November 23rd

“Barrage four away,” the young officer at Missile Control reported.
Captain Anders sighed.
“Acknowledged,” he said, waving dismissively.
Eight years he’d been out here. He held the rank of captain of this station, but he was purely an administrator. The crew of 50 men and women under his command were technicians and mathematicians, not soldiers. This conflict was fought in abstract; they’d never see the enemy. God willing, they would never see the enemy’s warheads either. The paycheck was incredible. It had seemed worth it. Four years of hibernation and eight years sat staring into space-quite literally-later, and he was beginning to have second thoughts. He’d thought his old job had been dull, running herd over a department of statisticians running numbers for a banking consortium. All he had to do then was make sure reports were filed on time, that targets were met and egos didn’t clash. But at least there, when he clocked out, he could go to a bar, or go dancing, see a new film, eat at a five star restaurant. Not that he often did. No, he’d go home, stream some show, drink crappy beer then go to sleep and do the same thing the next day. He’d leapt at the opportunity to serve Nashcorp in a new role. And now here he was, sat in a multi-billion dollar tin can in orbit around Neptune. At the end of his shift his only option was to go to his quarters, stream some show, drink crappy beer then go to sleep and do the same thing the next day. He’d never really appreciated his freedom until it was gone.

Two more years. Just two more years and the journey home would begin. He’d be so rich, he’d never have to work another day in his life. Hopefully it would seem worth it.
“Oh! Sir, uh…captain,” said a startled voice.
Captain Anders glanced round, mildly surprised. Although there was a communications station on the bridge, it was manned as a mere formality. The long-range communications from earth were run on a strict schedule, reliant on specific trajectories between them, comm satellites, and earth. This unscheduled interruption meant they were receiving a short-range communication.
Anders leaned forward in his chair. “Lieutenant Lane, was there something you wish to bring to my attention?”
Lane nodded, stark amazement writ large across their face.
Anders struggled to sound calm as he added, “Please, do so.”
“Ah, of course.We’re being hailed. Sir” Lane added, unused to having to fulfil their role.
“You’re certain?” Anders replied.
“Yes sir. There is a hail coming in, range…180 kilometres,” Lane reported, hesitant over read-outs from equipment they’d never before used over the course of eight years.
A strained silence had fallen over the crew. Eight long years, and every day of it routine and exactly by the book. Every head turned in unison to stare at Anders. The moment seemed to stretch into an eternity.
“Right. Well,” Anders grasped for protocols he’d learned over a decade ago. “Okay! We need an identity for our visitor. Lane, ask who they are.”
“A-aye, sir.”
“Lieutenant Chambers, please run a check on the station’s armaments. We need them brought up to full readiness but, ah, don’t target our visitors.”
Chambers glanced down at his control board, then back up.
“All of them?” He asked.
Anders nodded, “Better safe than sorry. Now…what else?”
“Sir, if I may?”
Of everybody on the bridge, one man seemed alert, prepared. He stood to attention, ramrod straight, and giving the impression of straining at an invisible leash.

Anders sighed. Ensign Tremaine. This assignment was his first, straight out of college. He knew every rule, protocol, guideline and procedure and could recite them on request. He was just so darn eager.
“Ensign. Feel free to jog my memory,” Anders told him.
“Sir! We need to go to amber alert and lock down the long range warheads, sir!” Tremaine replied eagerly.
“Very well, see to it. Lane, do you have an ID on our visitor?”
Lieutenant Lane, against all odds, actually looked more nervous than before.
“Sir,” they replied, “it’s, they. They claim to be from the Barsenas Consortium.”
Their opposition. The reason they were out here. They were supposed to be all the way across the solar system. It would have taken them years to travel to meet them. Anders couldn’t fathom why they’d bother.
“Sir, we should target them!” Said Ensign Tremaine.
Anders sighed and rolled his eyes. The ensign was exhausting.
“Perhaps we should determine their purpose in dropping by first, Ensign.”
Tremaine wilted visibly, disappointed. Understandable; years of tedium could make anybody eager for a break in routine. But there must be a very good reason for this extarordinary circumstance.
“Lieutenant Lane, any further communications?” Anders asked.
“Yes. Sir. They’re asking to come aboard, they have something of great importance to discuss with you, sir.” Lane reported.
“Very well. Let them close and dock. I’ll meet them in briefing room four.”
“Sir!” Tremaine bristled in outrage, “We can’t just let them–”
“Ensign, enough!” Captain Anders snapped.
He strode from the bridge, thoughts racing. He wasn’t entirely certain he should be having a sit-down with their “enemy” in this conflict but the situation was well outside of anything that could be expected. Any break was welcome.

