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DM 93

Fiori Scura


Porte D'entrée



Stephanie Bryant Anderson



F. J. Bergmann



Julian Drury



David Flynn ~ Jon Fried ~ Moser Khan



Bruno Gegenhuber




Steve Hodge



Rudy Koshar



Ben Larned



Etan Nechin



Octavio Quintanilla



John Rouleau



Tom Sheehan



Andrew Weatherly




* * *



Bruno Gegenhuber

Flowers Over an Empty Tomb


The man in the black cloak stumbled over to the table, where Brogan sat atop an overturned crate with the words “Ration K Wt. 44 Cu. 1.2” sprawled across its side. The man’s arms dangled like sausage links as he walked. Despite his partner’s approach, Brogan’s sunken eyes remained fixated on the table, studying its cracks and imperfections as though he were reading a map. The man struggled to work his body into the second crate facing Brogan then began a mystical trance with the table’s surface. Brogan and the man had fallen into a solemn reverie five days ago. Upon staring, the table would transform into a wild dreamscape, a void that ate and ate and ate. Brogan often watched stars shoot across an empty galaxy. The man saw a lone ship that glided into the fog and never returned. The other two, Porter and Maru, never noticed anything but swore they felt a mild coldness that bit their skin. Outside the structure, past the oasis, a rocky sea slumbered – unaffected by the matters of men. A bright ball glowed hot red in the sky.


          “Where’d you go?” Brogan asked.


          “I left.”




          “Outside. I took in the view and checked the tanks.”


          For a passing moment, Brogan glared into the man’s pupils, looking for a sign. He found nothing. Two pairs of hands trembled above the table.


          “Did you talk to Maru?” The man asked.


          “I don’t agree with this.”


          “So you talked?”


          “Yeah. We talked.” Brogan glanced away. “Did you check the radio again?”


          “How many goddamn times do we have to go over this. The radio is just static. No one’s coming.”


          “You don’t know that.”


          The man in the black cloak scowled as if he had just received a kick to the gut. He sucked in and scratched away at the rash that had formed at the top of his forehead.


          “We saw the flames together a year ago and they haven’t left.”


          Brogan exhaled and massaged his aching back with his hands.


          “And the leather?”


          “We tried the leather. Tasted disgusting. I got sick. Maru puked. It’s coated in some kind of toxic chemical.” The man said.


          “There’s nothing else we can use?”




            “What about the-”


          “Don’t you get it? There’s nothing left but metal, rubber, some instruction manuals. It’s all just junk. We ran through everything else. Even the clothes.”


          Brogan hugged his shivering body – powerless of the hot and watery tears that had already begun to form around his eyelids like waves lapping against the shore. He didn’t speak for a while. Just stared at the table and dreamt of the picnic he took with his eighth grade girlfriend, Kelsie Stevenson, on that one perfect, midsummer afternoon. He remembered the white-hot sun kissing his skin and hair, dulling his consciousness. He remembered napping in a field of golden wheat, Kelsie’s arms wrapped around his chest, and never wanting to wake up ever again. He remembered being okay with that. Falling asleep and never waking up. He remembered the rough texture of bread against his lips, the firmness of flesh against his teeth.


          “You have a son.” The man said.


          “That’s right.”


          “Tom, right? He might be okay.”


          “He might.” Brogan breathed out, thinking of his son’s face growing smaller and smaller in the kitchen window as he pulled out of the driveway all those months ago.


          “I bet he’s fine.”


          “He probably isn’t.”


          The man pressed two closed fists down onto the table.


          “But if he is, he’ll need you. Porter doesn’t even have kids.” The man said.


          Brogan nodded in agreement.


          “You’re right. I’m doing this for him. It’s for him. This is for him.” Brogan trailed off. “Where are they?”


          “Finishing up their shift. They say in a few weeks the boat’ll be ready to sail again.”


          “And you’re sure Maru’s the only one that can sail her?”


          “That’s right.” The man shook his head in disgust. “That fucking bastard. He knew when he saw the flames. He knew that was the only way he’d make it.”


          “I still don’t know about this.” Brogan repeated.


          “Would you rather it be you?” The man replied.


          Brogan stared into the table even harder now, feeling the man in black robes judge the shame that painted his sweaty cheeks. His eyes burned.


          “No.” Brogan growled.


          “Then we do it.” The man spoke.




          “When they get back.”


          Brogan turned to look at the entranceway to the dimly-lit room, wondering when that moment would arise. He hoped never. When he returned his gaze to the table, the man in the black cloak had disappeared. He saw nothing now. Brogan shivered.




.   .   .


          Porter and Maru stumbled in silence into the pressurization chamber. Eyes pointed upward, they watched as a flaming Earth lay dormant in the sky, free of the burdens that life had once brought upon its soil, remembering in silence the day they saw it become red with fire and blood. Several weeks had passed before they realized that was the last day they’d ever hear from home again. Did that make them aliens?


They liked to dream of sleeping now. Everyone had begun to sleep. They wanted it to be their turn to sleep.


Propped against his right side, the stone hammer Maru had used to repair the lunar lander’s air lock now served to keep him from keeling over. He played with the handle in his hands, studying its jagged exterior with his fingertips, as the two men proceeded into the galley. Inside, Maru and Porter found Brogan in a mystic trance, muttering and rubbing his hands raw back and forth over the table’s surface as if he could summon a magic genie that would solve all of his problems. As the pair approached, Brogan’s muttering fell to mere whispers of unintelligible words. Maru slapped the hammer against his palm. Porter stood, licking at his cracked lips.


“What is it.” Porter asked. Slowly, Brogan swiveled his head to gaze into Maru’s clammy yet confident face then shifted his eyes to meet his brother’s  – where they burned with hunger.



Bruno Gegenhuber is an undergraduate student majoring in Biology and Creative Writing at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon. His past work has been published in the Pacific University Literature for Undergraduates Magazine, and he currently serves as an assistant editor for the Silk Road Review. He writes speculative fiction and literary fiction.


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