Deus Volt – Part 4

aerial photography of trees

(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

The lights were generated by the human mechanisms, but many were odd: small, blinking, multi-colored lights lined doorways and were wrapped around statues of something I’d never seen before.

Binnea tapped my shoulder lightly.  “Look.”

A set of human statues, white like ice carved with extreme skill, were illuminated by flood lights on the ground.  The human statues were guarded from the elements by a roof, upon which stood a human with large protusions coming from its back.  Above that statue was a bright… star.

I yanked Binnea’s scruff until it fell behind a bush with me.  “That’s it,” I said.   “That’s got to be what your book was talking about!  The baby god is here!  What do we do now?”

Binnea shook its head and opened the book.  “The next part was about bringing the baby god gifts.  I didn’t understand that part.  But I think the baby was put in the food trough.”

“They fed their god to animals?!”

“No – at least, I don’t think they did, because he goes on to do other stuff when he grows up.”  Binnea poked its head out of the bushes and surveyed the statue scenery.  “I think we have to destroy the sculpture in the food trough.”

I gulped  This seemed so risky.  But what other choice did we have?  Bow to our human overlords?  No.  “Alright.  We’ll sneak as close as we can, then claw out its eyes.  Destroy it however we can.”

Binnea nodded and flexed its claws.  “Alright.  Let’s go.”

We slunk across the ice, hiding from the blinking lights by sinking into the shadows.  Nothing seemed to notice us, so we stood upon the final approach to the little shack.  I noticed now that some of the statues were of creatures – at least, I guess they were creatures, judging by the presence of eyes – I’d never seen before.  I held my breath, not knowing their powers.

Binnea steeled itself and unsheathed the bones in its fingers.  “Here we go!”

I unsheathed my bones and shredded at the ice sculpture with Binnea.  The tiny human sculpture in the food trough was soon blinded then degraded down to ice shavings.

A tall creature took a quiet step, casting a shadow on us.  “You rapscallions,” a human voice said, “You’re very far-”

Binnea squealed at the announcement and whirled around, bones still out.  Its fingers landed in the human’s chest, which spurted a strange, red liquid all over us.

The human fell limp and slid off Binnea’s bony fingers.

(Part 1) (Part 2) (Part 3)

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The Old Ones

“Legend has it among our people that the Old Ones will rise from the deeps once the trigger is pulled.  Their mouths will consume cities whole, and the people’s souls will be digested for eternity.  Mark my words, when the end times come, you will have no escape.

“‘But Professor, can we avoid the end times altogether?’ you may ask.  Allow me to burst your bubble.

“No one knows what or where the trigger is.  Is it when someone blows a booger of the correct mass?  Is it when the most beautiful woman in the world looks in the mirror and actually believes in her own power?

“Or has the trigger already been pulled – could it have been your birth?”

green and blue jellyfishes

***

This was written for the Weekend Writing Prompt #85, Legend, on Sammi Scribbles.

True Love

He was a friend of mine. I bought his headstone and put him in the earth.

His parents were poor, but I was sure he wouldn’t have had even a wooden marker tied with twine.

He’d been kind to me at the stamp mill, seen me as an equal, a confidant.  We were to be married, a convenience to him and freedom to me, if God hadn’t chosen to take him home.  His parents were ever grateful that I was willing to hide their ‘mistake.’

But how could John’s life be a mistake when I loved him so deeply?

Working-Template-for-FF-Challenges86

***

This was written for this week’s historical Carrot Ranch Prompt on Cora Kingston and John Yendow.  I’ve taken ENORMOUS liberties with John’s life and Cora’s sensibilities, but who knows? 

Deus Volt – Part 3

aerial photography of trees

(Part 1) (Part 2)

“Binnea!” I shouted.  The morning was cold and dark, but I didn’t think it wise to be shouting for a potential traitor when the humans were awake and could hear us.

A rustling in the nearby bushes caught my attention, and I saw Binnea’s head pop up.  “Over here!”

I crouched behind the bushes, noticing both our breaths forming mist in the winter air. Binnea’s eyes blinked a couple times as they glittered in the light of Renaux, our largest moon.

“I think I figured it out.”  Binnea patted the human book.  “The baby appears almost right in the middle, so it was hard to find, but I got to the passage with instructions.  Apparently, we’re supposed to follow the brightest star in the sky.  That will lead us to an inn with a food trough for farm animals.”

I squinted suspiciously.  “That sounds vague and easy to mess up.”

“It’s foolproof.  Two separate groups found the baby god – one a bunch of farmer hillbillies and another a bunch of scientists.  It’s going to work.”   Binnea turned its feet to their sides and pushed forward over the ice. “You coming or what?”

I didn’t argue further.  We only had two days to stop this baby god, after all, before it hatched or was born.

We skated over miles and miles of terrain, following the star both of us agreed was the brightest.  Daylight took away our guide, but we still had an idea of direction and could use the sun to keep our path straight.  We ate some of the food we’d packed, supplemented with the red winter berries on bushes that erupted from the ice beneath.  The afternoon sun turned the landscape orange, and the light glinted off the ice with perfect twinkles.

