The Gods of Sand and Stone

I’m happy to announce that one of my favorite stories to date is now available.

I worked longer and harder on this one than any other short story thus far. I wrote it two years ago and took it through what seemed like endless major revisions. It would get rejected, and I would edit it some more. It would get rejected some more, and I would revise some more. I added stuff. I chopped stuff. I repeated both. It got accepted in one magazine, but the magazine folded before my issue came out. I revised some more, and it got rejected again. It got honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest, and I kept at it.

Finally it got accepted at Stupefying Stories, a very fine magazine indeed. If you have some manner of e-reader, you can get my story and 300 some more pages of spec-fic goodness at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

If you want a chance to win a free copy, like my facebook page.

Here’s a preview:

THE GODS OF SAND AND STONE

The mist came in when the tide went out.

From his perch on the balcony, David Kavanagh could still see over the rising vapors to where Iri Alta’s white moon sank beneath the horizon. That would be the last of the light until the black moon rose.

Until Charla arrived.

He sat back on the stool and warmed his hands over the pulse generator. If he did his work well tonight, this might be the morning she would stay and not go. It was stupid, he knew, but the helpful sort of stupid.

When he heard the nightsand whispering down on the beach, he took up his stick and climbed down the ladder from his balcony. The base of his tower stood in the jungle twenty meters inland, but its balcony extended seaward like a crooked elbow. He had to stay close. The sand needed to know he was nearby, or it would become restless. But he dared not stay too close. His was only a human constitution.

At the last rung he slipped off his boots and hung them by the laces. The pale sand rose trembling to meet his bare feet, and its touch felt like coming home. The emotion of the sands flooded over him—the pleasure of sleeping beneath the waves, the warmth of air on wet grains, and the eagerness for the kiss of the black moon.

But the sands yearned for David most of all. The native Alteen were all gone now, and only the beach of this island survived among its thousand twins. Yet if the sands knew their current sculptor to be an alien imposter from beyond the sky, they didn’t show it.

Theirs was a more basic existence.

***

As David walked south, he trailed the stick in the sand and whispered his will. Behind him the beach flared to life, hissing upward to form the pinnacles and sweeps he shaped with his thoughts. Mountains rose and valleys fell. Citadels curled into being. Trees and vines of sand spread above him—singing and sighing with the love of life and the black moon. As the sands sucked in the mist to clear the air and receive the black moon’s light, white droplets formed across every surface.

He collected a few drops on his finger and brought it to his mouth. As he closed his eyes to let his mind catch up, layer upon layer of sea-smell rolled over him, all sweet and rot and salt. The rustling of the sand filled his ears like an avalanche, framed by the double-thump of his heart. He felt every fiber of cloth against his skin and knew every living grain beneath his feet.

Nightsap, he had named it. Not too creative maybe, but it suited.

The sap ran from his sculptures like pearly tears, but it drew predators if it reached the sea. The Alteen had once guarded their beaches to keep unwanted creatures away, but here David sculpted alone. He cut channels in the sand instead, to drain the sap into buried holding tanks. Charla emptied these whenever she came, and he hadn’t seen a deep-shrike or addergast in years.

David sighed and opened his eyes. His vision had sharpened too, and now he could see a dark patch sliding in on the waves. Another coral bed, uprooted and dead. He frowned. The sand didn’t like the taste of it in the shallows. He hoped that whatever cycle was killing so much coral would end soon.

As he drew nearer the broad southern beach, his anticipation grew. Once a month Charla came to record his new sculptures. Once a month her cameras let the orphaned beauty of Iri Alta escape up among the stars—as she told him—to art galleries on Earth, New Douglas, and even fabled Constance.

A fluke of interstellar travel made it all possible. While humans could not survive the wormhole energies of the ki-field, unmanned jumpships passed between worlds in mere minutes. Tomorrow Charla could send scans of his work to systems that would take centuries of deep-sleep for David himself to reach.

But that was not the root of his feelings.

Once a month, Charla came. Charla, who once had been his.

This time he would not let her use her cameras. She would protest, but he had made up his mind. Tonight would be for her alone.

***

Now go to Amazon or Barnes and Noble for more!

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