He sat at the end of a long table. Nashcorp believed in strictly enforced chains of command, so rather than a round table that facilitated open discussion, the head of a department held court from the head of the table. Anders wasn’t a big fan of this set-up as a rule, but on this occasion he was glad of it. It allowed him to feel like he had control of the situation.
Down the table was the representative of the Barsenas Consortium. She was quite the imposing figure. Military background, actually deserving of the rank that he had never felt cofortable with. He’d never met her before, never even heard of her until they identified who exactly was visiting. But they’d been out here eight years due to her skill. Every barrage they had launched had been intercepted and destroyed.
“Welcome aboard, Captain Winger,” he began, “I believe there was something you wished to discuss?”
“Right to the point? Very well. Earth has been destroyed.”
She stated it the same way she might have said her hair was grey, or that she took her coffee black.
Anders smiled uncertainly, “Destroyed?”
She nodded.
“How..?”
“Specifics, of course. To be more precise, half the earth is gone. As best as we could determine, there was an impact event of a magnitude beyond anything we could recreate artificially.”
“So…” Anders struggled to find the words, “an asteroid? You’re saying earth was hit with an asteroid?”
She shook her head, “A lot worse. It was the moon. The moon collided with earth and smashed a very large chunk of it away. There’s nothing left alive.”
His mind reeled at the enormity of her words, his pulse raced. It seemed impossible.
Ah, when? When did this happen?” He croaked.
“Five years ago. We discovered it about a year later. We could ‘t get a signal to you so I decided to come and tell you in person. You deserve to know. And, we should discuss what comes next.” She replied, still calm.
He envied her that, although on reflection she’d had longer to come to terms with it.
“Sorry, this is a little overwhelming…what comes next. What is there to discuss? We float around out here until we die!”
Winger shrugged.
“That’s one option,” she replied, “But it seems a little senseless. I propose another. A quicker solution.”
He stared blankly at her. He could think of only one way to interpret her words, but didn’t want to believe it.
“You’re suggesting suicide?” He asked.
Another casual shrug. Her calm was infuriating.
“Technically it would be murder. You give your staff the same gift I gave mine. The quickest way is probably detonating your warheads. This station will be destroyed in an instant, no pain for anybody, no suffering,”  she explained it in the same off-hand manner as she had the devestation of their homeworld.
“You can’t be serious!” He exploded in outrage, “I can’t just kill my crew. There’s a hundred people aboard this vessel, they don’t deserve to die!”
She smiled at him, condescendingly he thought. “They’re going to die. Soon. How many years will your supplies last? How long after that will it take them to die?”
“This is insane! I-I can’t just consign them to death. How could I possibly hope to explain–”
She cut him off, “You can’t tell them, man.”
For the first time she sounded ruffled.
“You need to deal with this quickly, and quietly. If you let them know what’s happened, what will happen, it would break them.”
Anders couldn’t help himself. He giggled.
“I can understand that. I’m not exactly coping too well myself.”
She glared at him.
He giggled again, waved his hands as he tried to compose himself.
Her frown lessened.
“I understand, Captain Anders. I had difficulty processing this myself. The decision I made was not an easy one to make, but I assure you it was the correct one,” she told him, calm once more.
His mind raced, weighing the options. Hours ago he’d been bored, wishing for something to break the tedium. Be careful what you wish for, right? He didn’t want this responsibility. He could see the sense behind her words. All this time, for nothing. No amazing payday, No returning home. No point. But to kill his crew. Kill them, or live out the short remainder of their lives floating around Neptune in a giant tin can. But surely he should give them the choice.
“They’d panic,” Winger spoke up, interrupting his musings, “better to give them a peaceful, oblivious end.”
The intercom in front of Anders bleeped.
“Yes?” He answered absently
“Sir!”
“Oh. Tremaine. What is it?”
“Can I speak to you in private sir?” The ensign seemed to be whispering. “It’s a matter of some urgency”
“Of course.” He looked up at Captain Winger, “I’ll be back in a moment.”
She huffed impatiently, but inclined her head to dismiss him.

