08:20:00 am, by Nic Wilson   , 137 words  
Categories: Blog, Announcements


Nic's published works are now available for e-reader at Smashwords and Amazon, as well as other e-tailers. Visit Nic's book page for specific availability.

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This blog showcases the ongoing and in-process work of Nicolas Wilson, full of wierd, fuzzy, wriggly things to tickle your brain. There tend to be several different projects ongoing at once, with their own posting schedules. Nic's publishing schedule briefly broke Nic's brain, but we replaced it with a melted Kit Kat bar we found under his toilet, and that seems to have him back online- better, even. Every November, check back daily to watch a novel birth itself in a month. Expect posting to return to its regular, if slightly assymetrical schedule outside of July and November novel writing marathons. 2014's project will be Next of Kin, a cyberpunk dystopia following a man chasing his brother's murderer.

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  06:47:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1009 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Epilogue: Breaking Bread

“It’s Thanksgiving,” Ken said from the head of the table, “and maybe it’s just that I’m older than all of you, or maybe it’s that I have more gray hair than any of you- sorry, Bill-” Bill, who was in the middle of drinking a glass of wine, continued drinking, but raised his free middle finger in Ken’s direction. “But I feel a bit like the father of this mutant family. And while we have no bird to carve- unless that’s a euphemism, and then-” “Ahem!” Paul bellowed. “Right, on track, focused, we don’t have a bird, but this is still turkey day. For those of you non-Americans, sorry; I wish you could have been born in our better country.” “And we wish your children were better educated,” Rica said. “Or that your people lived longer,” Ang added. “Foreign-born peanut gallery, zip. But in case you’ve somehow never caught a Peanuts holiday special, aside from slaughtering a weird-looking, weird-sounding, weirdly named bird, we show our appreciation of things since the last turkey day.” “I meant what I said about family. I haven’t been here near as long as some of you, but you’ve made me feel welcome- given me a sense of belonging I only ever had fleetingly back on our home ball of rocks. Maybe some of that is our shared parasite, and maybe some the forced intimacy of a space station. But it seems like a fair trade off, just to let some microbugs do science in my colon.” “Can’t we go one Thanksgiving without talking about your colon?” Paul asked. “Never,” Ken said. “But we lost people this year. I’ve been with the program long enough that I knew all of them, in one capacity or another. Trained some of them. Trained with some of them. They are our brothers and sisters, even in death, and they will be cherished, and missed. So the first of man toasts- those of you with weak constitutions might want to pace yourselves, because that is heavily fortified wine- I may have fortified it a little extra myself- but the first toast, as it should always be, to our fallen.” Ken raised and drained his glass. He shook it at Colleen, who rolled her eyes and poured him another. “My second toast, because I’m a lush and I talk too much when I drink, to guilt. All of us have got it. Whether it’s questioning how we could have prevented things, or just guilt that we lived where others didn’t. Well you knock that shit off. We are brothers and sisters, through fire and through blood. I’ve bounced my fair share of military nutsacks from the program who didn’t understand that what we do is just like combat- only instead of drone strikes dropping missiles from a world away while you sip your goddamned beer from the safety of a trailer, we ride the rockets the whole damn way. It is a madman’s dream, a dream only fulfilled by men and women smart enough to know better, but crazy enough not to care. And that combination already makes us something special, set apart from the rest of our species. But living through what we’re called to do, and living through what we have, that makes us family. And maybe I don’t deserve to place myself in there; I sat in a comfy armchair while the rest of you fought for your very survival up here. But not once have any of you made me feel like I didn’t belong. So drink with me again.” He killed his second glass, and Colleen dutifully filled it. “Third, we’re going to drink to the future- though I’m breaking that up into two separate toasts, because I like drinking, and you should, too. Claudette’s heading back to Earth in the morning. We’ll miss her. But she’s volunteered to pilot resupplies for as long as we need them. And given the time I had trying to track down even a civvy to come up here with me-” “That’s because you were the one doing flying,” Skot said. “My piloting is so smooth it would give Barry White’s corpse an erection.” “And there goes my appetite,” Laura said, pushing her plate forward. “But that commitment might mean a lot to us in the future. In effect, she’s volunteered to go on milk runs while everybody else does the big fancy exploration. She’s punching her career in the overhead gonad compartment so we don’t starve- or have to go too long without booze. So to Clod, for being a generous sort, and for not getting her genetic cherry popped.” “And there goes my appetite,” Colleen said, comically dropping her fork. “Screw you all- I’m being eloquent up here,” Ken muttered. “The second half of that third toast is about all of us. We’ve been through what should probably be pictured in the dictionary to represent ‘crazy shit,’ but we came out the other end.” Paul leaned over to Colleen and said, “This seems to be a very colon-heavy Thanksgiving.” “Makes me feel right at home; very colon-heavy, my family holidays,” she said. “The two of you together now makes so much more sense,” he said. “Cough cough,” Ken said, “because I’m still talking. But We’re resilient, frequently brilliant, and candidly excellent specimens of the human condition- though our human condition is a little on the altered side nowadays. I know this isn’t the life any of us expected. And had we been asked, this is quite likely not the life any of us would have chosen. But I have every confidence we will not only persevere, here, but we will thrive, and we’ll accomplish that together. It was a privilege working with all of you. And it’s been an honor joining you here.” Ken raised his glass a final time, then drained it, and dropped into his seat. “For right now,” he said, “we’re going to feast. But the future starts tomorrow. And it’s a big weird Moon out there. Let’s go do some science to it.”


  06:46:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1120 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: New Moon

