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June 30th 2023
Maybe it was the noise that woke it. Certainly it was loud, louder than it had ever been before, except perhaps that one time when fire had fallen through the sky and the fast ones had died, leaving it all alone.
There had been sky fire before, of course, but that had been long ago, at the edges of its memories. It had been alone then as well, separated from the rest of its kind by the swirling of stars.
But now, noise. And fast ones, though these were different, smaller and uniformly bipedal. It had not had companionship in so long.
It shuddered, shifting the world around it. The fast ones became louder–greeting it, maybe? Affection filled it. Yes, fast ones, small ones. It would grace them with its presence. Pressing through the mantle, it reached into the sky.
How the world had changed! The jungles of wood had been replaced by metal, and there were so many of the new creatures, all gazing upon it and screaming their greetings. It returned the gesture, bellowing into the wind, hearing its own love and gratefulness echoed back at it.
The small ones managed to get even louder, but then they scrambled, running in all directions. What did this mean? It watched as they disappeared into small metal beings that sped away.
It called after them, loneliness descending again, but the metal beings did not return.
But soon, flying beings came. Its heart sang for its new companions. These spit things at it–trying to feed it? Such compassion, though they did not understand. It reached out for one, intending to thank its new friend, but the metal body fell apart at its touch, spilling the small, fast ones from its guts.
Creatures within creatures? It glanced around again, noting more metal beasts on the ground, rolling closer.
These, too, spit at it, and finally it understood. They did not greet it; they were not pleased to see it. They could not comprehend, no more than the stars it had once traveled among.
It had slept for too long, and it no longer belonged.
The small, fast beings cried as it extricated itself from the planet, though it tried not to crush them. It was odd to no longer be contained within the rock that had been home, but there was exhilaration too.
It allowed its consciousness to expand upward until it once more flowed among the stars.
How had it not realized how confined it had been? It sang its newfound freedom as it drifted.
And somewhere, at the far reaches of its awareness, something sang back.
Kit likes plesiosaurs and landsquid. She lives in Colorado and can be found online at kitcampbellbooks.com.
more stories here
Also look out for:
Y.M. Resnik’s Magic is Like a Box of Chocolates, all about how tough life is for trainee magical heroes and the difficult choices they have to make
Robert Bagnall’s I Was Just Doing What You Asked, a salutary tale about being all wiffly waffly when there are robots around.
Megan Baffoe’s Away with the Mermaids, a loving is letting go story set by the stormy seas.
Or over a hundred other free flash fiction stories.
Nine new fantasy and science fiction tales full of twists, surprises, shocks and tantalising hints of strange worlds and unknown phenomena. We’ve got a spaceship running out of air, a dragon who can’t fly, a detective with supernatural help, a man who wants to stay hidden, robot helpers, talking trees, time travel and something strange happening to America’s guns.
Fiction by Cheryl Sonnier, Jonathan Olfert, Matt McHugh, M.Luke McDonell, Brian Maycock, Thomas L. Griffin, Rick Danforth; Adrienne Canino and Jason P. Burnham
From the Depths
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