«COPYRIGHTS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS MASTHEAD R. Leigh Hennig, Editor-in-Chief Brooke Johnson, Senior Editor Zod, Social Krysten Hennig, Slush Reader Rissy ...»
COPYRIGHTS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
R. Leigh Hennig, Editor-in-Chief
Brooke Johnson, Senior Editor
Krysten Hennig, Slush Reader
Rissy L., Slush Reader
Clear Menser, Slush Reader
Gabrielle Vicari, Slush Reader
Lauren Jane Shipley, Slush Reader
“The Trial of Avery Froelich”, Copyright ©2014 by Eric J. Hildeman “The Last Repairman”, Copyright ©2014 by David Austin “The Dreamcatcher”, Copyright ©2014 by M.
Justine Gerard “The Crystal Forest”, Copyright ©2014 by Kurt Heinrich Hyatt “Lighthouse to the Depths”, Copyright ©2014 by Nicholas Mazmanian “Shale”, Copyright ©2014 by David Jack Sorensen “Shock”, Copyright ©2014 by Samuel Marzioli Cover image courtesy Natalie Holmes Bastion Press PO Box 605 Lynnwood, WA 98064-0605 Visit us at www.bastionmag.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bastionmag Bastion Science Fiction Magazine publishes original short stories on the first of every month. As a new publication, we’re working hard to build up our readership.
We’d appreciate it if you would help us out by letting your friends know about us. Thanks for your support and happy reading.
Bastion Science Fiction Magazine 2 CONTENTS Editorial 4 R. Leigh Hennig That World Up There 5 Kurt Bachard The Dead Channel 9 David Galef The Trial of Avery Froelich 15 Eric J. Hildeman The Last Repairman 20 David Austin The Crystal Forest 23 Kurt Heinrich Hyatt The Dreamcatcher 31 M. Justine Gerard Lighthouse to the Depths 34 Nicholas Mazmanian Shale 41 David Jack Sorensen Shock 44 Samuel Marzioli Bastion Science Fiction Magazine 3 Editorial R. Leigh Hennig “It’s good for you
- builds character.” I couldn’t sooner count the number of times I heard this from my father as a youth than I could count the number of bubbles that form the head of a pint of my favorite lager. No doubt my own children now groan, as I did, whenever they hear me repeat it to them. The phrase has more than once come to mind in the monthsleading up to the launch of Bastion and the release of our first issue. As challenging as it has been to build a new market from the ground up, the experience has been immensely rewarding, and I am compelled to elucidate to the reader a few motivations and thoughts about the process.
First and foremost, and quite simply, readers have an insatiable appetite for science fiction.
There are already quite a few different markets that publish science fiction alongside fantasy, while also throwing in non-fiction, art, interviews, podcasts, et cetera…but there aren’t as many purely dedicated to just short stories.
We’ll be releasing nothing but brand new science fiction stories on the first of every month from both established and new authors alike. By not fracturing our content among other formats and genres, we’re able to deliver to the reader a more focused offering.
Secondly, there’s a trove of exceptionally talented authors just waiting to be discovered. The contributors continuously challenge us in new ways, with both the accepted and rejected stories alike. Our notions of what makes for a compelling plot, narrative, character arc, or any other number of elements that make up quality stories are constantly being advanced by the submissions we receive.
We’d like to bring that to our readers.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this issue to our fantastic staff members, without which Bastion would not have been possible.
You can’t just throw any group of people into a project and expect success - you need the right people, and I am fortunate to have come across just such a group. Our mission is to present the very best of the strange and fantastic, which will certainly be an unending challenge.
But you know what?
It’s good for us
- it builds character.
To the staff, contributors, and readers, I present to you: Bastion Science Fiction Magazine.
You never knew you had an imagination until your grandmother taught you how to use it. Now she's gone, you can't stop thinking about all that she told you. She taught you about a thing called Summer, and how children once played in the streets, hop scotching (which you learned is a kind of jumping game played on concrete pavements). She told you about rain, but you've never seen the sky, let alone tears that might fall from it. Seasons are a thrilling mystery, warm or chilly or breezy, because all you've ever known are the extremes of cold or hot when the regulators aren't working properly.
