The dreams had become no less difficult to weave, no less painful. Her hands were already raw and sore each morning, burnt in places, sometimes still oozing a bit of blood, well before she reached for a strand of dream. By the time she stopped, she could hardly bear to move her hands; blood dripped from them into the dreams, moving between the strands. Her hands and back ached from working the vertical loom. The pain worked its way into her own sleep, waking her every few minutes; she could not remember the last time that she had slept long enough to have a chance at catching a dream herself. And yet each morning, she plunged her hands into the dream threads again, biting on her tongue to keep from crying out.
And now the loom was broken. "We exist within a glitch of the space-time continuum," he said, hands flailing, "and are doomed to relive this exact moment, this exact conversation, forever."
Marty laughed. Of course this would happen. All he had wanted was to take a walk through the Myriad Gardens: get some air in his lungs and his mind off Celia, and the next thing he knew this old codger was in his face talking nonsense. The salesman pulls another file out, hoping against hope that he'll get to go to lunch soon--an appointment had gotten flipped in his directory. Instead of a quick consult to help a middle-class family choose their children's virtual reality upbringing, he's helping a general and his wife flip through book after book of real-world upbringings. Each of them is engineered for maximum excitement--for the upper classes who can afford them. He's halfway through pitching an option where their son would be raised as a janissary, then go on a mission to return a "magical" jewel, when he mentions the 20% failure rate. He winces as the woman's shrill voice cuts through the air.
"I'll not have our child dead, so if we could please see some reasonable options." The salesman nods agreeably, and pulls out the packets of safety-guaranteed upbringings from his right-hand drawer. The scarred face of the man across from him stretches into a grimace as his wife settles back, satisfied. She rests a hand on her belly, round with child. "There's nobody else, Aunt Phyllida," my niece Alice said over the phone. "You have to take Sam for Christmas."
"I can't. I absolutely, positively can't," I said. I set down the golden candleholder I was carrying and glanced around my living room. The windows were covered in black velvet curtains, and every surface bore at least one layer of midnight cloth. I had cleaned the fireplace and laid new wood in it. Shadows loved fire. I thought I was somebody: somebody in Orangeville, 1984. But I wasn't. I was nobody. I wasn't anybody at all until Trick walked through the cafeteria doors: black hair an electric storm of back-combed annihilation, lashes dripping with mascara, cherry lipstick dark with rot, shimmering turquoise shirt, popped collar pinned at the throat by a stab of gold, hounds tooth print pants, red Docs.
The hubbub drained away and Craig Robb said: "What the hell are you?" Never start with the weather. But what if the weather is the whole story? Solar weather to start with, but also the weather as I write this? Wind rattles the windows. It whistles, moans, and whispers like sheets sliding on sand. Rain taps its fingernails against the glass. Electricity went out hours ago. I find matches in the drawer by the stove, but it takes a while to locate the candles stored in a box with the Christmas decorations behind the suitcases and winter coats. Good thing the phone has a flashlight built in, as long as its battery holds out. No phone signal though. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to save energy. It's funny how useless a building feels without power. Wind stole the house's voice. Family is away visiting back east. No kids. No fans. No refrigerator. No television.
Although, to tell the truth, I don't miss continuous disaster coverage. Magnetic storms. Coronal mass ejection (a CME). That's what they said before the lights went out, but they said the event would be just a few hours, and it shouldn't affect cars! I don't think the authorities know what's going on.
by Mari Ness
Published on Jul 29, 2016
by Andrew Neil McDonald
Published on Jul 28, 2016
by Meghan Renee Jenkins
Published on Jul 27, 2016
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Published on Jul 26, 2016
by William Squirrell
Published on Jul 25, 2016
by James Van Pelt
Published on Jul 22, 2016