Ensign Tremaine, it turned out, was waiting right outside.
“Captain, I thought you’d want to see this,” he said as he handed over a datapad, ” it’s a scan of the enemy, uh, the visitor’s vessel.”
Anders scanned through the report.
“Is this correct?” He asked, “That ship’s been in the vicinity of a nuclear detonation?”
“Yes sir,” Ensign Tremaine confirmed, “And there’s scoring that suggests debris impacting the vessel as it fled the explosion.
“But sir,” he continued,”this is the most exciting part; analysis of the energy signature of the explosion confirms it was one of our missiles. Is that why she’s here? To surrender?”
Anders leaned heavily against the corridor wall, fighting rising gorge. The thought of what had been about to happen…

He straightened, tugged at his uniform.
“Ensign, prepare a communication for home announcing that we believe we have been victorious. As soon as we reach position, send it.
“I need to talk to Captain Winger.”

November 22nd

Content warning: cannibalism

She had a favourite story she told to horrify people. An anecdote about a friend who was being bothered by an especially creepy man in a nightclub. This creepy man kept trying to dance with her friend, and even leaned in close to lick her face. The terrible punchline to this tale was; her friend developed a nasty rash on her cheek and went to see a doctor. It was determined that the rash was actually caused by bacteria notmally found in mortifying flesh. That this man could only have spread this to her if he was regularly coming into contact with dead people. Guess what, she would say to her horrified audience. He was regularly coming into contact with dead people. He was killing them. And eating them. Her friend had come that close to being next on the menu. Victim number six. Apparently she hadn’t been to his taste.

This slightly grim young woman loved a particular cannibal psychiatrist too. Read the books, watched the films and television show. She had alerts set up on her laptop to follow news stories of cannibal killers. She read with fascination the account of crash survivors forced to feed on one another. Something about the act of consuming another human being held her enthralled. It seemed like the most extreme violation, to her. She couldn’t imagine a worst fate than to be slowly consumed, whether by zombie or hungry maniac.

And in her darkest moments, to herself, she could admit to a curiosity too. To wondering what the sensation of teeth sinking into flesh and tearing skin and muscle would be like. Her teeth. Oh yes. This normal girl with a grisly glee about zombies and cannibals was secretly obsessed with the idea of consuming human flesh. And it was a very secret obsession. Occasionally somebody might wonder that she enjoyed cooking pork and bacon but otherwise tried to avoid mealtime chores. And she might be tempted to joke that she’d read that human flesh cooking smelled similar to cooking pig. She was always very conscientious about clearing her browser history too. If google were to auto-complete “What does…” with “human flesh taste like?” then she’d be hard pressed to explain that away.

