Tag Archives: Science Fiction

The Crowns of Pluto (4.)

Crowns of Pluto.

The great garden hummed from the heart of the machines that gave it life. It was the crowning achievement of our outpost Station Kronos Kuiper, three varied places of warmth and green and the colors of all the gardens back on Earth combined — the Crowns of Pluto.

It was a very large place of glass and domes and shining gray walls slick with beads of circulated water in which the vines swam upward upon. A pathway of turquoise and gold brick wound up and down and all around and you could follow it deep into the garden or stay close to a place to heal one’s space soul. The bridges were bowed and held one above the various small streams of perfect blue because of the enzymes — unsoiled ocean water blue.

The trees were immense and varied, the works of genius minds and artists, somehow altered by chemical gravity to bloom quickly like a porcelain doll with animal organs. They had thick trunks and veins that pumped the energy and gave us breath. Artificial birds hop from limb to limb, mechanical insects buzz, computerized children play in the open spaces of yellow green and where the tumbling towers jut up toward outer space on wings of imagination. Their candied eyes rotate with innocent hope.

And now it is all mine to enjoy, to wallow in, to escape to. The man-made nature speaks to me as it bubbles in liquid light of blue and mellow orange sun. I can look up to the thick, protective glass domes and see night and all its stars at the same time I can walk beneath the chemical rainbows and hydroponic sun beams.

I wonder at times if it is the garden of good and evil versus the heartless psychology of man as I sit on a bench alone and look out at it all, breathe it in. They scented the air with lilac and linen and ocean water and man’s own pollution, too. Pollution on Pluto cannot breathe.

The Paper People hang like bats up high. I can sense one eye opening at first in wonder of what my visit today or any other day means. Then like dominoes falling upon each other, all their other eyes open and their judgement cascades like an Earthly waterfall.

“How did you get in here!?” I yelled up to the colony. “The doors are not meant for you. Only me.”

There was a shrill, haunting call like nothing I have ever heard. It was that of a pained, frightened beast searching for mercy at the same time it was pouncing to kill. It was nothing like the usual song they sang. Then the young woman from the Italian villa was sitting right beside me. She had her head turned and was looking straight into my eyes with those emerald pupils, but they did not move, they did not exhibit life or heart, only disappointment in the tragedy I had bequeathed her.

It was a jolt to my system, and I leapt up off the bench. Her empty eyes followed me. I wanted to run, but like in a dream I couldn’t, my feet were locked in place. But where was I to run? The complex, the station itself where I now existed in this outer world place, it was large, winding, a mystical mystery created by many before me. Perhaps I was ill prepared to live here after all.

But here I was alone, so I thought. The reproduction did not work. We don’t know why. They never figured it out, but some blamed the atmosphere or lack of it, even though we had created our own. Some blamed the biology of our physical systems and the transformation that occurred. I never fully understood it. Physical love existed, not for me, but for others, but the seeds of a new life never took hold as they should have. The ones once with me never figured it out. I think it was something that they never thought would happen. We were unprepared for our own extinction. But is that any different from how we lived on any world or place and time? I don’t know.

But life has come here after all. Life in the forms of phantoms and ghosts or perhaps just the material products of my own mind, my own dreams and imagination. Like I have said before, maybe I am going mad and none of this is real. Maybe I am still asleep and travelling. Maybe I have yet to wake up.

But there the girl from the Italian villa of my memories was, seemingly in soul and flesh, breathing but blind, her arms outstretched and reaching for me. Did she want to embrace and soothe my guilt, or was she ready to strangle me?

I was finally able to pull my feet from the muck of a dream and I got away from her. I ran through the gardens, the leafy heartbeats all around me, the fake blue sky and its phosphorous clouds of virgin cream mixed up in it like beautiful batter. I made my way for the large arched opening in the far high wall. I looked up at the slithering vines of botanical life, thin columns of Jack’s beanstalks on their way to the heavens and a golden goose and a wicked giant.

