A front page excerpt

Stuffed Head

Stuffed Head

The Vrekli had charged him a small fortune for the gene-tailored symbiotes, and it had taken weeks for him to get used to the squirming feeling in his nasal passages, but it was worth it to be at long last rid of the allergies that had made his life a misery since childhood. The tiny slime worms reliably devoured every speck of pollen, every fragment of dust-mite, every molecule of each airborne allergen that had plagued him in the past, before they could cause the vestige of a reaction.

What he shouldn’t have done was to spring for the recreational-hallucinogen nanobot inhaler on Chur’r. There seemed to be a struggle for supremacy going on inside his sinuses—some kind of hierarchical dispute—and even though he was zoned to the gills, he had now been sneezing nonstop for at least two hours. The spasms were simultaneously a delightful metaphor for a pervasive sense of oneness with the universe, and absolutely unbearable.

from the notebooks of F. J. Bergmann

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Lake Oreyd – Damien Krsteski

The lake’s still surface was a golden quilt. The churches which amassed along the shore over the centuries now had their fossilized features balanced between day and night. A most sacred moment. The eyestalks, V-shaped like the chalice from which the Savior had drunk her poison, framed the setting sun, the tails like the scepters with which she’d been prodded to trial facing the rising moon.

One intake of breath, the sun dipped down, pulling the moon up, and the alignment was broken.

The podvodnya sank; my ears popped as we descended, and looking out the thick, round window it seemed as if the lake’s waters darkened in hue with each blink of the eye. When we neared the bottom some hours later, all was pitch black. The vessel’s searchlight turned on to sweep below us.

Corroded broken pipes lay in the sediment, barnacled and covered with algae. Our podvodnya crawled the lake’s bottom, much like benthic creatures of the past must have when they sought the source of God, tentacles sifting through silt, clawing at mud, chasing away eels which sparkled in the dark.

We could see only within that circle of pale light: our window to His underwater Kingdom.

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