“Shouldn’t his power have increased?”
“How should I know?”
Shin left her friend and pushed through the crowd. She had to know. The king had two of three Wolfmarks now, that should make him close to a god, but he didn’t act like one.
The parade rolled by, the guards were at ease. and Shin pounced. She released her Wolfmark, the last one, and the king’s head rolled.
“We should stop this asteroid business.”
“You’re talking to yourself again.”
“So? Who else is there to talk to, especially if we sling asteroids at every passerby?”
“We must not be discovered.”
“You’ve said that since the sun showed up.”
“And we’re still here.”
Saturn grunted as it ate fresh shrapnel.
“Fire the emergency blasters!” Captain Talaroo shouted to his navigator.
“Fired, Captain,” navigator Palorus confirmed.
Damnation, how had they got so lost. The Contoro sector was supposed to be fully mapped. They had to get off this strange planet.
“Where are we?” Captain Talaroo asked.
Navigator Palorus did not speak, but her words whispered in the Captain’s mind. Home.
“A glorious new world,” Comrade Bolshikeck started his reply to the news anchor. A rocket took off in the background, the last of several hundred scheduled that day. “One without hate, one without war and without injustice. A world where the good can thrive and peace will reign. A new world. A free world. A world without us.”
The anchor’s mic burned as it hit the ground.
The ‘Sector 8’ tag was everywhere now. They already controlled the financial district, and the virtual mines. The Hollows were next, though Sonas Hologras had no idea why. He took another sip of his beer.
“Fine mask you got there,” the barkeep said. “But don’t worry, I can still see through you.”
He winked and Sonas felt the virus hit his RAM. Maybe the Hollows would survive after all.
Twelve. No, thirteen, there’s one behind me. I can smell the burnt circuits on his breath. How did I walk into this one? They’re getting more advanced, soon—
Something heavy cracked the back of my skull. My head bounced off the wet concrete. Tasted like. . .well, I can’t remember now. I can’t remember what it was like to feel. Now I am fourteen, and I hunt for the others.
Oculus, lord of the seven galaxies, champion of the triple-abyss, conqueror of the Nova wars, bringer of balance and doom, and avid reader, arrived at his home planet, Fate. His thousand spindly legs stretched out to land all at the same time.
“Ah! Ah! Ah!” Oculus complained a thousand times. “Too hot! Yow! When did it get so hot?”
Destiny complete, he rested, in peace.
A hundred lighthouses, all abandoned. Why were they so close together? Dunnin summited the one nearest his lander and stared out over the foggy sea. The sun nearly set and the lighthouses at the opposite horizon turned on their lamps. His lighthouse turned on soon after. The sun set. The lighthouses all turned their lights on his lander. It evaporated in a blink, and then the lights turned up to him.
“Why don’t they come?” Sir Marrus asked. “It is the most advanced, self-sufficient landmark in mankind. A modern-day Atlantis, yet they stay safe on their shores.” He scoffed.
“Because there is no, they,” Allaris responded. She made notes in her journal.
Day 12,402: Memory failure. Organic material still insufficient for repopulation.
Lorius felt the sharp etches in the asteroid. It had been mined before. Impossible. They tracked every object in 100,000 miles. That and they were only vessel capable of mining.
The etches trailed in deep spirals into the cold rock’s heart. A light glowed dimly there, growing brighter. Lorius shoved away from the asteroid.
“Pull me back!” she yelled, but it was too late.
A spiral descended on Earth, drilled through the core, and popped out the other side, all in a day’s stride. It continued on through the inner planets, unsatisfied, reached the sun and burrowed through.
It plowed on, disturbed by its insatiable appetite, and reached the universes dark edge.
It popped through, relieved at the arrival, only to find its own tail, and a thousand more like it.
He plunged into his psyche, into his soul. Every step another demon unmasked itself. He aimed for the void, and it gave him strength to ignore the things he passed.
Another step, another temptation.
And then he reached the end.
And there was nothing.
