Sunday, October 16, 2011

Issue Nine, Volume Two

From the Desk of the Editor;
     Welcome one and all to Issue Nine, Volume Two or Larks Fiction Magazine! In this issue we are featuring two works of post-modern absurdism and one piece of epic high fantasy science fiction.
     Only one more issue before we will be unveiling our  choose-your-own-adventure-Halloween-spectacular-issue! In case you missed it here is last year's issue to give you an idea of what's to come on the 30th!
     Now on with the show!
Daniel J. Pool
LFM Editor 

Man and Interviewer
By Walter Nyman

INTERVIEWER: So, how long did this take?

MAN: Yeah, this took me like five-hundred hours to construct. (starts doing lunges in the direction of interviewer).

INTERVIEWER: Why are you doing that?

MAN: What am I looking for?

INTERVIEWER: What are you looking for?

MAN: Yes, what am I looking for?

INTERVIEWER: I - I - Don't know what you're looking for, sir.

MAN: Me neither.  Why am I doing lunges at you?

INTERVIEWER: Hey, who's interviewing who here?

MAN: I - I - Dunno.  I don't know those sorts of thing.  Where did you go to college?

INTERVIEWER: I'm leaving this room to go on and do better things than answer stupid questions.  I'm the asker, man.  I'm the asker!


(MAN lunges)
The End

About the Author:
Walter Nyman is a 23-year-old writer living off one side of the PugetSound. Read more of his work at his blog Don’t Sweat the Important Stuff.

Tales of Our Dissolution
By Nancy Skinner

Prologue:   Each phase would be different.

The First
The departures would go something like this. We would make ready to decamp our marital homes surveying the familiar fading rooms, while peach-colored baby ghosts whined from closets. We did our best to ignore them, stuffing our ears with pin cushions against the sound; toeing the doors gently closed, with faces turned away.
We moved out furniture and vacuumed up spilled shards of life. We discovered albino bluebells in corners that hadn’t seen daylight in years, and hated to leave them, knowing they would die without our care, but neither could we uproot them, for fear of killing them. We said goodbye and thanked them for keeping us company the whole time (not letting on we’d been ignorant of their existence).
Mice, old scoundrels, chanted their farewells from hidden crannies in the lath, where they dangled tiny amulets over their ritual fires. Thimbles, earrings, cherry pits, and other booty from our coexistence. They, at least, bid us well. Held no grudges, nor, it’s true, would they lament our passing. They would move on like salty whores to whomever came to pin up moss curtains, polish abalone jelly jars and coax life back into our deadened homes.
Then, just as we always had managed, we hoisted onto our backs great piles of the things we had birthed through the years: refrigerators, snowshoes, pianos (all angles and jangling wires), beach umbrellas, lamps, cutlery. Some of us slid babies down the street atop muffin tins. A few carried silent droop-eared dogs slung over shoulders, or the occasional child’s hamster tucked in among cameos and crocheted gloves in old sewing kits.
And all of us, as it is done, bared our fannies – which had swelled by now to the balloon red buttocks of baboons – and walked with the precise dignity of one who is normal, while cold breezes raised goose pimples on our freshly nuded backsides.

Our friends – and yes, our families, too – welcomed us coolly in their formal parlors and crushed-velvet sitting rooms with the neon smiles, gloved hugs and garish ruffles of clowns. They fed us well, amid tawdry gaiety, on snails and pumpkin rind. They forced upon us food and food and drink, but kept their thoughts tucked tightly under flopping pompom hats, no words. Later, over brandy by the fire, they opened wide their mouths of icy glass-shard teeth for us to floss and pick, for it was understood we owed them for this hospitality. An open door in the cold. And so we picked and gleaned small birds and diamond chips, flower stems and calling cards from the treacherous jaws perched open around our fingers. And as we worked intently, trickling sweat tickling our temples, their greasepaint grins drooped around our hands in the heat of the firelight and melted frownward, revealing moles and hairs and flashes of wrinkled, stony displeasure on the gleaming jowls beneath. The greasy painted joviality slid and slid sideways, coming to rest under an ear, or quivering rakishly across a wattle, lending two-mouthed arguments to these familiar faces.
We bedded down, in time, where shown: atop meager pallets of stacked poker chips, piled not so high as to tip and fall, but high enough to keep us from the chill floor given over for the night to the sinuous commutes of centipedes. We did our best to cover ourselves with the clover clippings we were given.
In the early morning we tiptoed, only mouthing our few words through the watery grey light, and let ourselves out quietly, though we hardly needed to fear disturbing the cozy oblivion of the open-mawed sleepers, tucked under the soft skins of young animals that covered their plush four-poster beds.