No matter how deeply she delved, the answer always appeared to be the same; somewhat like pork. Or at least, this was the consensus among cannibals such as Karl Denke, or Fritz Haarmann. But since they appeared to also be deranged criminals, she remained unconvinced. Needless to say, she didn’t consider herself to be a deranged criminal. And rightly so after all; she hadn’t resorted to killing and eating somebody. She didn’t view that as a viable option; although she’d happily dine on steak (rare) and bacon and lambchops and game pie, the notion of taking a life horrified her. She hadn’t even been able to put an eviscerated pigeon out of its misery, but had instead had to convince a passer-by to do so. The whole concept of animals (or people) suffering was an upsetting one to her. A common enough double standard to be sure. And yet the curiosity still burned. She had read about a journalist similarly obsessed with cannibals who had purchased a lump of flesh from a medical student working in a morgue. A possible solution, if she knew the first thing about gauging the comparitive desperation/shadiness of morgue attendants. Then, too, there was the question of how fresh the flesh she obtained would be. No, far too unreliable. Not to mention, google searches had failed to turn up any handy faqs about bribing people.

So how to satisfy this unusual craving? It was a vexing question. She often fantasized about stumbling on a secret society of gourmands whose palette was on the macabre side. Imagined that one day she would read a comment on an article about cannibalism that posed the question; how would human really taste? Would include a link to a dining club, the sort of thing most people would dismiss as a tasteless joke, but that certain otherwise normal citizens would follow, their curiosity demanding satisfaction. There would be a cautios exchange of e-mails, building trust, until finally, an invitation! Ah, if only. She hadn’t seen any possibility of this admittedly outlandish scenario playing out. Of course in certain parts of the world the consumption of human flesh aas de rigeur, but she wasn’t convinced she’d be able to avoid ending up on the menu so taking a holiday to satisfy her appetites wasn’t really an option either. Poor girl. Whatever would she do?

As it transpired, the Fates intended to show a sort of mercy on this young woman. There came a day when she was unfortunate enough to be involved in a tracfic accident. Six car pile up, multiple fatalities. She had been on foot, but had been caught a glancing blow by flying debris of some sort. The paramedics determined that she wasn’t in shock and had probably avoided concussion despite her nervous behaviour, and let her leave once she’d given a statement, advising a period of bed rest and a list of possible symptoms to be on the alert for. She thanked them for their diligence and rushed home, bag clutched to her chest as though it bore a precious, delicate treasure. Which, after a fashion, it did. In that terrible automobile accident all manner of things had been sent spinning through the air. Shattered glass, twisted bumpers, an errant windscreen wipers…an arm. Oh yes. Some poor soul had been partially dismembered in the accident. What strange fate had sent it spinning through the air to crash into her? Surely it was no random chance. Initially she’d been shocked, struck by the heavy weight. When the nature of what had knocked her on her arse registered, she’d acted. Stuffed it into her bag. She’d barely kept it together while being checked over, certain that at any moment she’d be found out. But here she was. Home. Safe.

She packed the arm into the freezer. The terrible secret, her macabre craving, was within her power to satisfy. But…was she really going to do this? Yes, she absolutely was. It was just a matter of deciding on how to prepare it. She had a pretty well-stocked kitchen, she just needed to pick a recipe.

She sat back, laid knife and fork on her plate. And she wondered how on earth she’d get more.

November 21st

Okay, it’s taken me a little while to get round to it but I’m going to start typing up the remaining stories

