Author : Janet Shell Anderson
I’m hoping I’m still alive.
I’m on a Goldilocks planet. GJ667Cc. The sky’s yellow; the ground’s red. As far as I can see, there isn’t a single living thing.
That’s the way the Goldilocks and Co. Mines wants it.
I’m here to mine iron, hematite, just like I did on the Iron Range in northern Minnesota before my little episode. Homicide. It wasn’t my fault. My sister’s a lawyer, so I hired her. Cheap. You get what you pay for. Now I’m here, sentenced to nine years, and it’s beyond a bitch. Every possible thing that could go wrong, has, and they say I’m to blame. Well, for killing Georgie the Childeater anyway. Nobody liked Georgie, especially after, but he was a pretty good mining engineer. Doesn’t matter; he’s dead.
I’m driving a thing called a “Scrambler X” that’s supposed to cross this landscape quick, but, like everything else here, something’s wrong with it. I can’t get to JUSTRIGHT. That’s the idiotic name of the mining camp. The thing about prisons is everything becomes a joke, or you go crazy.
And out there in the freezing red dust there’s a Something. Big. Silver. Monstrous. Walking around with a lot of legs. No head. We aren’t ever supposed to see Somethings, have contact with them, admit they exist. So they don’t. Georgie ate a baby Something. Saturday he tried to tear my arms off, stomp me to death after he had fifteen beers and some K2.
I killed him.
I’ve had enough of the Somethings, prison, mines, JUSTRIGHT, decided to go back to Lake Vermilion, Minnesota. Home. I figure it’s September. The trees along Lobe’s dock are red; the big jack pines rear up tall. The second growth firs cluster.
I go home a lot. Or dream I do.
A black bear walks up the gravel road.
My great uncle drowned here with two other men, poaching deer in winter. Fell through the ice. It’s too early for ice, but I am going to get in Lobe’s boat and drive it to the arm of the lake where they drowned. I’m not going to see silver Somethings in a Goldilocks raspberry, sunlicked desert. I’m not going to die in a prison mining camp called JUSTRIGHT because my sister didn’t know how to file a timely Motion to Suppress.
It’s a little breezy here beside the lake; gnats land on the water. Old, curled water lilies sway on the surface; leaves float toward the shore. The bear huffs, looks at me with those strange, beady eyes they have. He is thinking about raspberries. Too hot. Too cold. The dead know what bears think.
Oh man, am I dead?
He huffs again in a silver kind of way, monstrous.
I am in deep water, getting deeper and deeper, like my great uncle. The sun that never shone on Lake Vermilion, Minnesota, is turning red.
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