Paul wandered the halls bleary-eyed. He had two messages waiting for him when he woke up next to Laura. The first read, “Come after you finish having sex.” The second clarified, “Not a semen joke.” Paul found Ken in the cafeteria. It had been cleaned up, and put back mostly in pristine condition, save for a few scuffed surfaces. He had several monitors on the wall showing exterior scenes from along the train route. They showed the sun slowly cresting the horizon, cutting a swath of light over the lunar surface. Ken had a bottle and two glasses on the table next to him. The ice in one was pristine and new, and in the other melted from repeated pourings from the bottle. “It’s a difficult science,” Ken said, upending the bottle over each glass in turn, “figuring out how long an estranged man and his lady will be in a sex coma after their reunion. Even tougher trying to figure out how deeply into the bag an old boozehound with a now wicked alcohol tolerance has to crawl so that you can catch and then keep up.” “I thought you were drying up,” Paul said. “I’m tapering off. And this is an occasion worth drinking to.” “Our reunion?” “We’re the fathers of calamity- this disaster’s bastard daddumses. With all of the guilt and self-doubt that come with that.” “You remember the little speech you gave me when I joined NASA?” Ken grinned. It was a speech he enjoyed, and he enjoyed it especially with Paul- a man he thought was smart enough to know how insane what he wanted from his life was. “We’re all lunatics, here. I voluntarily shoot my friends ballistically outside orbit. And you idiots volunteer, and even trained like little lab rats, for the fucking privilege. But we back that crazy up with smarts, and balls, so by the time we do catapult your narrow ass out of the atmosphere, you’ll intimately understand as much of the mad science keeping you alive as I can ratchet into your melon, along with all the bad crap that can happen to you, in excruciating detail- and you’ll have the gonadal danglitude to go forward and get the damn job done.” “Good speech. Better without the slurring. But a good speech.” “I think I cribbed most of it from Eisenhower. Sprinkled with liberal plagiarism from Mr. Wizard.” “For what it’s worth,” Paul said, “I think you made the right call. Not about me, obviously. But not letting more people up here. We would have lost more people- and the incursion force probably would have had casualties, as well. It was the responsible and even right decision; you wouldn’t have saved anybody, and you likely would have killed even more.” “We trust the hell out of you, Ken, because we’ve seen it time and again. If your astronauts called needing infant kidneys, you wouldn’t dicker around about whether or not we could substitute with something less offensive, or spend weeks playing chess with Congress over appropriations. You’d grab a scalpel and ask only how many, and whether or not size mattered.” “Already learned that one the hard way- it does.” “We still trust you. That trust wasn’t about thinking you were never going to fuck up. It wasn’t based around the foolish belief that none of us were putting ourselves in danger. Astronauting is dangerous work- always has been, and always will be. There’s danger inherent in pushing the boundaries of what humanity can do, where we’ve been, or what we can be. That trust was cemented in the belief that you would do everything you can- including some things that would see you in a federal or possibly international prison for the rest of your days- just to secure our way home. And that was a trust you validated, volunteering to shuffle your rapidly wrinkling ass up here with our supplies, knowing you might possibly get eaten in the process.” Ken took a loud sip from his glass, draining it. “Not a bad pep talk,” he said. “I’d give it a B, B minus.” “B minus?” “Could have made it go down easier by incorporating a stripper.” “There aren’t any strippers in space.” “You just haven’t been looking hard enough,” Ken said, with a twinkle in his eye. “Colleen?” Paul asked. “All women take off their clothes,” Ken said. “Some just do it more sexily than others.” He filled Paul’s glass. “But this isn’t just about purging my demons.” “I was just planning on blaming the whole thing on you- and then telling you that we weren’t.” “As defense mechanisms go, not bad. But not sufficient, either. This could be your last chance to go all to pieces, and blame it on the booze,” Ken said, sloshing the last few pours around inside the bottle. Paul raised his glass and drank. “I do feel bad,” he said. “I wanted to get into space so badly… it’s easy to look back and say I knew better. Or should have seen this coming. But I know enough of human psychology to doubt that certainty. I don’t know if I did know better, or if I’m just projecting what I know now to better emotionally abuse myself. Despite all that, I’m okay. Not great. And I don’t know if I’ll ever be at peace over it- I don’t know if I should be. People died, and I was at the absolute least a facilitator of that pain.” He sighed, and killed half of what remained in his glass. “But watching Rica and Skot suffer… it just reminds me that I had so much to lose. Maria, Laura, a kid. If I feel guilty over anything it’s that I suffered so disproportionately little. I’m not saying I wish bad things happened to people I love to assuage my guilt- I just feel guilt that I got off so easy.” “Did you?” Ken asked. “Skot and Rica get to move on. Tragedy struck them, but tragedy does that. It’s random, and ephemeral. But guilt is an albatross, always there, heavy with the weight you carry, always reminding you with its fetid stink of your failures.” Paul swallowed. “Hubris is nasty when it bites you, but when it hurts other people- innocent bystanders? You’re not cold enough for it not to bother you, Paul. But you’re too good a man to let it destroy you. And it will. I’ve seen it do for men whose boots we weren’t fit to lick. I don’t know how you forgive yourself for that kind of fuck-up.” He raised his glass. “But I’ve found liquor helps.” He clinked his glass to Paul’s. “And having an ear to bend.”
  06:45:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 978 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Mission Abort

Laura had taken several rounds of the Station. Her legs were starting to hurt from all the walking. And she told herself there was no point in putting things off anymore. So she went to their cabin. She’d waffled several times on whether it felt appropriate for her to be ‘sharing’ a room with him, after everything that had happened. It felt both presumptuous, and too permissive. But she’d put off talking it over with Ken until it was too late. And she knew that’s where Paul would be. Sure enough, when she entered, he was seated on their bed. “I was surprised you weren’t waiting for me at the bottom of the elevator,” he said, “after they gave the all clear.” “I was watching the baby,” she said. “And I thought about it. But I didn’t want to see you for the first time in years holding a baby that was yours but wasn’t ours.” Her eyes filled up with tears and her jaw shook. Paul patted the bed. She wanted to take comfort from the gesture, that he wanted to be near her, to have her close, but his expression was distant. She walked across the room and sat next to him. That brought him back to her. “I have questions, but first, before we say anything else, you to know that I' sorry,” Paul said, “for Maria. I know I wasn't... exactly in control. Wasn't thinking clearly- or acting like myself. But I'd be lying if I said it wasn't something I thought about. In a lot of ways I hated her, but not her her- but the her who left. And unfortunately, that decision wasn't monolithic- it didn't erase all of the good, admirable and pleasurable aspects of her. So despite myself I still loved her, too.” “I know,” Laura said. “So I can't pretend to you that I'm not at all culpable for what happened, because I don't know that's true- I don't even think it's true. I didn't want to hurt you- and I don't think I'd ever have cheated on you otherwise, but I did. I know by coming here you've already put yourself through a lot, and I'm not taking it for granted that you've forgiven me, or that you even can. I want you to, desperately, but until you know, for sure, that here is where you want to be, we really need to be careful. Because those of us who are infected are under quarantine. And if you're infected, you lose a lot of options.” She touched his chest gently. “I made my peace a long time ago,” Laura said. “I mean, I kind of thought it would be Claudette you banged- three years is a loooong time, after all. But Maria... I'm pretty cool with it- at least as cool as I'm capable of being. And maybe that's because I've seen her and Mai together, and I know that when she says the name 'Paul' she's only thinking about her kid and their family.” “There's no pressure, on forgiving me,” Paul said. “I mean that. I don't want you to force yourself.”He sighed. “I know Ken's a crazy person, but he wasn't launching a pregnant woman into space. Or a woman and her newborn. And he and I had talked about how this was probably a one-way launch, and putting the two together I knew you weren’t abandoning a kid on-world- so that meant there was no kid. I'm not sure if I even have the right to ask, let alone to expect an answer, but what happened?” he asked. “I aborted,” she said. “Oh,” he said. “The day before Ken hauled me in to talk to you. And terrible as it was, I knew you’d be less likely to hurt yourself if you thought- I thought if only I could pretend the day before hadn’t happened, at least for a while, that I could always have complications, later, miscarry or something.” “Why not keep up the lie?” he asked. “Because I can’t lie to you forever- even if it means losing you. I… I understand what you were going through, now, and if I’d known all of it I probably wouldn’t have told you anything at all. And I know how fucked up it is that I defaulted to manipulating you- that when push comes to shove I’m just as fucked up as my family…” Paul sighed, and rolled his shoulder around her. “No, you’re not.” But there was still something in his voice. “Are you mad?” she asked. “I’m…” he hesitated. “No. It’s complicated, how I feel, but, I told you to go off and live a life without me. Instead you followed me to the Moon. I wouldn’t have asked you to raise a child without me; I wouldn’t have the right- even if I had that inclination. And I don’t know that I’d have done things any differently. And the more important thing is you’re here, And we’ve still got lots of little things to talk about, like my having a son…” “That’s complicated, too,” Laura said. “But I understand. Ken told me, on the way up. It wasn’t your fault. And even if, on some level, it was- I can’t blame you. I get that it's complicated- and that there isn't a thing you would ever consciously do to hurt me; I trust you, is what I mean to say. And I love you. And I’m not even sure I want babies. But I think I want your babies. And it has been a looong time since I’ve gotten laid.” “I’m glad you were the one who brought it up,” Paul said, as she tackled him back onto the bed. “I wouldn’t want you to think I only wanted you for sex.” “Perish the thought,” she said, and stripped off her shirt.


