Monday, March 1, 2010


(a sci-fi micro novel)

for Beca

Chapter 1

On the planet Klargstüürn – where the air is blue – Beca sits before her open window. The breeze flows in, stirring her dark hair and the sheer curtains furled at her elbows. That breeze is potent with the magic pollen of boora flowers now maturing in the vast fields outside the city. She inhales deeply and feels the invisible substance going down deep into her lungs. The boora-effect gradually arouses to blessed melancholy the fractious chambers of her mind. It is good, she thinks, to enjoy this sadness. Only in this season is frenzied consciousness subdued and gentler emotions allowed to breathe.

But it is best not to sink too thoroughly into such trances. After all, this is the Season of Paradox. Even as the distant flora sends these sad luxuriant spores, other things stir. This is also the time of invasion. When the mawdøraks come drooling, come rampaging into the city from their far cave dwellings in the south. They come to reap the blood of citizens, which is now being refined and transformed into subtler concoction by the boora spores. And Beca hears, or imagines she hears, the faint howl of approaching beasts far away.

Slowly but with a renewed focus, she turns and moves through her living room and to the wooden chest, which doubles as a loosha-table. Removing the knick-knacks on top, she punches in the 5-digit code of the latch. A dull click. She then opens the lid and removes her weapon. It's the latest model – a ZZ55 fully automatic “Mawker,” framed in light-weight gornium. She lingers a moment to appreciate the feel and weight of this weapon in her right hand. Naturally black in color and with a low sheen, the “Mawker” is a powerful evener of odds. Beca flips open the tiny screen built into the frame to confirm the pulse-chamber is full and ready. She straps on the belt and holster and retrieves the knapsack of extra pulse cartridges. One last item – the pills. Then she lowers the lid of the chest.

Chapter 2

The blast-groover speeds across the expanse of cerulean sand, with the groover channel running in a straight line. It is one of eight grooves radiating in all directions from the city center. Reconnaissance patrols had spotted the horde earlier in the day, several miles out in this direction. Beca shoves forward on the power stick, while pushing the “extreme” toggle. A loud back-blast sends the groover into maximum thrust, and Beca is momentarily jolted back in the driver seat. Erul, seated next to her, exhales audibly:

“Beca...damn, woman. We were almost there anyway. Why the blast theatrics?”

She smiles without looking at him. “To let em know we're coming. Get em stirred up. I prefer my mawdøraks juiced up...with their eyes bulging when I send em to hell.”

“Now, Beca, you know the mission. No fireworks this time.”

“I can daydream, can't I?” She pulls the stick toward her, and the groover whines in deceleration.

Erul looks toward her and starts to say something. But just shakes his head, smiling himself.

The blast-groover slows to a cushioned halt. Beca flicks the off switch. The engine becomes silent.

Outside the vehicle, they check their weaponry and paraphernalia. Beca stares up through the blue haze and admires the twin moons now slowly arcing through the Klargstüürn night.

“Pill time.” Erul unzips the front pocket of his jacket and brings out a tiny container. Beca follows suit.

The two quickly swallow the black capsules – the prophylactic pills to prevent infection should they survive a bite by a mawdørak. The effect will only last four hours. Long enough, they hope, to complete their mission. Taking a second dose after four hours would prove lethal. It would take two weeks for the powerful drug to leave their bodies...for the possibility of another dose.

Bearing south-southwest toward a near hill, jumbled with boulders, the two set out on foot. The blue haze has become thicker with the onset of night, but they do not turn on any lights. They have trained in these hills for years and know the subtle aspects of terrain very well. They could walk it blind.

Chapter 3

They move like shadows in the blue dark, side by side...surveying peripheries and the spaces between great rocks in front of them. Their eyes are wary yet confident, dilated and reflexive.

“I think I heard something,” Erul whispers, more like a thought sent than words uttered.

“Heard it, too...on the right, up there. I'd say 50 paces.” Beca slips her Mawker from its holster. Her comrade does likewise.

After a dozen more paces, Beca stops. And stretches out her right arm against Erul's chest.

“Smell that?”

He sniffs the cool air. “Mawdørak.”

They kneel to the ground in unison. Erul quietly unzips his knapsack and brings out the “pink bomb.” He pushes the priming button on the metallic contraption. And a series of ziggy, fluoresecent-green lines moves across the tiny screen. Looking up at Beca, he jerks a quick nod. They retrieve gas masks from their knapsacks and slip them tightly over their heads.

“You think that shit will work?' asks Beca.

“Not a clue. We're just the delivery service. Sure hope so.”

A mixture of low- and high-pitched growls is heard in the dimness before them. And emerging from that haze are at least 50 mawdøraks – eight-feet tall and covered in a shimmering, stinking black fur. A fur so black that it almost glows in the night. Closer they shamble, until their open maws reveal silver fangs that drip with an oily white substance. The growls turn to homicidal shrieks. A frenzy of anticipation.

“Push the timer and throw the damn thing.”

As Erul engages the timer, two mawdøraks come lumbering from the pack, and straight for the two. Beca calmly dispatches them with single shots to the head...the bright pulse of lightning tentatively stunning the other mawdøraks to a halt in their advance.

Erul sends the object flying toward the herd, and he and Beca dive behind a large rock. Landing amid the confused beasts, the bomb explodes in a brilliant flash. And the air fills with a glittering pink fog, which blends into the natural blue Klargstüürian haze. The surrounding atmosphere turns a lavender hue.

Chapter 4

Four years pass.