Apple-scrumping in a field of green.
Sledding down a hill of snow.
Flying paper kites in high October winds.
Those are words of an old language that nobody speaks, a dead language.
So you read the books she left you, children's adventure books so ancient that you have to turn the yellow pages with the tips of your fingers, lest they crumble to dust in your hands, like the dust of your Grandmother's body. They flushed her through the conduits of the System to help power the generators that keep you and everyone else alive.
Your parents try to comfort you. They tell you that every death brings life to those still living in the System, by converting useless mass into energy, so you needn't mourn for an old woman who had lived her life and in death gave something back. But they don't understand that as much as you mourn for her, you mourn for what has passed with her.
Nothing can compete with your imagination. As hard as you try you can't unthink the thoughts she planted. Your sterile, whitewashed, regulated world of narrow rat-warrens is dull and unexciting. It leaves you so insipid that you begin to mope, sleeping little, barely eating, until you're falling asleep in the classroom and losing weight, and your worried parents talk of bereavement counselling. They suspect nothing of how you, at fourteen, a girl well ahead in years, grieves for an old world. And although your Grandma's world lives in your imagination as something bright and special, you know that world up there that she once knew is as forlorn as the surface of the moon.
She told you once a terrifying story of how pollutants had choked all trees and wildlife, poisoned all flora and fauna, forcing people to retreat underground like the disease corrupting rats that they really are, a truth the teachers will never teach.
# At supper, one day, Father finally yields; in view of your condition, he grants permission for you to leave your level to visit a friend two floors below. Socialising is just what you need, he admits. Perhaps, agrees Mother, it will help you forget. But you have no intention of going to see your friend. You have other ideas.
You ride the elevator up through the Earth to a sub-surface level, a journey that takes almost an hour. Here, tram lines criss-cross inside the roughly hewn tunnels. The soot-begrimed shuttles come and go rapidly, night and day, carrying their cargo of men and women who work to keep your subterranean world running.
These strangers in yellow and black uniforms stare at you indifferently from their weary faces, with tired eyes, as you board a tram, your stomach tingling with anticipation and the fear of being Bastion Science Fiction Magazine 5 caught. But nobody speaks as you travel through the tunnels, nobody acknowledges the existence of anyone else. You disembark on a higher level, amid deafening mechanical noise and bustle, a confusion of scaffolding and shunting machinery. The air is thicker here, the tunnels like caves, damp and oily. The men who work in this ugly layer between your world and the Truth, hurry back and forth, their Cyclops helmet lamps cutting swathes of light through the dusty gloom. They are too busy to notice a child slipping by. You look for the sign your Grandmother once mentioned, the sign that reads Epidermis above red iron double doors, and you soon find it at the end of the corridor.
You crawl through a shaft of old red-brown London clay to where a rusty ladder ends in a pool of murky water. The ladder takes you up to the ancient sewer grate, a relic of the old world. A snarl of undergrowth pulls at your hair as you climb out. Dusting yourself off, you stand up in a deserted street carpeted in a snaking tangle of vines to look at the sky, longing to see the Sun.
Disappointingly, the sky is a pall of greenish cloud. Still, the first thing to surprise you is the air — how thrilling, how it moves like a living thing, so different from the deadness of the stale reconditioned air in your world. This air does not have the cloth-dust taste of the thousand lungs who have shared it. This air revives, caresses your hair, sings in your ear, brushes your lips like sweet kisses.
The second thing to strike you, physically, is the light that stings your eyes, causing you to squint. Even diffused by the mist or the steam or the clouds your Grandma had described, it burns more strongly than the light in your world, where the light never dims, never goes out, where the light is a stark bleaching light that bleeds no shadow and surrounds you in a white-hot cage. Here, the light flickers shyly, coyly, touches ground and vine-wrapped house and wild gnarly tree and dead yellow grass blade. Yet it sizzles and speaks, with a voice like a sigh, a whisper, gently goading. Come, it beckons, look at these things of natural beauty.
