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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
Alien Fruit

by
Harris Tobias
The Stang

by
Harris Tobias
The Dreaming Fire

by
Jeromy Henry
THE MUTED SHOUT OF THE GRAY TOWER

by
James Gardner

Weeping Willows

by

Daniel Tierney



Lilith looked up at the trees in the distance, marveling at how they appeared to be a kind of frozen rain.  What are those trees called again?  In such circumstances it was permissible to inquire of strangers.  She walked up to an elderly couple who were eating ice cream cones and smiled.  They smiled back and waited calmly if not entirely pleased to be interrupted while eating. “Excuse me, but do you happen to know the name of those trees over there?”  Lilith pointed at the trees and smiled again. The woman squinted through her glasses, then looked at her companion with a puzzled face.  The man finished his cone, wiped his mouth with a small paper napkin, carefully folded it and put it in his pocket before saying, “of course, those are called…”

 

…and Lilith was surprised to find herself standing in front of an older couple she did not know. They seemed to be equally confused by her presence. Not knowing what else to do, she turned and walked away.  As she waited at the cab stand, Lilith could just make out the couple still staring at her from the corner of her eyes. The next cab pulled up and she got in and pressed her left hand on the panel located on the dashboard.  After several seconds the panel beeped and the cab started up and began following the GPS to her apartment and…  

 

…she was sitting on her sofa in front of the wall screen, which was showing an old movie. The actors looked vaguely ridiculous in their outmoded uniforms, which were wrinkled and baggy.

 

It was evening and she was hungry.  She took out her tablet and pressed the “food” icon. The tablet prompted her to select “evening meal-vegan”.  While she waited for it to arrive, Lilith played a card game on her tablet and...

 

…the man she was making love with rolled over and off the bed. She noticed that he was very quick to remove the sheath from his member and toss it into the wall incinerator. This made her wonder if he had faked his completion, not that it mattered that much to her.  She had been moderately satisfied, which was all she was seeking, so it was a relief when he left right after the payment was approved. She felt pleasantly sleepy and stretched out on the bed. The lights flashed off and…

 

…she sat at her work station and yawned as she expertly touched the screen each time the red circle appeared. Her right hand hovered just above the “delete” key, which she pressed as soon as a red circle appeared. The work was very boring but also very easy, so she had plenty of time to chat with her friend on her head phone.  Martha had a similar job at another site, so they carried on their dialog almost uninterrupted, except when the supervibots would pass over them. But their soft whirring motors always alerted her in time to stop speaking before it came into hearing and sight range. Lilith hazily remembered something she had been told in formation about some person who had said something about defensive measures always being a step behind reality. She must ask someone who said that and…

 

 

...she entered the assembly hall and took a seat near the back.  The place was only half full, so she wondered if she had arrived too early. But soon the lights dimmed and soft music began to play from the wall speakers. The greenish mist rose slowly and with it the faint odor of flowers. Lilith tried to keep her eyes open for as long as she could, but they soon fluttered and closed, as they always did. A warmth spread out from the base of her spine and…

 

…there was a loud noise outside her door, and Lilith ran up to it and turned on the scanner. The well-lit hallway seemed deserted at first, but on the second pass she saw a man dressed in white standing over a woman who appeared to be unconscious. The man seemed to sense someone watching him and turned his head in the direction of her door. Lilith quickly stepped away from the door, but not before she saw that the man had no eyes. This has nothing to do with me. Lilith went into the  room and...

 

…it was morning and Lilith woke with the feeling that she had dreamed but could recall nothing specific about it.  All she was left with was the sense of having transgressed some law that she would someday be punished for.  To escape this lingering mood she decided to use her day off to clean her apartment, even though she could have simply turned on the cleaning system and then  went out for a few hours while it did its’ work.  As convenient and pleasant as it was to come home to find the place spotless, it also often made her feel that some presence had been there that was checking up on her.  There was an old word that people used to describe this feeling, but she could not remember it, except that it began with a ‘b’ or a ’p’.  Lilith got down and all fours and swept with her arm under the couch.  The swirl of dust made her cough, but when she recovered there was an object lying a few inches from her nose that she couldn’t immediately identify. It appeared to be a small blue cube that pulsated with a soft light from within. She picked it up and…