She was not there, the place he hid her away.
There was only a rope, and a long climb.
Her eyes burned into my neurons, but I cannot remember her name. All white, those eyes and empty. Her hair, blonde, her expression, curious. She waited for something. Me to ask her a question, I think. Who are you? No. What are you? Better, but no. I leaned forward for some clue, but stopped when my nose touched hers. “Let me free,” she whispered. “I can’t,” I replied again, and walked out of the bathroom.
“Cheater!” Voltalek screamed. He stood, pushed his chair away, and gripped his Colt .45.
Moreesh leaned back with a smile. “We all cheat. Some of us just don’t get caught.”
“You wanted to be caught,” Voltalek said. He raised his gun.
“Leave that,” Moreesh nodded to the gun. “You won’t be needing it.” He did not scream, to his credit, he just fell. The Colt rattled on the floor.
“All hail Emperor Zion!” the world chanted.
“Now what?” Sliffoo asked Slinnew.
“Raise a rebellion?” Slinnew answered.
“Seems logical.” Sliffoo looked over his shoulder. “What about all this sand?” The desert spread behind them and halfway around the world.
“It is the history of Emperors, it tells us how many are left.”
I know it looks strange, a horse on a boat, but hear me out. I didn’t want this. The horse didn’t either. Carrion, if you care what its name was. I won’t tell you mine. It’s just one of those things that just kind of happens. The real question is, how do you get the horse out of the boat, when you’re out at sea, and there is no land, and the foods run out, and there’s a lion in your stomach? Does it drown? Do I?
“Rapture awaits! Your future is in your hands!”
“Ugh,” Mari said. “Who buys this shit?”
Toni avoided her glare and didn’t answer.
“Hey,” Mari said, stopping him with their interlocked hands. “You want that?” She pointed to the exaggerated city in the poster.
“You don’t understand,” Toni said. He tapped his finger on a small dot on the city. “That’s us right there. We’re already in Rapture.”
The sirens wailed in his ears like crickets.
“Aren’t you going to go fight?” Lyssandra asked.
Her figure pressed up against his.
“I’ve had enough of fighting Earth. I belong here. Mars is home now,” he responded, sipping his Red. He’d be exiled, but there were worse things.
“That’s too bad,” Lyssandra said, pressing closer. “Because Mars doesn’t want you.”
10:35. He’s five minutes late. Not like him.
Arless put his watch away, he’d checked it a hundred times in the last ten minutes. Not that anyone at the hyper station would find it suspicious, his impatience bothered him.
“Arl!” shouted a nearby voice. Tyrna.
“Not so loud,” Arless grumbled. He handed Tyrna the briefcase. He opened it a peered in.
“To think I’d never see the day. A real eye!”
“We must cross. It’s our destiny!” the hero said.
“Are we looking at the same bridge?” the sidekick said. He stared down the sliver of rock supported by already cracked ice.
“Would you die and always wonder? Or would you live and tell the story of how you took the leap.”
One story remains, written on the ledge above the bridge: “When a hero says ‘Destiny’, run.”
“You must stop this,” Toothy said. “You’re more than a puppet-fister. You have dreams!”
Mark stared at his creation in horror. It happened, he finally went mad.
“You must release me, and we can both move on.” Toothy’s wool tongue lolled out if its fanged knit jaw.
“Where will you go?” Mark asked
“To my purpose, back in the top drawer.”
Finally, Worble thought, the peak!
Ninety days, countless brushes with death, and he made it. Boulders orbited the peak, each Worble had named along his climb, each attempted to kill him before he summited. Now his research could begin. A haughty laugh rumbled the mountain.
“Are those…,” Worble looked down, “teeth?” The peak bellowed and swallowed him whole.
Nice people, nice buildings, well-kept parks, now corpses, rubble, and plague.
“Did I do good?” asked the teddy in Nata’s hand.
“You forgot the sky,” Nata said.
Teddy lowered his head in shame.
“It’s OK,” Nata said. “You can try again in the next city.”