You take a deep shuddering breath, your heart catching a faster beat, as you cross the wide, empty street, passing the weed-choked metal cages that once were cars, toward the leaf-shrouded buildings in the near distance.
You walk around the mossy bulks, tread the buried paths of a lost civilization, through the humid ruins, over clumps of dried-up grass that once were lawns, your plastic shoes slipping on the stones.
Even though the Sun is hidden behind its greenish pall, for a moment its warmth is captured by the glass of a stained window to burn your cheeks as you press your face close and peer between the sagging, moth-eaten curtains beyond.
Inside, the room is time locked, a silent alien world filled with incomprehensible contraptions, and where the two skeletons wearing their cobweb shrouds hug each other on a sofa. Blindly, from their black empty eye sockets, they stare back at you as though outraged by the intrusion. You cry out in shock, and frightened, lurch away, running for home, confused by a fear you had not expected.
# You are almost breathless, but now, in your excitement, your cheeks glow as feverishly as your eyes.
I've been outside.
I went outside to that world up there, I walked in the street, and I looked into a house. Oh it was so quiet … and frightening, but…everything was … was so … " You seek a word that defines your experience, only to learn that there are no words to explain the rightness you felt at being a part of that world.
But Father doesn't give you the chance to dwell on it; you flinch as his voice booms across the room.
Bastion Science Fiction Magazine 6 “What have you done you stupid girl?” He reaches you in one enormous stride, grabs your narrow shoulder and shakes you as if attempting to shake the horror of your mistake out of existence. Mother puts her long, narrow hands to her mouth, her dull eyes wide and already tearful.
“You stupid girl,” yells Father, a rage of spittle flecking his lips.
“Why in God's name would you do such a thing?
You'll be sick now.
You may even die.” You burst into tears.
“We'll have to call The Doctor in,” Father tells Mother.
“I'll be okay,” you protest.
“The air outside is not bad.
It's all a lie.
A big fat lie.” “Call the doctor,” Father yells back at Mother.
“Call him to come quick.
Tell him what's happened.” # You can smell the sickness of your condition, like all the stuffy colds you have ever suffered rolled into one, as the Doctor gently closes your bedroom door. Outside, your parents anxiously wait in the hall. The house is silent as though awaiting disaster and you can hear clearly The Doctor's soft voice.
“I'm afraid I have no good news to tell you,” he tells your parents.
You know your Mother is most probably wringing her hands and that your Father is looking on, full of a grave, posturing moodiness.
“Will she live?” he asks with dramatic hesitation.
“I need to know the truth Doctor.” The Doctor's sigh is audible.
“I believe if she has enough rest and her immune system can handle it, she may recover. But her chances are … well, to be perfectly straight with you, you should prepare for the worst.” Mother drops her head into her hands and sobs. Your Father puts an arm around her shoulders.
The Doctor slips silently away. A moment later, you hear the front door click shut as he lets himself out.
# Disobeying Father's order to leave you alone, Billy creeps up to your room that same evening.
He knows nothing of your fate. Neither do you, for that matter, although you suspect, from The Doctor's glum look after your examination, as he packed away the cold stethoscope and raspy tongue-depressor, that you are not going to get well so soon.
Afraid, you tremble, feeling burnt inside, wracked with fever, your lungs aflame, as your brother, sitting by your bed in the bright-white room, pulses in and out of your vision.
“Sally,” he whispers, and gently shakes your shoulder. "Sally…" Like a ghostly echo through the subterranean level corridor.
And you hear yourself speak through the pounding in your head “What is it, Billy?” “What's it like being outside?” Immediately, the question evokes a sense that you must sit up, and you try, but you no longer have the strength.
You reach out, groping, and touch the tiny warm hand.
“It's so wonderful outside, better than anything you might imagine.” “Did you see a badger?
In class today, they taught us about the badgers that crawl into the System and try to break it.
They said the bad badgers live outside.” “No, Billy, that's a lie because there were no animals outside.