The Tides

Author: Timothy Goss

Where to begin?

Start at the dance. It’s a very good place to start.

But the dance was slow. Everything was on its best behaviour, including the Humans’. They were representing Kircher and his crazy ideas. The Galactic community wanted assurances – simian lineage had caused problems in the past.

“They are too young a caste.” The Jovian representative drooled. As Earth’s nearest neighbour they had observed the Human develop, witnessed their aggression and feared what might ensue. “They require greater intervention, which we are willing to provide if agreed by the community.” A willing smile leaked across its features.

The community had intervened in the past. Some of Earth’s greatest minds, biggest spirits, and most loved icons were alien influencers. They are the names known to all humanity those whose influence encompasses the globe.

A squashed Gliesian, DazC KkaR, approached the Human woman, Sofia Jewel. Both were bipedal, but the similarities end. DazC extended an odd limb in a chivalrous display and Sofia smiled a human smile, curious but cautious, suspicious not knowing the creature’s ultimate intention. Slowly she took his hand and they stepped onto the dance floor. The crowded auditorium held its breath…

It was generally unknown that humans had a culture advanced enough to develop complex patterns and sequences, especially within a rhythmic foundation. It was even harder to believe that backward humanity would be able to muster the cognitive zeal to develop rhythm into anything more than a march into war. The general opinion throughout the room was such and consequently, all awaited a confused and baffling display, a groping in the dark, a fractured ‘dance’ in name only.

Sofia knew this was her responsibility, Kircher warned her but still, she wanted to dance. As the alien music surged she searched for the familiar, she knew rhythm was a familiar fellow and when DazC KkaR failed to lead Sofia stepped up discovering a tango hidden beneath the alien hurdy-gurdy – Caminar, planeo…

Her Gliesian partner was a breed apart from most and danced like no other. He was able to predict a beings’ movement and join it in a rhythmic interchange – viborita-sacada. DazC KkaR believed all movement mimicked that of the cosmos and two bodies in close proximity must interact.

The Jovian representative slopped its foot to the beat. It could feel the tides of its being ebbed and flowed with the musical movement. The commitment of each dancer and the energy created between them spread throughout the room affecting all liquid-based castes. Sometimes life needs a reminder to live. The auditorium breathed as Human and Gliesian synchronized. Sofia considered her partner’s ability superlative and did her best to ignore its hideous appearance, while DazC KkaR did the same. It is true, Humans and Gliesians are repulsive in the flesh, but this was forgotten in the beauty of their dance.

Kircher played the odds, he was a smart man, one who could usually outwit his opponents, but these were not men and he had to remind himself of that. Here he had no power – here it was up to Sofia. She was the first volunteer and he trusted her judgment. On his deathbed, it is said that Kircher asks if anybody had heard from Sala.

Jovian influencers visited Earth regularly over the following centuries and always took great pains to observe the development and witness the progression of dance throughout the Human world. Sofia Jewel and DazC KkaR were remembered in Jovian culture so moved were they by the tides she created.

Fuzzy Logic

Author: R. J. Erbacher

“I’m sorry, what?”

Aaron was about to tip his tray of leftover lunch into the bin and now held it frozen in mid-spill. Maybe telling him wasn’t a smart idea after all. I thought, out of everyone I knew and trusted, he would have an open mind. I had worked with him for seven years and we had become good, tell-each-other-anything, friends. My secret might have just changed the whole dynamics of our relationship.

“I said, I can move from one plane of existence to another if I really concentrate.”

“You know Zoey, even the second time, that still doesn’t make sense.”

He continued with his garbage dump and we walked from the cafeteria back to our cubicles.

“I don’t know why or how but one day while I was doing yoga in my apartment – it just happened. I went from squatting on my rug looking at the rain on my window to sitting on a rock overlooking a sunny beach and gorgeous ocean. I jumped up and flashed right back because I was so freaked out. But after experimenting and fine tuning my skills for a couple of weeks I can pretty much do it at will and it’s kind of creepy and exciting at the same time.”

“You know, I have to call bullshit on this,” Aaron said.

“I’m serious!” I said a little too loudly as we strode past other workers in the hallway. “Look I have no clue how it works. I Googled it and it has something to do with changing the structure of your consciousness or vibrating at a different physical frequency. I don’t know?”

“Really? And where is this beach?”

“I don’t know that either. I don’t recognize it. It’s isolated and wonderful. No other people around. To tell you the truth it might not even be on this planet.”

He stopped so I stopped, and we stared at each other. His face was incredulous.

I saw that we were next to the copy room, so I nabbed his elbow and pulled him in and closed and locked the door.

“Just watch.”

I hiked my skirt up a little, dropped into a lotus position, closed my eyes, took a lung-filling inhale and allowed my inner self to float into free-fall. In a few seconds the smell of the room changed from ink toner to sea moisten air. I opened my eyes and was happily no longer at work. I marveled at the beauty, breathing easily, wanting to strip and plunge into the crystal swells. The feeling that had been coming on me at these moments filled me with a sense of peace that made tears come to my eyes. I wanted to be here. Always. But I knew I couldn’t stay. I let my mind return to the jarring reality of the office. I finished with a deep cleansing breath and stood up.