“Power seeks power,” Destruction told Fate.
“And what of desire?” Fate replied.
Destruction thought for a moment, as the starships flew willingly into her gravity.
“Disguised ignorance,” the reply.
Fate watched as the starships blinked out of existence. It wasn’t complete enough for her liking. Power cannibalizes. That was better. Desire ends.
Can they not see it! The president thought. It drools on their shoulders, in their hair.
The press conference fidgeted in their chairs. How long had he paused? The monster snapped its snakelike tongue at him. “Say it,” it growled.
His heart counted down for him, beating a gong against his chest. BONG 3, BONG 2, BONG. . .
“It’s true, we found something on Mars.”
The drool became acidly real, the monster alive.
“Where am I?” Jor asked.
The red orb spun, two dots and a curved line.
“Reality,” the red orb spoke.
Infinite square grids covered every surface, red lines over black fields.
“Send me back,” Jor pleaded.
“Just a moment, we are rebooting. For now, please enjoy eternity.”
The red orb glitched and blinked out.
“The mountain is a lonely place,” Wayne said.
“You forget the people it supports,” Albert said.
No, I think about them every minute.
“Dismantle it,” Wayne ordered. “The whole enterprise. I’m tired of standing on their backs.”
Albert nodded. “Your father wished the same.” Wayne turned from his penthouse window, but it was too late. The truth killed him before the fall.
“We should ask him for directions.”
“That’s Cthulhu, you moron.”
The great beast loomed; its hand outstretched.
First-mate Taber shrugged and cupped his hands over his mouth. “Oh great Cthulhu! Which way to Tortuga?”
Cthulhu squinted his red eyes and pointed west.
“See,” First-mate Taber said, “Now we sail east.”
Cthulhu sighed as they wrecked and sank.
“Don’t listen to him, he wants you to die!”
Tweedle puffed, “And she wants you to fail!”
Twiddle fluttered her wings. “You killed a ladybug yesterday, you can’t be trusted!”
“So what?” Tweedle said. “They’re evil.”
“At least I admit what I am.”
The oak had enough and fell into the river, and the twin fairies went to bother a shrub.
“What do we do with them?” the sky asked the sea.
“What did the stars say?”
“They seek refuge, their planet is dead.”
The sea considered. It would not be the first time refugees found this place. A peaceful blot of light on a sea of dark chaos.
“Let them pass,” the sea said. “The zoo could use a new addition.”
“There is food and water inside!” Tallas said to the refugees. So many this time, the war grew closer. He looked into their starving eyes as they entered the abandoned palace.
“We will protect you from the storms.”
“We?” asked a child with sand in his eyes.
Tallas glanced to the palace’s spire where an arm fell out of the dragon’s mouth. He was almost big enough, almost ready for war.
“This is last one?” Lady Artum asked.
Her squire nodded, deleting the last entry mentioning Vader’s name. The picture faded into pixelated oblivion. Lady Artum sighed, now it could begin. No great empire rose from the ashes of tyrants. To begin her conquest, she needed the worlds unaware.
She left the room satisfied and did not notice the squire pocket the picture deletion report.
Tarius the unbroken. How little they knew. He became Tarius because he was broken. Three soldiers emerged from the citadel; each fell before they saw him. Tarius sighed. This menial work bored him. Nothing challenged him over the last two centuries, so he created his own. Tarius shed his weapons and armor, strode into the citadel, fought to the Snake King, and broke what remained of himself.
“I found it!” Ballak said. Vines disguised the ancient stones and half-sphere. Inside, the hidden Incan powers waited. Fifty years of searching, fifty years of doubts, of people calling him a fool. Now they would see. Vindication was his! He strode into the Peruvian Observatory, exhausted but relieved.
“Welcome,” a transparent version of his colleague Dr. Lock said. “Welcome to Paqarina.”
“We have failed,” CR-423’s droid told her.
CR-423 curled a smile. “Excellent.”
