I revised this piece last night and thought that it would make for a good #flashfriday piece:

“The Wonders”

She lay there on the ground, breathing deeply, sifting the soft alien sand through her fingers.

Why doesn’t this atmosphere hurry up and kill me, she thought, taking another deep, rattling breath.

The shuttle had crashed into a dune with colorful featherlettes waving cheerfully from its crest. No dust had been kicked up by the sudden impact; rather, little fey motes had streaked away from it in terror, and now they clustered on the crumpled landing gear, sparkling and chirping in the waning light of this world’s day.

She gasped; her lungs were about to seize up. About time.

She was tired of it; tired of all the wonders. Her eightieth exploratory landing (ninth crash), her twelfth planet discovered on the tip of the Spiral Arm. And still her bones were tired, and she couldn’t get laid, and her dog had died a hundred years ago, so far away that the light from this world’s star would not reach his little gravestone until she was a memory of dust. If this world had dust. . . .

Racing light was for suckers. Fuck the wonders! C’mon already, oblivion!

“What is this. . . oblivion?” something whispered in her ear.

“Buddha wept in a cantina!” she shouted. She leapt to her feet, coughed, and her knees buckled. Dammit, just some chlorine in the air, this would all be over. . . .

There was nothing but a voice, a reverberation in the air. Hallucinogens in the atmo; great! Now she could sink into delusion before she died; that should make dying easier. . . .

“You will not transition,” the voice said carefully, as if language was something new and delicate to manipulate. “You cannot achieve unearned discorporation here.”

Hell I can’t. Her lungs were blazing and her pulse fluttering. It sure felt like dying. . . .

“No, our world will adapt to you momentarily. Your form will not release your essence.” A pause, and then, an invocation. “It is so.”

With one last rattle, her breathing cleared; something surged through her bloodstream. The sky went from weak squid-ink to a faint, faint blue. The featherlettes danced in a sudden light breeze, and the fey motes shifted in their swarming and their sparks dimmed.

Crap. She took a deep breath, and it was sweet and restorative. “Please,” she said to the planet, “ I would just like to die.”

She felt a presence mimic the equivalent of shaking its head. “I am apologetic, but no. You must earn your end here.”

She felt the presence fade. The sun shone brightly, and off to her left, the featherlettes wilted, and something like an apple tree began to spring up. Shoots of many colors began to rise and uncurl from the earth, and somewhere in the distance something like a bird began to sing.

Fuck the wonders, she thought, watching the tree begin to grow branches. Maybe I can hang myself from it in a couple of days.


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