February 2017


Gasping over the alarms in her ears, Emma pulled the handle to blow the explosive bolts on the hatch. It was the only way to get the fire under control, even though she knew that it was ultimately a futile effort. Her capsule’s systems were shot, the oxygen reserves nearly depleted, and most of the provisions had been destroyed.

Compared to that, Joris IV’s total lack of an atmosphere seemed almost trivial.

When the hatch blew, Emma scrambled outside. It was as much instinct as anything; she knew in the coldest part of her brain, the scientist part, that she was already dead and just hadn’t realized it yet. As the last bits of atmosphere inside the capsule blew away, and the parachutes settled under their own inertia, she settled against the still-warm side of her little craft.

And that’s when she heard it: a voice at once familiar and impossible.

“Mom?”

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It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since I’ve been doing anything, much less keeping a daily fiction blog. I can’t say how grateful I am to all the readers, commenters, and spambots who have visited this site over the past mirrorbreak (which is what I have now decided to call seven-year periods).

It seems forever ago that I sat down and decided to gel this long-gestating idea into something real, and by now, it’s the thing that has been in my life longer than almost anything else.

So here’s a brief thank-you and shout-out to everyone who reads this–and here’s to another mirrorbreak of quality (and not so quality) content from me!

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Fun Facts About Pleasantwater Village From Your Source for Timely Local News, the Bluewater Daily Chronicle:

-The name “Pleasantwater Village” was thought to be a translation of the Ojibwe name for the area, Wiishigamioojinooripa. It was only in the 1920s, during the town’s 100th anniversary celebrations, that the town fathers learned a more accurate translation: “stagnant-waters-unfit-to-drink.”

-The Pleasantwater Bridge that links East Pleasantwater and West Pleasantwater was completed in 1935. Before that, communications and commerce between the two sides was handled by Big Joe’s Canoe Couriers. Nothing that wouldn’t fit in Big Joe’s largest canoe, Truth Oar Dare, could be moved, which meant a long and costly road journey to the bridge at Shelbyville.

-The mausoleum in Peaceful Worms Cemetary belongs to J. Harold Noodlemeyer, who was the most powerful businessman in town until his sudden death from act of meteorstrike in 1933. His holdings were quickly divided up after his death, as his only living relative, a great-nephew, sold them off after blanching at the thought of a canoe ride with Big Joe.

-Tays T. Appel Elementary School is named after Taylorfords “Tays” Thurmond Appel, who was principal of the previous school on the site for over 40 years. Aside from his zealous committment to flat-earth cosmology, Principal Appel was exemplary in his educational efforts. The ribbon-cutting was officiated by his daughter, “Granny” Smith-Appel.

-The annual Llama Festival at the fairgrounds dates from 1887, when a circus from out of town had four dromedary camels escape during a show. The animals caught the fancy of the town fathers who purchased them from the circus, but the owners substituted cheaper llamas for the camels and none of the townsfolk discovered the switch until it was too late.

-When Suede Arcade opened in 1980, there was a moral panic against video games, which many older citizens feared were corrupting the youth. The then-owner, Al Axian, smoothed things over by distributing free tokens to city and church fathers, who proceeded to disappear from town for severals days. Father Dauterive’s high score on Dig Dug stands to this day.

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“Well, my pappy became a breeder way back in ’35,” says Earl Jr. “Times were so bad our vocabulary plumb couldn’t handle it, and there was a real ruckus for new words.”

The late Earl Sr.’s breeding ranch, the Wonky M, soon became the stud farm of choice for new words. “We’d take a word in after it was coined and match it up with another nice word, or sometimes just a darn good suffix. Nowadays we use them computer, but nothing else has changed much.”

At the ranch, one pen holds the word “exorcism” and another the trademark “Mucinex,” recently put out to stud. Their offspring, “Mucinexorcism,” trots around gaily. “We think that one’s gonna catch on, if we can get round the legal issues,” says Earl Jr.

In a nearby pen is “brellow,” kept separate from its parents, “brown” and “yellow.” “Now, this one didn’t work out quite so well,” says Earl Jr. “When you’re a breeder, sometimes you jut gotta accept that not every word is a ‘spork’ or ‘Brexit’ in waiting.”

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It was only then that I realized I had been traveling not toward the Farpeaks, as I had thought, but simply the nearest part of the Snowsister after having been turned around.

I imagine my curses echoed for quite a ways.

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Crimson Emperor Atheus III (15 years)
The second son of his father’s second wife, there was no expectation that Atheus III would ever succeed. But the disastrous Pox of Rhones and the Battle of Simelo intervened, leading to the deaths of all the other male heirs, including three brothers and two nephews. Atheus proved to be an extremely competent ruler nevertheless, though prone to bouts of melancholy and implacably opposed to any limits on his own power. His marriage to Eia of the Twin Moons was stillborn, though, and they never lived together after the birth of their son. He died after a lingering illness many suspect was stomach cancer.

Crimson Emperor Selasar I (2 years)
The only child of Atheus III and Eia of the Twin Moons, Selasar was doted on by his father, who undertook to groom him extensively for the throne. Selasar was extensively tutored in politics, etiquette, and combat, but the crown prince had inherited his father’s melancholy streak and became most strongly devoted to the Sepulcher of the Creator. Extremely pious, he took the vows of a priest at his coronation and refused all suitors during his brief reign. His great dream was to bring the Sepulcher of the Creator to the southern deserts of Naïx, and to that end he devoted himself utterly. The resulting campaign ended in utter defeat at the Battle of the Passes, and Selasar himself was killed along with two of his cousins.

Crimson Emperor Atheus IV (1 year)
The only remining heir of the male line after Selasar’s death in battle was his great-uncle, who was 87 at the time. Atheus IV tackled his reign with unusual energy for a man of his age, but his efforts to ensure the succession were for naught as his beloved wife was 78 herself and he refused to entertain the possibility of divorce. Instead, Atheus IV attempted to legitimize a bastard son of his nephew; when that failed, he sought to pass the succession to a great-nephew descended from his sister. Sadly, his efforts backfired: when he died of pleurisy 18 months into his reign, open civil war erupted between the two claiments he had attempted to secure.

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The procedure failed.

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