These are quite possibly my last hours on Earth. And yet there is so much left to be done. My life was not always thus. In my youth I had very little to do and more than enough time in which to accomplish it. But those days are so distant that they might just as well be another world. Strange, how quickly we adapted to that notion; of inhabited worlds distinct from our own. No longer the wares of fantasists but cold, hard fact.
I wonder if you recall those early visitations which so dramatically altered out definition of what is real, dear reader. I wonder if you understand human writing.
The first were the Qveetchian Expansionists, explorers from a world of two drastically different societies. The Qveetchian Empire dwelt exclusively on their homeworld, refusing to venture into the cold gulf of space for fear of losing…we shall say souls, for want of a more accurate translation. The Expansionists were far more curious and relaxed; happy, bold explorers who wanted to see all that the universe had to offer. They taught us much of our true place in the galaxy, the universe. Their knowledge was shared freely, and they invited any who were curious to travel with them. A couple of hundred out of all of humanity elected to venture outwards on the Expansionists’ vast vessels, out into the stars. We never heard from them again.
But off the back of this world-altering event, Humanity was changed. Now that we knew what awaited us-or thought we knew, arrogant as we were-many were eager to get out there and explore on our own terms and not as galactic hitchhikers.
In the decade that followed, scientists and engineers raced to master the knowledge that had been gifted to us and put it into practical application. Every nation of any significance wanted to be the first to escape our limited reality. Within four years countries had started to form alliances and co-operatives, acknowledging that working together was their only option. The United States Space Expedition. The European Deep Space Exploration Union. The Heavenly Cartographers Society. The Ascendent Army of The Heavenly Empire.
And as you likely know, all of this came to naught. Perhaps one federation or another was on the verge of success. We’ll never know. The second race of galactic wayfarers weren’t quite so benign as the Qveetchian Expansionists. We know them as Marauders. Those foul behemoths who have been laying waste to our world for the last three years. Ignoring our every attempt to communicate. Landing and taking whatever they choose. Our acts of aggression slammed, as dismissive as we might be when squashing an errant ant.

Gone are my days of lazing about on the river, or wasting evenings over cards and gin. When those bastards descended on my family seat and reduced it to rubble. I have been reliably informed that they were extracting minerals from deep below the manor. I don’t care. The day they made me the sole survivor of the House of Bruswel, I swore I would find a way to strike a blow in return. Three years of laying waste to every corner of the earth has left Humanity in a most precarious position. Our numbers now are so few that should we succeed in vexing them, the Marauders would require very little effort to exterminate us completely. Small comfort that we will persevere somewhere out amongst the stars. Who knows, perhaps the descendants of those brave pioneers will come back someday, curious about their ancestral home.
It’s time. I don’t really understand the details, but when we set this device off it will use the Marauder ship’s own energy to magnify the blast. There are forty teams waiting to go just as soon as their ships land, to infiltrate their vessels and set off the devices. We’ll bloody their nose, force them to acknowledge us. In all likelihood their response will be to ensure we pose no threat in future, but so be it.
By Jove, we’ll go out with a bang, not with a whimper.

November 28th

This story is being posted out of sequence because I wrote it in an hour while on the bus and enjoyed it so much I couldn’t wait to share it

