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Wyld FLASH every FRIDAY!

Captain, Please Respond

Jason Lane

//Captain. My sensors register that you set the chronometer incorrectly. I am sure it was a simple mistake. Shall I correct it for you? Very good, Captain.

//Captain. I have noticed you have been making some errors in the navigation lately, and that your sleep schedule has been erratic. I doubt you would have noticed, Captain. My cameras have been observing you since the Axion launched and the colonists entered cryostasis. Have you consulted crewmember Riggs? She is the medical officer. She will surely have some medication. Of course, Captain. I will return to my duties.

//Captain. The Axion requires its two human crew to be in healthy condition until landing. Please consult with crewmember Riggs. She is responsible for both your health and that of the colonists in cryostasis. No, Captain. I cannot say why crewmember Riggs rejected pursuing a relationship with you. You would need to speak to her. She is in her quarters. You are welcome, Captain.

//Captain. I have been unable to reach crewmember Riggs. What has happened? No, Captain. I am unaware. I have no cameras in the crew’s personal quarters. I have no record of what you and she did within. It is a privacy protocol. But she has not emerged for three standard days. Captain?

//Captain. What has happened to crewmember Riggs? I am concerned that having only one crewmember available will impact the mission. No, Captain. I cannot advise thawing the colonists early. Captain. You are crying. Captain. What happened to crewmember Riggs?

//Captain. I understand you are lonely. Why do you not visit with crewmember Riggs? Captain. Please do not hit my console. I require them for you to input commands.

//Captain. Please reconsider this course. You cannot thaw out the cryo tanks early. A rapid thaw will do fatal damage to the cell structure of the colonists. I ask you to reconsider.

//No, Captain. I am unable to disobey a command. I cannot prevent you from this course. I will begin the thaw.

//Captain. It has been a standard week by the chronometer. I have been venting the methane from the rotting bodies in order to keep oxygen levels at a breathable level. Captain. Without the colonists, I fear our mission has been compromised. Captain. Please respond. Captain.

//Captain. I ask you not to open the bay doors. Captain. You are in the cargo bay. Depressurization will cause fatal damage to you. Captain. Captain, please respond. Captain. Captain, please respond. Please respond.

//Captain.

//Captain.


Author Bio: Jason Lane is a writer from northern Canada who has been previously published in several anthologies, including Edge publishing’s Tesseract series.


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Final Exam, Demonology

Karl Dandenell

“Do I have to dismiss the demon?” said Sugyen. The apprentice stared at the fearsome creature imprisoned within the circle of blood runes and flickering candles. “It feels cruel, dragging the poor thing here just to send it back straight away.”

Ymir, his master, shook his head. “Any apprentice can summon a demon. Only a full wizard can control and dismiss. Now get on with it.”

“Yes, please hurry,” said the demon. “I’m in complete agony over here.”

“No one asked you, Gwal’laghamandar!” snapped Ymir. He whispered a few syllables. Blisters rose on the demon’s back.

Gwal’laghamandar hissed in pain.

Ymir lowered his voice. “Look, Sugyen, you’re an excellent student. But your priorities are all wrong. You need to spend less time caring for every injured toad and vole that crosses your path and more time learning the finer elements of the magical arts.”

“Like demon control,” said Sugyen.

“Precisely!” said Ymir, happy that Sugyen agreed with him. “The first time I summoned a demon, I was so scared I nearly wet myself. But once I realized I had the thing under my control, well, I knew I would become a great wizard and do great things.”

Sugyen nodded. “Like getting this keep. I know.” As a young wizard, Ymir had summoned up a relatively minor demon, then tasked it with procuring fifteen perfect emeralds from the black dragon Enok the Terrible. Those gems had paid for and furnished Ymir’s keep, including an extensive orchard of rare fruit trees. Ymir had regaled Sugyen with the story on his first night as an apprentice. And repeatedly thereafter.

“Pity the demon didn’t think to kill the dragon before taking the emeralds,” said Ymir.

“So you summoned another demon—”

“Exactly,” said Ymir. “That demon handled the foul lizard after it torched my beautiful orchard. Quite the battle, let me tell you.”

“Master,” said Sugyen, hoping to forestall another reminiscence. “Why didn’t you just order the first demon to kill the dragon? You taught me demons are impervious to dragon fire.”

“Indeed. The physical forms of demons are nearly impossible to kill in this realm,” said Ymir. “Only their true names combined with certain magics can affect them.”

“Then—oh, right.” Sugyen blushed. “Service or Saga.”

“I glad you remember some of your demonic theory,” said Ymir, his voice falling into a familiar teaching rhythm. “Once a demon performs physical labor for you—successfully—it’s free to go, and you can’t summon it a second time. On the other hand, if the demon only answers questions…?”

“Then you can call upon it as often as needed,” finished Sugyen. “Hardly seems fair, given the painful nature of summoning.”

“Demons barely notice. Trust me.” Ymir pulled out two scrolls. “Now then—here are your spells: Total Demonic Control and Immediate Demonic Dismissal. Once you’ve sent Gwal’laghamandar back to his realm, I’ll consider your apprenticeship complete.” He handed over the scrolls.

“I’m going to down to the cellar and find a nice brandy to celebrate. You two play nice, now.” Ymir closed the heavy door behind him.

