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Wednesday, July 22, 2009


by John Shirley

Jann opened his eyes and looked with only a faint spark of interest at the man who had spoken. He was another local land-owner, a Kastillian autocrat in the white robe and leggings of a Scientific Savant--a rail-thin man with a bald pate, his eyes hidden behind nerve-responsive glasses that telescoped an inch to take Jann in more clearly. He had high almost clownish eyebrows that seemed arched in perpetual puzzlement, and rouged lips. There were two other men there, and a lady. One of the men was a well-remembered guard from the space station who'd been reassigned here--the guard with too many teeth, with the bristling brows and weak chin, and most especially with the over-active electronlash.

The other was a sneering, obese autocrat in a gold and silver silk suit; he had sleepy, decadent eyes, a floppy gold-embroidered hat and four long mustachios elaborated into fantastic braids. The fat man had been here before, inspecting the slaves, intending to buy some from the ship, it was said. Jann had heard him called Meister Gangtofen, formerly of Germany, a country on the planet Earth-- he had married a Kastillian Duchess, and become a Kastillian citizen. But then all Kastillians were themselves descendents of a certain pioneering colony of Earthmen: settlers nostalgic for the monarchies of ancient Earth.

It was the lady who captured Jann's attention; who caught his awareness and held it hostage. She was a tall, willowy work of art. Her skin was pale; her hair, cut with bangs, was jet black, falling straight to her shoulders so that she resembled the queen of some ancient Pharaoh of old Earth; she wore a tight fitting burgundy top exposing an ivory shoulder, and loose, practical black pantaloons gathered at the ankles; the pantaloons did not hide the inviting fullness of her hips. In her delicate, long-fingered hand was a crystal wine-glass held with such steadiness the rose-colored wine was motionless. Her face was not conventionally beautiful, with its striking, well pronounced nose, her kohl-edged black eyes, impudent chin, naturally red lips just a shade too small-- but her features came together in an elegant ensemble, illuminated by an intelligence that shone past her air of defensive boredom.

He saw something else, in her face, beyond her detachment, her intelligence, her attraction. He saw...pity? No, it was finer than pity, as she looked at the slaves. It was compassion.

For a moment a kind of recognition glimmered between them as he met her eyes. He saw then that she was trapped, too, in some way he couldn't understand. She had wealth and social status, but her entrapment was nevertheless quite real.

Then the guard snarled and stepped in with the electronlash raised--it was a steel wand with barbed copper wires at one end, to cut into the flesh and shock it at once.

"Stop!" the Lady said.

The guard froze, blinking at her. Genuinely puzzled. "My lady?"

"Why are you going damage state assets?" She asked it with an air of only mild interest, even yawning a little behind her hand.

He lowered his electronlash and licked his lips. "Why--he was looking impudently at you, ma'am, as they have been warned about. I mean, they have been warned about not looking at any of the Autocrats directly should they come in here."

"Yes, truly, Delphine," Gangtofen simpered. "we should let the guards do their job without interference. They've learned how to deal with these scum."

She tossed her hair imperiously. "But if he whips this man, it implies that the creature affected me in some way. And how could that be? I take as an insult any suggestion that I have noticed the slave looking at me."

Gangtofen scratched in his fantastic beard. "Yes I suppose that...sort of...makes sense. Almost."

Jann looked away from the Lady Delphine, then. It was wiser not to tempt fate by staring at her--the guard might well punish him later, out of her sight. Anyway, looking at her was another brand of exquisite torture. He looked at the deck, but watched the Kastillians from the corners of his eyes.

The Savant spoke up then, peering at Jann. "You know, this fellow administered a plantation, of sorts, if I recall his file rightly."

Gangtofen frowned at the Savant. "You have been perusing the ownership files--perhaps with an eye to purchasing slaves?"

"Indeed!" The Savant pointed an interrogatory finger at Jann. On the end of his finger--on the tip of each of his fingers--was a metal sheath, which now extruded a whirling metal sensor. "Ah yes. I see he is still relatively healthy despite his privations here. His pulse is strong, his mind not broken. But not for much longer." He turned to Gangtofen. "You see I need a number of subjects for my experiments. The ship is getting a fresh infusion of slaves, soon--they're willing to sell ten or so."

"But I already have an understanding with the purser! I am to have a round dozen for my plantation! And if this fellow is experienced..."

