I stare at the twisted remains of Lagos through the visor of my exosuit as I stalk down the hill. Buildings crumble and slide into the sea. Coils of fiery smoke curl up to the […]
I never knew my mom and dad. I remember them though. I remember the way they felt, the way they moved, across silicon and light. The way they spoke to each other. Even the way they fought.
I remember so clearly how my dad felt the first time he met her. The first time he lost her.
He was barely a thousand years old, still a kid, really. They’d both had their bodies back then, and genders or sex. Whichever. Either way, she was still a she, and he was still a he. It’s strange, looking back, how important biology was to us human beings then. Just a couple thousand years later my dad could barely remember what it meant to be a man. I suppose it couldn’t have meant very much at all.
They met at a waystation in what we then thought of as “deep space”. He was in an Artistic Cycle, trying desperately to capture, in oil on canvas, the effect of radiation streaming off a nearby quasar.
She’d arrived on a raft destined for that very quasar.
I remember that he’d found her cool, objective as a mirror. And not very impressed with his work, a failure in judgment that he wrote off as a consequence of the cognitive reassignment that came with her switching from a Legal to a Scientific cycle.
Something stirred inside Duma. Something dark, restless and wild. It called to her from the depths of the jungle, luring her from a life where nothing ever changed. Her tribe had spent centuries dancing to […]
Abdulaziz sat on the floor and listened to the screams and the music through his window. Outside, everything was wild. He wasn’t old enough to remember the last election, but he couldn’t imagine it being as loud as this one.
He was scared.
All that noise, those colors… It was too much.
When his bedroom door creaked open, he jumped. It was only his bibi, though. It was only the old woman who took care of him. He loved his bibi. She was the only person who treated him like a normal child.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said. “You’re safe in here. You’re always safe in here. That’s why your father keeps you inside.”
“I thought it was because of what happened to Mama,” he said. He looked down at his hands, at the little, dark wrinkles that crisscrossed his palms.
“That too. Dear, you know you’re special,” she said. “It’s just a precaution.”
I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. The equator runs across these highlands . . . and the farm lay at an altitude of over six thousand feet. —Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa.
It is difficult for me to relate to Isak Dinesen’s experience. New York Jewish women do not live on farms in Africa. I will never reside at the foot of the Ngong hills. I merely met an African supernatural potential husband named Ndugu. I feel much more at home on a starship with my clones than on a farm. Isak Dinesen, a non-Jewish writer incarnate, did not begat moi, that is to say Shira Schwartz.
Fatigue only pushed them onward. Concepts of time diffused in their wake. Hunger atrophied– a hollow thought redressed by expectation.
On and on and on they soared through the comforting cold of liquid space. Above them the great void; below the dense, rocky base of the world; ahead only blackness. Gliding up, then down, the congregation moved as a single entity, graceful behemoths linked by a shared resolve. But the longer their pilgrimage progressed, the warmer their environs became, the more unorthodox their course seemed. Uneasiness circulated throughout the cluster. At first it was only a feeling, a vague sense of apprehension. Then a solitary voice cried out.
“It is time to move on,” the elders had proclaimed when the last of the grass and bushes near the village were gone and the sand flowed over land that had once been fertile.
It was the same story that had been replayed over millennia of time. As the land grew parched, the people would move on, lead their goats and cattle to new pastures. Over time, they would graze their new lands to extinction, until only sun-baked earth remained, and then they would abandon their homes once more and move on, repeating the cycle. Again and again, until their ancestral marshy home was long forgotten and hidden deep below sand.
The tear was gruesome. It came from the coat hook that had caught Meena on the back of her shoulder, after she fell from the ladder. She had been attempting to change a light bulb in the kitchen but now she stood in the bathroom, twisting her body toward the mirror, staring. The tear was gruesome. Yet it was painless as well. And because of this, a river of ice ran down Meena’s spine. It should have been horribly painful.
John C. Mannone has over 400 works appearing in venues such as Artemis, The Southern Poetry Anthology (NC), Still: The Journal, The Baltimore Review, The Pedestal, and others. He has two poetry collections: Apocalypse (Alban Lake Publishing) and Disabled […]
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Reception Date: Hour 16.45, Day 243, Year 2505.
Subject: “Prepare Yourselves”
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When the hunger and the bombs came, we forgot our heritage of independence and reasoning. We descended into an abyss of sheep-like senselessness. We gave them our obedience, our trust… our lives. They who would deliver us from ourselves. They came selling hope to the desperate and we traded everything for it. Our Minds. Our Freedom. Our souls. Now we are hollow husks longing for hope and light again, willing to trade everything just to feel human again. Soon we shall regain our humanity. Be prepared to go out into the streets, the ITEs and the fields to reclaim it. On the twenty-sixth of December we shall receive the greatest gift of all. The gift of freedom.
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