And Later
Warily we made our way out into the growing glare of daylight, believing the beating sunshine must mean we had been through the worst. Almost at once we found ourselves beckoned from a shaded cranny by elegant and smooth-scaled hands. Hands that could, we came to see, only protrude from the fine, expensive cuffs of lawyers.  They ushered us out of the glare and suggested a path, so professionally, so surely, that we had no fear even as it led deeper and deeper out of the sunlight. We passed first between the seeping walls of caves where we eyed broken chains and manacles that hung heavily from the stone. The walls converged and dripped more furiously and the way sank until we were no longer above ground at all. We began to wade, our feet first sodden, then our knees cold, and finally our thighs recoiling at the chill. When the water was up to our waists we saw we would soon be forced to relinquish the air given so sweetly by the trees (how we had loved it without knowing it!), to enter the plush shimmering undersea world that unfurled before us. Of course we thought we would drown, for the lack of air, but we surprised ourselves by managing as if we had always been gilled. We watched our graceful reflections in the shining glass that held us in, amazed at the smooth way our mirror bodies sliced the water, yet left it whole; the way we dove and fluttered in the wavering silence, awed by ourselves and this smoothness we didn’t know we possessed.  The Lawyers circled expertly as if they would reassure us this was how our lives worked: that they involved lawyers, signatures, our dreams and regrets bled out onto the crisp bars and rungs of spreadsheets.  Finally we scratched our names pitifully where shown (fins are not made to grasp the sharp stylus) certifying that our dreams have drifted away in bubbles and promises we made have dissolved like salt in water. If tears there were (we couldn’t be sure) they blended away unseen in the salty milieu. The lawyers broke out refreshments; even ice cream didn’t melt in their cool water.

Until Finally
Bedraggled, yet wearily triumphant, we reached the harbor set to sail out. With fingers battered and stiff, we labored to uncoil the slimy swollen dock lines from the sturdy anchor cleats, and paused in surprise when the mayor puffed into view, top hat askew, satin sash slipped below his heaving paunch. We waited while, hands on his knees, he caught his breath. When he could stand he tugged straight his silk cravat then, officious basso, requested that we be so good as to defer our departure just one bit longer. One final formality he would lay out before us, the way it is always done, you see: the donation of an organ. The heart, of course. Because it is only reasonable, surely we agreed? In the resulting cavity, these good men (and here he gestured behind him at the spitting, shifting, jump-suited grounds crew, whose mustachioed faces avoided us; superior they were, and tilted skyward) will graft an orchid cutting in the cavity. Two plump fingers to the brim of his hat, his other hand flat upon the silk sash bisecting his chest, he issued his official guaranty: the knotty grizzled thing, in time, will bloom. We could not, certainly, ask for more? 
Ever reasonable, we gently bared our chests, our soft, surprised breasts, for this last requirement.  Exposed and quivering we anticipated the knife.

Epilogue: Yanked away the ribbony things of hope, and muddied; “dissolute” never to be defined: brave, wise or good.


About the Author:
Nancy Skinner is an Amalgam-American having grown up in the Midwest, ripened (mostly) in the Pacific Northwest and now living and writing in the NYC area among her terrific family which includes a supportive partner (a writer's dream), two funny and wacky daughters, and a puppy whose name –appropriately at the moment – spelled backward is: Evil-o. Nancy's work has appeared in Grey SparrowJournal and at WTF PWN.

Segmentus Invictus
By Eric Dulin

“Zorrul, this is suicidal. We are farmers, not soldiers,” Azrael said. The earth shook as Akrad took another blow from the ometron fleet. Dust fell from the ceiling of the tight basement as the room trembled, the stale air stirred by the explosion.

“I would rather die now than live forever without them.”


“Listen to me! Victoria and Gaius…they are all I had left. What if Alexandria was alive? What if-“

In an instant I was against the wall. “Don’t go there brother. Do not go there.”

“Would you not fight for them? Die for them? For even a chance?” The earth shook.

His eyes were unmoving, his jaw clenched. “I…yes, I  would.”

“Then you understand what I must do.”

“Yes.” He backed away, breaking from my eyes as he watched the ground. His fists unclenched.

“I…I’m sorry for what has happened. They…they didn’t deserve what happened.” The earth shook. Dust.

“Nobody deserved what happened.”

“Seraph said they will likely be in Segmentus Invictus, correct?”

“Yes, were the fighting is the worst.” Nothing.