“Well?”

“Yeah that’s great. You can sit on your ass and cross your legs. So what?”

“But I just went away!”

“No, you didn’t. I was focusing intently and you just fuzzed out a little.” Aaron took off his glasses and wiped the lenses with the end of his tie. “I must need a new prescription.”

“So, how did I get this?”

I opened my hand and held out a palm full of pure white sand.

Aaron gazed at it then looked at me with a smirk. “Nice trick.”

As he left the room and went back to his desk, I wonder how long it would take me to work out the details. Until I could ‘fuzz out’ completely.

Death of a Star

Author: S. Sedeq

Never had I expected death to eject half of my body into the void of space.

Eons spent feeling the gradual, yet inevitable ebb of my essence has done little to prepare for an explosion more massive than any energy I have emitted as a star.

Just now, the very fabric of time and space bends around my center. I strive to emit light and burn bright, reaching for the energy of the red giant that has led to this current existence.

No response, save the continuous column of light and energy that shoots up higher than I can fathom, engulfed by the starry vacuum of space.

Then, all at once, the tunnel of light energy vanishes, inverting into my regenerated form. That is when the hunger begins.

Swifter than the speed of light itself, the lust for any and all surrounding matter wracks my essence. A craving as strong as any sense of gravity I have ever known as a star begs for satiation.

The reality of what I have become sets in as surely as the eventual and inevitable end of the universe.

The despair almost drowns out the hunger long enough to miss the approach of an orbiting planet. Almost.

As the unsuspecting object enters the newfound lull of my event horizon, the overwhelming remorse gives way to a sweet euphoria. But only just.

The moment that miniscule body passes over the lip of my gaping abyss of a maw, a flood of knowledge captures my consciousness.

Organisms of all shapes and sizes interact with each other in a number of ways, emitting a series of sounds so diverse as to momentarily befuddle even the glutton at my center.

I cheer on this temporary distraction, struggling to move back through the void or spit out the planet headed toward its demise.

No such luck.

Once the dense heart of my singularity registers the presence of that little planet, my essence transforms into the likeness of an entity of pure gravity.

Suddenly, my only reality becomes that ravenous hunger, the need to consume that spherical bud of nourishment burning stronger than my billions of years of existence as a star.

As I feast, the various life forms of that planet scream with terror and confusion as their own existences wink out. Some even fail to realize their fate until the force of my pull shreds their essence, sweet new matter slaking the yearning call of the budding singularity at my core.

Then, all at once, the binge subsides. And reality sets in once more.

A wave of anguish envelops my conscious at the thought of all those stars around me that have yet to suffer this insatiable black hole of hunger. At least they still have time to nurture new life before their own winks out.

Bitter envy gnaws at the singularity stewing in my center, as the very nature of my existence completes the transition from giver of life to bringer of death.

The Guns of Saint Adamis

Author: James A Brown III

Father Provious Del Ladra stared out the window at the green planet. His hands were clasped in front of him, his eyes closed and head bowed.

“And please, Father, bless the 237th, especially Commander Nadia Ryes, as they protect your works so that these people can be brought to your everlasting…”

There was a soft succession of chimes, gently noodling around a central tone.

“… light and love. Please look out for their safety and please return them to us unscathed. If that isn’t possible …”

Again, the chimes.

“… then take their souls into your loving embrace and, if you will, grant them an eternity of warmth as reward for their devotion and dedication to your war against the Californs. Amen.”

He unclasped his hands and turned to the door. “Enter,” he said.

“Please excuse the interruption, Father Del Ladra.” The woman bowed deeply, her bare head reflecting green from the window.

“What is it Attendant Theodre?”

“Father, I’ve been sent to inform you that we’re losing. The 88th and 237th have been overrun and none of the leadership is replying. The others have requested your approval in triggering the Pre-Apocalypse.”

“It’s that bad now? Is the Michael still with us?”

“Yes, Father. Barely. They are drawing fire away from us as much as they…”

They stumbled toward the door. The ship shook as klaxons sounded. A young male voice came over the speakers.’

“We’ve been breached! I say again, we’ve been brea…”

The speakers went silent.

“Father, you have to get to your escape pod!”

“You go. I need to stay with the ship. There are things I must do when a ship is about to be ransacked.”

“But Father, they will be boarding…”

“I know, I know. Go. Your services are needed elsewhere. Remember, you have been chosen. I’ll try to make it, but I have to finish my tasks. Now go.”

Theodre rushed out the door, pausing to look back at Provious, then the doors hissed shut.

“Good kid that one. She’ll make an excellent angel.”

Provious calmly walked to the window and again, looked out at the mostly green planet.

“Thousands of years of work. All the terraforming and guidance and preparing. So unfortunate.”

