Like the sarsen stones and sequoias that lined the frozen rails from City Junction to the rumbling oak mines, Philip emanated heft. To strangers, he appeared to possess a petrifying and feral strength. However, once acquainted, they saw he directed his brawn with dignity and was no more threatening than the quaking dogs the president, it was rumoured, used to warm his bed.

     Forsaken at the station gates and pressed into service still barely able to say his name, Philip had grown – composted in coal dust and fertilised with cruelty – into an impeccable employee of the North-Eastern Train Company. As such, he favoured new overalls over boiled, cultivated no beard or sidebrooms and since keeping secrets was discouraged, kept only one: when doubt and unease called, he would touch the tattoo of Mellusa, eternal pacifist and gentle dissident, that tumbled in pale inks down his side.

     Each morning, before attending to the matters a train driver must to ensure no calamities occur down the line, Philip placed a hand across the silver button pinned to his chest and opened his lungs:

 

Through the fiery forests

And the fields that feed this land

Whether worker, child or soldier

We’ll lead you by the hand (more…)

“Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgment Day: We never asked to be born in the first place.”

― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Timequake

 

     Everyone is going to die.

     And thank God, right? Life is a sack of shit anyway. Life is a miserable disappointment and we don’t deserve it. Everyone – you, me, the little old lady who you gave your seat to on the bus – we all deserve to die, because we are all fucking monsters.

     Don’t believe me? Okay fine. I can prove it. (more…)

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     A ship is designed to carry only what it is meant to carry, for exactly as long as it meant to carry it. For to have even a hair out of place could mean tearing open the tightly sealed hull, or scrambling the control unit, or distort navigation, or throw off the air pressure. If a ship is damaged in flight every human being would die in seconds, still strapped to their seats in the empty vacuum, the one-way travel tickets frozen against their breasts as the open wound of their ship drifts into infinity.

(more…)

     Miki was twirling atop an ice cube when Vida first saw him. Each time he leapt off the edge with his fist in the air, her heart followed. Perhaps it was too soon, but she couldn’t help it.

     She’d heard the stories about the children from Hiemslandia. The ice thieves. The giants. And the rescue—of course the rescue. Even with the condensation droplets in the way, Vida could see Miki’s wounded eyes that shone through the chilled glass.

     Vida sat down at his empty table and smiled. And Miki sat down on the ice and looked back at her. He extended his arm to the foggy covering and polished it with his sleeve. His action was nothing—not really. But Vida, seeing his openness toward her, giggled and loosened her shoulders.

(more…)