art by Cheryl L Owen-Wilson
Ghosts of Janus
by Day Al-Mohamed
The first bell of the New Year. Corporal Michael Bradley's gaze flew to the chronometer that glowed faintly in the heads-up display of his armor. He had waited all year for this. People always thought that All Hallows Eve or All Souls Day was when the living could speak with the dead, but the Romans were the ones who understood that the true day of communication with the afterlife was New Years Eve--Janus of Two Faces, one looking back at the past and one looking forward to the future. It was a truth that every soldier knew and held closest to his heart.
Michael could just now see his grandparents' lanky forms becoming clearer in the foggy haze, their brightly hued Earther clothing familiar from years of childhood memories. He could almost smell his grandmother's gardenia perfume. "Hey Grampy! Abuela!" He lifted the visor on his suit, the reflective mask clicking up and away from his face. "It's Mike!"
Their expressions were at first surprised, and then pleased. They waved at him. Abuela blew him kisses.
"I miss you both and I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me."
Grampy blinked, his eyes wet. "You still got the knife?"