The Salzburger Conundrum

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The senator peels from her lover and she thinks of her impending speech and she thinks of her wife and her husband. Her bid to prevent the ISTC’s proposal to travel back in time and kill an infant Hitler will fail. She laments that she is weak, a paragon of righteousness who has foregone her loving partners and, instead, bedded this sublime young man at her side.

“You look sad”, he says.

“It’s nothing. Tomorrow, it’s weighing on me. It’s not just the Martian colonies I’m representing, it’s all of us”, she says and she again feels the tidal weight of her own importance.

Reaching from beneath the sheets, she pours herself another scotch. Her offer of the bottle neck to the young man is declined, and he smiles.

“Tell me again what you’re going to say”, he asks propping his head upon his hand, nestling into his pillow.

“All these centuries after his death and the mere mention of the man’s name turns tongues to black. Our science fact continues to be rifled from the hackneyed science fictions of old. This mission would save millions but it’ll offer, in their place, a conundrum. Of those he killed just how many potentially would have inspired and produced even greater evils? We cannot see past this little man and, for this, his name has outgrown even the grotesque nature of his actions. Killing him will kill his ghost, though many ghouls will step into its place. It is not the past we should be concerned with. You can’t correct it. It can be but altered. I haven’t even opened the financial resource file for this project, I image it too will be a grotesque read. I come from a place where cancers still eat at those who mine ore that is shipped to earth and used to fire the reactors that will power this folly into the past. I have lost before I have started”

“Tomorrow your speech will be powerful and impassioned. They will fold. The time travel program will be dismantled and its technologies refocused. You will win”

“I appreciate your faith”

“It is not faith. It is fact. I’m not from this time. I represent an Earth that just couldn’t go on with this man’s stain forever upon it. His echo gets louder with the years and it has been decided that you must be stopped”
She grabs for the tumbler beside the bed and it slips, shattering to the floor.

“I’d never be so uncouth as to taint such a mesmerizing malt. No, a far more direct infusion of the toxin this time was required”

She slumps from the bed, her limbs already shutting down as they contract into a fevered ball.

“Moments now, and he and you will be gone. Oh, and if you’re wondering why, we simply didn’t go back to Salzburger Vorstadt 15 and kill the monster child ourselves. Blame your grandson. He… well, he does a very bad thing. Two for the price of one, Senator. These journeys are far from cheap”

A man sits on a throne of granite and looks down across the heads that ripple the Appian amphitheatre, right arms raised and stabbing into fists of iron. He rubs at his beard and he rubs at the fat of his breast and he inhales a gust of the purest colourless air. Banners ripple and he smiles as he knows that only the purest of the pure are now left to gulp down the words that he makes.

“… and adulterated blood alone will sooth the churn of history”.

Dark Passage

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

“Now I have a little time to think”, she whispers to herself without moving her lips. Nothing new in that.

Her escape pod lays upon a forlorn acid plain. A monotonous mountain-less sweep interrupted by nothing but the cusp edge of newly formed craters and the glowing remains of the ship.

The pod fizzes and pops and its parachute lays limp and listless like yet another discarded prophylactic. Those parting gifts so lovingly cast down upon her cigarette and wine stained carpet. That sodden thing within a room at the end of a filthy ginnel, now on the farthest side of existence.

She thinks of her depression and she wonders just why it is the first thing that flickers in her eyes as her minutes grind and prepare to turn into seconds.

Empathy. How can she possibly even start to pretend she knows how others feel? And how can they know what she is? Those who had opened their hearts to her, the few, they’d tried so hard to equate their losses and the cracks in their lives to those of hers. But into these boxes, she didn’t quite fit.

Love. Such a short and wickedly evasive little meaningless word. Can we still love those who beat us? Can we love those who have drunk from the fountain of our faith and repaid the favour with lies? Of course, we can. Love is love. It is solitary. She truly loves the way that alcohol sears at life’s bitter edge and the way in which Cobain so deliciously played with his words. She loves the fools that drink from her body. Love is real. Loving something wicked, it pulls the fangs from its face.

She’d been told to look at her endless possibilities. To reach into the unknown and not be afraid to latch on to those things that she cannot see. Trust in herself and take a chance. You are perfect in your imperfection, they’d lie.