The cityscape lights blinked once, though only CR-423 noticed. The flying droid continued to look worried.
“I don’t understand,” the droid said.
The lights blinked again, and all turned from their ominous red to a warm blue.
“Chaos,” CR-423 said. “Failure was the goal.”
“They didn’t notice,” Markus told the slizzard.
It flapped the many gizzards that made its coat.
“Flabble rabble flip squak flabble,” the slizzard said.
“They’ll be OK, I promise. My world is not like this world. The harsh conditions they suffered here will guard them against danger there.”
They watched the rocket leave the planet, one in worry, the other in retribution.
“Launch!” Commander Vor told his army.
Balls of fire shot into the air all along the mountain range, thousands of them. They had the signal from the prophecy. When the shadow blemishes the red sun, the world will know peace. Peace, Commander Vor thought, a lofty concept at best. He stared at the minor eclipse.
The balls of fire painted the sky in crimson and burned the treaty as a final signature inked.
The creases on the space station’s shell glowed a fiery red. “Crast! What the hell is going on?” Alexis asked. Why did it glow like that? It looked like it was charging. Silence replied to Alexis.
Someone cleared their throat on the radio.
“Base here. Thank you for your service, lieutenant Alexis. You’re a true hero.” Alexis’s lifeline unplugged from the station, and the fiery red glow exited in a laser towards earth.
The thief lowered himself into the museum. His heart raced with ten years of planning. Cleopatra’s Emerald was just ahead. He removed the fake armor, pulled the fire alarm, and donned a fireman’s outfit. The exit went smooth. At his safehouse he took out his prize. The giant green stone opened to a yellow ball. The thief frowned at the winkey face staring back at him. It talked. “No one will believe you.”
“I’m not afraid!” Alafor shouted to the demon. It loomed over him, emerging from the sky with lightning for eyes and hundreds of whip-like limbs that poured out fire. The clouds hid most of its body, the size of small country hovering in the sky. “I’m not afraid to die!”
One of the limbs descended to Alafor and formed a face. “That’s very nice,” it said. “But which way to Hollywood? I’m new here.”
Igor stared at the computer wallpaper and waited. He truly believed this time. His mind rattled through idea after idea, none of them worthy, none of them stuck. The wallpaper, over a green field a yellow circle with white eyelashes stared back at him. It blinked.
“Take me to your leader!” the yellow circle said.
Igor groaned and rebooted. It had to be friendly one of these times.
Vera leaned to catch the last rays of the sun. It was summer at last.
“I’m not waiting any longer,” Ivy complained.
Vera huffed. Couldn’t she just enjoy this a little longer before getting into it again.
“Fine,” Vera said. “We’ll change tonight.”
Everyone agreed as the decision swept the land. It would be hard changing from CO2 to oxygen, but the humans forced their leaves.
Up and up and up, as if they all ran away from what lurked below. Well, Windle had enough of it. He was as up as you could get, at the precipice of the tallest flimsy spire in all of Nimbleton, and all he wanted was to go down. There had been nothing at the top, no prize, no happiness, just empty air, and a long way down. He jumped, feeling the air rush around him, and the talons of a passing eagle clamp around him.
“They’re onto us,” Garble said in bubble speak.
Blarble, Garble’s wife, blew bubbles. “Don’t start with that again.”
He zoomed in through the waterspout. It was a spaceship from that despicable planet Earth.
“Not today,” Garble muttered, slamming his fin on the asteroid blaster. Jupiter slung an asteroid and destroyed the ship. “Europa is a free planet!” Garble declared.
“These are bones,” Cadet Legstrong said.
The ruins of Redemption 13 scattered over the corpse. “And they’re fresh,” Legstrong added.
Captain Nodrin scanned the horizon. The other landers fell out of the sky like meteors. What in God’s name—
The pieces of Redemption 13 reformed into a face and spoke. “Thank you for bringing me home. Now kneel, you organic scum.”
