Winter Ways

They were kissing, finally, and laughing and fumbling all over each other. Not caring for the moment that they were teammates, and yet bonded by their time on the ice.

She gives a gentle laugh, and she would have kept reading. But he breaks in.

“Maybe that’s why you keep picking up stories like these. You know you’ll never have the camaraderie that they do.”

It’s sudden and cruel. She has dropped the book and is already curling around her tears.

He has more to say but she can’t bear to listen, not at the moment. She knows that she won’t pick him up again for some time.

Riddle of the Sixth Day

No lack of justice fair to blind

The heart still beating, held alight

In fires of Goliath’s lay

There the captive watcher’s plight

I am in silence; my fellow men

Care nothing for all that has been

And that is, and that will be

In suffering their comfort’s ken

Not to speak and yet to bleed

Rent, until past selves recede

And then diminished, though it were

The meat of human flourishing

Yet I dare not cry indignity

At what daily deals in apathy –

My anger would be lead to plead

Until they turned their backs on me

Were it that my heart would let

Me know their callous peace, and rest

If for a moment, if for a day

The ever-present taint forget

Through thoughts and words and varied shades

Of all we share and all we trade

It dogs me where mirth should abound

Calm uphold, and surrender fade


Elizabeth Cook, 2016

Image: Nocturne in Black and Gold – The Falling Rocket by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

Length of Stone

They didn’t listen
When I tried to keep them from the stone
It ground along its groove
And at the sounds within
They mistook dread
For wonder flickering in my eye
Shuffling, he came out as promised
Outwardly hale and yet
I smelled the rot on his wrappings
He smiled at them
And I knew that his smile was
A skull strumming threads of flesh
He would turn to me next –
Realizing this, I evaporated
Back under the hangings
Milha said,
He could follow you, you know
But it had been a long two years
Walking behind him
Now, I held the length of my stride
Dearer than unsought miracles
I tied my bundle tightly
And went out into the desert
Elizabeth Cook, 2016

The Loidial Trade in Medium-Sized Domestic Animals

An excerpt

Unlike the cosine, which has grown tarnished and shriveled with the oxidation of centuries, the Law of Large Numbers (LLN) has kept remarkably well. As I crept through my apartment over the course of the next few days, expecting a black and orange and mud-coloured assault at every step, I recited the Law to myself.

The LLN states that, when one has the results of a large number of trials from a sample that is representative of a given population, the average of said results should be close to the expected value of the population entire. This sample average will tend closer to the population average as more trials are performed. Since the average number of humans killed or injured by klars per Old Earth Lunar Year (OELY) in the past few decades was precisely zero, and this constituted a good number of trials, the LLN would have me believe that I was safe. I should have gone forth boldly, and stopped slouching so much.

But under these circumstances – as close as I thought I would ever get to experiencing the antique ‘horror’ genre, in which I have precisely zero interest – it was difficult to convince myself that klars had not simply been saving the lives of the same number of human as they killed every year, thus ensuring a neutral profile for the species entire. Having an invisible beast with untrimmed, inch-long claws in one’s living quarters has this sort of effect.

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