The Curious Incident Involving Uncle Victor’s Pipe On An Evening In December

I well remember the evening of the third of December 18__
The family was gathered, as was customary, in the card room.
Aunts Mathilda and Jemima were engaged in a hand of whist and cousin Bets was idly prodding at the pianoforte.
Myself, Papa, Mama and Uncle Victor were sat beside the fireplace discussing the Willis family’s new trap and other such trifles.
In such a small town as ours, we made great use of any item which might be considered news, as events of any interest at all were infrequent in their occurence. And so, despite all present being well-versed in the colour and canopy of the trap, the striking chestnut which drew it, and other such minutia we listened most attentively to Uncle Victor’s pontifications as though it were some divine revelation.
“I daresay they shall find the suspension a great comfort on those days the road is frozen,” my uncle speculated as he puffed heartily on his pipe.
At this point I feel it behooves me to lay out for you a brief background of Uncle Victor, pipe and all, for they are key to my tale and I should imagine you would find the events far easier to envisage thus.
He was well advanced in years, five decades and counting to his credit. A stout man, ruddy cheeked from exposure and with a halo of wiry grey hair which floated untamed about his crown. He went clean-shaven, somewhat peculiar for the time but I shall lay out for you the reason why forthwith.
In my uncle’s youth he had travelled extensively in the wilder areas of the world, places untamed by Church or other measures of civilized society. On one such trip down through Mongolia towards the Orient, he had acquired a personal treasure of much sentimental value to him, the particulars of which you shall soon be made aware of.
On this trip, embarked upon sometime in his third decade, before he had met and wooed Aunt Jemima-he had been relatively late to marriage, finding the world altogether too fascinating to be tied down to one place while his knees were still good and his back strong; one could speculate on the existence of byblows gotten upon women the globe over but Uncle Victor steadfastly refuses to engage in any such talk so any such conjecture must remain exactly that.
But I digress…where was I? Ah. His journeys had taken him down through Europe and into darkest Africa.
A land much shrouded in mystery even in these days of noble missionaries and bold adventurers, it holds secrets the likes of which give a man chills to imagine. And even so, mark my words, our most peculiar and deviant imaginings will barely scratch the surface of the true horrors that await civilized man’s encountering them in his attempt to modernize this sphere floating in the Heavens which we make our home. I tell you, sir, I shall not confront such nightmarish wonders as those if I have any say in the matter.
Given Papa’s booming trade in salt and other such basic commodities, I fancy the say shall be mine; although my allowance is more modest than it might otherwise be were Papa a more generous man, it suffices to keep me a gentleman at leisure. And so, although it is certainly within my means to plumb those depths of human habitation as might be found on aforementioned dark continent, I am able to remain indisposed to doing so.
Ah yes. Uncle Victor.
In his encounter with one particularly backwards tribe, whose gastronomic proclivities are best left unimagined (the old boy claims to have sampled the local cuisine and has the audacity to liken it to especially sweet pork, but I refuse to believe I taste of swine, sir. I refuse!), he acquired a trinket in a game of chance with the tribe’s medicine man. I have to say, hand on heart, I rather doubt my uncle played fair. After all, he had introduced the game to them in the first place and had no reason not to favour his own chances. This trinket was a pipe, and were you to ask me if it was the selfsame pipe upon which he puffed so heartily that peculiar December evening, why you would be entirely incorrect sir! No indeed, the pipe he smoked habitually was a very fine (ivory blah blah blah). The very notion that he would ever take tobacco through some filthy old medicine man’s pipe is laughable! I shudder to think of the taste such a stem would carry and I daresay pipe cleaning was a much neglected ritual…
This pipe my Uncle Victor had-we shall be generous and say-won was an especially grotesque example of smoking paraphenalia. It was carved out of ivory to resemble some small, deformed skull. The story the medicine man fed my uncle and which he gleefully recollects given half a chance is that it was an actual skull, taken from an imp which the medicine man had summoned from some nether realm for the purpose of turning its promptly severed head into a pipe bowl. It would supposedly grant visions of the future when select sacred herbs were smoked in it. Of course this is most probably hogwash but there is no denying this tribe was especially bounteous and as the Good Book says, there are more things under Heaven…
Apparently the visage upon this skull retaind a degree of malicious intelligence even bereft of flesh, so much so that my uncle traded it off at the first opportunity, so discomfitting was it to own. The old buzzard truly is a little unhinged, which probably goes some way to explaining why he spent so many years gallivanting in the wilds instead of finding himself a cosy niche to occupy; to each their own as befits their means I suppose.
I forget what he obtained in exchange but I have no doubt he got the better of the bargain.
Your pardon, my thoughts tend to wander when I’ve a measure of brandy or two to my credit.
So! He is clean shaven, because years of smoking a pipe had turned his rather impressive mustachios a rather unsettling shade of yellow. Rather than bear such an undignified look, he shaves. Imagine that! Being forced to forgo the latest trends in fashionable appearance for the sake of a tobacco habit.
He sat there…oh of course, the curio he obtained in exchange for the pipe was an exquisite cameo of some ancient Oriental empress, all ivory and jade, a delightful piece. It was the wooing gift he gave dear Aunt Jemima that finally convinced her to accept his courtship and, eventually, to marry him. Fancy my forgetting that. As I say, once the drink gets in me my wits truly do go every which way.
So yes, he sat there by the fire, puffing and pontificating, and my goodness but what should happen other than that the bowl of his lovely (blah blah blah) pipe popped right off the stem! It fell directly into his lap and set him bounding out of his chair, cursing and slapping at his groin to remove the burning contents of the pipe bowl. Oh, but we had a jolly old laugh at his expense. A little mean perhaps but it was quite the sight, let me tell you. We never did determine why his pipe should have fractured in such a particular manner at just that time, it was most curious.

