J. Otis Haas
A Tissue Floating in Mercury
Sixty years after he disappeared into the sky, Kristen was shocked to find Jack sitting on the foot of her bed, yapping away like he always did. He had turned the light on when he came in, snapping her out of a pre-dawn doze she would have awakened from soon, facing another day of pain, deep aches and stabbing knives dulled by an artificial nurse who always chimed sweet tones while applying the ointment too roughly where the cannula irritated her nose.
Through the Golden Door
The sense of motion and regular clattering from below let Liam know he was on a train before he even opened his eyes. He had no memory of boarding for a trip and no idea of where, if anywhere, he was supposed to be, or where he might be going. Laying there, comforted by the rhythm of the conveyance, Liam wondered if he was dreaming within a dream. The distant sound of the locomotive’s steam-whistle far ahead broke his reverie.
A New Dawn
The cabin in the woods had been abandoned for years, but one night, a candle burned in the window. Dawn sat, cross-legged on the splintery floor and began the ritual. She rolled out the piece of sheepskin, affixed it to the boards with an iron nail driven through each corner, and regarded the hand-made ouija board. The alphabet, numerals, and the words “Yes” and “No” were inscribed in her blood on the leather. The cutting had come easily, as it always did. The difficulty had been in keeping her hand steady as she used the stigmata of her other palm as an inkwell. She placed an inverted shot glass on the board to use as a planchette.
My Father’s Ghost on a Dusty Windowsill
Ghosts are real. You know this to be true if you’ve ever smelled your grandmother’s perfume in a crowd, caught sight of one of your late friends' doppelgängers from a distance, or opened a box of bittersweet keepsakes. Whether or not ethereal spirits roam the earth I do not know, but I can state with certainty that our memories are haunted houses.
A Rabbit’s Dream of Saffron
As a myopic, bookish child, much of my time was spent mired in fantasy. When not absorbed in volumes of myths and ghost stories, I investigated what of the world I could, searching for evidence that the wonders I read about were not merely entertaining fictions, but rather messages from the past alluding to the mysterious true workings of the Universe. Now, nearing my 45th birthday, I see, for many people, that “growing up” means turning away from such endeavors, as it is seen as unbecoming to dream too much as an adult. I was never in danger of such a fate.
Chronicles of the Golden Dragon
There weren’t always dragons in the valley. However, after heavy rainfalls, the raging river that bisected the jungle would surge up its banks, and huge blue ones, covered snout-to-tail in lapis-lazuli scales that glimmered with an oily sheen, would fly in from the north and congregate at the rusting ruins perched over the roiling torrent. When the river ran swiftly enough the ancient structure would glow with mysterious lights and hum and crackle from within. This was clearly what drew the dragons, and so Zoe’s people were fearful of storms. When the ruins glowed, The Mouth of the Mountain, deep within the cave they called home, would open and lightning-like arcs in its maw would spark over the bones of all those who had been foolish enough to venture within.
The Hitchhikers Who Hide in the Punctum Caecum
You have a blind-spot. This isn’t a criticism, it’s a fact. If you’ve ever been stargazing and discovered some distant celestial object that fled from your field of vision when observed head-on you’ve experienced this phenomenon. You may have been encouraged at some point to draw a dot on an index card and find it yourself, goaded into a little game to teach you a thing or two about perception.
I met The Genius in middle school and I learned a lot from him. Not facts, but life lessons that have stuck with me for decades. I can’t use his real name, because he’s Somebody now, a paragon in his field. Early on The Genius would assert that he was destined to become a great scientist as if it were somehow divinely ordained. It was easy to believe, he’s brilliant, among the smartest people I’ve ever met. You could see him receiving accolades in any endeavor he undertook.
The Blank Expanse Between Worlds
Two paths diverged in a snowy wood. Perfect, tiny flakes gently drifted down from a slate-gray sky. Jack turned and saw his footprints gradually disappearing beneath the falling powder. Tall trees and impassable undergrowth surrounded him. The gleaming blankness of the ground ahead filled him with the same anticipation that a fresh sheet of paper once had. He remembered how full of potential each page had once seemed.
All of Everything and Beyond
I am a Toiler, made in the image of The Creator, who is Perfect. My Task is to serve my Queen by serving The Creator, who filled the world with Danger and clumsy Giants to keep Her creation humble. If I succeed in my Task I will be rewarded with wings and fly off to join Her in The Sands Above.
The Brazen Bull
The Tyrant King’s terrible gift was pushed into the great hall the day before the feast by slaves who thereafter gave the thing a wide berth as they made preparations around it. That evening a dignitary from The Peninsula arrived to practice the speech he intended to deliver the following morning. Inquiring about the draped object and the cords of firewood stacked beside it he asked whom the gift was from. Upon hearing the answer he blanched and sailed back home under the moonlight.