I went through the archway and into the artificial city. Cinderella City they called it. A representation of one at least. It was built for psychological purposes. Each sector was assigned a color and everything in it fell under that color — blue, red, gold, green. The space offered us a piece of home, sanity, clarity, hope to tether ourselves to in case the fear got to be too much. And now the fear in me was too much. I could feel my nerves trembling beneath my skin. I looked back through to the other side of the archway. There was this Wizard of Oz glow about it. It was beautiful but empty. Neither the girl nor the Paper People had followed. I suppose they didn’t need to. All they had to do was wait for me, for I would always be here in one form or another.

Author’s note: This is the fourth piece of this play-around project. Visit cerealaftersex.com to read the previous chapters. I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction, or something like that. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.

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The Crowns of Pluto (3.)

The Villa on Pluto.

In the whispering aftermath of another dream on far away Pluto, I awoke in the middle of the night to their calling once more. It’s been continuous lately. I sat straight up on the edge of the bed and tried to hold my guts together. I strained to listen once more for the haunting song of the Paper People, but all I heard was the ever-present hybrid electric whir of the station, the echo of it at times immense in the empty vastness. I’ve found that their sound often mingles with the machines and gets lost, but it is always still there, somewhere in the fibers that makes up all of life here.

I suited up and stepped toward the door to my quarters. It slid open in a quick whoosh of automation. I stepped out into the corridor, lightly illuminated with white gold lights as always, the cold and heartless surface of the pathway winding like a never-ending snake of space beneath my boots.

Further down, the illumination of the hall bloomed, and as I got closer, I saw a vision of an orange house and beyond the house was a large sky full of sunset and sadness somehow yet ornate like ancient history dressed in romantic jewels. The walkway changed from metal to stone, it was a driveway meandering and going down toward the garage of the orange house. The driveway was lined with snow, piled high and the color of a baby boy’s first breath. Tall pine trees formed a dark tunnel, their boughs struggling with the weight of snow.

Below the sunset and beyond the house was the sea, calm as a sleeping coin, and on the other side of the sea there were hills, misty gray and green. The sun burst through the copper sky and the snow suddenly retreated and the birds filled the air with their songs. It had turned to summer. I soon realized where I was, but was it a hallucination of my own creation, or theirs. The Paper People. They were showing me the rough edges of my past. But why? And how did they know?

I moved closer to the mind mirage. And I had returned to the villa in Italy where things had gone very wrong. I was 22 and backpacking through Europe with a friend. He had gotten an itch for troublemaking and thought it would be great fun to break-in somewhere. We were near the coast and both our money and supplies were running low. The creamsicle villa sat high up and isolated. It was off a less-traveled road. There were no cars parked on the property. We sat back and watched for a long while and there were no signs of life.

We crept forward. My friend worked a glass patio door open. We went inside. I was afraid to move around but he rummaged through the place at will. I was paranoid and kept looking out a window and up across the driveway. He told me to settle down and start going through things. I went through a desk. There were a lot of papers, not much more, except a little wooden box. I opened it and it had a baggie of marijuana inside and a small pipe. I pocketed both.

My friend snagged a couple bottles of wine from the kitchen and stowed them in his backpack, then we went upstairs. I wandered through the bedrooms. I looked in closets and bureau drawers. I didn’t find anything of value. Then a glint of light outside the window caught my eye and I went closer and looked out.  A small red sports car was coming down the driveway. My heart crawled up my insides. I called out to my friend, and he came over and looked. “Oh, shit,” is all he said, and we made for the stairs.

Once on the lower level, I heard a car door slam. I peered out another window to get a sense of what was about to come upon us. It was a young woman, nicely dressed and clutching a sack of groceries I guessed. When she got closer to the house, she stopped as if she sensed something wasn’t quite right. It seemed as if she was sniffing the air. She knew we were animals. I lost sight of her as she must have moved to where a door off the kitchen was. I lost track of my friend. Time seemed to stand still. I wanted to run. Then I heard a scream, and something crashed to the floor. When I got to the kitchen, my friend had her in a chokehold. She was struggling, kicking.

