Copyright © by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.
Featured Image: We Finally Reached, by Lok Du
I keep the campfire lit. Here, far from the cities, I listen under the stars to the universe’s electromagnetic medley. I press the keys of the hyperspatial oscillator and play my simple callsign tune. From stellar static she answers with her alien melody. I’m not a doll. I’m an action figure. I’m the token toyline good-girl. I should hate the enemy Blue Leader! But after a week lost with him in the sandbox, my Kung-Fu grip longs for his. He’s a bad-guy. Not a BAD guy. I lift the mask of my cherished adversary. All feared they could return. Yet Mars had been silent for a century. We land. Not with tripods and heat-rays, but rovers that find lifeless cities. Dead, desiccated Martians. Dissenters whose lamentful murals beg forgiveness for failing to stop the war. There’s a tremendous freedom to be found flying on a pterosaur. He isn’t a jet, but between the rhythm of flapping wings I see the glory of this jungle world. “Quick learner!” Zarra praises from her soaring mount. I look to my cavewoman savior. “Good teacher!” “ESP?” she scoffed. “Do you send telepathic messages to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster too?” “Only to Mothman,” the blind woman said. The reporter smirked. “What’s he like?” “You can ask him. He’s here.” She feels a sighing breath on the back of her neck. Everyone else sees my new neighbor as human, but I see her as a troll. I feel insane finally mentioning it. “Of course! I see you too, troll boy,” she smiles. Her smile fades as I stare. “Oh, wow,” she says. “An abandoned changeling? Raised human? You poor man!” The clouds are ominous as the hermit reaches the giant seashell that is his beachside home. He raps it with his cane. “Lewis! We need to scram! Storm’s a comin’!” Huge crab limbs emerge from the shell’s bottom. “This is why I invested in a mobile home!”