Wednesday, April 15, 2015

All Quiet on the Martian Front Serial Fiction Stories by E. Skye Chaney

Official All Quiet on the Martian Front Serial Fiction
Part One – Samson
By E. Skye Chaney

Pop. Pop. Pop. The bubbles shone and tickled, catching in the delicate hairs on the back of her hand. Pop. Another one lost. Always more to follow though. So effortlessly dispensed from the wavy glass that housed them. The bubbles cleansed, they broke down grease, they made pots and plate shiny again. They offered the chance of a fresh start; a new soup to be simmered, a bloody piece of meat to be fried. And then they popped. Ceased to exist.

WOOF. A deep bark, heavy with warning and question. One rough syllable was enough, and Edene startled, let the suds slide off her hand, disappear into the basin. How long had she been standing there? Seconds? Minutes? An hour? She looked down into dark eyes. Canine concern regarded her, and she patted his taupe head as she moved across the room, grabbing her last clean rag.

“We'll have to do some wash again, Samson.” She dried her hands, ignored their cracks. Washing clothes and dishes and herself meant long treks through the woods to the stream, lots of trips back and forth with heavy metal pails, icy water sloshing as she hurried through the trees, stumbling over rocks and branches and downed trees as quickly as possible. Back and forth, back and forth, until her legs trembled and her hands wept. The winter forest and its naked trees offered little protection from roaming Tripod eyes, and Edene was always soaked after her frenzied treks, her trousers freezing stiffly. They would stand upright when she shivered out of them, leaving an empty woman-shape poised in front of the wardrobe, ready to take a stroll. Samson froze, also, as he stalked through the quiet woods, hoping to catch a foraging squirrel or rabbit or maybe even a wayward chicken. His mangy fur hung with tiny icicles. He was a good hunting dog. But the Tripods had silenced the woods efficiently, and his findings now were meager. A stringy rabbit occasionally, or an already dead deer, not gone past eating yet. The Invasion left Edene and Samson's world still and patient, quietly watching for her to make a mistake, reveal herself with a careless sliver of smoke or an ill-timed dropping of a pot.

The nights would come when she could hear the Tripods walking nearby, metal joints screeching, a strange electronic humming vibrating through the woods. Red lights would roam and shine though her cabin windows, and sometimes she would hear screaming, far, far in the distance. Sometimes she even heard shots fired. So she wasn't alone, her and her old dog. The Tripods still searched, humanity still needed quelling. Pop.

She wouldn't leave. Where would she go, after all, an old woman and her dog? And anyways, last she heard news, no corner completely belonged to humans anymore. Here was as good as anywhere else, and here she had a purpose, a cause; here she could still smell him if she laid her head just right on his pillow, she could hear the ghost of his footsteps, she could put her fingertips to the worn axe handle, feel his prints beneath hers. Richard would return to this house, he had promised her when he left, and she had promised to stay put, to maintain this bit of civility to return to when the world stopped burning.

At night, Edene blew out the candles, snuffed out their small fire, wiggled behind Samson into the crawl space under the floor, then quietly and swiftly replaced the boards as they settled into the earth, wrapped in quilts and nestled together, dog and woman. They would doze through the night, sharing warmth and troubled dreams. Above them, Tripods walked, and the world still burned.

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