The Dead Book

by Angela Kempe

The first time I foresaw someone’s death was in 30022. It was my Grandpa Bennett’s death and I didn’t know the exact date, but knew when. I foresaw the exact celestial events that aligned themselves. I saw my life and his life and their lives converging like an intersection on a brick road out in the vast plains of Talunda. And when our lives came together, I knew he’d soon depart.

When I got word from my family he was gone, I recalled my premonition, and its curse etched death into my skin like thick black ink. There was a sense of relief it had finally come to pass. And as my family mourned, I found myself a little more at ease. I read at his funeral. I tossed the golden wheat into the fire that spewed up his remains into a billowing cloud of smoke. And life continued.

The next time someone died in my immediate circle, I was a little better at knowing. I bought a leather bound book and wrote his name at the top of its blank page. Then waited for time to pass. Waiting is the hardest part. Sometimes I think it’s a curse to know. But when I got the call he had suddenly died in a crash with his new Mazura 500, I have to say I felt a little relieved. I wrote the date of his death next to his name and consoled my suffering friends.

Thirteen names were written in the pages of the Dead Book over the years and thirteen dates of their unfortunate deaths were penned solemnly beside them. Over the years, I faced each event more confidently as fate unfolded itself inevitably and assuredly. And so it went like this and many years passed. And my talent focused to a small point, so even as I walked through life, I could see death written on each stranger as easily as the color of their skin. Until I was not more than seventy-eight and looking back on the pages of my book. Pages filled with loved ones. Only one name to be written that never was. A name I dreaded but knew must one day be; my own.

I enclosed myself in the holy prayer room and lit a candle for each loved one I had lost. I focused my heart on the great energy that flowed through my body and asked if it could really be true. Then in the flickering light it became clear. Like a loud voice shouting in my ears. Like a feeling of knowing as sure as my existence. The voice said, “You have always had the power to wield death, Salina. Now in your hands is your own. It is only for you to believe and it will be done.”

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The Dream

by Angela Kempe

When the dream came into existence. When it sprouted from the mind like a sprawling vine, unwinding from one small seed, one thought. No longer the whimsical fantasy placed in a secret place. Like on a dusty shelf, left to fade away as life envelopes us with its pertinence. When those furtive thoughts weaved themselves from the silky strands of emptiness floating in dimensions beyond harm’s reach. When they wound together, binding and glinting with consciousness. When they drew that first breath and stretched and flexed and became strong. The dream became real to him, settled in the pit of his stomach like a heavy brick, and he unwrapped his hands from her flaccid throat.

The Last Battle

by Angela Kempe

They fought under human direction, destroying themselves by the millions without hesitation. Yet, we had no remorse for them as their parts lay mangled and scattered across the ravaged battlefield. The smell of burning oil wafted through the air in a thick cloud of black smoke. Elliot 500 stepped over an android’s upper torso and head as it burned on the muddy ground, long orange flames climbing up out of its severed wiring.

Elliot 500 gazed into the smoky sky and watched one lone hawk fly up from a charred tree branch. Its brown wings beat against the wind as it soared higher and higher. Elliot assessed the hawk and determined it was not a threat.

The flames reflected in Elliot’s eye sensors. It sifted through its programming for an answer to a question; a question that it had never been capable of asking before. Unsure of the answer, Elliot 500 sent the question to the other androids who were left standing in the field.

“No good, no good,” echoed through the lifeless valley in a chorus of thousands of unified android voices.

There was the spinning purr of gears winding as weapons slowly lowered. The androids looked at each other silently. They had solved the problem lingering in the hearts of man since ancient times. Elliot wondered if it was a flaw in human programming that prevented them from drawing the same conclusion. And if they had, then why did they keep fighting?

Suddenly, its programming redirected its logical pathways.

Elliot followed the hawk with its eye sensors as the bird grew smaller in the sky, finally becoming a tiny black star in the distance. Awareness was suddenly born in it and the answer to his question sat clearly in his mind.

“Life gives us the freedom to choose our wars.”