  “Then let us hurry, the bombardment is over.”

“Lead the way brother.”

We powered up our arm-mounted energy cannons, the energy cells humming to life as they restored power. The weak weapons were all we had to defend ourselves from any ometrons we encountered. I was unsure how much time we had before the bombardment began again; hopefully our brothers in the sky could drive them away soon. How had this happened? How had the machines turned on their creators? The Code was perfect, the Emperor himself had secured it. Unless Seraph was right, and one of our own brothers betrayed us…but why?

                And Victoria…I must find her. Our mountain village was razed to ashes when we returned from our trip to the marketplace. Azrael had told me to go tomorrow. I had insisted. Now his wife and three daughters were dead because of me, while Victoria and Gaius were somewhere in the city according to the gate keeper. There are no words to describe the guilt I hold for Azrael, and I still do not understand why he chose to come with me; perhaps he hopes that at least one of our families will be alive. Seraph, Lord of Legions 176 and 284 was trying to withdraw the civilians, but the attack was without warning so there were few survivors before they could mobilize. We had five minutes if we were lucky to make it to Invictus, and I could already tell by the screams and explosions outside that hell had already started up again.

                Shoving the door open, I leapt to the metal floor as fighting raged outside. The blurred orbs of ometron displacement cannons tore apart everything they hit as ometrons on the other side of the street had opened fire on a squad of arcadians, already moving to the rooftops for mobility. Their energy cannons fired invisible laser beams at the ometrons as their blue shields absorbed hit, several falling over motionlessly with the failure of their shields. Some took cover and reattached missing limbs with fusion cutters before returning to battle, but I couldn’t help my brothers for Victoria was all on my mind.

                Azrael was right behind me as I broke through the wall in a heap of rubble, the familiar scent of scorched flesh filling my nostrils, the taste hanging on my tongue. Explosions and screams tore through the air in a continuous flood as ships waged brutal dogfights in the skies. The ometrons were too focused on combating the soldiers to notice us as we escaped an alley to the next street. Invictus was straight in the direction we were heading. As we came across the Grand Plaza of Invictus after crossing another war torn street, my heart stopped beating.

                Words could never describe the true extent of the battle. Tens of thousands of arcadian and ometrons alike fought upon as many mangled corpses, torn apart by weapons of both sides.  Smoke obscured most of the battlefield, but my eyes pierced the clouds as though they were nonexistent as I absorbed every detail in seconds. Hundreds fell in droves on both sides as massive amounts of firepower wiped out entire platoons and the fallen corpses that were used as cover. Powerful anti-matter missiles annihilated hundred yard chunks of land, leaving charred craters, the ometrons without care for friendly fire. The lines were mixed together; the forces indistinct from each other as vicious close quarters combat broke in several areas only to be wiped out from a volley of fire or a missile. It wasn’t burning flesh that choked the air; it was Death made manifest. It was a stench that I would grow accustomed to.

                I broke from the scene, for I had barely even spoke of the atrocities going on in the agglomeration of flesh and metal. “Azrael, with me,” I said, leading us around the perimeter as it became apparent that no area was safe.

                My eyes scanned the block a mile away at four hundred civilians, but many weren’t looking my way to identify. We pounded the ground with our feet onwards as an orb destroyed the ground twenty yards in front of us; another moment and we would have been killed.  Four hundred yards ahead, the glowing muzzle of an ometron standing atop a mutilated arcadian fired again as I leapt out of the way with Azrael at my side. We landed on the side of the street as the blast obliterated the land we were standing on.

The helmet of the ometron had a dull grey octagonal visor that traced after us. It was around fifteen feet tall and a good eight feet wide, considerably larger than me in height and twice the height of Azrael. The bulky armor of the machine was deceptive for they were as mobile as even the fiercest arcadian warrior. We opened fire simultaneously on the ometron, it’s shields absorbing our hit’s as it fired again. It traced me as I moved, continuing to fire as Azrael reversed, escaping harm as the ometron let him go.

                The hits drew closer as we continued pounding the machine, but it’s shields were powerful compared to our weaker energy cannons. However, it suddenly turned as several soldiers opened fire on them, sensing them as the greater threat. Our gold visor comrades quickly kept them in combat as I led Azrael through cover towards the civilians, knowing that we had little time.