We grew tired by the time night fell, but we kept going, hoping to find the inn described by the instructions.  I was the one who pointed through the fog to a bright light in the distance.  “Is that one of those human lights?”

Binnea squinted.  “Has to be.  It’s too bright to be a candle.”  It pushed forward on its blade-bone feet, skating closer.  “Let’s go check it out.”

(Part 1) (Part 2)

Run – #Tanka

people doing marathon

I strive for greatness
To cross the finish in first
So when I must lose,
I question racing at all
Then gather my breath and run

***

This was written for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday #114, Try and Life!  The prompt reminded me of 1 Corinthians, 9:24: 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

The point of the verse isn’t necessarily to literally win footraces, but to realize that your life will end, and to live the best life possible.  Never give up!

Deus Volt – Part 2

aerial photography of trees

(Part 1) (Part 3)

Binnea beat me to Old Yaroux’s field, but I had started second so it didn’t matter too much.  We breathed heavily, bent over while we wheezed after such a hard run.  Once my breath was back and my chest wasn’t burning from the deep breaths of cold air, I asked, “Are you really that afraid the humans are going to be bad?  They haven’t done much, and it’s been six years for us – 15 for them.”

Binnea lay down in the snow.  “My Dad says that something’s got to be wrong with the situation.  They’re giving us all this technology for free; what’s in it for them?  Too good to be true.”

“I think their god told them to do it.”

“Maybe Father Richard, yeah, but not the humans as a whole.” Binnea sat up and rubbed thin fingers over its face.  “I dunno.  Just my Mom, Dad, and Ternary seem scared of what’s going to happen.”

I sat down in the snow next to Binnea.  “What do they think they can do about any of it, though?”

Binnea looked around, then leaned in close.  “You’ve heard a little of this Christmas stuff before, right?”

I nodded.

“This is the first Christmas on Venerux, and Christmas is when their God is born.  My parents say that if we can stop their Jesus from being born, we’ll be able to send the humans back home.  They won’t stay on a planet their god isn’t on.”

“Wow.  That’s pretty smart!  How do we do it?  I mean, time’s running pretty short.”

Binnea’s whiskers pulled taught with happiness as it removed a book – a human invention, obviously stolen – from within its cloaks.  “I’ve got an instruction manual.  It’ll tell us how to find the baby god.”

I swallowed.  “So that’s what you’re doing since school’s out, isn’t it?”

Binnea nodded.  “You bet!”

(Part 1) (Part 3)

Classic Book Review: Red Mars

I enjoyed reading this book, as a whole.  It wasn’t one of my absolute favorites, and I probably wouldn’t read it a second time, but it was good.  I recommend it to anyone who likes utopias or uplifting sci-fi that is well written and excellently thought out.

The Book

Red MarsRed Mars
Author: Kim Stanley Robinson
First published in 1993 – my copy was a Harper Voyager paperback from the library.
Amazon Link

This wasn’t a bad book.  It wasn’t great.  I would say most people would find it incredibly boring, but that’s kinda something I like.  It was very ok.

Non-Spoiler Review

The book was very intricately crafted.  A lot of time was spent determining what mars would be like, what the ‘nature’ of the place would convey.  He does have some fantastic passages on the beauty and grandeur of the red planet, its patters, and its vicious, poisonous landscape.

The book goes through several different POVs, and it describes well the sociopolitical movements on the surface of the red planet and how they are connected to what’s back on Earth.  The different factions that spring up, even within the first 100 colonists, are absolutely fascinating, admittedly hypocritical, and humanly flawed.  They each feel like factions that could truly exist.

However, I don’t think this book is for literally everyone, and the part I disliked was how it misleads readers into believing more happens than actually does.  The most exciting part of the book is, literally, in the first chapter.  It ends, and about 80% of the rest of the book contains nothing but worldbuilding, character development, and strange, preachy asides.  The first chapter is also the only chapter told out of chronological order, so it feels directly like a misshapen effort to trick people into buying a massive book they’ll never finish.  You truly can’t judge Red Mars by reading the first chapter.  You can’t sit down in the library, start it, and decide ‘I’m going to like this book.’  What Stanley Robinson did was really complex and well done, but I have the feeling his marketing team made this key ‘chapter 1’ decision…

So if you do decide to give it a try, don’t decide to like it until you’ve gotten about halfway through Maya’s point of view.  By then you’ll have a pretty good feel about how the book will go.

SPOILERS REVIEW

I like ‘boring’ books.  I really do.  Things like Rendezvous with Rama are amazing to me.  So I enjoyed a lot of Red Mars’s intricate details concerning the colonization efforts.  I enjoyed the descriptions of the physical equipment that allowed the colonization to work and prosper.  I definitely liked the description of terraforming mars (though I don’t think it would work as written).

