Editor’s Note: This story is by Deborah. Do you know Deborah? You should know Deborah. It is rumored she sprung fully formed from the ether. She is made of things which are dark and terrible to behold; she is filled with strange truths and secrets which the cowardly among us would be terrified to hear…
I may have wrestled a bear in order to bring you this story. Enjoy.
The Unmoveable Sky
By Deborah Walker
The time of Kali has passed.
I walk to the viewing gallery. The blood leaches through the slashes in my armoured suit. If the hull had breached, I would be dead, but, somehow, we still have gravity and atmosphere.
Perhaps the transgressors want to take this ship back to their home intact, as some sort of trophy. They seem to put a value on trophies. I saw one of them screech in triumph, as he ripped of the head off the doctor. He held the head out towards his companions. They roared their approval. I saw him lick the doctor’s face with his tongue, long and black and obscene.
The transgressors are skilled hunters. For two weeks they tracked us, as we darted through the system, making increasingly risky jumps through space, skittering from singularity to singularity, until we could flee no more. The final miscalculation was my mistake.
The body of a transgressor blocks my path. I step over it, feeling a surge of savage pride. Here, at least, is one we managed to kill. Here, at least, is one who tasted Kali’s knife through his skin.
The transgressors are skilled fighters. When battle finally came, they overwhelmed us within a few hours, and we are the elite of the Empire’s force.
I imagine waves of transgressors, moving outwards, following the trail of our ship, back to human space and to the worlds that we have made our own.
As I enter the viewing room, a young ensign snaps to attention. Some of the others try to stand.
“The time for such formality is over,” I say. “We’re all equal under the eye of Dhumavti.”
“You set the course?” says Bren, the woman who was once my lover.
A murmur passes through the room.
“In this moonless sky, we ride in the broken chariot of Dhumavati.”
The crew start to undress. As do I. I help those who are too damaged to unclothe themselves.
The viewing gallery is a charnel house, a blend of blood and flesh, and smashed bones, and the acrid stench of the transgressors’ blood that drips like acid through our flesh.
It is the incense of Dhumavati.
I sit naked at the metal glass window, watching the black hole, the dark singularity.
A chittering message comes over the com. It’s the transgressors. They must be in the control room. They must have discovered what I have done.
I smile. they will not take this ship as their trophy, nor will they unwind our path back to our families.
The lights are flickering, shadows on our metal walls.
We move toward the eternal widow. The goddess Dhumavati is the dark singularity pulling us towards her twisting merging core.
Dhumavati is the dark widow. Her body is the drifting smoke of space.
Naked we sit and gaze at the raven’s wing shape in her light-eating sky.
Originally published in the Poe Little Thing Anthology: In Space No One Can Hear You Scream 2011
Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in the country, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog: http://deborahwalkersbibliography.blogspot.com/
Gorgeous writing — but I wouldn’t expect anything else from Deborah!
Glad you enjoyed it, Milo. Thanks for taking the time to comment. It means a lot.
Very enjoyable read. I especially like the analogies of the goddesses to the physical and fear:
“The viewing gallery is a charnel house, a blend of blood and flesh, and smashed bones, and the acrid stench of the transgressors’ blood that drips like acid through our flesh.
It is the incense of Dhumavati.”
That was a great little piece. Dark, intense and gripping. Loved it!
I do know Deborah. All the rumors are true.
*laughs* Thanks, Amanda!
A beheading in the third paragraph…good times! Great story.
I can pack a lot into my flash fiction, when I try. In fact, I wish I’d put in more decapitations.
Ah, next time.