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So begins our multi-issue tour of the solar system, courtesy of the good folks at NASA. That said, it only seems appropriate that I'm starting with the planets.
What you see here is the blasted surface of Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun. As such, its average daytime temperature is 752 degrees Fahrenheit. Ouch!
Each day on Mercury is all almost 60 Earth days long and its atmosphere (yep, it has one!) is mostly oxygen, sodium and hydrogen. Not at all breathable - but then, heck, if you were unlucky enough to find yourself on its surface, you'd cook in your own juices LONG before you suffocated!
This issue's Name in Lights goes to one of the most remarkable and visionary individuals it has ever been my pleasure to know.
Andrew van den Houten is the president of Moderncine, an independent film production company that has turned out some truly amazing projects over the last several years. They include: "Offspring" and "The Woman", both of which are based on Jack Ketchum novels; "Ghoul", the first ever made-for-Chiller Network movie; and the upcoming "Jug Face".
Andrew is also the producer for the film version of "The Undertakers: Rise of the Corpses" by ... well ... yours truly!
I first met Andrew when my agent and I lunched with him in New York, and his energy and excitement about the project were frankly contagious. Since then, we've spoken many times and I've never failed to be impressed but both the man and his work.
Andrew, I'm honestly proud to have you spearheading this movie, and I can't WAIT to see what you do with it!
Okay, so this really was a test. Bracing herself for an experience she’d rather forego entirely, Julia navigated her way back around the oxidised wreck of the motorcycle, and approached this number three Felton Terrace for the first time. Crossing the unfamiliar threshold was a tad less comfortable than before, but nothing she couldn’t handle. As was to be expected, the inside was pretty much a repeat in generalities, if not detail, of the first house -- although the ceiling only drooped this time, sagging in the middle like a rain-filled awning. Julia about-faced, made for the door, and emerged into daylight for the second time. The motorcycle was gone. The single lopsided cage was restored to its former position. The middle house had once again become the end house.
“For a reason. What you’re looking at, you think that it’s only an ordinary camera.” Wink opened the case. He removed the camera with great care, offering it to Luanne as though it were some rare and precious artifact. “I want you to take my picture.”
“You want me to take your picture?”
“With this?” Luanne held the camera up.
“Careful!” Wink rushed over to steady her hand. “You’ve got to be careful, Luanne. This isn’t an ordinary camera.” Wink stroked the cheap plastic casing with the tips of his fingers. “It does . . . special things. Things I’ve never seen any camera do.”
“Yeah?” Luanne looked skeptical. “Like what?”
Place to Breathe"
Three ships sat out in the water. Not much more than dots. From the distance they looked black, but I could make out the tall white sails that flew above them. I looked up and down the beach and saw that I was not the only one who had seen them. Maybe a dozen people clustered on the beach. Their skin was dark, and many of them wore scars on their bare arms and chests. Mostly men. A few women. A child tugged at a bare-breasted woman’s hand, pointing to the ships and jabbering. The woman looked concerned.
I knew that I still lay on my bunk in prison, dreaming. I had crammed so many facts in my empty head, and worried them so much, that they just came right out like real life in this dream. That was okay. Better a dream of being free for a few minutes than the constant pressure of the walls of my cell.
I stood up and my toes wiggled their way into the sand.
I heard a kind of hootin' sound coming from down inside the hole, and Horace went skedaddling. Next thing I know, I seen something clawing its way up to the surface.
It ain't like I never seen no strange creatures before. Once I seen a two-headed catfish--and that was one ugly app'rition, I can tell you that. And back when I was just a young sprout, I seen a mermaid in a tank at a carnival. Made me cry, it did. But this sumbitch in front of me took the cookies.
It was like you mixed up one of them squishy squidy things from the ocean with a giant armadillo. It just wasn't natural.
I bashed it over top of its head with my shovel. It let out a squeal and fell back down into the pit.
with the Devil"
“I will have an order of our warm biscuits and sparkling water brought to your table.”
“That’s not necessary.”
Daniel promptly asked, “Then may I suggest our specials?”
“I know what I want.”
The man’s voice was hollow, yet deep and commanding. The menu and wine list went untouched at the far side of his table. “What would you like?”
“I want the soul of man.”
Trine Ahn stiffened, pulled back from his embrace. “This thing you would do, Ronz-lord. It is forbidden.”
“Uh huh. So is breaking into the tape library in the middle of the night for some forbidden peeking,” Ronz grinned. “Everything has its price. Get my drift, Trine Ahn?”
She gazed up at him with eyes of dark crystal, whatever
feelings behind them masked by an expressionless calm. Abruptly she wrapped her arms about his neck and returned the kiss.
“Everything has its price, Ronz-lord.”
“So before the show starts,” Joan continues, “this guy in a black suit comes out carrying an old wooden table about two feet wide and places it by the microphone stand. Then he opens the drawer of the table and removes the revolver.” She smiles upon saying the word revolver. “He places the revolver on the table, closes the drawer, and just walks away. Then later, David Wilde comes out and at random points during the show he fires the gun into the audience.”
“So at every show six people die?” asks Lucy.
“It’s not always six,” Ted says. “Sometimes the bullet goes through someone and he gets more than six and sometimes people only get wounded.” He laughs and then says, “And this one time Justin Carter, the leader of the boy band Back Degrees, went to a show and David Wilde comes out, sees him and just shoots the guy six times. It was great.”
I have learned a lot from my night flights. (Yes, they are always at night.) One thing, is that even with the thrill of levitating, the same room can become boring. I have learned, too, that with practice, I can move up and down vertically, and forward horizontally. Once, I dropped almost to the floor, upright, in a walking pose. Then, I reached my hand to the doorknob and turned it. I slipped into the hall and then the kitchen, plopping down hard on a chair.
For a few weeks I was happy with a midnight refrigerator raid, or sinking into the soft sofa to look through a magazine. The exhilaration of sitting on anything other that a wheelchair is bliss. It is like taking a drug, a good one. I am high.
Of course, I am not insane. I know that I will never fly. Do other people who are imprisoned in some way have similar dreams? Probably so.
this issue we're doing things a little differently. Instead of short
Allegory deals with submissions in the way that, as far as I know, remains fairly unique in the publishing world. Each story is individually reviewed and, if considered publishable, is placed in our "Maybe" pile. At the end of each submission period, these "Maybes" are reviewed, and the best eight chosen to appear in the next issue. This final cut is made on the basis of issue balance, and does NOT reflect the overall quality of these stories.
That said, here - in no particular order - are the "Maybes" who just missed publication in Allegory. Each one is a fine tale that we would have been proud to publish. Remember these names, friends and fellows. You'll be hearing from them in the future. I guarantee it!
They Live in Shadows by William McManus
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