Copyright © by Jason H. Abbott, All Rights Reserved.
Featured Image: A Pilot’s Break, by Eelco Siebring
It drifts above the grass like a car-sized snowflake. Touching the starship from outer space, I know. It’s the same as the one I came in, fifty years ago. Doors activate and unfold. I lift the baby I find inside. “Welcome to Earth, little one.” Javier and Raúl stomped the scientist dead. “Stupid! Dying for butterflies!” A butterfly landed on Javier. It left a rosy blemish. Javier fell dead. Raúl gasped. Butterflies, ten thousand in number, took flight. He screamed as they swarmed him. The sandstorm howls, and is joined by frantic tapping on the roving vehicle’s exterior. “Spiders,” the scout says as we watch red shadows. “Martian robots that outlived their creators.” “I saw them at Barsoom… harmless?” The scout gets his gun. “No.” I like to get lost on the edge of the atlas, where continents and oceans end in cliffs and waterfalls. In the gutters and margins embellished by gods and monsters. Where warnings are written: “Here be Dragons.” For there, on the cusp of the known… Is magic. All that had participated in the ritual return to its spot after death, youth renewed. They did terrible things with serial immortality, but I found their secret. And poured a concrete cube atop it. It cracks a little each time another returns and is entombed. The FBI agent hands him another bullet. “What’s special about these?” The paladin loads his gun. “Consecrated justice bullets. They only strike a specific person. Sympathetic magic.” “Bullets with a literal name on them?” He nods. “I despise collateral harm.” Blizzard wind wraps around the house, and in the night she yells at the snowman in her ex-husband’s ugly Christmas sweater. “Go away!” Half its head falls away, revealing a human skull. “No! I k-killed you!” she shivers. “Last… Christmas…” it rasps.