(Narrative) Floating over a Spider – (Music) Run

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By. Joshua Scully

The cable ladder twisted violently in a ripping burst of wind. Distracted by some distant irregularity not yet observed by the others, Zane Graham lost his precarious hold onto a rung some fifty-five kilometers above the Venusian surface. Falling backward, he yelped a panicked but indiscernible vocalization over his transmitter.

Graham fell for several meters before striking the support housing over the third habitation module with an audible resonance. He limply rolled off this metallic surface, becoming lost in the swirling atmospheric cream below the habitation.

 

Villavicencio and Hays, several rungs below from where Graham had fallen, desperately clung to the ladder. Both silently hoped that Graham was killed by his collision with the habitation. Otherwise, their friend would endure an agonizing plummet toward Venus. If he was alive, he would most likely survive the first few minutes of his fall before increasing heat and pressure simultaneously baked and crushed him.

Hurriedly adjusting a satchel strap across her chest, Villavicencio worried the sack of equipment would conspire with the wind and threaten her balance. The relentlessly boisterous gale managed to find every crevice in her protective suit. The suit material was created to protect against the acidic content of the Venusian atmosphere, but the crew had taken to not donning the suits as carefully or completely as intended. With the pressure and temperatures in this stretch of the atmosphere so similar to those of Earth, goosebumps prompted by the chill or shrill of extraterrestrial wind were possible, and some of the crew enjoyed such an experience.

Villavicencio looked upward along suspension cables and toward the torus. The massive hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen-filled balloon seemed perfectly intact from this vantage.

However, *Concordia*, the marvelous, floating habitation and the haven of over two dozen crewmembers, was slowly descending toward the hellish surface of Venus.

That descent would continue if Villavicencio and Hays were unable to locate and patch whatever hole had appeared in the torus. The *Concordia* presently floated over the *Trotula Corona*, one of the bizarre arachnoid structures that are chaotically scattered around the Venusian surface.

Allegedly an extinct and strange kin of the familiar volcano, arachnoids were named such for their uncanny resemblance to spider webs.

Some two hundred hours earlier, while the torus and habitation sailed over the same region of the surface, another seepage had developed. Both the previous and present holes appeared suddenly and in unusual places that were beyond the range of the automatic seal generator. Thankfully, Graham and Villavicencio were able to repair the initial puncture.

Hays was brought along on this second occasion because a need for a third set of hands had existed during the previous repair effort.

Of course, the lives of the remaining *Concordia* crew now rested solely in the hands of Abril Villavicencio. She certainly hadn’t traveled forty million kilometers between worlds to allow *Concordia* to meet such a dire fate.

Different thoughts rambled through Villavicencio’s brain when she reached the rung from which Graham had slipped. She briefly imaged his scorched, deformed remains ensnared in a silky trap of an earthly arachnid. The image was vivid in her mind.

Too vivid.

“Another ten rungs!” Villavicencio called out.

After a few more upward steps, Villavicencio reached out for the support lattice underneath the torus. She pulled herself onto the platform and sighed in relief before twisting herself in a position to offer Hays a hand.

Once both were securely on the lattice, Villavicencio and Hays crawled far beyond the outline of the habitation suspended below. Only a menacing swirl of opaque clouds was visible between the intertwined cables that constituted the lattice.

Hays ambled behind his partner. He refused to look down into the tormented atmosphere. He kept his eyes up at the colossal, beige form of the torus.
That’s when he noticed an anomaly.

“What the hell?”

There was a black cylinder protruding from the torus. Hays suspected the bizarre shape was the roughly the size of his forearm.

Villavicencio had also noticed the foreign object. She positioned the satchel beside her, carefully removing various tools and several canisters of sealant.

Villavicencio reached up with a gloved hand and pulled the metallic cylinder free of the torus. The rush of gasses escaping the enormous balloon intensified, but Villavicencio remained focused on the obvious point at one end of the cylinder.

“Definitely a projectile,” she offered. “Intelligent design. Maybe metal, but it’s sticky.”
Hays hurriedly switched the channel on his transmitter and relayed these observations to the bridge.

Villavicencio was well aware that there was a possibility some form of life existed within this zone of the Venusian atmosphere. She placed the bizarre discovery on the lattice, trying her hardest to momentarily flush the implications of this find from her mind. She selected a new canister of sealant and a particular clamp to begin the repair.

“And oily,” she added, noticing a residue left on her gloves after handling the object. “Make sure you let them know that I can’t tell if that thing is manufactured or organic.”

She turned to Hays, as she needed his help to manipulate the heavy clamp.

However, Hays didn’t communicate this final observation.

