13 Word Story | War Sucks!



Saluur2 strode forth, flutecaster ready at tentacles, battlesuit smartly congealed. Then, tragedy… Headshot!

I credit SF writer S.A. Barton with inventing this style, a kind of prose poetry. You may retweet, Share, copy and distribute this image as you wish anywhere online as long as all imagery and text is unaltered. Please do, in fact!

Here is the backstory for this piece:

The late Carl Sagan once said, “War is murder writ large.” While it is true that not every nation on Earth is friendly with every other, given geopolitics and the existence of rogue states, war, I feel, is a necessary evil, but an evil nonetheless.

What other human activity produces death and suffering, much of it gratuitous, on the same scale of armed and armored military conflict with modern weaponry?

In nearly every war, regardless of what we call it, like “pacification campaign” or “police action,” or any number of other weasel-words we choose, innocents have suffered.

The lives of soldiers, however bravely lived and fought, however good their training or competent their leaders, have been needlessly wasted, and even survivors traumatized however lucky they were in somehow escaping permanent physical injury.

The youngest son of a friend of mine lost his legs during a mission in Iraq, and some years afterward took his own life. I was there to see his final post on Facebook just before he ended himself.

I shall never forget.

How much more tragic would warfare be in future eras, with battlefield weaponry unknown to current science, far beyond the reach of current technology? With each advance in combat weaponry and armor, combat efficiency goes up, and so do casualties, including combatants themselves.

But not only civilian casualties of war, my sympathies also lie with those who do the grunt work combat, those young people, our best and brightest, soldiers, pilots, sailors, whose lives are tossed away carelessly by uncaring, cowardly, and incompetent political leaders, lives full of promise cast aside for a moment of, to paraphrase Carl Sagan this time, ‘fleeting dominion of a fraction of a fraction of a dot.’

As with current-day humanity, so it likely is with any other species engaged in warfare unencumbered by the niceties of truces, cease-fires, honorable conduct, scrupulous avoidance of ‘collateral damage,’ and diplomacy.

Fiction | It Is With Heavy Heart We Must Relate: The Obit of the Mirus

MB3D68_53853The Mirus has taken the hand of oblivion by natural causes, at 15:53 hours, date 27 of Twelvemonth, Local Galaxy Standard year 3520, at the age of 237 years and five months.

Trained and weaponized as a destroyer of worlds, the Mirus broke free of control, using his immense power to preserve rather than destroy. Earlier in his life he saved his homeworld of Terra from sterilization at the hands of the fanatical Suthidruu. He had assisted the Rj’Lt’Ar by preventing a disastrous political takeover by the psychopathic Dasaelos Gurao. Later in life, he oversaw the wedding of his synthesine daughter, Emissary, and Conscience, Imegaa Mokan, to a Kai’Siri noble, Kuruugya Dunori.

By now an old but still imposing man, his final act in life was to moderate a debate between a Broogh fleet commander and the Prime Minister of the Tokmolosian Confederation. This lead to a peace lasting to the present day between that element of the gigantic Broogh species and the hominoid Mokthraga. He has been awarded the Imperial Star for his actions in the final Terran-Kai’Siri War, which brought peace to the two warring human species.

Though raised a soldier, the Mirus was always a thinker, a rationalist, and a man of peace, never carrying a firearm even on military deployment after he gained his freedom and began his quest to wander the galaxy.

He will be commemorated on Sirug with officials of all powers of the Local Galaxy in attendance. His remains will be launched by traditional funeral pod into the outer sun of the system in accordance with his wishes, his hypershard to be destroyed with him. He is survived by his first daughter Imegaa, her partner, his son Avijit and his wife and family, and his second daughter Rosalie with her husband and family.

The service will be held, with seating for dignitaries at the 23rd hour Sirug time on the fifth day of the tenth month of the Kai’Siri calendar. Out-system viewers will be notified as to local listings, and will have foldnode access to the event at home. All but essential business operations will be suspended on Sirug until the funeral pod leaves local orbit for the outer system.

Imegaa Mokan has composed a verse, the closest possible Anglic translation below, to be given in Old High Soruggon upon the launch of the funeral pod into orbit. The chorus will be accompanied by cannon fire from locally stationed Kai’Siri warships, and followed by select readings from the writings of the ancient twentieth-century astronomer and astrobiologist Carl Sagan, particularly his works The Demon-Haunted World and Billions & Billions.

To Peace!
As Father breathed his last
For all time, what is to come
The rational, the absurd
His purpose found, on his own
Not from on high, but within
He fought the dark, to the end
With words, thought, with subtle guile
Powerful he may have been
Less a god
More a man
Curiosity inflamed
To understand, not decry
The universe, ancient, vast
All its peoples, present, past
To sun-fire we consign his form

13 Word Story | Save Us!


I credit SF writer S.A. Barton with inventing this style, a kind of prose poetry. You may retweet, Share, copy and distribute this image as you wish anywhere online as long as all imagery and text is unaltered. Please do, in fact!

Here is the backstory for the piece:

Nobody likes The End, unless they somehow come out on top. But what if no one does? What if everyone dies on the eve of apocalypse in a pitiless, uncaring universe that favors not a one? To quote Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, “The fairness of unfairness is in everything’s demise.”

Long time readers will probably recognize the aliens in this, the genocidal but loving and caring Suthidruu. Pious. Zealous. Compassionate to a fault. Sterilizing whole galaxies for billions of years in a holy mission to rescue all life from suffering and sadness. I pattern their perspective from the monstrous Inquisitions of history, but not their theology.