“What are you doing!?” I yelled at him.

He had a look on his face that I had never seen. The young woman continued to struggle. He had a hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. All I could think was… This isn’t me. This was never supposed to be me. How did I become a part of this? How could I have stumbled upon this fraction of a second so recklessly?

The girl’s eyes were wide and colored green like an emerald. I could taste her shock and fear. It was thick in the air. I noticed a broken a jar of olives on the floor, the juice trickling out and puddling.

“Help me get her upstairs,” my friend barked. “Help me now!”

Her legs kicked at me when I went to grab them, but I held onto her tight once she was in my grasp. My friend had his arms wrapped tightly around her upper body, and now that her mouth was unencumbered, she angrily spewed words at us in a foreign language, but I clearly understood “No! No! No!”

We struggled to get her upstairs, but once there we put her down on one of the beds. My friend got on top of her and held her down. “Find something to tie her down with!” he said. I was in a panic and tore through a nearby closet. I found a brass rack of silky neckties. I grabbed a handful and brought them to where she was on the bed.

My friend continued to hold her down as he instructed me to tie her wrists together above her head and then to a thick spindle in the center of the headboard. The woman was screaming as my friend knelt on her chest. He suddenly slapped her in the face. “Shut up. Stai zitto!”

It was a side of him I never saw or even thought could exist. He had become a complete stranger to me in an instant. My head was swimming in trembling waters as I worked to bind the young woman more and more.

“Give me one of those,” he said to me, and I handed him one of the neckties. He balled it up and stuffed it in her mouth. He motioned with his hand for me to quickly give him another one. He wrapped it around her mouth, knotting it tight behind her head. It suddenly struck me that it seemed he had done this kind of thing before.

Once she was completely secure, we both stood at the foot of the bed and looked at her. “Let’s get out of here before someone else shows up. Right now,” I said to him.

He looked at me and smiled a smile I had never seen before. He was literally transforming into another person right before my eyes. Then he began to undress.

“What are you doing!?”

“When opportunity knocks, one must answer the door,” he said with a sick grin.

“No, no, no!” I protested. “Forget her. Let’s just go!”

He stuck a stern finger in my face. “Calm the fuck down… If you don’t want any, then so be it. Wait out in the hall.”

The last thing I saw right before I walked out was my friend climbing on top of her. I quickly went downstairs and out of the house. I lit up a cigarette. My fingers were trembling. I walked up the driveway and away from the house. I turned to look up at one of the windows to the room where the Italian girl was being raped. I should have gone back to stop it, but I didn’t. I just kept walking and walking and walking until I reached a small nearby village just as the sun was beginning to close its hot eye.

That haunting event in my life happened years ago and 3 billion miles away, yet here it was staring me in the face again. The vision dissipated and in its vaporous wake the young Italian woman was standing there, and she looked right at me with accusatory emerald eyes. When she turned and started walking in the opposite direction, I realized she was completely naked. It must have been how he left her there.

Later, my friend, who I no longer considered a friend, had found me at a bar in the village and he came in and acted like nothing had happened. He tried to tell me about it, but I didn’t want to listen. I told him I would be going my own way the rest of the trip. I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore. He got angry and threatened to pull me in on the whole sordid scheme if I went to the police. I agreed I wouldn’t. I paid my tab and then walked out of the bar. I never saw or heard from my friend ever again, but I’ve lived with the consequences of that day ever since. I’ve lived with the knowing that I allowed the suffering of another human being. It’s a part of my great eternal ache. And now she has found me on Pluto, the Paper People have let her in, and I do not know the depth or design of her revenge on me.