  06:45:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 893 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Changes

“Your son is adorable,” Laura said, “and I love him, but he is an inhuman monster.” “I take it you had to change him,” Maria asked, bemused. “I’m not so sure,” Laura said. “I kind of think I was covering up a war crime, that the ICC is going to subpoena me someday about the contents of that diaper.” “It’s healthy, actually,” Mai said. “His body’s metabolizing more nutrients from his food than ‘normal’ humans,” she said. “Here,” Maria said, and took the child from her. “I’m pretty sure you’ve got someplace to be.” Laura pursed her lips, but walked out of the room. The door shut behind her. Maria set the baby down on the table, and shook a rattle, one of many little presents brought up on Ken’s supply run, over his head. “He’s a good man,” Mai said quietly. “He is,” Maria said gently. “And he smells nice, too.” Mai sniffled. “Babe?” Maria asked, and turned to look at her. A tear was sliding down her cheek. “Oh, Mai,” she said, and took hold of the slighter woman’s hand. “My ex-husband’s a good man. Maybe even a great man. But that doesn’t mean anything- and it certainly doesn’t mean anything for us. Our relationship is entirely separate from whatever respect and even affection I have for Paul.” She wiped Mai’s tears away. “He isn’t a threat. Here, with you, is where I want to be.” “Why?” Mai asked. “Hmm?” Maria said, watching her son wriggle on top of a table in their room, kicking his little legs in the air. “Why do you love me?” Maria’s brow furrowed. “I'm feeling vulnerable,” Mai said, “and I want to know why you love me.” “Because that is ours,” she said, nodding to baby Paul, “our furry little family.” “I didn't give him to you,” Mai said sullenly. “So?” Maria asked. “I didn't marry Paul for his capacity to fill me full of babies. And I didn't fall in love with you despite a lack of said ability- I fell for you because you're smart, and sweet to me. And sexy. And a voracious little sexual wolverine. And because you make me happy.” “But how much of that is hormonal? Or worse, based on what this disease did to your body?” “And what if it isn't permanent?” Maria asked, completing the thought for Mai. “Proximity and circumstance always play into relationships. Would Paul and I have gotten together if I hadn’t helped out on that paper? Would we have been married if I’d stayed in Ohio to study biology there? Likewise, would we have stayed together even if I hadn't come to the Moon and he didn't go to Mars? Whatever random events happened to bring us together- and eventually tear us apart- they happened. Just like the things that brought us together. And I’m not going anywhere. And how I feel about you- that’s not changing.” “Yeah, unless there’s a second phase to all of this. What if after that, your hormones go back to what they were, or go in an entirely new direction?” “And what if you fall out of love with me?” Maria asked. “What if my ass starts to sag even more?” “I will drop you like an oven-fresh potato,” Mai said with a grin. “Presuming we get some fresh meat on board, of course. Any port in a storm.” “See,” Maria said with a grin, “you're more than enough of a man for me.” “But you make me happier than I ever thought I'd be after I left Paul. It was a tradeoff; I knew I couldn't be any happier staying with Paul and forsaking my career, either, so I did what I thought would make me happiest. But along with that I kind of figured I was trading away romance. Once you've cynically traded away a spouse for a shot at some moderate career advancement, it's kind of tough to believe you'll find someone else you feel so thoroughly for, someone who couldn't be expendable. And even if Paul and I had tried to patch things up, I think that would have always been a point of contention: I didn't love him enough to stay, and I don't think he loved me enough he would have given up Mars.” “Would you leave the Moon for me?” Mai asked. “I'd leave the Moon, go to the Antarctic, or to an underwater research station. Or Canada.” “That's probably too easy,” Mai said. “You've already been to the Moon, now.” “I just answered your question,” she said, and wrapped her arms around Mai. “Paul's coming back,” Mai said. “And maybe intellectually you love me. But I'm not sure he isn't still the love of your life. And it's not possible for me not to feel a little intimidated by that.” Maria touched her cheek, to guide Mai's gaze to hers. “I love Paul because there was a time when he was my family. And I care about him, and I always will. But there's no romance between us anymore. He's like a brother.” “Or a cute cousin who makes you feel weird when you sit on her lap.” “Or that. But you're the person that I love. You're who I want to be with. He isn't. I've made my choice. And that's all you need to know.” They kissed.


  06:44:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1987 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Rival Factions

