October 28, 2004


The building swayed in the wind, iron timbers creaking in pain. Glass rattled.
“What the hell are you talking about, Malice?”
“Pooka, type of ghost, likes to rattle shit to scare people.” Something clanked below them. Malice grinned. His white teeth were all that Shiver could see of the large man.
“That ain’t a ghost. It’s just an old fucking building.”
“Suit yourself. I still think I’m gonna ask permission before we mess with its pad.” Malice’s bright white teeth vanished. A moment later, so did Malice. There was a single tug on Shiver’s line. She put her hands up just in time to grab the large black bag descending from the roof vent. With a flick of her wrist, she secured it to a nearby post while its owner made his own way into the building.
“Where is Malice?”
Shiver shrugged and pointed through the rafters, “Down. There’s a ghost he wants to talk to.”
To Shiver’s surprise the man neither protested nor asked any questions, “Well once he’s made friends, send him over to me. I’m going to get started on the roost.”
“Yes, Mr. Moore.”
“You stay here until Timothy comes in. He should have two more bags and the shudder box.”
“Yes, sir.” Moore nodded once, then made his way along the rafters. Shiver watched him, but he was soon lost to darkness. There was another tug on the line and Shiver moved back beneath the roof vent to catch the next bag. “Just an old building,” she muttered.
“So,” said Timothy when he finally followed the last box in, “this is Earth, huh?” He stood with his legs spread wide on the iron rafter and looked around as if he could see mountains and seas. “Nice. Old, but then you’d expect that, I guess. And the weather? You see pictures, but you never really understand weather until you’re in it. At least I didn’t. That was pretty wild.”
Shiver shook her head, “That was pretty tame, newbie.”
Timothy was undaunted, “Well, that’s wilder than any weather we ever got on Spinner. At any rate, I’m impressed and I can’t wait to see what else this old planet has in store for us. You think we’ll get to see lightning?” Shiver just shook her head and said nothing. With Timothy’s help, she slid the roof vent back into position, then the two of them took turns hauling the bags over the rafters towards the roost. Below them the building let out a long slow groan and then grew silent once more.

October 27, 2004


“Sugar, Roger?” Nathan held a spoon over the cup, waiting for the acknowledgement.
“No, thanks.” Roger waved his hand negligently, without looking at Nathan.
Nathan blinked, then put the spoon away. “Since when do you take your coffee black?”
“Oh, I’m sorry. I meant 'no, thanks' to the coffee.”
Nathan frowned then quietly poured the cup down the sink. “It’s alright, I hadn’t poured mine yet. I’ll just take this one, with sugar.” He carried the other cup into the living room and sat down on the couch opposite Roger. “You don’t mind, do you?” Roger waved his hand again, dismissing the idea without a word.
Nathan sipped his coffee and regarded his friend. Roger, for his part, seemed to be regarding nothing at all. He sat slumped in the high back chair, staring at a spot somewhere just above the small coffee table. It was the same position he’d fallen into the moment he arrived. Nathan was tempted to snap his fingers in front of Roger’s face just to see what he would do. Instead, he sat back against the couch, continued to sip his coffee, and waited for Roger to decide he was ready to talk.

October 24, 2004


Only thirty minutes?
Thirty-two minutes
Anyway, it’s not enough time. That’s going to cost a bit more.
You cannot do that, we already settled on a price.
Yeah, well this changes the job and I’m changing the price.
I told you it would be tight. I just couldn’t give you numbers before you were in.
But now I am in and you can’t risk letting me out again. You really don’t have any choice here. So, I’m going to need this much more.
I’m not sure playing hardball with us on this is a smart idea. The money’s fair.
Us? You workin with someone else? Not smart, boy. See, now I know more about your little operation. Each piece of the pie you give me brings me that much further in, makes it that much more important that I be the one you hire. And don’t try threats. I’m the best and we both know there ain’t nobody can touch me . . .what, nothing to say? If you want me to take this snatch, and you do, you’re going to have to pay me the number on that little slip of paper. . . .go ahead, call your boss, I’ll wait.
What? Without even making the call?
We’ll give you half that number on top of what we’ve already agreed upon.
Don’t try to cheat me, boy and don’t…
Don’t try to rake me over the coals… sir. Take what we’re offering. You and I both know that you can do this job in thirty minutes with time to spare. It’s not easy, and we will pay you for that. But don’t ask for any more. If we felt you overcharged us, we might have to look somewhere else the next time we have work to do.
You won’t look anywhere else. I’m the best.
We don’t need the best, we just need good enough. So don’t push it because while we want you, we’ll settle for someone else next time if we ever feel like you’re not, how to say it, making a good faith effort.
Half, then.
Good, now supplies…

October 21, 2004

The Black Oak

Black as night, the oak jutted from the field in savage profile. Its branches were long, lean, and bare and they stood out in jagged relief against the twilight sky behind them. The massive trunk proclaimed the tree older than any man who looked upon him, older than the sullen farm whose fields it dominated. Generations of men had farmed this land and cleared these fields, and the oak had survived all of them.

It was not for love that the men refused to cut down the tree. The generations of farmers suffered no nostalgia about its presence, endured no fond memories of playing in its shade or climbing among its branches. In the history of the farm’s existence, only one child had taken it upon himself to climb the oak, and the fall had killed him.

October 19, 2004


The curious Kelran dust settled thickly through the air. Like the rain of Earth, it slipped from the clouds above, bounced off the ground, and then rolled into gutters and sewers. There was no wind so the dust fell straight. Wherever Fio walked, eddies churned behind him, dust slid off his shoulders. The dunes he left in his wake lasted only moments before sloughing apart and joining the flow of particles around them.

Fio had expected snow or sand. He had expected dunes and drifts. Fio had been in both blizzards and sandstorms, but he had never seen anything like this. The tiny particles that formed the dustfall were perfectly spherical and nigh frictionless. They refused to remain in piles, but spread out, rolled on until they settled into nooks and crannies. The dust behaved exactly like a liquid, but without the cohesion. Water without ripples. This was neither snow nor sand nor rain. It was dust.

October 17, 2004


The sand swirls around his feet. The wind piles small mounds before him, covering his boots up to his ankle on the windward side and sloping away in the lee. If any skin had been exposed it would have been stripped away long ago. As it is, with gloves and boots, cloak and hood, goggles and mask, he pays no heed to the wind or the sand it carries. The only evidence that he notices the fury of the desert at all is the slight lean of his body into the face of the storm. His cloak snaps behind him, the fabric of his leggings ripples in the wind, but he himself is almost still.
Every twenty minutes, in a motion so fluid and practiced one has to wonder if he is even aware of the act, he replaces the filter in his mask, using his left hand to bring the clean filter from the device on his chest to its place in his mask and his right hand to remove the dirty filter from the mask and place it in the device. Then he is still once more. Neither shifting his weight nor turning his head. Staring into the heart of the storm. Waiting.