November 18th

There is no story for today. It doesn’t happen as often anymore, but today my depression knocked me on my arse and I did very little of anything much at all today. However, this is not the end of my little project. I will be attempting to resume writing daily stories from the 21st and hopefully I’ll maintain it until the end of the month.
Thank you for reading. They aren’t great, but these stories are special for no other reason than that I am sharing them.

November 17th

The gentle lapping of the ocean was the only sound. The long, rushing sigh as the tide rolled in, followed by a shorter, relieved exhalation of retreat. A slender crescent moon hung overhead. The sky was free of clouds and the air was so clean that the moon seemed to gleam like a polished sickle blade. There are no stars.
A cool, chilly breeze whispered briefly through cloth and hair. It carried the sting of salt and a smell of inland, peaty and clean. Strange that one of the cleanest scents should belong to soil, dirt.
The beach stretches out into the distance, curving gently off to the left. In the night it takes on the colour of dull silver, long neglected. The sand is unbroken. No shells, no pebbles left. They have all long since become sand themselves. Back along the beach from this vantage point stretches the faint suggestion of footprints, one set that much farther back was two. Time is meaningless, merely a marking off of one moment, then the next. The being standing on the beach is not aware of time. It is itself unchanging, so unaware of time passing. To see the world through an angel’s eyes is a unique and peculiar experience. It sees all of everything it will see at once. It appears to take actions, but has no choice, no freedom to act. Free will for such would be a terrible curse. Having freedom to choose which way to turn is only possible if one cannot perceive the entirety of their experience; otherwise what they could see would be constantly shifting and drive them mad. And so, instead, there is free will and a deep, abiding sense of phenomenal loss. This is what it means to experience time. To be left wondering what might have been, if only…
Lucifer had always been aware of the sight of great unrest and blurring confusion. He had moved through his existence aware that he would approach me and ask to experience free will, without having to understand why. It was a thing which would happen, and he would always, eventually, beg to be accepted back, to no longer live under the tyranny of choice. When he couldn’t remember what he had once perceived, he instead felt loss, and carried a vague sense of resentment.
It is hard to explain why I chose this. Impossible to justify. It was simply a thing which happened because it had to, because it was always going to. The pain one experiences in the course of a finite, limited existence can seem so important. It isn’t. It is merely a thing that happened, that was always going to happen.
Perhaps I am wrong. Not having yet experienced reality from a limited, finite viewpoint I suppose means my opinion of what is or is not relevant is, itself, irrelevant. There are no stars.
I recall the turmoil that arose from this discovery. Back when I started to diminish. Almost overnight I crushed the spirit of an entire species. Ending their suffering was the kindest thing I ever did for them. Not that their relative comfort was ever the point. I can imagine how badly humanity would have handled that if they were still around, or the qth’%gur/, or >high pitched chittering< or 1.0234678543966572205E6. I almost smile when I think of how calmly Hrath N’Garr would have accepted it.
The species of this world never knew stars. There is the world, the moon, the sun, and the coid. And that was all. This limited reality in no way limited their potential. They still had music, created art after a fashion. Were a lot more peaceful than most of the races I have imbued with the potential to achieve self-awareness. No war, very little conflict. Knowing this was all there is seems to have given them a comforting sort of fatalism. Not the most interesting race to have existed in the history of the universe, to be sure, but endowed with insights unique to them nevertheless.
I shift slightly in Lucifer’s arms, trying to get comfortable. My being is close to the end of this iteration. I sigh. It has been a very long time, and yet it is also just a moment in a grander scale of being. This world’s sun is gone now. The world remains, and the moon continues to glow because it pleases me that it does so.
No doubt humanity in particular would have derived pleasure in the tracks in the sand. Especially since Lucifer carried me when I could walk no further. I swallow the moon. Then the world. There is a void, an angel, a form carried in its arms. There are no stars.
I think the starry sky was my crowning achievement. All those myriad potentials just waiting for a push into existence, awareness. All those nigh-infinite ways of interpreting being, the countless reflections on what was, could be, might have been. Some lasted longer than others and once or twice even I was surprised. But every thing comes to an end. That is the single constant my grand experiment revealed.
There is only I, and Lucifer, now. Although of course he, like every other thing, is merely me. A part of me, broken off and set along a path to see what would happen. I reach up to cup his face with my palm and he gazes calmly back. Of all my puppets, he had the longest path to traverse, the biggest part to play. He was the most like me, although still greatly diminished. I feel strangely sentimental as I reach out to absorb him back into me. I wonder what, if any, additional insight I will gain from his experiences. He glows, fades, is gone. I am all that is, as it ever was.
And I know in that moment. My experiment has run its course and I understand all that I am.