Author’s note: This is the third piece of this play-around project. Visit cerealaftersex.com to read the previous chapters. I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction, or something like that. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.

The Crowns of Pluto (2.)

Crowns of Pluto. The Paper People.

The Paper People

I never had sleeping dreams on Earth. When I told people that, they looked at me as if something must be wrong with me, that I must have some sort of brain malfunction. Yes, that’s true. There is something wrong with me. Maybe that’s why they put me on a spaceship and sent me to Pluto. Maybe the God of Time wanted me to find my dreams somewhere else.

“What an awful thing to not dream,” my tense and terse mother used to say to me before she died. “I didn’t give birth to you just so you would never dream.”

I don’t know why she would say such a thing, but she did. She was a “Dubuque Queen.” That is, she was a woman who was all about the local society scene in Dubuque, Iowa. That’s where I was born and grew up before I left home and became a Starman. I made a sign and have it in my quarters and it reads: DUBUQUE 3,600,000,000, and it has an arrow pointing in the general direction of Earth.

My mother was very much a woman geared toward gatherings and festivities and church activities and so on and so on. I remember watching from the lonely shadows of our home as her ladies’ groups would gather in our living room to gossip and chitter about whatever they were chittering about. Casseroles. Widows. The milkman. None of it ever seemed very important to me, but it was surely very important to my mother. Seemingly much more important than me. Those are the times I would hideaway in my room and sit by the window and look up at the stars, even during the day and when they were not out.

I think my mother’s growing resentment for my existence really exploded after my father left. I wish I had been able to go with him, but my mother wouldn’t have it, not because she wanted to love and protect me, but because she was worried about how it would make her look to the world. But none of that matters now because I am the only man on Pluto, but at least I am beginning to dream.

The dreams that come to me now are wildly vivid and stay with me for days. For the most part, the dreams are not unsettling. But there are visions that come to me during the night that at times are, and when I suddenly wake and sit right up in a startled panic, the same beings casting about in my dream are somehow still there.

I catch a quick glimpse of them as they slip through the walls and out into the vast complex that is Station Kronos Kuiper where I believe they wander like ghosts. They look like ghosts; like childhood ghosts created by bleached bedsheets. They are indeed white, but it is not a pure white. It is the white of a being that does not live in a perfect afterlife. It is a worn white, a torn white, an unraveled white, a used white, a wrinkled white. I suppose they still encounter struggles. I call them the Paper People. I call them that because it appears as if they are wrapped in paper from head to toe. There are two small slits where the eyes sit, and they are permanently squinting. They like to confer with dark skeletons.

Maybe I’m just losing my mind and they aren’t real at all. I would think that would be a very easy thing for a person to do in such isolation and so far from everyone and everything I have ever known. I’m not really sure how I handle it, I just do. I suppose I let my mind slip like tectonic plates. It’s a natural thing. It’s geological psychosis. I wonder at what point my insanity will crumble me to pieces.

I try not to dwell on it. I try to make it a priority to busy myself in one way or another. I take long walks through the now hollow corridors. I explore. I do maintenance checks. I eat. I go to the bathroom. I read. We have a vast library here on Pluto. It’s all digital in white and blue. It’s all electric magic. I can call up just about anything I want.

There are times that I feel as if I’m just filling in the gaps between birth and death. But then I thought about it deeply and realized that is what we are all doing. Now, we all fill these great gaps in various degrees, of course. Some have lives full of wonderful experiences, wealth, love, happiness, divinity. Others may rot in a prison for 50 years because of a very bad day. But even still, up here on the fringes of our solar system, life has become even larger, wider, grander.

Yet it makes me feel miniscule, a grain of salt caught up in the winds of the astral plane. Even so, I wish I still had someone to share it with. Perhaps I wouldn’t feel so small if I were bound to someone. It would be wonderful to be able to share all these wonders I witness, and it would be wonderful to crawl into someone when I feel broken. Why do I wish for so many things that I know will never be? At least in this particular life.

