The Shifting Night Anomaly was so called at first because its margins seemed to change every so often, making it difficult, if not impossible, to map. We had sent probe after probe inside for three generations. Out of the near thousand probes that were deployed, only forty-seven were recovered. The more we learned about the anomaly, the more we realized how fitting the name was. There were no systems and no stars within, only remnants of dead worlds. Only strange and exotic gases. Only nebulas haunted by the ghosts of stars that flickered and faded before they could burst into life.
Waiting. We’ve been waiting for thirty minutes. A nuisance, maybe, if I were out in the world on an errand or anticipating someone’s arrival. But here, in the antechamber, poised on the threshold of the most important thing I will ever do with my life, or the grandest failure of my life, those thirty minutes have stretched into the last thirty years of my life. It must be worse for the person on the other side of the antechamber door, the patient waiting for us to save his life.
“So you…want to go into stasis, sir?”
“For seven to eight hours a night, yes,” I said, nodding to the only person I trusted to help me carry out my latest endeavor.
“But the technology doesn’t work that way,” Leeke said. “No one has yet managed to develop a program this sophisticated that wouldn’t require continuous stasis for at least several months, probably more. At least, not with the information that the agency has released so far. Sir, at best, I fear it would be a waste of your time.”
“Me for? For…me…only? No, not. For all.”
Quin peered at the man who was her mentor, her friend, and now, her charge. It was late, and they were both tired. But she believed that she understood what he was trying to say, as he took in the flurry of effort that was being directed toward the singular aim of helping him.
Just me? he was saying. What about everyone else?
She had learned to listen to more than just his words in the five years that she had been studying with him, or rather, he had taught her to listen to more than just his—or anyone else’s—words.
Lily Landry opened her eyes and immediately squinted. She noticed the sounds just as quickly as she noticed that the light shining through her window did not reach all the dark corners of her bedroom. Those sounds, like some kind of industrial machine. She searched her sleepy mind and found the reference. Jet propulsion? And wind. She flipped aside her covers and donned her slippers and robe. She walked out onto the balcony of her third-floor apartment, holding a hand up to her eye as she squinted up at the source of the light. It was too bright. She couldn’t see anything beyond it. Before she could think another thought, she was swept off her feet. She gasped as she started floating upward into the light.
“I hope they paid you double the salary for working on both shows,” I said.
Cal chuckled. “Well…” He trailed off with a wave of his hand. “A shame about the fire. They were pretty good those episodes, as I recall. But since we only showed them once a year, we didn’t keep them in the same place we kept the other reels.”
This week’s story will be posted soon. This is the anniversary post for Storyfeather’s fifth year!
The Year of S.T.E.A.M. is done! That was the theme for Storyfeather Year Five. Science. Technology. Engineering. Arts. Mathematics. Year Five’s stories aimed to center around one of the aforementioned elements. It was quite the challenge.
Also a challenge, keeping the bar for the artwork as high as I could manage after the visual upgrade the site received in Year Four.
Thank you to everyone who read even a single story. And if you liked or commented, thank you again. Thank you for your time and interest, and for being a part of Storyfeather, especially Year Five.
A lot happened in the fifth year stories. A cast and crew of middle school students put on an original play about cosmic heroes and deadly aliens. A malfunctioning beauty product gave whole new meaning to the term “vanishing cream.” An explorer got lost in a spatiotemporal anomaly that was once the treasure vault of an alien pirate. And a woman started turning into a cartoon…
I’ve written over 250 stories now. And I’ve produced 52 podcast episodes (one for each story from Year One). Year Five was a (sometimes delirious) struggle, but well worth it. Storytelling is still my true love, still my destiny, still my path.
Year Six is on the horizon. Here’s to seeing what stories will brew. I hope you’ll come along.
I have stories to tell you.
Yeah, I’ve come to terms with it. I’m not going offworld to do anything noble, like teach aliens how to speak human languages, or to plant trees, build houses, or pass out blankets and water during emergencies. I’m going offworld to go live in the house of some rich Blorgnathian who’ll spend the next five years licking my face.
I heard someone calling…calling to me.
Is it the voice of the woman on the other side of the airlock window?
Or is it the voice of the ghost that’s trying to possess me?
“The volcano was so huge that when the sun rose in the east, it would crest upon the highest peak of the volcano, and it would look like the volcano was bringing the light of the sun to the people who lived below.”