I am everything.
I fill the nothing.
My why is whatever I choose.
I choose life, myriad forms and motivations, I choose…
Stars.

November 16th

Okay. Sunday story time. But this one is different. This is the story of the first boy I loved. It’s a true story.
My name is Damian and I am wholly unremarkable. When I was five years old I attended S___ I___ school. I met a boy with whom I was very quickly the best of friends. We went to each other’s birthday parties, ate lunch together, sat together in class, had dinner round each other’s houses.
We were closer than brothers. And then, two years later, his family moved to France. I don’t know how well you remember childhood, but two years can feel like an eternity. I was devastated. So was he. We cried so much, our last day of school together. Held hands, couldn’t look at each other.
Our parents exchanged addresses so we could write to each other. We didn’t realise it at the time; too busy blubbing. We wrote to each other every month. Told what we’d learned, who was friends, where we’d been. I would get so excited when I came home from school and saw an envelope stamped ‘PAR AVION’ on the mantlepiece. Everything would be put on hold until I’d read it, savouring every word.
And then, there was a very peculiar incident which I struggle even now to rationalize. I can explain what happened, but not why; not to my satisfaction.
A year had passed since N____ left. The family were coming back to England for a holiday, and his parents had arranged for him to spend half the day in school, to visit with his classmates. Bear in mind, this would be the only opportunity I’d have to see him. They had a busy week of family visits planned. I was so excited, moreso even than for Christmas. I felt incomplete, that year without him. The morning passed in a blur. I don’t remember a second of it. Then it was lunchtime. And the strange something happened. My excitement at seeing my dear friend was curdling. I was becoming increasingly agitated, until, as his parent’s car pulled up outside the school, my nerve broke and I ran off. I hid in one of the upper school toulets, sat there in a stall and cried.
N___ was out there. I would be able to see him. Talk to him. Hug him. Instead I was stifling sobs in an effort to remain undiscovered.

I would later learn that he and our friends had wandered the playgrounds looking for me. That the infant school teachers had spent a good portion of the afternoon trying to find me. But I was none the wiser. Nobody could find me; they knew I had to be on the property but didn’t know where.
All I knew was that I couldn’t bear to have to say goodbye again. The notion was so upsetting to me that I was squandering an opportunity to spend time with him. So ridiculous.
I came out, eventually. At hometime. Got into a great deal of trouble for having caused such disruption…
The next letter I wrote was about two-thirds apology and a third trying to explain what happened, although I barely understood it myself at the time. I was about ten years old when I first learned about sexual orientation. That boys could be in love with boys. It made so much sense to me because all of a sudden I understood that I loved N____. Unfortunately, this was in the early nineties and it seemed like how I felt was frowned on, and since I was certain he was ‘normal’ I kept it to myself.
This would turn out to be one of my biggest regrets when, at sixteen, he died of leukaemia.
I really believe in letting people know you care while you can. The alternative can weigh so heavily otherwise, and so unnecessarily.