 

…she was coming out of a viewing center.  She looked up at the digital marquee that announced that the day’s showing was a comedy starring Eddie Franz.  She was far from a fan of this actor’s work, finding it vulgar and tasteless, so it was doubly surprising that she had been there and yet couldn’t remember a thing about the show. I’m having blackouts again.  She reached into her bag and pulled out a capsule and dry swallowed it.  Almost immediately, Lilith felt the chemical move through her body like a cool ointment. She didn’t even flinch when two empty cabs collided at the corner.  Rather than violence, they made her think of two old friends smoking and sharing confidences.  She smiled and…

 

… on the day her friend Martha disappeared Lilith was spending the weekend with her parents.  Sitting on the screened porch as her mother stirred a huge pitcher of ice tea, she had the strangest feeling that she was acting in a play.  Her mother’s white/blue hair gripped her small head like a helmet. Who is this old woman?  “Where’s my father?” Her mother poured out two long slim glasses of tea and stirred in sugar.  “Your father is dead, dear.”  Lilith felt like hitting her mother. “I don’t want any sugar!”  Her mother turned away and went into the house and…

 

…Lilith looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Her analyst/counselor continued to check her e-mails on her phone.  Outside the large plate glass window a aero taxi crossed the sky going backwards. That’s another sign that the universe is collapsing.  Who said that? “Why aren’t we getting younger?” The counselor looked up from her phone and smiled. “Did you say something.?” When the time for the session expired the door to the office slid open and Lilith got up and…

 

… tried to remember an incident that once seemed so important, but now, seemed so trivial. Her phone hummed and she picked it up. A voice she almost recognized said, “Run away, now!” There was a pause and a fumbling sound. Another voice that she didn’t recognize said: “Isn’t she such a silly! Wherever you ran to, wouldn’t it still be just here?” The phone went dead and Lilith felt a headache coming on, so she went looking for those tasty pastilles and…

 

…hesitated to take her evening sleep aid. For some reason, Lilith wanted to remain awake. Am I waiting for somebody, and if I were, who could that possibly be?  No, she decided, she was just curious to know what happened when she slept. If she just pretended to be asleep would that work?  Did the world disappear? Did it lose color? Am I a bad person? Lilith felt so stupid sometimes.  The room was rotating slowly but gaining speed. Better to get some sleep and try the experiment some other night. She swallowed the pills with delicious pomegranate juice and...

 

…looked at the half-filled glass of dark red liquid. I don’t like this stuff, so why am I drinking it? She poured out the rest into the sink, then felt guilty for wasting food.  The face of a young woman appeared in her mind and Lilith almost gasped. I know that woman, don’t I? She began to feel sleepy and...

 

…found herself standing in front of a large apartment building looking up at the sixth floor. Something about it was familiar, although she was also sure she had never been here before.  People walking by looked at her briefly then looked away. No one bothers you here, which is nice and…

 

…she was quite lost. The neighborhood she was in was suburban in look, with large spaces between buildings and small parks everywhere. It was twilight and the streets were almost deserted.  She wondered whether she should look for a cab when a private car pulled up at the curb and…

 

…the room she was in had no windows. The furniture had the spare look of rentals. She felt a little feverish but there was nothing to take for it.  Music was playing, although she couldn’t see where it was coming from. I don’t like this music. It’s too sad and…

 

…the light above her head was blinding, but she found that she could not shut her eyes. A churning sound reminded her of her mother’s washer.  I can’t remember my mother’s face and my father is dead.  She looked at her hands, which now had liver spots and…

 

…weeping willows, I believe.”  The old man smiled and she smiled back, although she had no idea what he was talking about, and…

 

The End

 

                                                                         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Books by Quantum Muse contributors and friends.
A Felony of Birds

by
Harris Tobias
Stormcastle: And Other Fun Games With Cards And Dice

by
Jeromy Henry
Peaceful Intent--Stories of human/Alien Interaction

by
Harris Tobias
Lockdown

by
Timothy O. Goyette


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