"Perhaps we can work a deal, Meister Gangtofen, since my estate borders your own--my estate on Barba-Doss, I mean. I do intend to spend some time at that particular retreat..." His eyepieces telescoped whirringly out, making the stout plantation owner take a sudden step back.

"Perhaps something could be worked out," Gangtofen said. "It's true I've had bad luck with slaves--they tend to die on me. If they are close to expiring anyway, I am sure we can come to an agreement. After I've had enough work out of them to justify the purchase, you may buy them at a reduced price--for your experiments."

Listening, Jann shuddered.

"But as for this one," Gangtofen went on, indicting Jann, "this oaf from Paradine, if I remember rightly, why--him I do not want. He was lower class masquerading as Autocrat. Such pretensions are inflammatory. And he was violent, dangerous--killed a number of good Kaswills. There is a rebellious look in his eye. I don't need that type on my lands."

And so, Jann thought, I am destined to die on this ship after all...

But again the Lady Delphine spoke up. "Uncle Gangtofen--I must insist that you take this one. You waste your money getting weak slaves and only get half your crops in. It's quite disgraceful. The others here are too sapped. As your heir, I must protest."

"But Delphine--"

"Please Uncle," she told Gangtofen with calm insistence, "--this one. And his companions--I have seen them talking. They all look quite strong. You asked me to help you with your accounts but you will not take my advice. It saddens it would sadden my mother...Perhaps I should ask her to come to the plantation and help me--"

"No, no! Not your mother! I mean--why subject her to grueling space travel from Kastillia? Very well, I will take this one--but I will see to it the foreman keeps a sharp eye on him."

An enigmatic sort of anger rose up in Jann. He looked at the Lady Delphine, wanting to shout at her. Do you think you are doing me a favor? I am a living energy source on the ship--like an oxen before some primitive's cart-- and I'll be another sort of animal for your plantation...

The guard noticed Jann's glare and tapped his electronlash in his palm. Jann looked back at the deck.

"So he fancied himself an autocrat of sorts, on his homeworld?" mused the Savant, pointing additional sensor fingers at Jann--who felt a tingling at the back of his head as he was probed. "Interesting. His synapse activity is quite high, I see...Of course you know, historically speaking, Gangtofen, we're in a regressive era, in certain respects--depending on your social-engineering point of view. That is, castes and classes were outmoded, discarded as inhumane, centuries ago, especially in the twenty-first century. But of course after the first wave of expansion, the war on Earth left the colonies out of touch with the home planet for almost two centuries--"

"Why, it was for the best!" said Gangtofen. "That was when Kastillia found its true nature, discovered the perfection of its bloodlines, expanded into an empire!"

"Yes, yes no doubt," the Savant replied, nodding indulgently. "But it was also when the trend, if that's the word, for ancient-Earth social forms--colonial imperialism, slavery, castes and classes and nobilities, titles --when all of it became fashionable, and then entrenched as the oligarchies asserted their privileges..."

Gangtofen snorted. "You sound like an anarchist, sir! Why a return to monarchy has given shape to what was in constant flux and chaos! It was not a regression, it was a restoration of lost greatness! Do you mean to imply that our nobles are not noble, our peasants not peasants?"

"No, no, not at all," said the Savant, yawning. "It was merely--an historical overview, nothing more. It is in my scholarly nature. I am cursed with objectivity."

"And don't forget, uncle," Delphine said, "Oraclis is my tutor in history as well as science…"

So that was the Savant's name, Jann thought wearily. Oraclis. A landowner who made an avocation of tutoring the Lady. And this dandified buffoon Gangtofen was the girl's uncle. It was hard to imagine them related.

"So now," Oraclis said, "I believe I shall just go and see the purser about those slaves--"

"Hold on there, Oraclis!" Gangtofen protested.

"I will go with you to the purser!" Gangtofen continued, as the group moved off down the observation walk. "And I will ask you, sir, not to purchase my intended goods before I've had my rightful opportunity!"

"To be sure, my dear fellow..."

The guards came to unhook the slaves from their harnesses then. Now they'd have a period of rest--a momentary relief in a vast plane of despair, like the sun breaking through the clouds for a moment on a polar ice field.

But this time, Jann felt just a flicker of real hope.

Click Here for Part 12 of SKY PIRATES,
by John Shirley

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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.)