personnel scan at any moment,” Jann pointed out. “They will pick up our body signatures. We seem like skulkers behaving this way. We should present ourselves to them—once they know I’m a DemiLord...”

“No—I'll tell you what we'll do, boy—” He leaned nearer so that Jann could catch his whisper. “They're doing some repair work on the ship. They'll be here for awhile. I'll ride to the Free Ranchers, see how many armed men I can shame into coming—Probably won't need them but it's good to show strength. You go to the Manor, use the communicator to contact the Peacekeeper Station. Report an illegal landing, stolen livestock, the killing of your behemoth. Request a Peacekeeping Force. By midnight we'll have it resolved, one way or the other. We will demand reparations. Now just go—I'll meet you at the Manor.”

“But—they could commit any number of crimes in that time!"

“They’re putting up perimeter posts like they're planning to stay the night—so they're probably not getting ready for an expedition. Now go! Ride to the Manor, to the communicator! Quick, before they deploy their Personnel Scanners!”

Jann almost defied him. He was on the point of insisting on a meeting with the starcraft’s captain. Vonn would have to yield to insistence, if he was to remain in the service of Grelle Manor.

But a long habit of deferring to Vonn held Jann back. And at last he turned furiously away and stalked back to his tallie.

Moments later the two riders were thumping off in separate directions, Vonn a Vleet to the Free Ranches, Jann toward Grelle Manor...

Vonn had called him a fool. That grated.

And what about Liana—and Gollden manor? Those were the Gollden's tallies the Kastillians had taken. If he confronted these Kastillian raiders over it, demanded reparations, what could they do? He was a Paradine DemiLord—and if he got reparations, immediately, even got the tallies back before they were slaughtered, it might help him get the Baron's permission to marry Liana.

How would Liana a Gollden regard him if he stood by and allowed outworlders to raid her father’s tallie herd? Already she seemed distant from him.

And by the time Vonn got some kind of back-up for a confrontation with the Kastillians, the ship might have departed—Vonn was only guessing about the Kastillian plans to stay overnight. But if they were faced down now, they’d know that they were being watched, that steps were being taken.

Jann reined in his mount and turned to look back at the Kastillian ship. The three silvery arcs seemed once more to embody a great opportunity. Hadn't Vonn taught him to seize opportunities? He would not get too close to the Kastillians—just close enough to shout his demands. Once he had identified himself as a DemiLord they would surely not molest him. If they refused to respect his demands, he could ride away to the Manor—they were on foot except for the starcraft, and they would surely not rouse that great monstrous ship just to pursue him in anger. He could easily get away on the tallie if he needed to.

He found himself riding at first slowly, then more and more rapidly back toward the Kastillian spacecraft. As he approached a gap in a windbreak, he was aware of a certain inner alarum of fear and dismay. But he dismissed the feeling as a childish fear of the unknown, and spoke the command that made the tallie leap the fence, so that he came down squarely in view of the Kastillians.

A Kastillian shout of warning went up immediately, quickly followed by a muted siren that was half buzzer and half warble, and a dozen hostile faces turned to him from various quarters, in the shadow of the spacecraft, which now loomed above him like a great anomalous building.

Jann felt an impulse to turn and ride away but he quelled the panic and trotted his tallie a few steps closer to the nearest Kastillian officer. He reined in and ordered it into “Address Posture”-- a half turn and squat, leaning forward-- so that he could face the officer squarely, and not too far above him. Shouldn't be this close, he thought. But it was too late to back away—he'd look weak.

When the Kastillians saw that he was alone, and unarmed but for a crossbow, some of them laughed and babbled dismissively in their language. His comprehension of Kastillian dialect was weak and he understood only phrases here and there.

“...some farmer’s ridiculous those beasts they ride...”

“...look he rides like a child playing at rumpity-back...”

Inwardly furious at their disrespect, his statement to the Kastillians in “System Wide”, was harsher than he had intended: “I am Jann a Grelle, DemiLord of Grelle Manor and a protector of Gollden Manor! I must first protest that you killed an elder behemoth of my skyherd, with wanton and proscribed weapons-fire in violation of treaty! I demand to see both your landing permissions and ownership papers for the beasts I saw driven into the ship but minutes ago!”

His own voice sounded cracked and reedy in his ears, and he felt his face burn when the Kaswills laughed at his demand.

The officer Jann had confronted was a tall, broad-shouldered, red-faced man with his eyebrows grown together. His wide mouth twisted into an amused sneer as he responded in System Wide. “Back home on Kastillia we have a way of dealing with children who make demands on their elders! We find the electronlash gets an improved response—except when it induces them to wet their diapers!”

Now all the Spacers laughed in one great roar, and Jann was forced to reach deep within for the stoic self-control Vonn had tried to teach him. “I spoke formally, and definitely, but I do not intend disrespect. You men landed here illegally—and you're bound under the Seventeenth Agreement to address my demands.”

As he spoke, three armed sentries hurried up to stand behind the officer; Jann was distantly aware that others were moving behind the tallie. Would they attack a DemiLord of Paradine?

Click Here for Part 5 of SKY PIRATES,
by John Shirley


Be sure to tune in tomorrow morning when the FoFaSF hosts a short piece of post-Interzone flash fiction from Johnny Strike, author of the short story collection A Loud Humming Sound Came From Above and the novel Ports Of Hell, recommended by William S. Burroughs. Johnny Strike also happens to be one of the lead founders (guitar/vocals) of the 70s underground proto-punk band CRIME. NIGHT FLAMERS is sort of like the "title piece" from Johnny's short story collection.

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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.)