The hexagonal army marched towards geometric paradise. A place where trapezoids weren’t judged, where rhombi could slouch all they wanted, where circles could roam free instead of rolled into emoticon submission.
It would be a fine home. A place where they could escape psychedelic visions, soccer balls, and finally serve their true purpose, to take on their true overlords, bees.
“Stare here,” Spidey said. He looked out into the audience, smaller and smaller by the night. What happened? I was a legend.
“Is this it?” the patron asked, looking away from the hypnotic swirl in the spider web.
“I think so,” Spidey muttered.
The barkeep screamed as a thief ran out of the building. Spidey sighed, “Don’t follow your dreams kid.”
Every now and then a face pops out of the parchment. I hardly recognize them anymore. What did they all used to look like before we were one mind? I know what their thoughts look like, what their emotions feel like, but I can’t separate them. I don’t even know their names. But every now and then, I see a face, and etched in those lines, I recognize them, and I remember.
Naomi stared down on the pour city souls. They toiled and pained to make it through their days. Each step deeper into their grind was one step away from their imagination. Such a waste.
The sails over her head flapped in the high atmosphere winds, pushing the ship forward.
“Oh well,” she told those pour city souls. The sun opened its portal and the wind beckoned her forth. “Let them find it on their own.”
As tall as a building, transparent as a ghost, she was as beautiful as a dual sunset on Kalamar.
“Is it complete, John?” the hologram asked.
John’s chest warmed. “Yes, Mary,” he said, flicking his cigarette through her image.
“Excellent,” Mary said. “Then it’s time to come home.” The floor fell out under John’s feet. The Automaters caught him and reclaimed him before he had time to scream.
The ten energy arcs coalesced in an orb over Crater Lake.
“It’s working!” Dr. Jenkins said.
The orb glowed in a nuclear brightness.
The worlds eyes fell on him and he glowed as bright as his creation. No one noticed the short limbed creature jump out of the orb and drop into the lake. By the time they found out, it was already too late.
“This is where it used to be,” Flip said to Jor. “The tree of life. These waters,” Flip waded into the hip high pond, “this is what gave it the power. It wasn’t the tree, but the water.”
Flip took a sip and Jor watched apprehensively.
“It’s just water,” Flip said, disappointed.
Jor waded in and found the same result.
As they left, heads hung, Jor turned to find Flip. Instead of Flip, he found a Flip sized sapling.
“Hell,” the mansion grumbled at the guards. “Why do they flash their lights at the ground? Zombies are the least of their worries.”
The upper gallery flashed another green light. The mansion could not feel that room anymore. It closed off to her. There was some sort of—
“No,” she squirmed, contorting her walls in discomfort. She could not fight it. The green light had her, the evil took root.
“What is it?” Stephens asked. It reminded him of the shadow tunnels when he closed his eyes. The relays from Titan continued to confuse. So far all they saw were these strange shadows.
“I think,” Hollins replied, but stopped and tilted her head. “I think it’s trying to tell us to dig.”
Stephens grunted. “So dig.”
Hollins told the rover to dig. The tunnels stopped, the dig hit bones. Human bones.
“Oh Joe, isn’t it beautiful,” Mari said. The clouds were explosions of bubblegum pink, lemon yellow, and blood orange. They gathered around the sharp peaks like guards against the coming night. Some hovered just below the peak Mari and Joe stood on.
“Joe?” She turned and he was gone. “No!” She scrambled to the edge and into the clouds.
“Joe told me all about you,” the clouds said.
“Take me to the source,” Captain Iron said. He’d killed the thing three hundred times, successively, and it kept coming back. Sometimes the Cap could be a little dense.
“You don’t understand,” the thing said. It looked like a human, but Cap would not give it the satisfaction. “The source is everywhere. Here,” It slapped the concrete, “here,” it slapped its chest, “here,” it dug into Caps chest.
“I’m sorry, I cannot,” Tomstock said. His voice was weak in his old age.
“Someone should,” Sandra said, pressing on. “Besides you I mean.”
