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vol vi, issue 1 < ToC
Moonlight Apocrypha
by
Kurt Newton
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Unquiet PlanetSwiss Army
Mars Lander
Moonlight Apocrypha
by
Kurt Newton
previous

Unquiet Planet




next

Swiss Army
Mars Lander
Moonlight Apocrypha
by
Kurt Newton
previous next

Unquiet Planet Swiss Army
Mars Lander
previous

Unquiet Planet




next

Swiss Army
Mars Lander
Moonlight Apocrypha
 by Kurt Newton
Moonlight Apocrypha
 by Kurt Newton
1. Wildlife

It wasn't long before deer began entering the shopping mall and bears were seen walking through downtown at lunch hour. The emptiness of the streets and the silence it created turned our accumulation of businesses, banks, and office buildings into just another forest. Jagged, antiseptic-smelling, and hard on the footpads, but a curiosity just the same. A place to explore. A place to forage. These were no ghosts. These were our predecessors, retreating deep into the forest, when we came to be the stewards of these wild spaces. We might still believe that this land is our land, but in reality it never was. And as we huddle in our self-imposed isolation, the scent of our desperation wafting like smoke signals into the night sky, we know the wolves are soon to follow.


2. River Rats

Fresh water became more and more scarce, so we camped along the riverbank. As long as people kept their distance, there weren't any problems. There were enough fish in the fast-moving water to feed everyone. But not everyone buried their fish guts and fish heads. Sometimes during the day, river rats as large as tomcats would waddle through camp, their whiskers twitching, looking for that smell. Some had enough meat on them for a meal. The night brought other animals out of the woods. Deer, raccoon, a coyote now and then. And then there were the ones that moved like giant spiders along the sand, back arched, arms and legs bent at odd angles. They would dip their chin in the cool water before scrambling back into the underbrush, their hairless bodies aglow beneath the moonlight.


3. Dr. Tasserman's Tea

Sometimes we'd come across the old man who lived in the wild. His face was scarred with permanent lines from wearing the same mask for years. Trying to fix it. Trying to find a cure. Some say he was a doctor at one of the big hospitals. Dr. Tasserman. Before the pandemic struck. Before the summer we died. But now he's claiming he's found a cure. A tea made from sassafras root, birch bark, and jimsonweed. One cup and the world will be right again. Loved ones will return. Smiles and hugs all around. The sun will shine into places that never existed, and you'll walk arm-in-arm and share old memories and embrace this new world without care, without worry. Only love. And then we remember this old man can't even remember his name. And so we move on, our cups untouched. But the temptation lingers, like a hangover. For some of us, the hangover becomes all-devouring. Until, one day, they disappear from camp in search of the old man who lives in the wild. We can only imagine what that first sip must taste like.


4. The Salt Pool

It was someone's swimming pool once, an old in-ground gunite classic—curved walls, plaster smooth, deep end a good twelve feet. But it had sat for months, then years. Plants and vines adapted to the saline content, growing up and around it, creating a kind of sylvan spa, a therapeutic bath that killed the virus and rendered bathers immune. Many flock to the salt pool, leaving their meager belongings behind. Many give testimony to the feeling of returning to the womb, to the water's silky buoyancy, to the way the vines seem to snake around like an umbilical cord. Many have claimed staying underwater for quite some time before being released, rejuvenated, reborn. Others have simply drowned, taken into the pool's murky depths, never to be seen again. It is believed this is the highest honor one can achieve. To be at one with the pool. To be accepted, absorbed. To forever gaze into the watery eye of eternity.


5. The Farm

It's peaceful here, on the farm. The sun rises over rolling fields. The air smells clean, like after a spring rain. The trees stand tall as giants. Patient giants that I suspect will one day move in ways we never thought possible. There is a stillness that has grown, a palpable quiet once reserved for churches and cemeteries, now more widespread. Even now, as I sit on the porch rocking, the last grave dug to plant the last body to brave this strange yet beautiful journey, I can feel them watching me, breathing in the last of my breath as it leaves these failing lungs, their roots eager to claim what little nutrient, what little life, remains on my bones. Of this, I am certain, as I spy movement at the edge of the porch. Tiny green fingers coming to take me home.

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Unquiet Planet