Archive for October, 2011

Colossus by Charlotte Lenox

Oct 28 2011 Published by under Stories

“Do it here,” Haimon said, waving at a spongy patch of moorland. His assistants established and prepped the core sampler on the flattened part of the hill. Once the core was taken and transported back to the science academy, they would be able to study the soil layers in microscopic detail. They hoped to discover why the planet’s biosphere had collapsed, taking major forms of life with it. All that was left on Riseden were blooms of phytoplankton in the chilly seas, a massive bone here and there, and damp, low-lying club mosses and weeds. Haimon’s boots sank partway into the muck.

Specifically, they were looking for signs that some animals, or at least their eggs, had gone into diapause or some other form of dormancy when things went south (but why?). They also needed to find some means of helping the planet recover at least part of its ravaged diversity, or they risked revocation of grant funds and public outcry from an already indignant, poverty-stricken populace. At least, out here, he was safe from them and could work in peace for what little time they had left to prove the usefulness of their research.

He nodded to the assistant manning the core sampler. But rather than meeting the expected resistance of rock, the mouth of the sampler sank too easily into the ground, causing the assistant to slip and yelp in surprise. Haimon flinched as warm liquid sprayed across his face from the wounded earth. As he wiped the crimson streaks out of his eyes, the ground rumbled, then shifted–tearing the scrubland like ripping cloth. A long, angry moaning echoed through the empty air, joined by the screams of his team as they were swallowed by collapsing soil and rock.

Haimon’s last thought was: The hills are alive, but not with the sound of music.

Charlotte was born and raised in Alaska. She moved to Philadelphia to finish a BA in English and an MS in Library and Information Science at Drexel University. In her spare time, she is a chaotic gardener and struggling fisherman. Her work has appeared (or will appear) in “Danse Macabre,” “Flashshot,” “Subtle Fiction,” “The Criterion,” and “365tomorrows.”

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The Park Lesson by Maxime McKenna

Oct 07 2011 Published by under Stories

A statue of three turtles caught the attention of a boy as he walked through the park with his mom. They were made of brass and set on the ground, and the boy was proud to find that he was bigger than the turtles.

“Do you know what animals these are?” asked mom.

“Turtles,” said the boy.

“Very good. And which is the biggest turtle?”

“This one.” The boy touched the leftmost turtle. It was hot from the sun.

“And the smallest?” asked mom.

The boy pointed to the center turtle.

“And the medium-sized turtle? The medium-sized one?”

“This one,” said the boy while lightly kicking the rightmost statue. “Daddy turtle, mommy turtle, and baby turtle. That’s me! Ira the Turtle!” Ira the Turtle smiled.

“And which is the happiest turtle, Ira?”

“That one.”

“The biggest turtle? Are you sure?”

“Um, this one?” Ira pointed to baby turtle.

“Ok. Now the saddest turtle.”

Ira tried the biggest turtle again.

“No. The saddest turtle, Ira.”

Ira considered the turtles. Faint shimmers of heat rose from their backs.

“They’re really hot, Mommy. Feel them. They need shade.” He opened his t-shirt and held it over the sculpture.


“Feel them, mommy.”

“Ira. The saddest turtle, please. Ok, fine. The selfish turtle. Do you see the selfish turtle?”

“I don’t know. I don’t like turtles.” Ira spun in place on his right heel.

“We’re going to have to start over, Ira. Now, which one is the biggest turtle?”

A statue of a bear watched mother and son from across the park. Its mouth was open slightly, which interested Ira, and it stood on a marble pedestal, taller than he was.

“Mommy, look, a bear!” he said. “I want to ride him, I want to ride him!”

Mom followed Ira, who was making little growls in his throat, to the bear, and placed him on its back. But once up there, Ira began to panic.

“You want down?”


“What’s the matter?” asked mom, putting her son back on the ground.

“It’s the bear,” said Ira. “He doesn’t like you, mommy.” And he ran away.

Maxime D. McKenna lives in Philadelphia and writes fiction, among other things. He works at the Kelly Writers House, on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania.

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