At times, though, the tone could come off somewhat preachy.  Perhaps it’s because I’m strangely monogamous or something, but the explicit polygamy between literally all of the First 100 colonists seemed weird to me.  The book was supposed to start in 2027, if I remember the number correctly, and I don’t think it was reasonable to believe in 1993 that humanity would grow to accept complete polygamy by 2027.  As a result, some of his sexual and relational dynamics sometimes felt unrealistic to me.  For example, Maya couldn’t choose between John Boone or Frank Chalmers – but it was so, so painfully obvious that Frank was a terrible choice.

Toward the end of the book, revolution struck Mars and they started blowing everything up.  I was like… “whaaaat.”  Perhaps it’s because I live in a relatively stable society that I see all their actions as incredibly stupid and self destructive.  Anyway, it was just ok to me, and the slowness with which everything happened made it much less exciting than the death of John Boone.  The deaths of the 100 felt less useful since all the important characters – save Boone – made it out.  The deaths of thousands of colonists didn’t impact me because they were just faceless others that had spent more of the book in the way than anything else.  To me, the ending was just ‘meh.’

Next week:

Look out for the next book in the series – Green Mars!

Deus Volt – Part 1

aerial photography of trees

(Part 2)(Part 3)

Venerex takes about two and a half Earth years to orbit its star, Alloix.

At least, that’s what the missionaries told us.

The humans landed six Venerex years ago.  Out of their starships came people armed with weapons the likes of which we’d never seen.  The humans called the weapons ‘technologically advanced, not divine or magical.’  Starting last fall, they offered to teach the children of our planet their ways, and hastily opened a school at which attendance was not optional.

One winter day, the human teacher closed its blackboard and stacked its electronic papers.  It smiled and said, “Tomorrow, there will be no school.  The Holy See has decided that, on this planet, Christmas shall coincide with the seasons and times of your orbit rather than Earth’s.  As such, seeing as tomorrow is the third day following your winter solstice, you will stay home and teach your parents about the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and two days from now you will the anniversary of His birth.”

The smartest kid in the class, Polioux, stood.  “How are we supposed to do that appropriately, Father?”

The old human in its brown cloak used its face muscles to pull the brown mouth into an awkward shape.  I gathered this was a happy appearance, but it looked so unnatural. “Well, on Earth, we exchange gifts, but the Holy See’s decision may be at too short notice to do that justice.  Many families cut down a tree to bring inside and decorate, but your native plant life simply won’t do.  Your bodies are not made for feasting, so that is right out.  For this year, while the higher ups decide on something suitable, it’s enough to enjoy your families and determine your own, small celebrations.”

The school bell rang, and everyone immediately filed out of the building.  I was one of the dumb kids, you could say, so I was one of the first to fling the doors open and romp about in the snow outside.

“Two days off!  For nothing!” Binnea cried out before clapping me on the back with a bony hand.  “What you going to do?”

I bobbed my head side to side.  “I dunno.  Probably see if the church requires the adults to do anything.  I don’t want Mom, Dad, or Ternary to get tossed in prison, you know.”

Binnea chuckled.  “Not me.  I’m going to make the most of this.  Those humans are going to force our lives to match the shape they want, one way or another, so I’m getting as much out of my time now as I can.”  The child skipped along the icy road.  “Race you to Old Yaroux’s field?”

“I’ll win for sure!” I called back.  I turned my feet to their side and, using my sharp nails, glided on my bladed bones across the thick ice.

(Part 2)(Part 3)

Bomb Shelter

It’s just me and my dog down here.  I crack open another bottle of distilled water and wonder how long it will be before I can drink anything fresh again, before my tongue tastes food that isn’t canned.

Max doesn’t even beg for the canned goods anymore.  His old face has whitened over the years, and his joints don’t work well.  Still, old boy is going to see what happened after the bombs dropped, and unlike me, he’ll probably have a celebration.

black and gray metal machine inside a room

***

This was written for the Weekend Writing Prompt #84, Celebration.  The Ol’ North State’s been hit hard by the recent snowstorm, so it feels like nuclear winter up in here.  Hopefully it’ll stop soon enough!

Writing on the Wall

I washed the filthy language from the overpass.  I swear, the internet is ruining today’s youth and ruining hearts and minds.

A the driver crossing the overpass rolled down his window.  A man pointed at my pressure washer then asked, “Ain’t leaning over the side there dangerous?”

“State don’t like swastikas on the overpass.  Obvious reasons.”

“Looks mighty dangerous to me.  Wouldn’t want to fall, would you?”

I caught the threat in his voice, and turned down the pressure washer.   As he drove off, I took down his tag number.

Adults these days… rotting the minds of the youth.

female portrait mural painting on concrete wall

***

This was written for the Carrot Ranch Prompt, Graffiti!  I love North Carolina more than you could realize, but the Old North State has sometimes found difficulties with racist propaganda, including graffiti.  That inspired this tale about removing emblems of evil and how, sometimes, the blame for corrupt actions is placed on the wrong person.