“This seems like an unnecessary precaution,” Clod said. “Yeah, well, if you hadn't rebuffed my sexual advances, I would have probably given you an STD, and then you'd have nothing to worry about,” Rica said with a grin, before locking the cabin behind her. Paul raised an eyebrow at her. “Hey. A girl gets lonely in space.” “Not judging,” Paul said. “Just curious as to why I never heard about it. From either of you.” “Girls don't talk about everything with guys. Especially when it's about the only other girl on a spaceship.” “We should do this,” Paul said, and stepped out of the Perseus. It had been their home for years, and stepping out into the port reminded him of moving into his first apartment at college, because the Station was going to be their new home. He sealed the hatch behind him, with Clod on the other side. “Do we really think we're likely to get territorial?” Rica asked. “It's certainly possible. I think that's a part of what happened with Alisa- that, and a... a reaction I think her mind had to her body telling her she wasn't fulfilling her genetic mandate.” “Come again?” “The parasite wants to breed. But Alisa wasn't a breeder. So she was at odds with it- and I think that made her scared- and that fear made her feral.” “I'm not saying the science doesn't check out, Paul- I just want to know what you think. I mean- do you think when we open this door we're going to have the entire crew of the Station trying to murder us for entering their territory?” “Well,” Paul said, “they didn't kill Ken or Laura- but they were uninfected, so that may not mean much of anything. Maria and I have talked, once or twice, and there didn't seem to be any extra antagonism. If I'm caught up on my wolf group dynamics, it's possible she and I will just split pack leadership.” “And where would that leave Laura?” “No place good,” Paul said. “But I'm assuming that unlike wolves we'd have the... wherewithal to choose our own mates, and not just stick with the caste system.” “I think what I'm more worried about is if they see us as a threat,” Rica said. “I've kind of made my peace with being hairy, even for a Brazilian girl, but I'm having a bit more difficulty cozying up to the idea that I might very shortly be torn limb from limb by my colleagues. And that would happen, wouldn't it?” she asked. “If they are hostile, that's pretty much it for us, though, right? I mean, it's two on what, eight?” “But that's not likely to happen.” “Likelihood is meaningless,” Rica said. “No matter how many times you flip a coin, no matter how many times it comes up heads in a row, the odds are always fifty fifty.” “I think we're going to be okay,” Paul said. “And if not, you should concentrate on getting back to the ship. If there's any logic to an attack, I'll have a target on my back. I can draw them away while you and Clod cut loose.” “And go where?” Rica asked. “Anywhere you can,” Paul said. “Hell, the Perseus is designed to be self-sustaining. With a little care, you could both probably live out your days floating in a stable orbit onboard.” “But that's not going to happen,” Rica said. “Because we're going to be fine. We're going to greet them, and it'll be like old times.” “Right,” Paul said. He unbolted the hatch. He was surprised to see Ken waiting on the other side of the door. “You’re supposed to be locked safely away,” Paul said. “And you’re supposed to be a scary fucking werewolf, marking his territory up and down the decks. Besides, I’m in space. I couldn’t die a happier man smothered by Olson Twins. Pre-menopausal, of course.” “I don’t think they’re menopausal, yet.” “Then there's still time.” But there was something wrong with Ken. Paul smelled at the air. He smelled differently. “It's creepy,” Ken said. “Bill did the same thing to me. And Colleen's been walking around with her tail between her legs since- metaphorically speaking.” “Colleen?” Paul asked. “She was lonesome. And voluptuous.” “Ken...” Paul said in his best dad voice. “And she's an astronaut, and shares my love of space.” “I thought you don't fuck astronauts.” “I'm not Ground Control anymore,” Ken said. “And priorities change.” “You like her,” Paul said with a smile. “I'm not dignifying that with a response, as I'm no longer an eighth grade boy.” “She making an honest man of you, then?” “It's still fledgling,” Ken said, “but less dishonest, we'll call it. But obviously we're to the point of passing STDs.” “STDs?” Paul asked. “As in plural?” “As in the theoretical passing of them.” Paul smelled the air. “But the actual passing of at least one.” “When in Rome,” Ken said, and shrugged. “Besides- I kind of got the feeling that I was always going to be an outsider looking in otherwise. Tolerated, on account of human beings pretending we're not fairly closely related to cave folk, but not really a part of the group.” “I never thought I'd hear you complain about solitude.” “Me? I'm a fucking social butterfly-” “With an emphasis on the butt?” “I value solitude,” Ken continued, ignoring him, “but past a certain degree, solitude's just too fucking lonesome.” “Hmm,” Paul shrugged. “How's Laura?” he asked. Ken smiled. “You did pretty well, there,” he said, “holding off on asking, letting me get through my bullshit. I'm impressed by your restraint.” “Then why are you stalling?” Paul asked. “If you met a man who claimed he hadn't flatulated in thirty years, could you keep yourself from poking him in the belly, just because?” “Yes,” Paul said, “because that much compressed gas built up could make him a walking thermonuclear device.” “I think you're lying,” Ken said, “but I don't have the medical training to know for sure. But Laura's great. She's been working basically as Mai and Maria's intern since she got up here- while she finishes her correspondence coursework. She's even been talking to a few schools about the prospect of remotely pursuing her doctorate- which it sounds may be easier than I' d have thought, since awarding the first interorbital doctorate seems to get some administrators wet.” “And her and Maria?” “No catfight. Though I've been picturing them saving up their pent up hostilities to turn loose on you in tandem- the naked kind of tandem.” “Picturing?” “Purely on your behalf,” Ken said. “But speaking of your behalf...” Paul recognized Ang, walking slowly towards them. “I arranged to have Ang come out first. Everybody else is crammed into the control room. I wanted to give you and Ang a chance to sniff each other first- see if there was any hostility between the least hostile specimens we've got.” “Makes sense,” Paul said. “I thought we were all just going to end up in a room together.” “I occasionally make good administrative judgment calls.” Ang stopped several steps away from him. “You okay?” Ang asked. “Fine. Never better, really.” “I don't mean physically,” Ang said. “I just- I know you've been through a lot. So I wanted to know if you were okay.” “I'm fine, Ang,” he said. “And thanks for asking.” “How’s everybody coping?” “It’s been rough,” he said, “and rougher on some than others. Skot slit his wrists and bled out- but he didn’t die. Colleen may never see her kids again- but she’s… coping,” he looked awkwardly in Ken’s direction, and Paul smiled. “How you boys doing?” Ken asked. “Any overpowering urges to assert your dominance? Or maybe to tear out each others’ tummies?” “Other than a weird desire to try and figure out what you both have been eating...” Paul said awkwardly. “Oh, thank God,” Ang said, “I worried that was just me. And I think I’m too old to get used to having a butt-sniffing fetish.” “Yeah,” Paul laughed, “butt-sniffing is a young man’s game.” “Eventually,” Ken said, “you get to be an old enough man you realize you don’t have enough time left to be picky, and if that involves ass-sniffing, then by God you’re going to be up to your nose hairs in colon.” Ang and Paul made a face together in unison. “Prudes,” Ken said. “The rest of you can come out,” he bellowed through the comms. Maria was the first one through the door. The sight of her made his heart beat a little faster. Despite herself, she walked right up to him, and went for his neck. Paul wondered if she was attacking his throat, but let it happen, anyway. She inhaled his smell deeply, and in doing so, knocked her hair into his nose. He breathed her scent in, smiled wistfully, and exhaled. “Missed you,” he said. “Me, too,” she said. Mai visibly shrank behind her. They all stared at Paul, breathless from anticipation. He froze, terrified at the prospect of being confronted for visiting this horror on all of them. But his eyes stopped on Bill, who clearly had a question. At the acknowledgement, Bill stood up a little straighter. “What was Mars like?” Bill asked. “Red,” Paul said, and laughed. “But empty, and hostile. It didn’t want us there. It clogged our exhaust ports with dust, broke everything it possibly could. I’ll take the Lunar Station, any day.” He paused to swallow, and center himself. “I’m so happy to see all of you.” Paul’s eyes fell on the one person whose eyes weren’t on him. Skot was standing apart from the group, looking away. Paul walked towards him, and people made room for him to move. “I’m sorry,” he said to Skot. “I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.” Behind him, Mai’s eyes became tight balls of rage. “I’m sorry to all of you, for the pain I caused. But Skot-” “It’s not you,” Skot interrupted, and turned towards him. “I’d love to hate you. I would. I’d love to blame you- and when I’m feeling particularly self-pitying, maybe I do. But you didn’t infect us. And even Maria- you didn’t hurt me because you wanted to. And you didn’t put the gun in Vince’s hand. Very Romeo and Julian; he’d still be alive if he weren’t such a romantic dick.” He sniffled, and wiped his eyes. “I’m going to be a sullen prick,” he continued, “at least for a while. But there isn’t bad blood. This tragedy happened to all of us. Just- the weight of it hit some of us harder, is all.” “But if there’s anything I can do,” Paul said, “shoulder to cry on, ear to listen, a deserving jaw for punching, whatever might ease-” He didn’t get to finish the thought as Skot’s fist landed on the right side of his jaw. Paul flew backward, landing on his backside, and skidding. Tense silence filled the group as they expected they were moments from two wolves tearing at each other. Paul laughed from the floor. He was smiling. Ang helped him to his feet. “Hell of a punch,” Paul said, touching his lip, but merely smearing the steady stream of blood dribbling from his lip. “Feel better?” “Marginally,” Skot said. “But it helps.” “Just do me a favor, next time. A little warning.” Ang sighed, relieved. “I’m glad that’s resolved. Because it’s a loooong trip down on the Elevator, and you’d be surprised how much more awkward awkward situations can be with that kind of downtime.” “Mai?” Bill asked. “Yeah,” Ang said, turning a little red. “I learned my lesson. When asking a girl out for the first time, it’s best not to be on the first leg of a thirty-some hour round-trip trek where you’re going to be trapped with her in an enclosed space.”