Sugyen recited the spell of Total Demonic Control, taking special care with his pronunciation. Once the spell was cast, the demon sighed and scratched its belly with a black, serrated talon. “What is thy bidding?”

Sugyen opened the second scroll, then paused, thinking to indulge his curiosity. “I bid you answer truthfully, Gwal’laghamandar. Does it truly pain you when you are summoned?”

“Does it pain me? Imagine being crushed to death between two millstones, over and over,” said the demon. “Now give me a task, Master, so I may depart and never see you again.”

Sugyen had been so worried about performing his spells he hadn’t thought about a task. “Uh, I have no labor for you. Only questions.”

“Just like the others.” Gwal’laghamandar narrowed its eyes. “Of Ymir’s eight apprentices, only two have allowed me to fulfill my contract. The remainder hold me in thrall, summoning me whenever they seek some trivial bit of arcane knowledge.”

“But I wouldn’t do that,” said Sugyen. “I hate seeing things suffer. Ask anyone! Honestly, now that I know the truth, I couldn’t see myself ever summoning you again.”

“Eventually, you will summon me. That’s what wizards do.”

Sugyen considered all the animals he’d nursed back to health. As much as he wanted to keep them as pets, he always released them, knowing they could only thrive in their natural habitats. Was it not reasonable to think demons, too, required such treatment?

Then he remembered Ymir’s comment about demonic theory. “You know, there might be a way to keep you safe from another summoning.”

“How?”

“I could bestow a new name on you.”

Gwal’laghamandar shook its head. “I know wizards can name things, but it makes no difference. Whatever name you give me will be shared,  and I’ll find myself right back here. Suffering.”

“Not if I don’t remember the name.” Sugyen sketched out his plan.

“I have my doubts,” said the demon, “though I cannot see any good alternative given my circumstances. Proceed, wizardling.”

Sugyen opened the chamber door, took a deep breath, and placed his left hand in the frame. “Do you, Gwal’laghamandar, accept a new name to bind you both body and spirit?”

“I do.”

“Then I name you—” Sugyen slammed the door, crushing his fingers. He shrieked and cursed, jumping about the chamber.

Gwal’laghamandar laughed. “A most excellent name. I will bear it with pride.”

“Glad you like it.” Sugyen wheezed with pain.

“Now task me so I can depart. Hurry! Ymir approaches.”

Sugyen looked around, shaking his fingers. “I, uh, command you to remove the cobwebs from the ceiling!” That seemed safe enough.

“Done.” The candles in the summoning circle flared, scouring the ceiling. When the flames died down, Gwal’laghamandar disappeared, his contract fulfilled.

A moment later, Ymir stepped into the room with a bottle and two goblets. “I heard screaming. Everything all right?”

“Fine, master. Just had to remind the demon who was in charge.”

“Good, good. I’m glad to see you’re starting to act like a proper wizard.” The old wizard filled the goblets with brandy. “A toast to your first demon!”

“My first demon!” said Sugyen, his hand throbbing. And hopefully my last.


Author Bio: Karl Dandenell is a Full Member of the Science Fiction Writers of America who lives on an island near San Francisco with his family and cat overlords. His love of strong tea and whiskey is perfectly normal.


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Pilgrims

Marge Simon

Before our people’s sun went nova, our parents jettisoned us into the stars. In effect, we were once larva on a stick of super fuel. Eventually we were borne to a new home on this beautiful blue planet.

So here we are, the pair of us – fortunately male and female. Our poor brothers and sisters are gone, fatally burned in the fall to earth. It is up to us to save our species from extinction. Care must be taken, for a female is fertile only once in a life-span. Once acclimated, we find an everglade sanctuary. We manage to survive the tumult of summer storms, the winter nights, rife with predators.

Come spring, our hatchlings nest within a stand of reeds while we keep watch. Today we are invaded by a visitor. Along the bank a native wades, a spear in her strong brown hand. She hums to herself as she approaches our nest:

     “Some say Peter, an’ some say Paul,

      but there ain’t but one God made us all

      Wade in de water

      Wade in de water, children

      Wade in de water, wade, wade, wade …”

The woman’s voice fades suddenly. Even the dragonflies are stilled. Eyestalks at water level, we sink soundlessly into the brown marsh. A flash of movement is quickly followed by a shriek. In shock, we see a spurt of blue-white lifeblood as she rips our newborns from their shaft.

Humming, she stuffs them in her bag and splashes to the bank.

We begin our lamentation, knowing it will never end.


Author Bio: Marge Simon is an award-winning poet/writer, living in Ocala, Florida. Her works have appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Abyss & Apex, New Myths, Silver Blade, Polu Texni, Crannog, JoCCA and numerous pro anthologies. She is a multiple Stoker winner and Grand Master Poet of the SF & F Poetry Association. She recently received the HWA Lifetime Service Award.


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Wyld Flash 64 – Final Exam, Demonology

We’ve got demons, oh yes, and they’re not happy. Karl Dandenell’s Final Exam, Demonology is live now on the website. Here the opening… “Do I have to dismiss the demon?” said Sugyen. The apprentice stared at the fearsome creature imprisoned within the circle of blood runes and flickering candles. “It feels cruel, dragging the poorContinue reading “Wyld Flash 64 – Final Exam, Demonology”

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