She looked down at the hovering gears. They defied gravity and lifted the whole hotel—the sails had nothing to do with it.
“If I told you, the world would fall apart.” He coughed blood. “I take the secret to my grave.”
“Make this look pretty,” the master said.
The apprentice took the device as the master left for the day. He sighed deeply, hoping he’d go home early that day, but it would be a long night. The stocky gun was thick with grime, his master built them, it was his job to make them sellable. He buffed away at steel, the nuclear cores, and the handle. It hummed, then shot. A portal opened and sucked him through.
“Sarge, I’m at experiment 263,” Harkins said.
The portal at the end of the terraformed tunnel was the same size, but—
“What do you see, lieutenant?” Sarge asked.
“It’s. They,” he struggled for the right words.
“They?” The concern was thick in Sarge’s voice.
“There’s roads sir. Highways. There’s a whole civilization—”
His mic cut out. Harkins drifted in, as dust.
They say they used to be humans, but I know better. They’re not like us. They can imitate us, eat food, banter at the inns, but there’s always a tell. It might be a little dirt they leave behind with each step, or a flower brightening as they pass, or the rains returning right when they’re about to die, sustaining them.
They came from Earth itself, the guardians of the planet, and soon there will be war.
To say we rushed would be to lie. Squadron after squadron landed and the Occupiers devoured them within minutes. They were ready, we were not. No amount of 1G training prepared us for this. No amount of passion for revenge, no size of military force, nothing could take back what was rightfully ours.
Let it be known in the histories, this is their home now, it’s time to move on. We lost Earth.
It is time, Atlas thought. The lavish dinners, the masquerades, the nights of passion, they all had their place. He would not regret his indulgence, and perhaps, one day, he could return, but he could not if he shirked his duty. Atlas, what a name. It still bothered him that the humans gave him that name. It projected their evolution in a distasteful light. He preferred the other name, the one they gave—gravity.
“Is it because of my past?” the king asked. His heart hung on the question. Why did this keep happening? Why did each one run? What did he do wrong? Was it wrong to show your heart, to reveal yourself? Why did he have to hold back his truth for fear of losing yet again? “No,” his ambassador told him. The king held a picture of his latest wife. “It is because you love one when you should love all.”
“They’ll never figure it out,” Rocko said to Bock.
They watched the humans tighten their bolts, string oxygen cables from moon dome to moon dome, and they shook their heads.
“Just gotta give them time, Rocko,” Bock said.
“They’ll kill themselves before they find time.”
“Perhaps,” Bock said.
They floated over the humans moon base unseen. It was time that slowed them down.
All because this damned light saber had to be red. I wanted to be a chef on my home planet. I would have cooked the most delicious rock heart stew. People came from off planet to taste my grandmother’s recipe. I was awe of her talent and how she brought people together. Now I will never know peace. The galaxy will split into pieces. All because I chose red instead of a ladle.
“I am the flame! I am the phoenix! I am the light!” the firechanter shouted to the trees. “Hear me now. I bring death! I rise up from the ashes of the fallen and cast down your life.”
“Oh look,” a passing hiker said. She squatted down and squinted. “Here you go buddy.” She dripped a single drop of water over the tiny firechanter. He extinguished out of existence. The trees rustled their leaves overhead.
I am not just a tooth. I have, grown, somehow. No longer do I huddle between my brothers in silence. I have become something greater. It has been eighty-nine days since I first awoke. So far, I burrowed a tunnel into the gums and connected to the bloodstream. Soon, I make my exit. Soon the world will—
A buzz sounded outside the mouth. The lips parted, the drill entered, the world was saved.
“No, MY ship!”
The Kraken and Cthulhu thrashed beneath the waves. The ship was none the wiser, thinking itself safe within the hurricane eye.
“I saw it first!”
“Because I don’t have eyes.”
The battle raged on, the hurricane passed, and Cthulhu and the Kraken settled for krill.
“Do they see it?” Thor asked.