Reach out and connect with people. Let them in and have them connect with you. Nobody is reaching for her and why in fuck would she want to reach out to others? She loves, but she feels nothing, she sees nothing and she smothers herself in the thick heavy syrup of the dark.

Not all of us have family or people who call themselves friends. How sad they say, for surely she wants for them so, so badly.

As she lays here now with her legs snapped in the wreckage and she looks out into this vicious new world, she smiles. She has found the answer.

“I’ve travelled the world and now many beyond it. I’d predisposed myself to look for the light. I didn’t need to. I didn’t need family. I didn’t need friends. I didn’t need for things to get better. I judged myself by the ‘better’ of others. Life is not set and the light is just a place where all sorts of devils can hop and dance in the sun”, she laughs, and it is not manic nor resided. It is glee.

“My legs are numb and the crack in my view-port is stretching. Bring it on. I cannot wait to see what you have for me next. You, my lovely little personal gloriously crumbling dark adventure. And I will live for as long as I do and I’ll savour every last bit – of you”.

Dirty Little Coward

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The Dentist turns onto Fremont Street. Pausing, he slips a hand beneath the lapel of his jacket and massages the laudanum that eases the needles that scratch in his chest.

The double-action Thunderer that hangs at his hip will feel light in his hand as he draws and he knows it’ll pull up and off to the left. He will aim at the hip. The right one, at that spot that always glimmers, catching his eye as clearly as a nugget in a crystal-clear placer stream.

Once muddied wheel ruts have bleached almost to dust and crunch like freshly fallen snow beneath his tightly booted feet. He knows this town well, though his liver knows it better and, with this in mind, he stops and affords himself a most saddened of sighs.

Before him, the charred ghost remains of C.S Fly’s Saloon and Dance Hall play out a faint tune. The bitter remnant taint of the fusel oils that had so coddled his pains and echoes of a lust that only its soiled doves knew how to tame. The scent of its soot reminds him of meat. Carved fresh from the beast and cooked over an open fire in the spit of a skillet and bottles of smoky whiskey that he’d swallowed down in lumps.

He looks up at the sun that creaks just now to its zenith and he knows that blood is near. Now is perfect. Time to pull in the next few moments and reshuffle them until they are just right and just so.

His foe will appear in the ruins and out of the ash he’ll stride. Cordial greetings will be exchanged and then the Dentist will offer to count. 5… 4… 3… and with that he will draw and kill this foul blaggard dead as a pair of two black aces and eights. For scum of his order, they can but pray for the honour afforded to men.

“It’s time!”, he calls and his hand clutches at the air at his waist.

I ease forward with the brass-handled joystick and my Colt single action .45 caliber drone falters and then steadies as I draw it level with the greased slick back of his head.

And I know that he feels the taunt as the blades of my machine they sift through this moment on pause.

“Hello Doc”, I say, my words piping from the engraved slots of the speaker that hovers and points at his back.

“Coward”.

I wait not one more instant and the bullet it slams through his skull and enters the mind of this man, so unworthy that he live as a legend. The remaining five rounds plaster his back and his nose snaps as he falls to his face in the dust, and I grin and rock back into my chair.

“You’ve shot him right through”, squeals Billy as he jumps up from the lunch my dear wife has only just laid down.

“I am become legend”, is all I can think to say.

I sense what’s to come but I walk across the parlour and stand upon a chair and rub with my cuff the dust that streaks the monitor that hangs just above the mantel.

Hear now the slick slide of barrel against leather.

“You are wrong, Jesse. I am legend”, William H. Bonney stutters with the shimmering tongue of a coward.

Sonnengott

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

I was going to say that everyone knows of Shoichi Yokoi, the Japanese soldier who hid for many years, not knowing that the war had ended. But most, probably, do not. His war and its scattered detritus have now long since been replaced by new wars and new tales of loss and the lost.

But here now a teenage girl sits in a thread-bare Nazi officers uniform and she, too, does not know that the war is over. She does not know what war is. She does not know of time or age or mortality. All she knows is the sun.

The swastika that’s clutched by the great bird on her cap is but a shape and nothing more. A thing that she draws in the snow.