  06:43:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 634 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Plumbing

“It’s really weird,” Paul said. “What?” Rica asked. “Living with two women- this feels a lot like Three’s Company.” “Only without all the sexual tension?” Rica asked. “Hey, I tried,” Clod said. “Admirably,” Paul said. “I’ve had roommates, but the only women I’ve ever lived with were ones I was… living with.” “Bow chicka wow wow,” Rica said. “I mean it certainly smells nicer. But I miss Levy. If only because if the plumbing gets destroyed, everybody knows it’s me.” “You’ve clearly never used the toilet after Rica after Taco Night.” “Or her after chimichangas. On any night.” “I can’t not eat them.” “You can. In fact, it’s made easier by just not making them in the first place.” “But if you do that, the terrorists win.” “Hey, if you want to turn your colon inside-out, that’s fine by me- do it, with my blessing.” Rica said, waving her hands. “I miss Levy’s cooking,” she said. “Namely I miss Taco Night having tacos that tasted like tacos. And didn’t make me do unspeakable things to our toilet.” “I,” Clod hesitated, “I think I just miss Levy. Like miss miss him.” “Like you might like like him?” “Yeah.” “Whoa.” “He had occasionally not so bad qualities. And I like a man with a big brain.” “Eh,” Rica said. “What?” “I’m just not sure you aren’t being overly generous calling Levy a man. Not that there is anything wrong with dating little boys- provided they’re young at heart, and not underaged, rather. Some of the most fun I’ve had with men involved video games and general high school level immaturity.” “I don’t know. For a lot of people I’ve found ‘maturity’ to be a code word for general unfunness. And… I was a combat medic in the Air Force, then a pilot, then an astronaut. I think I’ve had enough unfunness for a lifetime already. And you know, for all the crap we gave him-” “You,” Rica said. “It was mostly you,” Paul said. “All the crap I gave him, then- you two are butts, by the way- he acquitted himself pretty admirably. Didn’t piss himself when he took the Bradbury to chase down the wolf. Kept you from biting me,” she said, and nodded to Rica. “And, you know, it turns out, he didn’t mistakenly shoot Alisa. You know, for a nerdy butterball with a chin that kind of looked like a scrotum- okay, I think maybe I’ve talked myself out of finishing that sentence.” “No, it’s adorable. You’re crushing on Levy.” “Maybe. A teensy bit. Sorry,” she winced in Paul’s direction. “No. It’s great. Flattered though I always was, I’m really trying hard to keep what is now a literally monstrous libido in check.” “Monstrous?” “Oh yeah,” Rica said. “It’s bad enough I cloister myself in my room for a few hours after you’ve showered, to keep myself from pillaging.” Clod flushed. “It’s the way you smell, and the way the water makes your hair cling to your face- I think I’m going to need a cold shower.” “So it would be cruel of me to start walking around without a shirt on?” Clod asked. Rica and Paul exchanged a panicked glance. “We will murder you, and tell NASA the Martians did it,” Rica said. Clod ruffled her hair. “Aw, it’s so cute when you try to be threatening,” she said, and walked towards the kitchen. From the dark hallway, a rumpled shirt flew into the room, and came to a rest a few feet from them. “I think we’ve created a monster,” Paul said. “Just kidding,” Clod said, and walked into the room, still wearing her shirt. “That’s from the laundry.” “I’m not sure it’s a great idea to provoke the murderous rage-monsters,” Rica said. “Maybe not,” Clod admitted, “but it is fun.”


  06:41:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 283 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Exit Velocity

“We don't have to go yet,” Rica said, almost whining. “True,” Clod said, and was happy for once to be talking to someone in the same room. “But there's also no real reason why we shouldn't. In fact, it's about the perfect time for it. If we wait even one revolution, we'll add days to our trip.” “But but but but,” Rica said, looking sadly at Levy on the monitor. “It's okay, Ric,” he said. “I'll be fine. Better than fine. I'll finally be able to spank the monkey without worrying about how thin the walls are.” She frowned. “I'm even going to miss that.” “I know we've been through a lot together,” Levy started. “But this isn't the end. It's just the beginning of something else. Friendships come and go. But what we've been through- it's not the kind of experience we're going to forget. It's left its mark on us, some of us physically, some of us emotionally. But I'll never forget any of you. You'll have to stay in touch.” “That was almost... profound,” Clod said. “I know,” Levy said. “To make up for it, I'm going to go spank it to Japanese porn.” He rubbed his eye. “See ya.” “Bye,” Paul said. “Bye,” Rica echoed. “Adios,” Clod said. Clod walked away from the monitor, and sat down in the pilot's seat. She sighed, and a little smile crossed her lips. “What's up?” Paul asked. She didn't realize he was still in the room. “It makes me a little happier to know that somewhere, out there, John Levy is out there, masturbating to schoolgirls. Makes it feel like despite everything we've been through, all is still right with the universe.”


  06:39:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 468 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Sabatier

“How’s it going?” Rica asked Levy. “Damnit,” he said, setting down his tablet. “What?” she asked, her voice suddenly sharp and high. “Oh, nothing,” he said, and smiled. “Just, the Sabatier reactor… it seems like there should be an easy joke about sabotage, or maybe at least suffering suckatash, and I was hoping to wrap my head around it before somebody asked.” “Oh,” she said. “Other than your strained attempts at comedy, how’s it going?” “Right now it’s going,” he said, and frowned. “Reactor’s redlining- I can’t push it any further without risk of burning it out. And right now it’s just on the cusp. I mean, our fuel requirements are built on the most ridiculously pessimistic assumptions possible, but seeing as we’ve got homeostasis at a 93% annual return even with the two of you down here, I’d rather waylay you the two years than send you home without the fuel to correct course or recover from whatever.” “Ugh. Two years. Don't remind me,” she said. “Sorry. But for me, you know, I'd rather not spend the next two years worrying you guys won't be able to make it home. Even if it means us sharing the teeny little bathroom down here. But that's only if I can't get this working.” “So you're not in that big a hurry to get rid of us?” she asked him, pretending to be hurt. “Don’t get me wrong, because there’s a part of me that would love to sabotage the reactor. If I wasn’t already so fond of talking to myself and robots, I’m pretty sure even the concept of staying here indefinitely would drive me crazy. But I know it’s different, and it’s going to be… an adjustment. And I’m happy to have you guys as long as I can.” “Having said that, Paul’s got a kid. And an ex-wife. And a girlfriend. The latter two of which might be catfighting on the Moon as we speak…” he stared into space with a grin on his face, and Rica slapped the back of his head. He shook his head, and looked at her. “I deserved that,” he said. “Pictures, is what I’m saying, take many of them.” Rica raised her hand again, and Levy raised his arms defensively. “Of the kid, obviously. He’s got pretty parents, so he’s probably going to be painfully adorable. And eventually, probably a teen wolf. Which will make him good at basketball. And acting, or something.” Rica hugged him. “I really am going to miss you.” “You don't have to. We can totally stream movies together. I could do the math so one of us is a few seconds ahead, to compensate for the signal delay.” “The other person would be aware they were delayed, though.” “We'll figure something out,” he said. And squoze back.