He became quiet for a brief second before erupting in a pained scream. Another sticky, slimy cylinder had slipped through the lattice and ripped through his thigh.

Villavicencio switched her transmitter to the bridge and was shouting that assistance was needed when she noticed a countless number of pointed, black cylinders rocket upward from the hazy patchwork of clouds below the habitation.

Just before the torus was speared by several dozen of these projectiles, Villavicencio remembered a very detailed image of the *Trotula Corona* she and the other crewmembers had studied before the mission.

On Earth, spiders made use of webs, bolas, and pheromones to capture prey.

Villavicencio wondered if, perhaps, an extraterrestrial variety had learned a new trick.

Joshua Scully is an American History teacher from Pennsylvania. He writes whenever possible.

Tristan Barton is a composer from Australia. 

(Narrative) Seeing Her – (Music) Butterfly’s Dream

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By. Mary Claire Garcia

I was driving home from work. Another overtime. Another night I need to make up to my wife. I imagined her turning up the television volume just to drown out the silence in our small flat that I could already barely afford. I felt like there was a noose around my neck – tightening with each snide remark from my boss and tightening more with each dissatisfied comment from my wife.

She couldn’t work. Not with her belly getting larger every term. I told her she could work from home but she didn’t want to. Her qualifications would be wasted, she said. Your life is already wasting, I wanted to say.

 

Then I saw her. I’ve been seeing her for a long time already but the sight of her never failed to make my heart beat faster. She was standing by the road, signaling for a ride. I didn’t know what I was really thinking. I could have ignored her but instead, I slowed down my Nissan amidst the irritated honking of the cars behind me. I lowered my window.

“Seriously? I never thought I’d see you looking for a ride,” I said and I saw my breath form a small fog as if I’d been smoking again. It was cold outside.

She gave me the crooked smile I had been trying not to think of when I made love to my wife. “Well, here you are. Didn’t think you’d be the one to give me a ride either. You are going to give me a ride, aren’t you?”

I grunted and unlocked the other door. She got in beside me and I began driving again.

“Where you going?” I asked, trying not to look at her hypnotizing long white legs from the short black dress she was wearing.

“Wherever you’re going,” she said and I didn’t have to look to hear the smile in her voice.
“I’m going home,” I said, trying to summon up my old anger for her but failing.

“Really now? But you still picked me up. I’m beginning to think you’ve become confused, darling,” she laughed. Her laugh was so beautiful, so unlike the mocking laugh of my wife whenever she’d look at my salary – or what’s left of it.

“I don’t know why I picked you up, okay? I’ve been having a hard day and I’m tired. You looked like you needed a ride so I gave you one,” I said.

“You’ve been avoiding me for years. What changed?” She rested her hand on my shoulder and I fought the urge to turn my head to her and see her beautiful face up close. Damn her.

“I’m just tired,” I told her.

“I’m here. I’ve been giving you space because I like you and I don’t like to be hated by the only person who really sees me for who I am,” she said softly.

“I . . . like you too,” I said. Despite for what she was, I couldn’t fight the feeling of liking her. She was like a drug. Dangerous and addicting.

“I was starting to think you hate me,” she said, her hand like a burning furnace on my shoulder. I wanted to touch her.

“Are you really telling the truth? About liking me? No one likes me. My co-workers talk shit about me. My wife hates me. Hell, my own mother doesn’t even want to talk to me. Do you really like me or are you just buttering me up?” I asked her, breathing heavily.

“I really like you. You try to be a decent person but the world just keeps giving you a hard time. I like your honesty. I like how you talk to me like I’m just anyone else. It’s rare to find someone like you. So, yes, I really like you,” she said.

My vision blurred. My cheeks were wet. “You shouldn’t be allowed to say things like that. It’s not fair,” I sobbed.

“There, there. Darling, you know I’m here for you. Anyway, I can get off at the next gas station. I understand that you have a wife. You still have someone to get back home to,” she said.

I shook my head. “You’re being nice. You’re doing this reverse psychology thing to me and it’s working. Damn you.”

I took her hand from my shoulder and firmly held it. “I’m not letting you go this time.”
“Really?” She was surprised.

“I’m tired. We’ve been circling each other for years and I think it’s time,” I said.

“Are you absolutely sure?” She was being nice again. I tightened my grip on her.

“Damn hell, I am. Don’t make me change my mind,” I said and I felt myself smile a little. It had been so long. When was the last time I felt proud about my decision? When was the last time I smiled about it?

“Darling, I’m touched that you’ve finally chosen me,” she said.

I turned my head to look at her, taking in her kind face and eyes that seemed to see only me. I leaned in.

Death’s kiss was wickedly good.