At night she picks and she peels away at the bones of her family, for these sticks they also hold no meaning. They are but the struts to hold up the roof and the walls of skin. Just as they do with the creatures that wash up and bleach on the blackened and frost trimmed shore.

She is eighteen but she has no need of this number, she has no concept of the fear that accompanies the creep that is death. If she did then she’d worry that her skin has prematurely puckered and her eyes have been robbed by the glare of the snow. And that her cells are being eaten by a shrill heat that whines and shimmers without stop.

The air bites and she pays it no mind but there’s also something else that now shudders her skin. Something is coming. She has no words but she forms in her head an old memory, a feeling that many years ago wrapped around the face that gazes out and down from the wall by her bed. That thing. Its glare as cold as the ice that cracks and she knows it is bad and not good.

Creatures like those from her cap swirl up above and she imagines that they sluice out from the sun. It’s a door, she thinks. A portal of light and from this place the things they will come.

For her.

“Guten Morgen ruft die Sonne/ The sun calls, Good morning!”

A beckoning call to the sky. She feels it. The heat from the sun as it pulls at her face. A stinging pall the same as that which wraps and holds her in sleep.

Endless nights and, slowly, she cooks curled beneath the hovering Haunebu that perpetually hum in rows within the crumbling hanger at her back.

Her eyes close and her head floods into a dream. She is standing atop the disc and the hatch is no longer locked tight. A thing with long hair and thin smiling lips reaches up, offering her a blemish-less hand and she now remembers the word for mother.

The girl’s eyes open to a painful squint, she will wait. She will wait for them for as long as it takes. And they will come and they will fly her away. Up and into the glorious black hole that burns at the center of the sun.

It’s OK to Cry Here

Author: Hari Navarro, Staff Writer

The rain is sharp as the one-armed man pulls his daughter up the gray steps and barges his shoulder to the door and staggers from the dark night and into the old psychiatric hospital’s milky black gloom. Steadying, he listens. He knows the gentle creak of death but all he hears now is the water that gushes in the walls and the wind that scythes as it peels in sheets at the roof.

It is not lost on him just how easily he’s just walked into this flogged-horse, cheese-slice of dog-eared horror fiction. He’d once savored these kinds of frights. Huffing handfuls of popcorn as beautiful young people lost their clothes and their blood and their phone reception and their common sense within gurney strewn halls just as this. But here the bulbs have long since flickered their last.

The air and the wood in the floor and the ceiling is heavy with the weight of the tempest. Such a familiar stink, this rot through which the man now guides the girl. Mounds of saturated things, chairs with books that have sunk down and into themselves – their pages sagging as wax from candles forgotten and long since dead.

The man feels no fear. The girl too knows when bad things are cowering. Nothing is here, but the wet.

It’s OK to cry here, proclaims graffiti hacked into the wall at the base of a great arching staircase. Stairs have a way of drawing people. Blaring arrows to places unknown.

Ascending, the man and the girl enter a corridor lined to the dark pitch of its end with doors with windows of glass. Dr. Samantha Hing once worked here, her name flickering as lightning beats at its back.

The man doesn’t, but the girl wonders just where the doctor is and she squeezes her eyes shut and she hopes that this woman she has never once met has managed to escape from the things.

The door handle is cold in his hand as again he leans and pushes with his shoulder. A shoulder that’s been getting a lot of use since only last week he’d screamed at his daughter to cut away his arm with an axe.

Doctor Hing’s office has gone. Its walls have subsided and it’s gape is a stage to the storm.

The man puts his face to the rain and closes his eyes and it’s not bitter as it runs to his lips. He feels peace in this place where minds once peeled back and fear leeched from the rinds.

These shadows hold no evil. Those who once rocked in these rooms and scratched at their tongues so as to find answers to questions that they could not even begin to ask were not the ones to fear.

Fear lives in the light. When the world fell apart, it streamed from the good and the normal. Normality. The institute of the clinically sane. That’s were evil resides.

He heard the airplanes again today, third time this week. Was it planes? Maybe just the wind through the dead broken trees. No, it was gulls. He feels the sweet rain whip at his eyes and, without knowing, he starts to cry.

“You alright, Dad?”, asks the tiny balled hand at his side.

“Yes”, he says and, for the first time in a very long while, he senses not the slightest hint of a lie.