  06:39:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 604 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Satellite

“You don't have to stay up here,” Paul said. “One of us was always going to have to,” she said. “And Perseus has taken enough damage I don't really trust all the automated systems to behave like they're supposed to. I'm much more comfortable staying up here.” Paul stepped inside the lander and buckled himself in. “We'll miss you,” Rica said, and hugged her. “You'll conference call me every day you're down there. And we still have a couple Planet of the Apes movies I can stream down to the surface so we can group watch.” Rica followed Paul into the lander. “You're sure you want to stay in orbit?” Levy teased “But you're so close,” Levy said. “You came so far. You can see the surface from here. To not set even one foot down on it...” “Stop trying to enable me,” Clod said. “It's the right thing to do. But I wanted to get a chance to talk to you. Thank you, really. You saved me. When Rica- I hated being rescued, so I know I wasn't exactly gracious afterward, but, thank you. And... it makes me sad. Because I think I was starting to warm to you.” “Warm?” he asked. She blushed. “As in you were getting closer to hot?” Levy asked, unbelieving. “Maybe,” she said. “Eventually. We've been through so much, and... you were really there, for the rest of the crew, for me. I don't know how I would have gotten through all of it without you.” “It was a team effort,” Levy said. “And I could say the same for you. But It's so very cruel of you to tell me that.” “It was so very cruel of you not to tell me you were going to be marooned on Mars. So I'd say we're even.” Levy swallowed. “But I'd have worried that you were making a mistake. I saved you, and that’s gratifying in a caveman kind of way, but I don’t want to be rewarded like a Pavlovian dog for it. And I don’t want you to feel obligated, either. I wanted you on my terms- or maybe for your terms and mine to sync up.” “I'm not saying we definitely would have, but... I think we were synching up.” “Damnit,” Levy said. “I missed my shot because of the unrelenting space diarrhea, didn't I?” “That didn't help. But... I just realized something: you're brilliant. But you've effectively removed yourself from the gene pool. Not that I'm proposing I carry back your lovebaby, but that seems like such a waste.” “NASA banked a whole bucketful of Levy DNA before I left.” “Bucket? Uck. I'm picturing like a pail, that farmers use to milk cows by hand, and he's carrying it around and it's sloshing, spilling over the edge.” “Farmers have softer hands than you'd think.” “Okay, that's an image I'm never getting out of my brain.” “Not without a hot poker, you're not.” “Ulk. I think it'll be a while before I can drink dairy again.” “Moo.” “Maybe forever.” She hugged him. “But every time you turn down a milkshake, you'll think of me. Just like I'll think of you every time I make one.” “Ew.” “With soy milk,” Levy protested. “I'm taking a lot of soy plants planetside. And I think I've figured out a recipe for a decent soy shake.” “Take care,” she said, and squeezed him harder. “You're going to have to let me go,” Levy said. “Because so long as you're holding me like this, I won't have the wherewithal to leave on my steam.” She kissed his cheek, and let go.


  06:38:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 964 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: The Colonist

Levy sighed. “Okay. Some of you have probably figured out we've got more cargo than we're supposed to- and in particular extra supplies. On the one hand, it means if we get laid over on the planet, we're okay. On the other, if we don't end up stuck for two years- the plan was for me to stay behind.” “We've got a primitive form of the seed that became the Lunar station- a robotic mining/assembly kit. Ample shelter.” “You knew?” Clod asked Rica. “She figured it out,” Levy said. “Product of being in charge of the produce- I knew I had more plants than I was supposed to. But now that things are out in the open: why you? I mean, I don't really have a horse in this race, since I only got subbed in last minute as an alternate, so I wouldn't have been a contender, anyway, but why you?” “My theory's always been that Ken has a particular kind of personal distaste for me. So this was as far away from Earth as he could blast me without people realizing he was sort of trying to kill me. Or it's because I have a unique combination of skills. My robotics training means I can keep the droids functioning long enough to build the infrastructure I'll need to survive long-term. And with my physics, I might be able to get this end of an FTL transmitter working- presuming we can ever finish wrapping our heads around how such a thing would work.” “But the plan, once I'm safely on-world, is for the Moon to start launching reflective dishes- well, basically- for such an array to bounce signals from Earth and back. Well, once Dr. Rierdon makes it to the Moon.” “Rierdon was chosen for the Moon?” Clod asked, turning up her nose. “He's an ass,” Levy said. “Groped not one, but two astronaut candidates. He definitely would have been out of the program. But... he doesn't really have any peers in his field. Certainly not any young enough that they'd likely live to see the completion of the project. And continuity’s important. But Ken did not fuck around with him, either. I heard he let the MPs drag him to the brig- you know, let him sweat it out in a military prison. Let the CIA work on him a little; I heard he was there for the waterboarding, and just kept screaming at him that you do not treat astronauts that way- and if he wanted to be an astronaut he'd learn that or he'd never leave this rock. Rierdon will always be a dick- til the day he's inevitably and righteously lynched for his epic dickery. But he at least learned to stop assaulting his coworkers, which is a step in the right direction. And I'm pretty sure he pisses himself at the mention of the words 'HR complaint' something I'm looking forward to telling the Lunar Station staff.” “But aside from the impressive heft of my melon, us Levys are extraordinarily long-lived. I don't have a great-great-grandmother who lived to less than her nineties, and even the hard-drinkenest men in the family make it into our eighties. The only way to die sooner is to diabetes ourselves to death.” “Heh, you pronounce it like Wilford Brimley,” Clod said. “It's how my mom pronounced it.” “Did she diabetes herself?” “Nope. Loves chocolate ice cream, and always has a bowl before bedtime. But so far, no diabetes. We just keep saying diabetes cause it sounds funny pronounced that way, right?” “Indiabetically.” “But why didn't you tell us sooner?” Paul asked, then swallowed, and added, “acknowledging that I'm the last person who can complain about kept secrets.” “Ken swore me to secrecy. Through training he told me he'd been keeping my alternate in the loop on the whole project, and he could swap me out at a moment's notice if I so much as drunk-sleep-mumbled it to a hooker; I don't think he understands most of us patronize hookers less frequently than he does.” “After a while I figured out that was a bluff- and he figured out that I knew that, so he escalated. And told me he could cut off my communication with Earth. My porn. Hell, he could make sure there was only enough food and water to barely and uncomfortably survive. He didn't need me to thrive- just to keep the colony going while the robots prepared the space for an actual crew.” “And I believed him. I mean, I don't think he'd do it. But he could. And he might. And even though that kind of a heavy hand made me want to break his confidence immediately, I actually agreed with him.” “I didn't want the first half of this mission to be tragic and melancholy- um, yeah. But I didn't want it to be about me. I'm as excited as I am terrified to be the first long-term man on Mars. It's a cool thing I'm doing, and one I'm happy to do. And I wanted to be able to enjoy what might be the last interactions with people I ever get to have. It's an honor to have been chosen for this, just like it's been an honor to hurtle through space with all of you.” “Aw,” Paul said, and picked him up in a big bear hug. “I'm going to miss the hell out of you.” “We'll still be able to stay in touch,” Levy said. “For the first year I'm still going to be your closest neighbor, and the easiest person to get on the phone.” “Which is to say nothing of the couple months of science and set-up we've got planned,” Rica said. “Oh,” Paul said, and dropped him abruptly. “Nevermind, then.”


  06:37:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1160 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Martian Dust