Mary Claire is taking up B.S. Development Communication at the University of the Philippines Los Baños. She likes watching anime, reading mangas, and painting in her spare time.

Sundays & Cybele is a band from Tokyo, Japan. 

(Poem) Valhalla – (Music) Силою думки

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By. mattjaneski

Riverrush and down –
green bank swollen with the meltrain of spring,
life has returned to us.

So follow the Dead River to the Great Swamp
and stand on the yellow line,
knee deep in it.

 

Bend to break the plane of it –
what rushes by,
what when the fisher gropes the undersea?

Leaves, plastic,
passing over and around until:

Feel the draw of your last human keeper
and return from the water into which you leapt so long ago.
Return to the fisher with his trident buried in the jogging river.

Everything then turns and returns to you.

***

In my roadside bed morning’s scene
was so different from the last violent night.
So foreign from that last violent night
of the abrading touch,
torn to shreds,
or rushed towards the final scene.

From the traffic stopped in summer work
a human hum
to this face not mine,
to soothe in the rattling present.

***

The last day of summer,
going over the junk heap,
riding your pony over hardpack;
then evening you lay across the watercress,
where have you gone to now,
buddy?

Where have you gone to now?
Tomorrow is the first day of school.
I can hear you on the transcontinental,
but the numbers come out upside down,
turned,
instead of your coordinates,
I have hieroglyphs, useless.
Instead of another place,
you are in the great wash
somewhere near the Sound.

***

After the concussion and tears,
after the tick and whistle
of monitors and alarms,
it did come true:
I ascended
among wings of every size.
I was wrapped in light
unbent by moisture or lenses,
focused as things naturally focus,
counseled with no hesitation,
and turned to pure sleep in heart of the light.

 I see things in my head and then I try to describe them. Some of the things are memories, some are fiction. When I fail to accurately describe what I see the result is pleasing lyrical verses. 

Drama Queen is a band from Ukraine. 

(Narrative) Snowslide – (Music) 039

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By. Joshua Scully

Fresh splotches of rain struck windows on the Pullman coach. The pattering of this new precipitation kept Emily Childress awake for another moment. Her father stepped toward her seat from the aisle and adjusted the blanket covering his daughter.

Emily repositioned her head and her father leaned over her to look out the window. Few lights were visible outside. The darkness of night seemed only penetrable by rain.

“Not good,” he observed coolly.

 

Emily affirmed this with a subtle hum.

The periodic rainfall was a recent development. The Tacoma Express had been hemmed into this quiet Cascades town for several days because of record snow accumulations. The railroad had struggled to open the tracks in either direction, and conditions on the string of Pullman coaches were not especially pleasant after so many motionless days.

The massive snow fields clinging to the sides of the mountain above the town were troubling.

A brilliant flash of lightning danced through the night sky, momentarily illuminating the nearby station just beyond Emily’s window. Her father sighed after the ensuing rumble of thunder.

“We haven’t moved in five days,” he said, “but Tacoma just seems farther and farther away.”

He stepped back into the aisle and resumed an earlier conversation with two other passengers. There were plans being made to hike out of the mountains once some semblance of daylight returned, and Emily’s father expressed confidence that he could carry his daughter on such a journey and keep pace with the others.

Emily closed her eyes and recommenced the leisurely drift toward sleep. A distant growl of thunder did not impede her march into a dreamscape far removed from the Cascades.

She collapsed out of her seat and the jolt immediately roused her. An accompanying boom seemed far too resonant to be caused by her small frame. Emily was very confused when her eyes finally focused.

She had somehow landed on the ceiling. The Pullman was upside down.

Other passengers found themselves in the same awkward position, and the majority of those individuals were shouting and screaming. Emily tried to open her mouth, but any sound she made was immediately trumped by the shattering of every window along one side of the Pullman. A white wave smashed into Emily, driving her body toward the wooden wall of the coach. She braced herself for the ensuing impact. District cracks in each of her hands announced the collision.

Another series of windows broke and the front of the wave escaped from the coach into the freezing night. Emily was nearly carried with the wave, but she had landed high enough on the side of the car to find temporary purchase. Glass shards punctured her shoes and cut her feet in the process, but she managed to vocalize a shrill cry.

The Pullman started to slowly slide down the mountainside. A probing hand grasped one of Emily’s arms, lifting her higher in the stream of snow that rushed over the ceiling of the coach. Emily twisted to see a familiar female passenger, and she struggled mightily to move closer to the woman as the coach gained momentum.

A chorus of gasps and shouts lifted from the snowy flood as the car seemed to bounce and joust with other wreckage and rocks along the route of the slide. When the Pullman struck a large conifer, the trunk of the tree ripped into one side of the coach. The ancient evergreen did not immediately succumb to the avalanche, so the car pivoted back and forth on this perch as debris and snow rushed passed.