                We were a thousand yards from the civilians when something pounded the ground behind me. Azrael vanished into the side of the building with colossal force as an ometron charged me, its cannon damaged beyond repair. My weapon was useless as I tried to outmaneuver it, but it grabbed my ankle and flung me fifty yards through the air as I smashed into a building. I broke through several walls before coming to a stop, the world shaking as I stumbled up. Dust, ash, and debris fell off my body as the ometron was already on me again, flinging me back into the street as I smashed into a crashed ship. A fresh wave of screams reverberated from the street up ahead.

                Ignoring the pain and blood that filled my mouth, I found the hilt of a sword next to a fallen brother. I had never used a sword before, but the ometron was going to kill me if I didn’t kill it now. Rising to my feet, the ometron scanned my new weapon as it wrenched a large bar from the floor. A blast hit the ground to the left of us, but I was focused on every movement of its body to notice it.  It limped on its right leg. The bar was bent on the upper half. It’s right arm was critically damaged. It put extra weight on its right heel. Then it came forward.

                The blade was light but strange as I attempted to wield it, but as our blades danced in a storm of metal,  I knew I couldn’t win. I had never practiced the art of a blade while the machine had been programmed by the best of the Legions.  It smashed me in the side, sending me into the ship again as it leapt atop me, swinging the bar upon me again. I caught it in my hand, but it had tremendous strength as it’s fist pounded the ground next to my face. I kicked it’s right leg were it limped as it staggered back for a moment. Taking advantage, I tackled the titan as we rolled on the floor.

                It became apparent that the machine was stronger than I, but I continued to keeps myself out of harm. “Zorrul!”

                The voice I knew from anywhere. The sweet angelic voice that I savored every morning.  Keeping the machine at bay, I turned to the direction of the voice. All I saw was a figure with a bundle vanish in a blast. Everything stopped. Debris rained on my face . They were gone. This was all for nothing. What was once my heart died away, cracking to pieces as each shard shattered into a thousand fragments. Pain in my chest. Anger. Hate.

                The ometron tried to overpower me as I smashed my fist into it’s face, ignoring the pain of the blow as I broke my hand. The machine continued to function as I reached for the blade,  gripping it tightly as I drove it through the center of it’s chest. I wasn’t sure if it was dead, but I didn’t care. That couldn’t have been them. It can’t be.

                I ran over to the crater, but all that remained were the pieces of charred remains. Burnt flesh singed my tongue and clogged my nose. I collapsed in the pit, grabbing a handful of what was a body as it degraded to ash in my fingers. Then metal. I lifted the charred piece, white hot from the explosion. Impossible. Our wedding amulet.

                The pain in my chest intensified. My hands trembled. Something wet landed on the amulet. It vaporized to steam in a second.  It couldn’t be possible. None of this was possible. The metal didn’t cool down; it grew hotter. The ground was smoking around me. My mind was collapsing on itself. Nothing could fill this cavern in my heart; the only salvation would be death. Why didn’t Death take me? Victoria nor Gaius deserved death. Why? The pain exploded.

                A thousand knives pierced my heart at the same time. My skin was scorching. The amulet was melting away in my hands. The smoke around me grew in strength.  A bloodcurdling scream tore through the smoking crater, across the field, the entire city. It was not my scream. It wasn’t an arcadian scream.

                Pain. My skin was on fire. My skin was fire. My brain was swelling like a balloon, and I tried to press my skull together. The amulet was molten metal, and it slipped through my fingers in the smoking pit.  Pain beyond measure. As I became fire, so did I become pain. The heat became worse as plasma replaced the blood in my veins.  I collapsed onto the ground as the beaming sun pulled my eyes away from the pain; its invisible rays were gushes of flame against my body. Fire erupted in the ground around me as white hot flames engulfed my entire body. The fire burned my body, and I cried out in pain as I sought out some way to expunge it along with the hole that had replaced my heart. Displacement orbs flew at me, but they vaporized in the air fifty yards away harmlessly as I screamed out in agony.

A torrent of the fire left my body, reducing the pain by a miniscule fragment. An escape. It was no longer fire that surrounded me, but pure energy.  Time became non-existent. I was trapped in this cycle for an eternity. This was insanity. Inch by inch the pain lessened. A thousand inches and I was only a thousandth of the way there. Insanity.

 Freedom. The ground met my smoking body. Half of the city was gone; one side was a black smear the went on indefinitely. The other half held combatants still fighting. The stench of thousands who had vaporized clogged my lungs in clouds of smoke as Azrael and a group of heavily armored arcadians approached me.  A booming laugh.


About the Author:
Eric Dulin is a 17 year old writer living in Texas. He enjoys writing and reading Science Fiction and is hoping to become an established author and publish his completed manuscript.

Thanks for reading and join us next week for more great indie fiction!

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