Monday, April 03, 2006

In Brief: Dead Space

Hah! Kudos to Vin for picking up the Hemingway reference in the Minotaur concept. It was an interesting experience in trying to copy his prose.

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to keep pace of writing a short story a month as I had promised myself for this year. Too much to do and too many issues to deal with (which also explains why my blogging has slowed down). But life goes on and hopefully, I can do a story for April. After all, I'm aiming to submit something for Story Philippines. *winkwink*

(As an aside: Have you guys checked out the latest issue? Pretty little big t'ing. Will do a review when I can.)

In the meantime, I've finally gotten off my ass to do this story I promised forgottenmachine after he gave me this cool picture for Fence's 700-word story challenge eons ago.

It was an aberration: a Cathedral, afloat in the void with only small marking lights dotting the spires and domes and uprooted soil. If the Tower of Babel had been an affront in God's eyes, then this great Cathedral of a ship that floated among stars would have been a slap at His face.

Then I realized what was wrong with the picture before me: there were no stars behind the ship. All of them were gone, long-ago devoured by the hungry Great Old Ones as they wandered this region of space.

I remembered a long-forgotten poet, who had written a trace fragment of a poem that came to my mind:

But light from out the lurid sea/ Streams up the turrets silently- / Gleams up the pinnacles far and free- /Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls- /Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls- /Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers /Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers- /Up many and many a marvellous shrine /Whose wreathed friezes intertwine/ The viol, the violet, and the vine.

"Ensign Howard! Front and center!"

I turned around from the observation window and gave a salute as a cassock-wearing officer strode up to me: “Sir!”

“At ease, ensign.”

As I did so, he looked at me from head to toe in assessment. Finding myself lacking, he grumbled and said, “I am Bishop Zarkov, Church-appointed officer and Captain Gordon’s second of the Basilica Deus Ex Machina. In a few minutes we will be landing so let me be the first to welcome you aboard, ensign.”

“Thank you sir.”

“I think…” whatever Zarkov was about to say was interrupted when klaxons started blare throughout the small transport shuttle. Both of us turned around and saw through the observation window that—one-by one—the lights of the Basilica was going out in preparation for attack mode.

“Damn all! We must have spotted an entity near enough for interception!” cursed Zarkov, his pepper-gray beard bristling with rage. He strode back to the pilot’s cabin and I followed along in trepidation.

Swinging the cabin door open, he addressed the pilot, “What in all the seven cold hells is going on, Dale?”

A woman’s face peered from under an oversized insect-like helmet with globular eyes: “Sorry commander. Captain Gordon ordered the excursion after the long-range sensors found evidence of the Elder One Shub-Niggurath—or could be Nug and Yeb, it’s hard to tell from their shapes-- just on the rim of our sector. He’s going after it.”

“All by ourselves? The fool!” exclaimed Zarkov.

Dale leaned over, her petite hand against the oversized helmet “…Apparently, we’re also coming along. The captain has ordered the tractor beam to pull us along behind the Basilica. Once there’s time, he’ll pull us in.”

As Zarkov growled in anger, I saw the spires of the Basilica ship crackle with purple lightning, bolts jumping from one needle to another like frenzied poltergeists, and was awed to know that I would get to see our legendary ether weapons in battle against the dark gods.

Surviving, I knew, would be another thing.

I know, I know-- 500+ words isn't 700 words. But I gotta get back to work. Maybe I'll eventually get back to this story and figure out what the bird connection is to the Great Old Ones...

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