Letter From The Editor - Issue 68 - April 2019

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Issue 66
Stories
To Tend a Garden
by Filip Wiltgren
Gods of War Part II
by Steve Pantazis
Companionship
by Rhiannon Rasmussen
Carousel
by Terra LeMay
IGMS Audio
Carousel
Read by Emily Rankin
InterGalactic Medicine Show Interviews
Vintage Fiction
The Tiger's Silent Roar
by Holly Heisey
Bonus Material

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-   -   -   -   P   r   e   v   i   e   w   -   -   -   -

Companionship
    by Rhiannon Rasmussen

Companionship
Artwork by Rhiannon Rasmussen

Interphase: the skin is struck hot and sharp and spills fluid and breath internal into void. Fat punctured, nerves spasm. The side is aflame, clenched lungs afire, the body seizes and rolls away from stellar light, turns eyes to darkness. Under skin the muscle will wither under the song of stars. It is not the first impact but it is the worst, vision inside and outside blinded, spotted with black pain. Skinplates wrench free as tendons contract around the wound, crush the invader, swallows breath tight so no more life will spill out.

Arkaadi pulled himself through the ship's wreckage, hot metal scraping away the surface scales of his emergency environmental suit. The impact klaxons rang in his ears though the sound had stopped with the buckling of the hull. He was small enough to fit through the gap the airlock had peeled open into. If the atmosphere burns, your only hope is outside--he knew that much from drills and diagrams and the last words he'd heard before the suit sealed. Soot burned his hair and scorched his fingertips, but the suit kept clean oxygen/nitrogen pumped into his lungs. He couldn't even smell the fire.

"Papa? Mama?" he said, hands sinking into dark sponge, into the void pocked with lights like eyes--but not vacuum. The fire crept up behind him, his voice drowned by a rising thrum, a rhythm he thought might have been his own pounding heart until he looked up from the smoke to the cavernous muscle that surrounded him, a tiny foreign cell injected into a monster's dilated vein.

Arkaadi grew in the mother-ship's belly. We watched him grow with our many eyes, with our reaching tendrils and our grasping polyps, though we did not know his name then.

We knew him only as the child of calamity, the single-bodied life that crawled from wreckage alone and mewling while our flesh bubbled and burnt around it. For all we knew, he was born then, a tiny interphase cell spilled forth of fire and of metal. We had other concerns: our bleeding, our wounds, the inorganic shattering that splintered our walls and inflamed our tissue. It was not the first impact we had sustained during the journey, but it was the sharpest, the hottest, a lancing pain that penetrated our skins and seized our muscles into long, wracking spasms.

How did he survive those fiery cycles? Only on scavenging his ancestry, child; memory and meal, as do we all survive. He was talkative, but we were occupied with the quick actions and chemicals of survival, and we paid his vocalizations no mind. The stars speak as well, in the long dark silences between them, but they are pattern without intent; how were we to know his cries were different? When he quieted, that seemed no more a message than his noises had.

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