Beca and Erul are blast-groovin' back to the mission site. During the intervening cycles, a gradual diminishing of mawdørak attacks in the city and the region. Last year, no deaths or mawlings reported at all.

Retracing their original steps – this time in the bright-blue of a Klargstüürn day – the two agents approach the decisive spot. Beca sniffs the air and is uncertain. Erul moves around the area, looking for sign.

“I'm going up to the top and take a look around. Okay?”

“Knock yourself out,” Beca replies, while lifting her sunshades enough to glance here and there between the boulders surrounding this clearing. She turns slowly around and looks back down the steep rocky slope they had just come up.

A sound. Behind her now. Something shuffling on the loose gravel. Her honed instincts confuse her: the quality and degree of sound is not right for a lumbering mawdørak. She stands still, while yet slowly moving hand to holster. In one move, she jerks the weapon free and swivels to face the threat.

There before her, a dozen paces away, is a toddler mawdørak, about three feet tall and now uttering a soft “oooh” and a peculiar “rrruuphh.” Beca can't refrain from smiling, a rare genuine smile. The small creature, trying to walk on two feet, loses its balance and plops to the ground. Its mouth forms an “o” shape and delivers another “oooh”. But this time with a question mark at the end.

“Hey, Erul! Get your butt down here and take a look at this.”

Beca approaches the young mawdørak until she is very close. She kneels in front of the black furry thing...and reaches out a hand. The creature gurgles and mews as she begins to stroke its head.

“What in the world?” Erul steps into the clearing, stops, and places hands on hips. He begins laughing, and Beca chuckles.

Before they can speak, a mature mawdørak shambles into the open from behind a great rock. Instinctively, Erul goes for his holster, but Beca waves him off. Something in the beast's demeanor alerts her to an absence of danger. The huge creature steps nearer. No growls, no projection of threat. Instead, its eyes are bashful, more uncertain than anxious. It stops before the toddler and then picks the young one up, all the time looking Beca deeply into the eyes. Turning, it carries its child back into the creases between gray boulders.

Chapter 5

That night of the first mission -- that chemical night -- replays in Beca's head as she moves southward. Farther than any have gone in generations. The ancient metal seam is still there, and her blast-groover is zooming at top speed. A lulling pulse resonates from the groove up through the machine as she glides toward her goal and glides into reverie.

The synthesized compound had worked. Worked perfectly. What brains those scientists had in their craniums! Citizen blood had been extracted and successfully grafted with boora-spore and then “weaponized” into aerosol form. It had taken a few years for the psychological transformation of the mawdørak hordes, for reproduction to yield a pacified specie. Luckily, those clans had stayed geographically close – all living in the vast complex of caves in the southwest.

Now, the mawdøraks ambled passively from cave to city, on seasonal jaunts. Many citizens had adopted them as something like pets. The city now certainly has something of a surreal carnival atmosphere to it.

As the blast-groover speeds deeper into unfamiliar zones, Beca feels a fluttering in her stomach, a thrill of expectation. It had been centuries since any citizen had ventured to the Gravity Sea. Not since before the mawdøraks had moved into the region so long ago. The holy books speak of lost times, when the old ones would venture undisturbed on pilgrimages to that mystical place of visions and wonderment.

She knows the reason why the pollen of the boora flower affects citizens so melodramatically. Why that time of year brings lethargy and dreaminess, sometimes tears: the people had once lived on the shore of the Gravity Sea, and that is where the boora-blooms grew naturally – nurtured by silent winds and electronic pulses. When the people had fled from the mawdørak invasion, they took boora plants with them...and transplanted them in sand fields not too far from what would become the new city. Twice a year, the gravity winds would pass through the precincts and nourish the boora flowers. Keep them alive and almost flourishing. The pollen wafted into the city – that invisible current laden with dream and tears – and became the only means of spiritual restoration. Those spores carried traces of visions from ancient times on the mystical sea shore. To breathe them in present times not only brings a forlorn yet sweet remembrance; it is an active communion with essential prophetic substance.

Beca decelerates the groover. Up ahead, she sees the swirls and whorls of charged air, air freshening with ions and leptons and dispersing the otherwise perpetual blue haze. Clarity! For the first time in her life...and not even in her daydreams or night dreams could she conceive of expanse of clear space! A thrill runs up her spine as she disembarks from the craft and walks the hundred remaining feet to the shore line.

Stretching before her, as far as she can see left to far as she can see toward the horizon...inferred waves of moving, lapping energy. Inferred because there is nothing – blessed nothing – to see. No blue veil to dampen perception. A vast churning sea of felt particles. A great Opening. And the clear extends into the air and sky above the Gravity Sea.

Beca closes her eyes and takes a deep breath of the clear, of the clarity. And when she opens them, she sees the images of all times and all places etched onto great translucent columns erupting from the surface and disappearing into the sky above. The columns turn...and spiraling up the surfaces are glyphs and creatures unknown. The runes speak inside her head, the creatures – alien citizens and strange animals – live somehow all at once. And these visions, mingling in her mind with the physiological effect of gravity particles, bring about an ecstasy beyond sex and beyond death.

She stares through dazzled eyes up, up, up and sees the twirling, animated columns moving past the blue sun. Here and only here in all the worlds – here on Klargstüürn – do the tubes of time connect all events and all spirits. Beca offers a silent prayer of communion and knows it will be swept up into those gravity coils...knows it will be carried into the hearts of others who are lost and displaced. Who need a boora flower planted in their existential hearts.