Children of the Snake Handler

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Flash Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction

The skies above Gamma Ophiucus Seven were alive with dancing ribbons of radiation. Waves of energy swept back and forth like the multicolored cloak of some ancient magician. The harsh black and green surface of the inhospitable orb was lit with manic color for this one night of its elongated year and it revealed an ugly world. The black places were the jagged basalt spines of its mountains. The bands of green were not vegetation, but rather nacreous fields of uninterrupted limestome. Plumes of vapor arose from the limestone, lit by the magma beneath it and venting from the fumaroles which dotted the plain like the mouths of bottomless wells. There was precious little water, gathered at both the tiny icecaps, horded against the day when there might possibly be life that would require it as a basic component of existence. The lonely little planet needn’t have bothered. There was no life here. Except for me. I am alive. Or at least I think so, which according to some philosphies means that I am. I leave it to you to decide. By the time you hear this recording the point will be moot. I will be dead from lack of food, lack of air, lack of will, or some other doom, perhaps even murder. Yes, murder. It is possible I am not alone on this orb, though I am the only life-sign that would register to the sensors of any passing ships. There are shapes here, forms that move against the greater darkness and gather about the smoking holes as if in worship. They are invisible, unseen and unheard, and yet their passage is felt as disturbances in the localized magnetic fields, tremors in the radiowaves, and cold goosebumps on the back of my neck. They are only visible this one night of the entire year. Tonight, Gamma Ophiucus passes close to its dying sun, close enough to absorb some of its erratic radiations, giving shape and color to that which is shapeless and colorless. I saw them this morning, tall as trees made from knots of fraying rope. They dance in time to the background static, cavorting with the abandon of coyotes at play, and claw at the swollen sun like blind apes yearning for a god they cannot see. But they can see me. One especially noted my presence at their weird ritual and now it follows me. If it catches me before the bloated red sun sets beyond the horizon I might even see the face of my killer.

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