She hated the round not-sky, the curve of the horizon following her eyes all the way up to where the stars were supposed to be. The stars were sideways, in the round blackness of the axis windows.
Born into this not-world and still all her instincts screamed wrong at her whenever she looked up from her books, her work, her path.
One day, she’d stow herself away on a ship and try to make her way planetside, Earth or whatever solid sphere came first.

Hairy Magic

The price of magic was to be payed in hair. For each spell, each incantation, sorcerers lost a hair or even a whole strand. Sometimes, they resorted to using their eyebrows or, if they had one, their beard as well once all the locks were used up. A shining bald head was the medal signifying a magical life well lived.
One day, a new sorceress arrived in town. People started whispering, pointing at her full head of thick, healthy curls, bouncing against her back as she strode.

“So, you’re too vain to do any spellwork, then?” an elder sorcerer sneered, “Or are you just really bad at magic?”
The sorceress smiled sweetly but deadly at him. “Oh, I believe I’m pretty good. They never said anything about having to use the hair on your head, did they?” She winked at the flock of younger sorcerers behind the elder. “I was gifted with a healthy amount of leg hair, my friends, and I’ve never been afraid of making good use of that.”

Graveyard Girl

There’s a little girl
who loves the shadows,
loves the ghosts of ancient times,
often sitting between trees and tombstones,
sneaking out at night,
listening to tales of old
whispered from beneath the ivy,
somewhere in the ground;

and sometimes at midnight
for a minute between days
she meets them for a moment,
the spectres keeping her alive
with company and gentle tone,
hushing her despair and fear
with all their love and memories fond
of other girls who lived before.

The Ghost of the Priest

The ghost of the priest
in the ruins of the church down the road
still lends his ear
to all who need a friendly guide

and so he waits
by the crumbled front steps
outwaiting the centuries
in case you grow weary of the world
in the middle of the night,
awakened by uneasy dreams
or kept awake by bitter thoughts

and you find comfort in knowing
you won’t be judged for slipping out of the house and down the road
in nightclothes and unlaced boots,
neither by neighbours nor priest,
as this is just what you do
when sorrow drives you out of bed
as many an ancestor before

and the village has ever been strong
thanks to one priest too stubborn
to let death revoke his vocation
and so you slip on your boots

and you slip out of the door
hurrying down to the pater
who will listen until dawn

and you know
you won’t feel the cold stone steps
on which all the generations sat

and you find comfort in that as well
belonging so much your body knows
the stone steps mean solace
thanks to one priest too stubborn
to let death stop him from doing
the best thing he could ever do.

Science Fair Project

“What’s in this bucket?”
“Last year’s science fair proj- NO MUM, DON’T TAKE OFF THE LID!”
Too late. Black chaos exploded inward, dead leaves whirling across the ground, joining the vortex of dust and void. Bracing ourselves against the current of whipping air, we managed to retrieve and replace the lid in concerted effort.
“Why the bloody mess do you keep a black hole in a bucket?”
“I wanted the prize money real bad.”

Contactless (Microfiction)

“What? No ancient riddle locks, no magical stones, no incantations?” The human stared at me, at the wall, back at me again; incredulous.
I laughed while whipping out my chip card. “Nah, mate. I upgraded to contactless years ago.”
The stone walls opened, revealing the garage where I had parked my backup vessel. Always good to be prepared in case of crash landings.

Mutagenic Environment

Almost complete vessel, recovered
after light-years covered adrift
now in tow, station bound;

Your assignment, meanwhile:
Check lab and horticultural compartment.

Doors hissing apart under your hands, gloved
– mist hitting your face, stale nutrient aerosol,
tasting bitter even through filters;
waving it aside you see a bizarre, misshapen sea of green,
a greenhouse imploded into itself and re-grown into nightmare horrors;
movement, you think, you’ve seen movement
snaking coils of tendrils, their adhesive feet tasting, sampling dented walls,
stirring against the lazy flow of recycled air,
bulbous monstrosities swaying, SNIFFING

you check the radiation level records: too high, been too high for too long,
how many decades has the ship been orbiting that spinning neutron star?


foliage claws reach for you, straining
against the resistance of twisted umbilical cords,
perversions no longer worthy the label of vines;
thrashing like hellhounds against chains holding them
within an inch of your life

you tumble backwards, gravity generators as unsteady as your pulse

and they follow you into the hallway, will always follow you, that much you know,
they will follow you until their poisonous seeds will eat you from within
and strangle you in agonized sleep.

When We Lost The Mountains

One day, we lost the mountains. Not that we did anything with them, and it’s rather hard to actively lose a mountain, which is much bigger than, say, a pebble which you could easily pick up, put into your pocket, and find it gone by the time you come home, escaped through an unfortunately but conveniently pebble-sized hole. We just lost them, like one occasionally loses a thought in the middle of thinking, without reason. Somehow, between one blink and another, or maybe between going to bed and getting up again, for most of us at least, they just had left behind … a non-nothing.
There was no empty space screaming of rocky absence, no mysteriously thick fog. It was just as if our brains had either forgotten how to shape, to see mountains in the heaps of optic influx, or, as some felt, mountains had been a mere mental construct and all the responsible synapses in our heads had suddenly decided to stop the charade, logging out of this social holographic conception of perceiving information inside patterns — almost pareidolia, maybe petro-pareidolia?
And with this forgetting we also had lost the knowledge of how to reach mountains, forgotten both the ways leading there, to this specific instance of mountains, and the actual process of going to a mountain, what actions to take to near one. What we were left with was the feeling of mountains — the crisp, rough air; the wind, oh the wind, and storms, tasting of wet thunder and slipping under hurrying feet, to dusty shelter; the shapes our hands and eyes used to trace; the colours of stone and sky, the whole gradient of greys to blues, in a muted radiance hurting from retina to cortex in the most exquisite tingling, a mental sort of spice encouraging the appetite to drink in the whole sky and have your eyes take more bites out of the jagged peaks and rounded, angular ranges of allover mountaineous goodness than one heart can hold in one day. We were filled by this memory of longing for such an enormeous thing as a whole ecosystem of greenery and emotions, a landscape of thoughts of their own class and quality; and it was such a weird absence of something that might never have existed save for in our fantasy, it gave half the town a headache bad enough to make people declare the mountains had just decided to leave for a stationary walk in another dimension, therefore being both absent and not absent; an attempt of explaining in a rational manner the irrationality of human memory, but for the lack of precedence and following from that the lack of any data for comparison it might just as well be true.