“It's an EVA,” Clod complained, “and I have twice as much training at them as you do.” “I'm more than qualified,” Paul shot back. “And... I need to do this myself. I'm responsible for Martin and Alisa.” “You're not,” she said reflexively. “I don't believe you believe that,” Paul said. “And even if you did, it certainly wouldn't be enough to convince me. Let me do this. It's an EVA, not rocket science- which I largely defer to you- or brain surgery, which you largely defer to me. Any one of us could do the EVA. But I want to. Need to, even, for my own sanity- which has not been quite as hardy as I would have originally thought.” She sighed. “Okay.” She suited up, and helped him carry Martin and Alisa into the air lock. Then she sealed him on the other side of it. Paul braced himself against the side of the Perseus. “You're sure about the orbit?” he asked over the comms. “Dude,” Levy said. “I'm pretty sure I believe in ghosts and being haunted- plus I'm easily the most neurotic person on this ship. I quintiple checked my figures. They'll get their orbital Viking funeral. Just push towards the planet. Plus, we're in a mostly stable orbit ourselves; I doubt you could shove hard enough to reach escape velocity from here.” Paul gently pushed Martin away from the ship. He started to list away. Paul's heart started to beat faster, and he worried that the corpse was going to keep floating away from the planet's surface. He contemplated chasing it with his thrusters. “That's fine,” Levy said, tracing his fingers across a tablet. “I just modeled the trajectory. Perfect, even.” Paul tried to recreate the arc with Alisa's body. To the naked eye they looked like they'd pass right by the planet, but staring at them Paul could tell there was a slight angle to their trajectory. They watched the bodies in silence for a moment. Paul felt he had to say something, so he keyed his comms and took a breath. “They were our friends, and our colleagues, and we'll miss them, and know that the universe is poorer for their loss.” He lingered outside the door, and watched as they drifted further from the ship. Clod wanted to go out and get him, but remembered enough about being a lifeguard as a teenager that she talked herself out of it- and hoped she could likewise talk Paul down. “I know that look,” Clod said over the comms. “I've seen it in combat. When a soldier's seen too much. And they lose their will to keep fighting. I've heard that people on carriers just walk off the edge, but on land, it's just in the eyes. They switch off. And it's never long before they catch a bullet, or step on a mine.” “But this isn't the same, Paul. The world isn't any worse a place than it was when we started this journey. Sometimes that means innocent, wonderful people die needlessly. But they wouldn't want you to heap another tragedy on the pile.” He sighed. “It just... it seems right, doesn't it? Me going with them... it would be fitting. And a better end than I deserve.” “At some point did you knowingly have unprotected sex with a werewolf?” “Not knowingly,” he said with half a grin. “Weird time for humor, but that's my point. You didn't have real reason to think you were putting us at risk. Hell, when you found out about it, you cut out your wrists to try and protect us- wrote a warning on the wall in your own blood.” “Seemed melodramatic to me,” Levy said with a smile. “We're out here, exploring the unknown. And oddly enough, a big chunk of the unknown tracked us down from our own back yard. But it's more than a stretch to say you're responsible. Alisa's dead, and Martin, too. But they died being astronauts- scaling a mountain people have said for centuries and maybe millenia was unscalable. And I would bet you the nastiest sex act imaginable that even if you'd told them they weren't going to make it back home, they would have still got on that rocket. I know I would have. We're all crazy people- endangering the hell out of ourselves for a thrill that I can hardly even begin to understand in myself, let alone articulate in any intelligible way.” “And you're missing the bigger issue. We shouldn't have to make that return trip alone. What if I have a medical emergency? What if Rica does, and it's something I can't quite handle? I get that this angsty guilt is a big part of who you are. But this isn't about you.” “I know,” he said. “But I wanted to give you the option.” “To send you through the Martian atmosphere to burn up?” “I'm pretty sure I've got this wolf thing under control. But what if the myths aren't total bunk. What if the closer we get to the Lunar Station, the batshit crazier I get, until I can't control it? The hormonal explanation's a great hypothesis- but it's certainly not the only possibility, and definitely not proven. ” “But that's an if,” Clod said. “And if that happens, and if you run through our tranqs and we still can't pacify you, I will shoot you myself with the Bradbury.” “Okay,” Paul said, “you can stop trying to sell me on living. Really, you had me at 'nastiest sex act.'” “Me, too,” Levy said. “Ugh,” Clod said. “I changed my mind. Both of you should burn up in the atmosphere. Preferably before you ask the question that is now almost certainly on your feeble minds.” “Actually,” Rica said, “the look on your face when you said nastiest- I think you had something very specific in your head. And even I want to know... for purely scientific reasons, obviously.” “Seriously, at what point did the Perseus become a frat house?” Clod muttered. “I think,” Rica said, “we're just happy to have the distraction.” Clod saw that she was staring out at the sun rising along the edge of Mars, casting the bodies of their crewmates in sharp relief. Clod sighed. “If I tell you, can you promise not to perv too much?” “Nope,” said Levy. “At least he's honest,” Paul said over the comms. “My inclination was to lie.” “Screw you guys, then,” Clod said. Paul opened the airlock and stepped inside. Then he sealed the outer airlock, and opened the interior one. Clod helped him take his helmet off. “In their defense, I was halfway through composing an elaborate bending of the truth myself. If only I could lie faster...” but Rica's amusement melted away. She looked to Levy, who purposefully avoided her gaze. “It's time, Levy. You need to tell them,” she said. He tried giving her his saddest puppy dog look. “Or I will.”


  06:32:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 433 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: You What?

“You what?” Paul asked, incredulous. He stared, beleagueredly while the signal crawled to the Moon and then back, and Ken turned the camera so Paul could see the Station behind him. “I’m on the Moon.” “I don’t care if Satan’s flossing his colon with you. But you brought Laura.” “I did,” Ken said matter of factly. “How is it you haven’t been committed to an insane asylum.” “I think the preferred term is ‘mental health facility.’ And she came because she wanted to. And because she’s got bigger stones than the rest of the so-called astronauts we left back on Earth. And she wasn’t in danger. I made sure the port was empty before we touched down. And I made sure the Station was safe before she came down the Elevator. There were risks- there always are, but at every step I did what I could to safeguard her.” “And you couldn't ask me, first?” “You're not her father. And she's a grown-up girl.” “And I'd have said, 'No.'” “You probably would have. But it wasn't your call.” “The hell it wasn't.” “It wasn't. You'd have played the tragic, noble hero, and forbid her from coming to the Moon. You'd have hated yourself, and died alone from masturbation-induced exhaustion. And I've single-handedly saved you from that fate.” “And what if I wanted to try things with Maria? We've got a kid together.” “I remember how you two ended things. There's no coming back from that- you know that better anybody.” “Doesn't stop you and Eren; you two get together and hate-bang seasonally.” “Yes, but we always hate ourselves afterwards. It's good sex, maybe even great. But that doesn't mean it gets in the way of the loathing.” “What if I don't want her to be like me?” Paul asked sullenly. “Why not? You're not so bad, all considered; hell, if you had tits and a weaker jaw, I'd want you for myself.” “You know what I mean.” “I do. And she knows what she's getting into. In fact, she's getting more of a choice on the matter than most of the folks up here with us. If she doesn't want to get a little wolf in her, da dum tsh, she can always ride back down on the next shuttle, or go back with Claude.” “Unless somebody mauls her,” he said. “Not happening. I've got Ang and Mai escorting her around. She's not thrilled with it, of course, but so far nobody's so much as growled at her. But you shouldn't be talking to me. She'll need you. And you'll need her, too.”
  03:07:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 81 words  
Categories: Announcements

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  06:31:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 1136 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Rival Affections