He watched as grey egg-shaped escape pods shot out from the ship towards the planet. If they made it to the lower atmosphere, they would open in a blast of splendor and light, and would be welcomed as angels sent to purge the world of demons. This belief had been instilled in the populace ages ago. It was rumored that Saint Adamis himself had chosen this planet a thousand years ago as one of the twelve to begin. He had established himself as a great Father of the war, leading more successful operations than any other of the higher clergy, but he saw that no one was winning. The Californs had many aliens as allies. Adamis came up with something to give them the eventual edge. The plan he devised was to find lifeless worlds and make them into believer worlds that would give all to the cause. Already seven worlds had come to fruition, and the war was quickly tipping in their favor.

“Provious to Captain Grange.”

“Here Father! What’s the plan? Can the Adamis make it out?”

“No. I believe our last act will be as a heavenly sign to accompany the arrival of angels.”

“Understood. Michael out.”

The door behind him exploded and skidded across the floor a few feet to his right, crashing into the wall under the window with a crunch. He did not flinch, nor stopped looking out at the descending pods.

“Father Provious! We meet at last.”

“General Paige Remanth. I’m surprised to see you so close to the action.”

“Once I had confirmation that you were on board, staring out a window, I had to make sure I addressed you.”

“Ah, so you would come to make sure I am treated fairly then, out of a soldier’s respect for a worthy foe.”

“Hardly. I wanted to be the one to shoot you myself.”

“I see. I take comfort then in the fact that I did so well in my tasks to warrant your direct attention. God will be pleased.”

“Well, you’ll certainly have a chance to find out. Turn … around.”

Father Provious, his hands still clasped in front of him, tapped a cuff link on his bright white jacket. A deep rumble started and quickly began rising in intensity.

“What’s that?”

“Engine overload, General. In a few seconds, too fast for you to get out, this ship will join the Michael in an explosion that will be seen all over the surface. Many will see it and recognize the new star in the East. The star that announces the arrival of angels.”

“But you haven’t sent your artificial Jesus yet. You can’t destroy that. Your people put a lot of resources into its construction.”

“It’s a setback no doubt, but we’ll get one down there eventually. First, we need to make sure the people below keep believing enough to drive you and yours back into space, when you eventually land that is.”

“You know we don’t operate that way. We do not interfere in anyone’s development. We merely observe and…”

“Yeah, sure. You don’t have anyone down there right now, trying to undermine God’s plan with your teachings.”

“I don’t know about such things. I just know I’m to make sure that people like you become extinct.”

“Well, let me help with at least me. Saint Adamis, guide me home.”

At that, the ship erupted.

As the escape pods dropped through the clouds, they exploded, revealing their winged passengers, who soared majestically down to the awestruck locals below.

And the sky lit up, a new star flickering gently in the night.

Hundreds of thousands dropped to their knees, and began to pray.

Bright Forest

Author: Glenn Leung

The night the stars spoke; I was listening. It was not light they sent us, but a series of electrical pulses in M code picked up as instrument static. They sent it all at once, bypassing the lightyears through what we now call Hyperspace. They have been watching us through the ages, across the infinite expanse, taking notes.

“It is time. We should talk,” was the message from three hundred thousand stars.

Many in power were sure about what it meant. We had just celebrated Pax Centennial, a hundred years without any type of regional or global conflict. We were finally deemed mature enough to get invited to a galactic fellowship. What else could it be? Beings that could send simultaneous signals across several hundred lightyears must no doubt be enlightened.

It fell on me to send our reply. I did not write it; that was something the politicians wanted credit for. I was just in charge of translating it to M code and transmitting it towards the North Star, which sat at the center of the three hundred thousand. We have no Hyperspace technology, but we were sure the stars could pick it up. There is no way they would send us a message expecting a few hundred years of wait time, would they? I learned to question my many assumptions on this job, so I wasn’t as sure about this as the politicians were.

“We are here and listening,” was to be our reply.

Hardly anyone knew M code in the 25th century, or what the ‘M’ even stood for. I could send cat pictures in binary and no one would know to stop me. I wasn’t going to do that obviously, but I felt I needed to take responsibility somehow, being the original receiver and all.

Remember I said I learned to question assumptions? Well, one of the assumptions I’ve been questioning is the nature of this hundred-year peace. You have mentioned how many things in this world don’t seem to make sense, and I agree. I don’t believe the Pacific ruins were part of a failed habitat experiment. The designs don’t look at all like they were made for housing people underwater. There are also those mysterious books that were written in a language no one remembers, and satellite images of run-down buildings near the equator. Near the equator where barely any life exists! Let’s also not forget the strange skeletons that were dug up last month. Were there more than fifteen known species of animals sometime in the past?

Naturally, I questioned the stars’ intentions as well. If they have truly been watching us, they would have the answers to these puzzles. Many of us choose to ignore the obvious, but the stars probably would not. Of course, these are just more assumptions, but I think I’m justified in making some. After all, I need to mitigate risks.

“Give us more time,” is what I sent as a reply.

We have not heard back. There are too many possible reasons why.

This is where I need your help; you who dabble in ideas shunned by polite society. There are gaps and lies in our knowledge of the world, and I want to uncover the facts. It is our best shot at understanding the true intentions of the stars. I know it’s a lot to ask, but we are dealing with a very uncertain situation here.

We need to know how much we messed up.