Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Mr G's

Ben Gemel was hungry. He stalked past darkened storefronts, stared down a dazed hobo, and stood starkly at the corner of 5th and Elm. Ben Gemel had never been here before. He had only been in this city for a few hours. He looked south down 5th, east on Elm, north up 5th, and west on Elm, looking for some glow that might call out 'food sold here'. It was just after four in the morning. Ben Gemel saw a yellow glow, on a corner two blocks west. He read the letters on the sign, block letters arranged in two lines. "MR G'S DINE IN". A sign in the window said Mr G's opened at 4am. The menu looked reasonable. Ben Gemel started walking.

Ben Gemel had superior visual acuity. When he entered the Service, he was immediately singled out. The staff optometrician determined that his acuity was on the order of 20/2. He could get by fine without binoculars. At night, Ben Gemel could read a menu in a diner window from a thousand feet away. He could recognize a face at 5000 feet. He could do better when both eyes were good.

Approaching Mr G's, Ben Gemel noticed that the sky had cleared. He could see stars, and the approach of sunlight. Venus was over the horizon. Ben Gemel thought of Dalen Rutger. Was he angry? He probably was. It would be hard to keep one's composure, after such a humilation. When Ben Gemel reached Mr G's entrance, he paused. He looked through the round window at the top of the door, and imagined that he saw Dalen Rutger sitting at the counter, staring into his cup of coffee.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


"Station eight. In the field."

"I don't understand," said Dalen. He yawned, and asked "What do you mean?"

"The field," gasped Vic Hoyle. "Field." Vic's eyes rolled back, and he choked on his last breath. Images, remembered voices, and fragmented thoughts flowed through Vic Hoyle's mind. He made a final effort to piece together what had happened. Dalen's face was still in shadow, and Vic struggled to recognize it. His grip on Dalen's collar relaxed, and released, and his hand fell to his side, arm across his belly. Dalen sighed, and he waited for Vic Hoyle's last paroxysms of thought to dissipate.

"The field," said Dalen. With enormous effort he stood, and looked at the envelope he still held in both hands. He folded it once, along the shorter meridian, pulled open his jacket, and tucked the envelope into a pocket. For a moment he paused, his hand still in the pocket, still gripping the envelope.

From the same pocket he produced a tiny bottle, smaller than any of his fingertips, stopped with an even tinier cork. Inside was a miniscule seed, like a miniature cumin seed, brown with black striations from end to end. Dalen Rutger gazed at the seed, momentarily forgot where he was, that he was on the deck of a sinking ship, in a freezing harbor under a starry sky. Behind him there was a crash, of a crane or some other massive thing toppling into the water, and his reverie was broken.

Dalen placed the bottle back in the pocket with the envelope. He looked at the sky, looked for a familiar star or constellation. He thought about Ben Gemel, and about how he would make him pay for this disaster. He would pay in blood, and in tiny seeds.

From the shore Ben Gemel watched the flames rise from the sinking container ship. He knew that Dalen Rutger would survive, and that they would meet again.