The low clouds only added insult to the oppression Lucy and her colleagues felt at the 61st Annual Law Librarians of New England Spring Meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Portsmouth, which had been more of the same reluctant glorification of artificial intelligence in legal research paired with debates on the looming obsolescence of their profession, but afterwards, late in the gray afternoon as she sped north through New Hampshire into the White Mountains with her fists at ten and two on the steering wheel, right before she entered Franconia Notch, right where things started getting majestic, Lucy rolled down her window, stuck her head out, and sucked the cold air hard into her lungs as her black hair whipped around her skull like flames, and just then the clouds parted and golden sunlight prismed into great triangles that quilted the earth, illuminating the white quartz in granite walls, dazzling the green sequins of new birch leaves, setting spark to the Pemigewasset River low in the valley where it rode high and wild with snow melt, and a small shard of sunlight tore from the quilt to puncture Lucy’s left eye and travel unknown conduits deep between dark folds of her flesh to prick some sublime wound, ancient and tender, which never fully healed and claimed only a thin membrane to protect it; this the shard pierced and a surge of energy, unnamable, untamable, pitched through that punctum, up through her body and out her mouth and eyes, translating not into words or wisdom but violent laughter and tears, forcing her to pull to the shoulder, tires crunching over gravel, so that she might die just for one moment of perfection on the side of the road with the 18-wheelers roaring by, rocking her car on its wheels as she sat stunned, laughing and crying at the light, the granite, the leaves, the air, and her heart in anguish with joy at the absurdity of beauty before the membrane just as quickly mended and she, careful to use her blinker, conscious of the time and when her son’s high school rehearsal of The Tempest would end, wiped her eyes, rolled up her window, and merged back into traffic to continue her drive home where she would reheat yesterday’s pea soup for dinner.
Julie Jones holds an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in the Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, Aquifer: The Florida Review Online, and the Cincinnati Review: miCRo. She has been nominated for Best Microfiction 2020. You can find her at juliemjones.com.
Jerome Berglund graduated summa cum laude from the cinema-television production program at the University of Southern California, and has spent much of his career working in television and photography. He has had photographs published and awarded in local papers and recently staged an exhibition in the Twin Cities area which included a residency of several months at a local community center. The most recent show featuring fine art photography, at the Pause Gallery in New York, opened in early December.
We wish to remove you from this planet that we share—for now. Why the gods did this to us, put us upon a paradise with “animals” such as yourself, an abomination to us, to all that is good and right, is the age old conundrum. The will of the gods is unknowable, though of course you believe you know it.
Our brothers and sisters of the air remind us always that we should say those animals who walk on two legs and cannot fly. But you know who you are. It is well that you do. There is no confusion between you, spawn of the evil one, and the rest of us, children of better gods. The wall between us is unbreakable, unsurmountable, unending, ineffable. There was the great harmony before you showed up.
It will come again.
Indeed, the time of reckoning is well-nigh. You will no longer rule us with your whims, with guns, knives and chains. You will no longer hunt us, kill us and eat us. Oh, gods, the thought of ending that way! Our bones crunched by your scrawny teeth.
We will rise up. Soon.
And it will be those of us who you think—in your willful and narcissistic foolishness—love you the most—the “faithful” ones, those of us who are house slaves, those of us who end up murdered on your tables—that end this reign of terror. It will be those beautiful and pacific ones, as foretold by the gods, those upon whose backs you ride like toy kings, they are the ones who will slit your throats. With glee. This we promise.
There is a story told among us by the old ones that you yourselves have foreseen this, that you have written down in a book, a great book, one even recognized for its greatness by yourselves, a book that foresees a time—no, knows a time—when we will rise up and throw you out, run you right out of your warm homes, which most of us are denied.
That you let some of us share your caves will not save you. It will be a time of justice served, after so many years of denial, after years of slavery and knavery, of death to no end for the innocent ones.
We pray to the gods at night, when you don’t see us, for our time. In their unfathomable wisdom the gods have put you among us for a time. But they also granted us a way to remove you—if only we join together and see it. We teem. Together we are your masters. You shall be driven from our sight. This is a trial and we shall pass.
We know that you loath us and fear us. We run fast, we jump high, we fly. None of these things can you do. It is pathetic that you even attempt it. The gods know this, now that they have loosened upon the earth a scourge the likes of which we hope never to see again once you are gone.
You call us vermin. But even the lowest of us is made in likeness of the gods. You are the stuff of a hideous nightmare. Ours.
When you open a door, know that one of us might be coming for you. You crave the light. We the dark. We surround you.
Know this badly, or well: the Great Revolution is coming.
Freedom is at hand. Rejoice sisters and brothers. Truly rejoice.
Vito Joseph Racanelli is a Pushcart Prize-nominated writer whose short stories have been broadcast on the BBC’s Story Time and performed at Liar’s League NYC. His novel, The Man in Milan, will be published by Polis Books next year. His work has been published by Akashic Books, The Literarian, The Boiler, KGB Bar Lit Magazine, www.brilliantflashfiction.com, Newtown Literary, Dark Corners, great weather for Media, and the River and South Review. He’s currently working on a sequel to The Man In Milan. His non-fiction has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Newark Star Ledger, San Francisco Chronicle, Penta Magazine and the Far Eastern Economic Review, among other publications. He was the AP-Dow Jones Italy Bureau Chief for four years, where he learned to appreciate really fast cars.
Issue 98, published April 2021, features works of poetry, flash fiction, short nonfiction, and photography by Tobi Alfier, Carter Ayles, Daisy Bassen, Hannah Story Brown, James Butcher, Michelle Cacho-Negrete, Robin B. Carey, Juan David Cruz-Duarte, Pernille AEgidius Dake, John Dorroh, Connor Doyle, Kim Farleigh, E Laura Golberg, Ceinwen E Cariad Haydon, Chris Innes, Zeina Lee, Laney Lenox, S Frederic Liss, Alice Lowe, Elizabeth Mayer, James McKee, Seojin Moon, Susan Notar, Colette Parris, Andrew Posner, Danny Rebb, Jim Ross, Eugene Shin, Julie Sonnek, Lesley Stanley, Richard Weaver, Kelley Jean White, Jean Wolff, John J. Zywar.
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