The Keeper

by Angela Kempe

The Keeper struck her spear hard against the rocks three times, lifting her magic compass into the sky as the hot waves crashed against the cliffside. The old wise mystic gazed out at the ocean seething and blustering before her, and gave thanks to the three moons of Roon which stood like giant jewels in the sky and to the great planet of Vela whose gravitational pull kept their moon in place.

The wind blew through her long gray hair as she stood on that high mountaintop. Roon’s highest peak; a sacred memorial to the days long passed which had since dried and cracked and succumbed to the raging sea. It was a world ruined by the greed and hatred of her people.

In the distance, she could see Vela’s hot gases collecting into a white halo around the planet. And she could just make out Roon’s twin cities floating in the water in a hazy fog. Those cities, bustling with life that were the last civilization of Roon, incased in bubbles of Methiesium to protect them from the harsh storms that daily ravaged the city walls.

The Keeper recalled her youth five hundred years before, when the land had once sprawled out in endless waves of lush rippling mountains. It seemed that only yesterday, her people inhabited the green hills in numbers as sundry as the stars. But now, standing on the sacred mountain was a testament to itself; the highest and most holy act of courage which could only be performed by the holy Keeper.

She lift her head up to the sky and muttered her prayer to the universe:

As they feel the wind, may they remember God.

As they take a step, may they remember home.

As they look upon the world, may they dream of their future.

As they listen to life, may they hear their children.

And may they never diminish the power of the universe to restore its balance,

When balance does not bend to our whim.

It is the prayer of this Keeper that they listen,

To the dust,

To the wind,

To life,

To the world,

And that they may make peace.

Then, the Keeper closed her eyes and found quiet in her own soul.

And in her silence she heard the soft murmuring of a song.

The Cafe

By Angela Kempe

“I would never raise my child until it was an adult!”

Sethliah spoke the words in her mind and then released a musty oil from her skin to show her disdain for the human race. Jenetha knew the smell and thought her words back in reply.

“Keplerian children are far more superior. Our babies reach maturity only two years after they hatch from their egg.”

“Imagine changing diapers!”

They both released an oil of agreement and a smell reminiscent to the scent of a dead earth goat wafted through the air.

“And do you know that Angela from work, just got married and she’s almost thirty? By Keplerian standards that’s almost middle-age. What a waste of life!”

Just then, a bell chimed and a human woman entered the cafe with her baby safely snuggled in a mint green stroller. Upon entering the room the woman caught the stench of the Keplerian females and gagged. As the baby wailed and coughed, she lowered herself to the spittoon near the entrance that was used for human vomit.

Although the humans had tried to adapt to the smells of the Keplerians, they would often suffer from bouts of uncontrollable vomiting when first entering closed spaces. It was especially terrible for those with heightened sense of smell, such as women who were pregnant or people who had the flu.

After heaving her breakfast into the spittoon, the woman reached into her pocket and pulled out some nose plugs for her newborn and her to wear, then walked casually up to the masked barista.

“Triple shot cappuccino, please.”

“$7.25.”

“Those Keplerians are so barbaric,” she whispered as the barista pressed ground coffee into the espresso maker.

“I know. They never shower. And do you know that they let their female children marry at 2-years-old? How absolutely disgusting!”

*This post was rewritten on 1-1-17 because I was stupid and deleted the whole text on accident!

The Decay of Friendship

(normally I don’t cuss- but it’s a fair word in art)

I could have gone on-

But I didn’t.

I decided to hang on –

Because I like this.

But flowers don’t bloom forever,

Balloons can’t hold their air.

Every game has an ending,

Not everything in life is fair.

Leaves lose their vivid green,

Then crumble off the branch.

I thought that you’d be there with me,

Tumbling through life’s avalanche.

I tried to hold onto our friendship,

Bring you along for my ride.

Buckle you to my safety belt,

So you’d always be by my side.

But life’s an asshole,

And I’m an idiot,

And already we have lost.

You are like my vegetable garden,

Ruined by the frost.

-Angela Kempe