Image found at mars.nasa.gov
“When are you coming home, Reggie?”
“Countdown commences in just a little over ten minutes, Desirae.”
He had plenty of time to wrestle with his inner agonist during the 32 minute round trip it would take for his voice to reach her and then for her reply to whistle through his headset. He could still see her, the last time before his final trip to Earth. She was standing near a high dune, the last rays of the sun glinting off of her space helmet. The shadows of a dying planet rendering her as an eldritch specter. She didn’t find out she was pregnant until three weeks after he left her.
Leaning back in the co-pilot’s seat, Reggie Dwight ran down the pre-flight checklist of numerous details, as if recounting the recipe of a casserole. Then he jumped against his restraints as Colonel Iraida Simms accidentally sent her archaic clipboard clattering to the deck.
“Sorry,” she murmured in uncharacteristic chagrin.
He felt his fingers harden against the edges of his state-of-the-art tablet. “No problem.” He knew his voice betrayed his anxiety.
Photo by Jayant Kulkarni on Pexels.com
“This is most unusual.” The ferryman, standing at the head of his riverboat, guided it steadily, pull by pull, across waters darker than pitch.
“It is allowed. I have Persephone’s blessing.” The voice from beneath the ashen robes and hood was deep, husky, even coarse, but still unmistakably female. It was the only sign of her identity besides a vague shape, for no part of her flesh was visible to him.
While the waters of the Styx were liquid obsidian, the mist surrounding them swirled white as smoke, perhaps belched out between the Underworld and the living by the furnaces of Hades.
“Sisyphus had Persephone’s ear, and you chose your timing well, what with the winter solstice coming upon the land above.” The old man took another stroke, and then listened as if someone might call. Even to the cloaked figure, he looked unkempt and foul, his stench could have been rotting fish, the breath of rats, or gangrenous flesh. His long, stringy hair and beard dripped an unsavory substance.
The amber sands of the Elysian beach and the expanse of the ocean beyond called to the triumphant Erik Reeves, but not as much as she did. Leona, as young, as brilliantly beautiful as she had been before the war, stood waiting, the sea at her back. She had shed the ruffled skirt and cotton smock, naked toes clutching at sparse greenery beneath her feet.
He said nothing, consumed with concupiscence, his mind still filled with the lust of battle, and now he would conquer her as well, his prize, the spoils of victory. He doffed his own shorts and t-shirt and then advanced.
She smiled, pale blue eyes contrast against skin the color of coconut shell. He raised a paw toward her bare, heavy breasts, but she took a hasty step backward.
Oasis in the Libyan part of the Sahara – Credit to Sfivat and licensed under Public Domain.
The open sky stretched from sand to horizon and the riders advanced on the oasis. Kathleen Morales led her band of rebel outlaws, two dozen strong, toward the wide, limpid pool surrounded by long grass waving in the torrid breeze under the shade of the broad palm branches. But when they finally arrived at this rare shelter amid a vast wasteland of the east, they discovered they weren’t alone.
The desert bandit swung a leg over her saddle and dismounted, heavy boots making their mark on the damp soil. Her hair, a tangle of magenta, azure, and her natural brown, flew up as she landed, and the gold and silver of her nose and ear piercings sparkled in the filtered sunlight. She marched up to the tiny collection of refugees and declared, “Who the hell are you and what are you doing in my oasis?”
Boise train depot circa 1920. Found at napcommissions.org
The wind was a howling wolf. Emma Elizabeth Durbin knifed her hatpin like a sabre through both her short-brimmed, kid skin hat, and mounds of luxuriant auburn hair as she exited the train’s passenger car. Scuffed shoe leather met fresh boardwalk. Her long dress and matching short jacket were oppressively warm. It was only 10:15 in the morning, and hot for June in Boise.
Checking the weight of her satchel by jiggling it in her right hand, she longed for a comfortable bath and a filling meal. Neither of them were in her near future as she clip clopped forward, desperately avoiding semi-intimate collisions with fellow passengers and locals on the platform, as she navigated through the terminal hordes.
The rest of her belongings would be delivered to her hotel, but she had someplace else to be. Assuming the information on the telegram nestled in her dark jacket pocket was accurate, and he was on time like he said he’d be, she’d be sitting across a table from the Sheriff of Idaho City in half an hour.
Found at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. Image credit not given
Gerald jumped at everything, even when nothing was there. In spite of the warm, spring afternoon, he wore thermal underwear beneath his faded, torn denim pants, and two sweaters under the ancient, tattered, and stained Navy pea coat.
Long, tangled hair, white as the snow still on the mountains around Tahoe, shot out from his stocking cap, random stalks of alabaster wheat waving in the breeze.
Sad, brown eyes stared down at his worn trainers, the left one completely bereft of shoelaces, as they shuffled one after the other across the sidewalk’s concrete and cracks.
The voices muttered in his ears, and in the dankness of his squirming gray matter, a restless beast always striving to escape the prison of his skull.
Image of “The Tower” Tarot card found at biddytarot.com/
Sir Edward, the Black Prince, was startled to stupefaction at discovering himself suddenly removed from the cries, blood, and gore of the Battle of Crécy. Father had left the field intentionally, gambling on his son’s ability to win the day. Now sorcery had stolen victory from him and placed him where?
Her hideous screams followed her all the way down from the top of the tower as she fell, their last echo dying as she struck the earth and stone with a sickening “thump.” She bounced once, which almost made him laugh to his horror, then she ceased to move at all.
The night, for it was night here, was illuminated by flashes of lightning, rolling thunder causing him to tremble. His sturdy mount, white mane and noble stature, struggled against the bit and reins, trying to escape the macabre scene, but he was in control…barely.
Photo credit: saurabhbot09bot
“Just because they we lost contact with him doesn’t mean the worst, Amalia.” Nicholas Bishop nearly reached over to touch her hand, but instead, let it join his other one, cradling his coffee cup. He followed the younger woman’s gaze out the coffee shop window. Traffic was heavy, even this early in the morning. Las Vegas Boulevard was clogged with motorized humanity, trying to get to offices and schools before the August heat overwhelmed their air conditioners.
“You know Matt would have found a way to get through to us.” Her voice was husky, which Nicholas found sensual, but it was because she’d been up all night crying. He supposed the two of them might have gotten married someday, except his work as a climatologist kept him away from home for weeks or months at a time.
Photo credit: Sarolta Bán
Sonia watched the last of the trees lift up and fly away. It had been her fantasy ever since she was five and first heard that Mars hadn’t always been able to support life.
She had joined the junior Arbor Society when she was eight, became a regional counselor at twenty, and now at thirty-five, she was the assistant manager for the entire Martian Forestation project.
In her right hand was her husband Andrew’s left, while on her other side, five-year-old Billy, and his nine-year-old sister Charlotte were huddled against her.
– Oleg Oprisco
“You have to go back!”
She was tall, with long, red hair that drapped her blue jacket clad shoulders. Her eyes were an intense green and her face was smooth and pasty, like melted wax.
But what Sean saw in her hands gave him pause.
“Young lady, I don’t know what…” The sixty-five year old writer, in Glasgow to visit a dying friend, stared at what she was holding.
“Please, you have to go back.”
“What is that?”
“Your doom if you choose to continue.”
He had the taxi drop him off at a pub not half a block from where his old friend Brian MacGregor lived. He needed to have a quick one before facing Brian’s and his mortality. She was standing only a few feet from his destination.
“My what? Is that…?”