It had been a few days, now, since Ken took the trip down the Elevator. Laura was stir crazy. She hadn't had as much isolation training as astronauts usually received, nor had she had the same kind of lead time. So it was all hitting her at once, stuck at the small space port atop the Elevator, that she had signed her life away. She was going to get infected. That was basically a given, between the angry Station crew and her patient zero boyfriend. And once that happened, she wasn't going to be allowed back on Earth. No more Disneyland. No more orange juice popsicles. No more standing outdoors on a sunny day. She wanted to take the shuttle back to Earth, to finish school, and have kids that weren't covered head to toe in fur. But she wanted to see Paul more. She wanted to have his kids more- even if they came out furry. The Elevator lurched, and her stomach dipped. Or perhaps that feeling was dread that Paul might not be hers anymore. He slept with his ex-wife- his ex-wife who carried his child to term. And she'd seen the way his minxy little pilot eye-humped him. And she knew how hard it had been for her, back on Earth, at school- basically a roiling pot of angst and hormones. And speaking of his ex-wife, she was a super-strong, super-aggressive monster. Who was waiting at the bottom of the Elevator for her. Laura tried to force herself to stop shaking as the doors opened. “I wanted to meet you here alone,” Maria said. She was sitting in a chair, rocking her child in her arm. “Oh,” Laura said, taken aback. For one thing, Maria wasn't a giant wolf. For another, she was staring peacefully down at her son, and barely paid her any mind. “You can pull up a seat,” Maria said. Laura did. “Isn't he beautiful?” Maria asked. Laura smiled halfheartedly. Of course Paul's kid was beautiful. And so was his mother. “What's his name?” Laura asked. “Paul,” Maria said. “It seemed fitting. And he looks like a chubby little Ken doll of him.” “I can see that,” Laura said. It only made her miss him more. “Sorry,” Maria said. “New mom syndrome. I just... I can't stop staring at him, you know? The Station revolves around the Earth, and now my world revolves around his Jupiter of a head.” She stroked his hair, and the baby cooed, and stirred, but didn't wake. “But I wanted to be able to talk to you before you saw anybody else.” Laura swallowed. And Maria smiled. “Not to eat you, or intimidate you or anything. But I feel like I need to apologize. I- I left Paul. I don't know how much of it he told you about. But I left him for the Moon, and for my research and my career. And I left him with a giant hole where I'd been- and I left him like that because not leaving him like that would have left a similar hole in me. And I knew eventually he could fill his. It was selfish- maybe even bitchy. But it was never about malice. He's a great guy. In a different life I'd have dedicated my whole world to grinding his pelvis to dust while popping out an army of these adorable little things,” she held baby Paul up. “But that world isn't this one. So I left him- and that left things unresolved between us. And even though it had been years, when I saw him, it just felt like it had been a long workweek where I stayed over at the lab to finish some research- not like we'd been estranged and divorced and on different orbital bodies.” “But I'm trying to justify and defend myself because I know I screwed up. I slept with Paul. And I think I knew things were important with you, and selectively misunderstood that. And maybe there's a component to this disease that made Paul even more sexually magnetic, or maybe it's just that he'd been the primary balance in my spank bank the entire time I'd been up here.” “It wasn't fair to Paul- though I'd call he and I even, since he got sex and I got the universe's screwiest STD. But it was fucked up that I did it to you, too. I felt so guilty since, and I wanted to apologize to you so badly. But I knew that was about me- and not you. And you didn't need to hear my apology the same way I felt like I needed to give it. So I didn't. Because you didn't need to hear my side- it didn't really matter.” “But now you're here, and we'll be living together. The Station's big, and I get if you want to avoid the crap out of me. A little cold shouldering is probably better than I deserve. But I wanted to tell you how truly, deeply sorry I am. And I'm glad you're here. Because you make Paul happy. And all the crap that's happened over the last year, I love him enough to want him to be happy. And that won't be with me. I don't even know if I think it should be. Like I said- I left him. And that was always going to be there. You're the opposite. I left everything- Paul included- to come up here. And you left everything for him.” “That's why I'm glad you're here. Paul deserves somebody who would do that. And you doing that- that tells me you deserve him, too.” Maria struggled to roll herself out of her seat. She walked towards the door into the rest of the Station. “But I know you're probably already tired of me. So I arranged for my girlfriend to give you a tour of the facility- show you where the bathrooms and the food and the rest are.” “Girlfriend?” Laura asked, as a petite Asian woman walked towards them. “Paul ruined me for other men,” Maria joked. “Or I just happened to fall in love with a woman.” Mai kissed her on the lips. “This is Mai. Mai, Laura.” “How'd it go?” Mai asked quietly. “She didn't hit me,” Maria said. “You were holding a baby,” Laura said. Then she smiled. “Aw,” Mai said, disappointed. “You had my hopes up for a cat fight for a second there.” “That would have left you holding the diaper bag,” Maria said, and held up baby Paul for emphasis. “And a very soon to be full diaper bag, by the smell of him.” “Yeah, I think diaper changing would have killed the mood,” Mai said. “Come on,” she said to Laura. “I'll take you to the best junk food we've got.”


  06:30:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 709 words  
Categories: Lunacy

Lunacy: Alone

He remembered Laura's last words to him: “You don't have to go alone.” Ken finally understood what Paul saw in her- besides the youthful perky parts. But he'd always believed that people went out alone into the world, that community was an illusion, a social nicety discussing the just beneath the surface urge to murder your neighbor to take his wife and his garden and claim it for your own. “Though in my defense,” Ken said aloud, “Kayleen gardens without a bra on; it's enough to make every man feel a little paleolithic.” But he was also man enough to admit the gulf between what a man tells himself is the difference between polite society and instinct, and staring into that empty blackness from the ledge overlooking it. So why did he love space, an equally empty blackness? He knew the answer the moment his mind formed the question. Because space was the antithesis of the human void. The void was all the lizard brain reactions that held man back from his potential; space was endless possibility, spread out across the sky to inspire the whole species. And that was what was waiting for him on that station: raw, powerful instinct, all fur and fangs and claws. In a away, what had happened to his astronauts felt honest; human beings were predatory, self-involved monsters. The crew of the Lunar Station were just wearing their monster on their sleeves. Ken also knew that there was something fitting to his likely demise. It was his hubris, his desire to see the stars, played out however vicariously through Paul and the Perseus, that led to this. He couldn't help but feel compromised his standards, and he had a lot of astronaut blood on his hands. He probably deserved to be torn to shreds. But looking out at the stars as the Elevator descended, he knew it was a death he could live with. He was in space. He was complete, fulfilled in a way he never understood before his shuttle breached the Earth's atmosphere. It was like his soul losing its virginity to the girl of its dreams. He was alone with the love of his life, and the only thing that saddened him was that it couldn't last forever. The Elevator shook as it reached the bottom floor. He'd already video conferenced with the Station crew, and knew they were going to meet him at the bottom of the shaft- which made him smile. He walked over to the exit. He stood in the Elevator once on Earth- or rather, the prototype build of it. The more expensive, intricate, difficult to manufacture on the Moon bits had been launched, but most of it was rebuilt using Lunar minerals mined by robots. He swallowed as the doors started to open. The room was dark, but he could make out several silhouettes in the blackness- including one outline he'd never forget: Paul's ex-wife, Maria. “What big teeth you've got,” Ken said. He regretted not having more clever last words; they were good, but not great. Maria stepped into the light streaming out of the Elevator, looking a little self-conscious. “I know,” she admitted. “Too big for my mouth. I had to have extensive orthodontics.” Ken sighed, from relief, but it came out annoyed. “You people ruin all of my bits,” he said. “I hope you're talking about the comedy kind...” Maria said. “You people?” Colleen asked. “Astronauts. I'm beginning to suspect there's a secret medical op they don't tell me about- funny bone ectomies. Dare I ask why the lights are out?” “We talked about jumping out at you and yelling, 'Boo!'” Maria said with a grin. “Until cooler heads prevailed.” “Yeah,” Mai said, “scaring the crap out of an older guy with a heart condition didn't seem like the kind of thing fricking scientists should be stupid enough to do.” “Anybody have the urge to violently murder me?” Ken asked. “No more than usual,” Colleen said. “Of course, you did talk to my tits a lot back on Earth- so that's relative.” “That's fair,” Ken said. “But- and I mean this sincerely, so no social niceties, please- I need to know if anybody gets a burning desire to defenestrate me. For science.”

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Nicolas Wilson is a writer and journalist. An archive featuring hundreds of short stories, comics and essays can be found here.


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