They can only be found at low tide on a full moon. Don’t cross the tide line, as their nesting holes are large and sparse feeding periods make encounters with this scavenger dangerous, if not […]
Richard cursed softly at the state of the parking lot. Piles of rubble and broken bottles covered the asphalt. Shards of glass glittered menacingly, concealing the lot striping. In no mood for punctured tires, he inched his beaten gray SUV around the edge of the lot. By some miracle, a bare spot remained near the curb. He stepped out, massaging his cramped legs, and didn’t bother to glance at the object that loomed overhead.
The dollar store’s windows had been smashed, leaving holes big enough to step through. Richard, eyeing the jagged edges, went for the door. His shoulders slumped with relief as he looked upon racks of laundry detergent, party hats, and off-brand mustard. Perhaps the vandals hadn’t found much worth taking. In any case, it was best not to linger. He hurried down the aisles.
As the Secretary-General of the United Nations, an organization of 147 member States who represent almost all of the human inhabitants of the planet Earth, I send greetings on behalf of the people of our planet.
Kurt Waldheim, as transcribed in the Voyager’s Golden Record
VOYAGER 1 REDUX
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory is in holiday mode. Christmas is around the corner and I’m the evening monitor of the Voyager’s transmissions. Fifteen billion miles and 44 years from Earth, the Voyager 1 is past the heliosphere and magically able to sing to the JPL despite digital power that is 20 billion times weaker than my cell phone.
Here comes the Grateful Man.
He says, “I am grateful for the sunny sky.”
See how dark billows gather and pour torrents of rain on the Grateful Man.
He continues to smile. He says, “I am grateful for liquid sunshine that makes the flowers bloom.”
So. This is how the story was told to me by my sister-in-law who was friends with the daughter of Mrs O. Who together with her husband ran a Turkish restaurant just off Green Lanes. Well, they were Kurdish really, which matters a lot in some contexts but not so much in this one. Anyway, Mr O was in charge of the chefs’ station, while Mrs O supervised the service and also handled the accounts. Even though Mr O was referred to by all as ‘boss’, no one wanted to look Mrs O in the eye when she passed on a customer’s complaint or, heaven forbid, returned a plate of food. Not even Mr O.
Durham, 16th August, 2020
We arrive in late summer.
This small city, once ours, appears
like the scene of a battle, long over.
The students have gone home,
the streets are empty, the gardens overgrown.
Down by the river, the trees reach
a little closer. They remember.
When grandma died they took her eyes, they pulled her eyes out for science.
Right out of her damn head. I wonder, if they popped or plopped or squelched or squeaked. But, in that moment, I know
three ghosts came to be.
“This is not acceptable behavior,” she said as the cat pawed at the carefully painted skeleton. “That isn’t yours,” she said as the cat knocked the skeleton from the shelf, sending it skittering across the floor. She picked it up and put it back, shooing the cat away, knowing it was a game, knowing that playing the game once meant playing the game again.
His miniatures were part of a game he never played. Skeletons, goblins, witches, sirens, dragons. He bought the kits, built the models, painted them. He placed them on a crowded shelf, organized and reorganized by size, color, and assigned skill. “I’m sure the game is fun,” he said, “but it isn’t what interests me.”
It was an in-between sort of creature. If nothing else, they could agree on that. And as they waited for the others in the last light of the frozen hills, Flanagan was beginning to wish they hadn’t caught it. When he’d first glimpsed it writhing in the snare, he’d mistaken it for a child; it was only after Miller had seen it too that he’d accepted it as real and not a fiction of his senses. They’d been staring at the snow-sealed landscape for so long now that no one trusted their eyes. The sea of white was hypnotic, with a lurid, febrile quality that the hunger played with in unsettling ways.
Tugging on the rope, Flanagan heard a stumbling of hooves and the same whimper he’d first mistaken for an infant’s.