Emily took advantage of the temporary reprieve and called out for her father. The woman holding onto her diligently attempted to free herself from the layers of snow that held their lower bodies so firmly in place. Emily strained to twist her head as far as possible in each direction. Not seeing her father, she called out again.

A reply came in the way of an unworldly implosion to her right. She lifted her eyes to see one of the beautifully bestial locomotives of the Tacoma Express barrel through the Pullman. A black, steaming mass of gears, pistons, and wheels plied through the wooden walls of the car without hesitation. Within a second, Emily watched half the coach, several passengers, and her female savior disappear in a rush of wooden splinters and scalding splashes of oil and grease.

Ignoring the fresh lacerations and burns on her right side, Emily frantically fluttered her arms and legs to free herself from new waves of snow that swept into the gouged coach. The remnants of the car teetered and slipped around the fir, beginning a much more direct slide down the mountain.

Emily held on for her life, observing another passenger topple out of the coach and become immediately lost in the snowy wake trailing the wreckage.

She found herself preparing for whatever form or shape death would take for her. She imagined the coach striking yet another massive tree and disintegrating. She thought of another hulking locomotive striking the coach and exploding in a rush of boiling water and steam.

There was a tremendous splash. Emily looked down toward the intact end of the Pullman to see the icy waters of a mountain river rushing inside. She held her breath, waiting for the chilly water to find her flesh. Her body was so beaten and bloodied that the very idea of swimming seemed as remote and distant as Tacoma.

There was a new sensation. A strange firmness around each of her shoulders. She opened her eyes and found herself in the bloody embrace of her father. He stood knee-deep in the rushing waters at the bottom of the mountain and sported his own collection of gashes and bruises, but he was very much alive.

And so was his daughter.

“I actually think we are a little closer to Tacoma now,” he said and sighed with relief.

Joshua Scully is an American History teacher from Pennsylvania. He writes whenever possible.

iazabo is a musician from Madrid, Spain. 

(Narrative) The Post Modern Cat – (Music) 普林

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By. Roland Dodds

As the feline’s furry paws braced the computer keyboard, Post Modern Cat knew this day would be added to the annals of history. This would be the day revolution was realized. The chains of the oppressor discarded to the waste bin of history; slave relationships between the owner and worker extinguished. All that the world needed was the right academic dissertation.

 

The black and white tabby lifted her beret from her head and placed it ceremoniously next to her cup of green tea. The years spent writing obtuse academic jargon had trained the cat well; synthesis, situationist and multistrationilist theory would be the arms in which she destroyed the state. She couldn’t help but purr as the words began to flow.

“The subject is interpolated into a substructural ownership theory that includes truth as a whole. But if cat-centered surrealism holds, we have to choose between Lyotardist narrative and Foucaultist power relations.”

Beautiful.

“If substructural capitalist theory holds, we have to choose between semantic postcultural theory and capitalist situationism. Thus, the premise of substructural humanist cat intersectionality suggests that the goal of the reader is social comment.”

Post Modern Cat glanced over her shoulder as she finished the sentence, fearing that the revolutionary clarity of her work may bring unwanted attention from the state. She dimmed her MacBook screen accordingly and continued adding to her tome.

“Derrida uses the term ‘subpatriarchialist discourse’ to denote the role of the Cat as creator. In a sense, the premise of subconstructivist semantic theory implies that feline identity has significance beyond the confines of human appreciation.”

Yes, brilliant! But by using the grammatically correct “Cat,” was she fueling a dialect of linguistic oppression? Deconstructing expectations, in addition to identity, was necessary for the revolution to begin. Clarity was the tool of the oppressor.

“Kat identity is responsible for elitist perceptions of class,” says Foucault. The characteristic theme of Buxton’s essay on Derridaist reading is the role of the animal as rebel. But the subject is interpolated into a dialectic appropriation that includes truth as a totality.”

Like a thousand knives to ruling class, her words forced a smile to appear on her self-absorbed face, ruining her carefully crafted ascetic for a brief moment. She looked around to see if anyone noticed. No one was looking.

With that, Post Modern Cat closed her computer and hurried towards the exit. To the press with this masterpiece!

“You didn’t pay for your tea!” cried the barista.

Ah, yes. Capitalist currency. An inconvenient social element that would collapse with the full façade of the state once the kat’s manuscript reached the masses.

She left a handful of change on the counter, adjusted her beret, and strutted triumphantly out of the café.

Roland Dodds is an educator, researcher and father just north of San Francisco who writes about politics, culture and education.

Chimo is a band from Shanghai, China.