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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Outrunning the Storm

Michele Dutcher
A Felony of Birds

Harris Tobias
Alien Fruit

Harris Tobias
The Wizard's House

Jeromy Henry

Let the Cold Winds Blow

by Rory Warwick

Elodie slipped the sandals from her feet and dug her toes in to the soft, warm sand. The sky was clear and the late afternoon sun had smeared its palette of oranges and yellows and pinks across the horizon. She closed her eyes and inhaled the salty air as a cool breeze blew in from the ocean.

 Even at this distance from spaceport, the three mighty vessels she had come to see were plainly visible as they slowly crept into the sky, their massive bulk defying earth’s gravity.

It was the perfect spot to watch the first colony ships launch for the Galilean satellites carrying millions of colonists to their new homes.

The rights to colonize the moons had been won and she found herself on the losing side. Now the responsibility of raising her newly orphaned granddaughter was hers. The void her son’s death had left would change them both, but there would be no tears. Before she could allow herself to grieve she would need face her anger.

Elodie watched her granddaughter playing in the shallow water on the shore. She laughed and splashed and played with the other children with no understanding of her father’s fate. Elodie’s worst fear was that the girl would grow up to forget him altogether. Elodie’s heart swelled with love as she pressed her thumb in to a small device in the palm of her hand.

In an instant, the three colony ships exploded in a brilliant white blaze. Flames licked the sky from fierce orange fireballs before they were devoured by swelling clouds of black smoke.

Elodie felt no remorse for her atrocity as she watched wreckages fall from the sky like dead birds. As they plunged into the ocean below, the swirling plumes of black smoke stained the sky in their wake.

A moment of silence passed before a thunderous roar rolled in from the sea followed by an intense blast wave. Elodie closed her eyes again as the cold wind crashed against her face. She imagined the faces of the dead soldiers who would never come home from the senseless war.

She opened them again as she heard the cries of horror from those around her. Dozens of people gathered at the shore to see the destruction. She listened to them speak, their words only fuelling her belief that she had done the right thing. The war may have been over for them but it wasn’t for her.

For generations, people would talk of the massacre of the Galilean colony ships. Rumors would spread that the rebellion yet lived, and eventually someone would pay for the loss of life. Elodie was confident that it would be a while before she was connected to the destruction.

A woman beside her wailed in the anguish of her shock. She wept at the sight of the charcoal filled sky.

“Why,” she began “what kind of monsters were we fighting?”

Elodie ignored her.

“If they can just butcher so many innocent people like that then what were they fighting for, why did they do it?”

Elodie glared at the woman.

“Perhaps they’re human beings too, perhaps they have been hurt because everything was taken from them. Perhaps they’re tired of fighting for their way of life and they can never submit, not ever. Perhaps”.

The woman scoffed and shook her head dismissively.

“Perhaps your generation just can’t accept change old woman” she said.

Elodie didn’t reply. She squeezed the detonator in her hand and walked down to the water’s edge where her granddaughter was stood gazing up at the sky with the other children. When she saw her grandma she ran up the beach, her yellow dress dancing wildly in the breeze which still blew in from the ocean.

There was no fear in the child’s eyes as she took her grandmother’s hand and looked up at her.

“Nana, what happened in the sky?” she asked.

“The ships blew up pumpkin. No one’s going to Titan anymore”.

“Why?” the girl asked.

Elodie thought about how it could be explained to a child.

“Do you remember why Marden was told off at school yesterday?” Elodie asked.

“Because he was being a bully”

“That’s right, and what did your teacher say?”

“That it’s bad, that he shouldn’t pick on people smaller than him”

“And why is that?” Elodie asked, her tone suddenly more authoritative.

“Because everyone will think he’s a bully and they won’t want to be his friend”

“That’s right. Those people are just like Marden, and their ships blew up because they did the same thing that he did”.

“They were picking on people smaller than them?”

“Yes, they were. And look what happened”.

Fear gradually emerged in her granddaughter’s eyes. The girl squeezed her grandma’s hand tighter and looked back up at the dissipating grey plumes. Elodie scanned the sky and pondered.

“It looks like rainclouds are coming pumpkin, we need to leave now” she said, hoping that the child wouldn’t pick up the hint of anxiety in her voice.

“Before we go, why don’t you try to skip this stone across the water as far as you can?” she handed the detonator to her granddaughter.

“It looks strange,” she said, curiously studying the device as she twisted it in her fingers.

“Take a run-up and make it a good throw Pumpkin” Elodie said.

“Ok” she shouted.

She ran down to the water’s edge and hurled the device through the air.

Elodie spared a final glance at the burnt horizon before she walked back up the beach. She knew that she would be able to live with what she had done, it was harder to live with the death of her son, and she was still alive somehow. She took comfort in the knowledge that it would be a long time before another colony ship would leave for the moons of Jupiter. It wouldn’t bring her son back or change the outcome of the war, but it was enough. 

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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Transdimensional Blues

Raymond Coulombe
Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice

Jeromy Henry
The Wizard's House

Jeromy Henry
Against a Diamond

Michele Dutcher

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