I wonder if I will become one of the Paper People in the end and rattle these icy halls for eternity. I must stop thinking about the end. I will go to the great garden we have here, and I will breathe for today, and I will relish in life.

Author’s note: This is the second piece of this play-around project. Read the first part HERE or visit cerealaftersex.com. I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction, or something like that. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.

The Crowns of Pluto (1.)

A vision of Pluto, at least in my mind.

I was sipping egg nog and looking out the window of my quarters at the Station Kronos Kuiper on the dwarf planet Pluto. I was 3.6 billion miles away from my home on Earth and it was Christmas again. The weather outside was perfect for Christmas. It’s always perfect for Christmas here. It was my seventh Christmas in this eternal void of the soul.

I don’t know why I volunteered for the Pluto mission, but then again, I do. I suppose it was a hasty decision driven by the heart. All I remember is I was reading a newspaper in a diner on a rainy day in New York when my fiancée found me and informed me that she was in love with someone else. I had asked her if she had forgotten about the wedding we were planning for. I asked her if she just didn’t want a future with me because I was a rocket jockey. She just rolled her eyes at me and then removed the engagement ring and slid it across the table in my direction.

I caught her glancing out the window and then I looked too, through the mist of the city. There was a tough guy outside on the sidewalk smoking a cigarette beneath a black umbrella as he leaned against a pole. He looked like a fancy pants Wall Street James Dean.

“That’s the guy?” I asked her.

She just halfheartedly nodded and slid out of the booth. She looked at me for the very last time and said, “Have a nice life among the stars.”

It was right after that when I volunteered for the mission with no return trip back to Earth. I didn’t care. I wanted as far away from that shitty world as I could possibly be… And then some. I had to put together and submit pounds of end-of-existence paperwork, agreements, contracts, and final wishes for out here. Talk about signing your life away.

And now here I am. It’s Christmas again, and I am the only one here. All those words and directives mean nothing now because there is no one left to abide to them in my name. I suppose at some point I will just fall over and eventually turn to dust.

I handled the death procedure for the last of the others. And now they are all out there, floating around me somewhere in far-out space unseen. It’s cold. It’s gray as metal. I am lonely.

There hasn’t been any communication with Earth in a very long time. They never answer or maybe they never even receive my transmissions. Either something bad has happened there, or they have simply forgotten about me. Perhaps they have moved on to something more viable and fresher and exciting. Like my ex-fiancée. I took another sip of egg nog and looked out in the vastness of it all even deeper. This is a depth of loneliness unseen, yet at times it is nourishing to me.

I often take my loneliness with me and just sit in the great worship hall to visit with all the various gods of the universe we have created. They all have our own interpretations of what they may look like, or what we want them to look like, painted or chiseled or lasered into and upon various places throughout the sanctuary. I think I prefer the God of Time or the God of Lost Places the most. There’s a god for most anything on Pluto. We had to devise reasons for existing and passing on.

It’s a vast place with arches and buttresses and golden windows and statues and rows upon rows of pews for the people who once came there. There’s a large, clear dome at the top to allow one a glimpse of the wet universe that surrounds this place. I appear in the sanctuary at a spot in the middle and pause and admire the work of the ones before me who built it all. I owe them my life at this point really, for their vast creations on this planet have kept me alive and for the most part, safe.

Instead of the plethora of gods, I pray to the astro-engineers and architects and builders and the mechanical men who carved out a whole new world here on the outer Kuiper. I thank them for their ingenuity, patience, and skill. But the silence here now is nearly deafening. What a strange thing. But even so, there are at times distant rattles, invisible things falling, dust skittering in the low light. They often frighten me because it makes me wonder if I am truly alone after all.

Author’s note: I hope to craft more of this story over time as an experiment in writing some science fiction. Thanks for reading and supporting independent content creators who just want to do what they love to do.