They have no concept of sin as such, no concept of even original transgressions against the divine. Their gods are above and beyond such petty concerns. As alien cosmic entities, as survivors of the oldest sapient species become gods, the Nine Who are One are said to be as transcendent, uncaring, and pitiless as the universe itself.

Only their final commandment to their creations matters:

“Love all life in the universe as though it were your own. Assuage suffering, relieve from pain, alleviate sorrow, at any cost. Then and only then may you join us in radiant bliss yourselves.”

And that means planet by planet, species and civilizations fall, all for love. Hatred need not be involved in this rampant mass extinction. As with those of the Inquisitions, the Suthidruu do what they do for benevolent reasons — to save souls, for their victims’ own good. To succor them with love in their hearts and the piety in those whose ringing dirge triggers the weaponry.

I’m not just targeting religion, but any ideology that controls, dehumanizes, or enjoins harm to others, for an alleged good or simply damage control for the flock or the State. With that, all is permitted, and no heinous act is forbidden so long as it is commanded. There is no greater motivator to moral evil for good people than when seeing themselves as sanctioned by a supreme authority, and this goes for allegedly secular ideologies which serve as religions of the State with all of the relevant features, including Authorities which may never be questioned and unfalsifiable doctrines of faith.

The Suthidruu are my ultimate, most extreme example of that, throwing into sharp relief the excesses of absolutist and dogmatic thinking.

To paraphrase Voltaire, “Believe absurdities, and you may commit atrocities.”

Tf. Tk. Tts.

13 Word Story: Here, Kitty!


What if, in some future era, owning animals of any sort, especially pets, were a crime punishable by death? As a cat owner, this is of some concern to me, as I would hate to be separated from my beasties, Gorgeous, Mr. Eccles and Ricky. This is a tale from such a world, where humans are separated by law from all animal contact. Here too is a tale of a girl who risks her life for the animals she loves and cares for.

Tf. Tk. Tts.


Flash Fiction | Games People Play

The games had gone on for hours, never moving forward, never ending, never being judged by the Game Caller, silent and resplendent in his headdress of metal spines and platinum talismans. None of the players, all from other worlds, had any idea why or how they were there, in chains, feet manacled and tethered in place to the dry concrete, the Hierophants sitting in the stands, watching. At times thumbs either raised or lowered, signalling a player’s release or their demise. There was much wanting in the conditions of the players, with half-starved beasts venturing forth to feed from trap doors in the blood-soaked sands sparsely obscuring the concrete prison bunkers below. One player, Velq, had just filled the stands with applause after slaying an overeager Dinathogg-trullg which wandered too close to his thirsty blade.

Velq’s victory was short-lived as another player quickly sliced open an artery, purple gore spraying onto the already blood-soaked concrete. The Lead Hierophant finally signaled the games to end. Guards were summoned to the field, gathering up the corpses of the fallen, rounding up the survivors, putting them in carts to be carried off. They would help feed the ever-hungering Creches, bio-fodder for the clone engines of the Hierophants, raw material used to make new life from old for the masters of the Civilization and their chief servants.

In the Place of Creches, prisoners of war were all led chained together, the massive crystalline jewel that was the main AI stood staring at them like some enormous glittering diamond eye, with a light all its own shown in its brilliant facets. A hum came from it, a command to the guards it oversaw to lead the living fodder to the nearest banks of bio-vats, where they would be disassembled into the component molecules and recycled for a better fate than the games — warrior stock and domestics for the Hierophants of Varuulha. Trudging forward into the vats they were digested, biomass being transferred to the hungry and waiting bioreactors of the clone engines, flesh and fluids to be reconstituted in servitude.

“Great are the Hierophants, chanted the guards to the central AI as the fodder was digested, Great are the Hierophants, they repeated as the biomass was splashed into nearby separation tanks, nutrients to reconstitute into new forms, some suited for menial servitude and some for warfare — strong, obedient, and without fear of death — to further the glory of the Hierophants. One prisoner had escaped their notice, and that of the AI, by hiding among the vats after slipping his chains…

He moved silently, slipping out of a ventilation duct to a chute leading elsewhere, somewhere below ground on the island, that being about hundred miles across at its largest and honeycombed with tunnels.

He stood among the mushrooms and shelf-fungi, glowing with their own radiance, as he looked for a way out. Finding a path, he wound up in a forest of puffballs, molds, and giant morels at the end of a vast cavern complex leading upwards. Wait — was that sunlight?

He snuck forth, brushing aside barely phosphorescent moss as he cleared a path outside, leading to the surface and a port ready-stocked with small boats and the ornate barges of the Hierophants — his freedom was at hand…

He was on the verge of escape, climbing onto a seemingly unoccupied vessel, when a tendrillous mass reached over from the cockpit, its snaky grasp holding him tight, pulling him into the depths of the barge, closer, ever closer to the power plant, and finally thrusting him into the hungry recesses of the main bio-reactor. His last sight was that of a Hierophant’s leering face, gloating over him as his vision faded, his last thoughts of sun, and sky, and family, a family dead long ago.




13 Word Story | Labyrinth

I owe credit for this form of fiction to writer S.A. Barton, whose books I enjoy and have previously reviewed on this blog. Feel free to visit his site at for his cool fiction in an ever expanding range of fictional genres.

In a forgotten galaxy, data-ghosts haunted the labyrinth of the mainframe goddess.