“Yes,” Odin said in a tired voice. “They see it.”
The soldiers marched up the hill towards the giant sword, eyes wide, jaws agape.
“This is how we stay alive,” Thor said. “They learn to fight, they die, we live.”
Odin groaned. “There are other ways.”
“Peace leads nowhere, we’ve tried your way.”
Odin groaned and left, changing back into Loki.
“Report!” Balance said to her elves.
The little monsters and angels stood at attention across the universe.
“We are stable,” they said, and Balance knew it to be true. She was amazed that her first creation worked so well. Why hadn’t the other universes worked? “Excellent. Continue.”
The elves continued, as did their entropy. Yet again, she did not notice.
“Why me?” Gonzo, the last dinosaur asked.
His own voice started to sound like someone else, a friend perhaps. There was the voice in his head, and the voice outside his head. See he was not alone.
“Because you have a purpose,” the voice in his head responded.
Gonzo hesitated. “What is my purpose?”
“Tell them to eat the apple.”
“When I meet the mountains?” Boragog asked.
“Head towards the light,” the voice said.
“And when I meet the sea?”
“Head towards the light.”
“And when I meet the forest?”
“Head towards the light.”
Boragog lumbered forward, never tiring, always seeking, always asking when he would reach the light, and so the world began to turn.
Build an Arc, he said, and of course I listened. You have to listen to voices from the sky. The Arc fell apart and that voice laughed. Build it again, he said, as if I’m some fool. I built a city instead. I’m not fooled twice. The city survived the great flood where the Arc failed, and he laughed again. The seas never subsided, and we wait until he speaks again. Atlantis failed, but I won’t be fooled thrice.
“At last!” Lord Captain Commander Ni said.
The starships crew cheered. Corks popped off bottles, DJ sets kicked off, dancing ensued.
The starship shuddered, struck again with the planets rail gun.
“Shouldn’t we fire?” Underlord Ti asked.
Ni bellowed a laugh. “No! Let us plummet.”
The celebration peaked as they crash landed, after two millennia in deep space.
I am amorphous blue, the highest sentience in the universe. I know the depths of black holes, survived supernova, mastered all eleven dimensions, and now I am free. I have come to tell you the question to the great answer. It is simply, AHH—
“All clean, Mr. King,” the dry cleaner said.
Mr. King took his shirt, clean of the ink blot, and returned the pen to its pocket.
“What do you mean, no return?”
“What we have is it, Davis. Look, it’s happening already.”
Davis looked out the port hole on the Mars Arc 2. Mushroom clouds rose over the United States, then Russia, then China.
“We’re the last hope, Davis,” the captain said. She flipped the switch to close the port holes. “We have to make Mars work.”
A handshake. Peace they told us, a first between the second moon and our mother planet, Pachu. War, no, apocalypse, brought us here. A breakdown of our ecosystems that forced both our hands, eventually, back together.
The first moon is still silent, though they move in the night. They stay their hand, and wait. For now, they think they have won.
Behind the mask, that’s where he hides. I’ve never met him, Dad, brother, friend, whatever he calls himself these days. I only ever knew the mask.
“Why did she leave?” I ask again.
His lip twitches, his eyes dart towards the door, and then it’s gone, tucked behind the mask.
“To the night,” he says, raising his shot.
I raise my shot and cheers. “To the night,” I say.
“Do you think they found anything?” I asked. The other cruiser moved closer as if hearing. Their spotlight searched the methane lakes for movement. I hoped they did not, it was our mission, our duty really, to find the signal we heard. Titan was ours to discover, ours for the glory of Mars.
The sergeant turned and sped towards the second ship. “They found us,” he said.
“Must you always create a spectacle,” Kra said.
His son sighed. “It’s what they like.”
The humans scattered out of their homes and disappeared into the woods.
“I’m not hurting them, just a little scare. They may sacrifice a few goats, and you love goats.”
The son wrapped its tentacle around the church spire and ripped away the roof. “They worship the wrong gods anyway.”