stay tuned for a temporary flash preview
of my latest foray beyond flash fiction '33 1/3rd rpm'
(2,467 words)
© 2017
by Shaun Lawton

Carina Nebula Panorama

The continuum of space in this region curves along the contours of an astronomical skull vaguely human in appearance. The skull lingers, the image of a face thrown from a ghost into a colossal mirror. It is comprised of slowly shifting loops of pregalactic dustmotes. They gather together to form a smokelike chalice, a shadow thrown from the excalligraphed egg developing right beside it. This egg is illuminated from within by green mossy patches in a star-sparked albumen draped in suspension across the vacuum, a whispered dream of things to come. The placental egg-sac mirrors a faint visage of an infant's ovoid skull, a superimposed mask of bone looking downward and away, fog and shadow drifting from its eye sockets.

This vast explosively forming egg of cosmic debris is ridden by a wide-shouldered warrior whose long dark hair blows in the solar winds. He oversees the development of this crucial nexus, formulating a sort of galactic nest. Past civilizations on Earth have often mistaken the great over shadowing skull's left eye socket and expanding nasal ring for the gilded butterfly wings of the rider's steed. These wings were construed in ancient times as being a part of the constellation Vela. In half forgotten myths, they once represented the sails of a mammoth ship named the Argo.

This region of deep space is now called Carina, and it's spirit guardian is the warrior rider Navis. Argo might have been the haunted egg gifted with the shadow of promise that we can now see Navis ride to defend; whatever the case, most legends like these are lost now, sunken below the waves of distant memory. This current glimpse of Navis's solar photoshadow serves as a reminder that he was assigned to preserve the egg-cache. Argo is a galaxy in utero, and it must be protected and defended from injury or evil, and allowed to fully develop.

The unfathomable stream of flowing hydrogen below Navis is an analog of the river Lethe. In the fulcrum of expanding space, seminality is reversed, hence the flowing hydrogen gas represents life. Yet it is a predatory life aiming to feed on the rich astral nutrients of Argo, therefore it represents certain death to the developing galactic foetus. The river of hydrogen passes along the equivalent, in outer space terms, of an underground cavern. The cavern is overseen by a couple of neighboring globular clusters: the astral rabbit and stellar black panther. The rabbit can be seen distinctly squatting on its haunches, in profile. Its left eye rolled back, forever on the lookout for marauders sneaking up from behind. The panther is below him, overlooking the astral river's source. Both these star clusters are guardians of Lethe's riverbanks. They patrol the entrance at the foothills of the interstellar mountains, from which grows the Sanguine Tree. This celestial tree towers munificently behind everything in that region. Wrapped in scarves of universal mist, the Sanguine Tree's roots grip the edge of a cliff face whose slope plummets straight into the starry depths. An enormous grinning troll with the power to hypnotize can be seen guarding the tree. The surrounding debris framing this entire scene is the shed outer coronal ring of Argo's flash birth. Various lords of light can be seen gathering for this event.

In the gray flowing mist of the Lethe, astronomic cephalopods swim through on their way downriver. They migrate towards the floating amnion-veiled, empyrean foetus Navis defends. They wish to feed upon his winged egg. His sense of pride, from having been assigned this post, ever burgeons, like a peacock's tail feathers, in a ratio directly proportional to the development of the embryonic cache he helps incubate. Argo is the very motherlode of celestial particles that will coalesce to form a galaxy. By the time the brood hatches into sentience, Navis will have long evaporated into a mere memory of a ghost imprinted on the lens of their mind's eye.

Navis beholds all manner of nautilus spawn frilling towards him through the misty currents of the Lethe. He watches as they approach the great chain of glittering islands strewn along the borders surrounding his incubating egg's celestial nesting cradle. The frillspawn have begun their genesis of a long untiring journey towards the promised haven that awaits them on the other side of the necklace of islands. They strive to reach the head of the nest egg Navis has sworn to defend until his final dissolution.

Mysterious characters lurk within the clustering shadows in the cavernous regions by the source of the Lethe. Many naiads and hydriades dwell along the riverbanks there. They appear to orginate from a nearby rearing seahorse star cluster. This supercluster confers with a half-wolf, half-man cluster named Amnos. These two act out their roles amidst lanes of newborne galaxies. Not all star clusters have names. Some of these form like streaming capes, some resemble kites with twisting trails behind them. Various older myths claim these as the distillate ejecta of reincarnated manta rays and other marine life. Today they are simply refered to as nebulae.

Faces of the recently forgotten, half remembered, and totally imagined slowly form themselves out of the abstract vapors haunting the shallows of these riverbanks. Among the reeds they beckon the occasional wandering dryad to their doom. Many naiads come out to appropriate a chambered nautilus or other cephalopod, in hopes of riding it all the way to the promised gardens rumored to be hidden beneath the hatching egg's unfolding wings. Every one of the encroaching incunabula are knocked from their saddle by Navis's controlled sling bolts.

Among the most striking aspects of the composition (as revealed through gravitational microlensing) is how the great skull haunting the rider of the winged egg foetus resembles a shadow flag. A flag that serves as a reminder of a superimposed reflection whispering promises from an almost forgotten dream. That dream must be the lost echo of a song issued from contractions during this distant solar flux. The reverberations of this music awaken some of us today, one at a time, trapped out here on the lonely periphery of this isolated wharf, long abandoned in the annals of space. Gazing from our stranded pier with enhanced vision escalated through a glass monocle, the nearly disregarded tapestry of this lost legend calls out subconsciously a siren serenade. A requiem which tells of the harbinger of that winged bird of paradise. It sings of the forgotten forerunner and protector. It relates how the vision of our eyes equals the music of our dreams.

~ ~ ~

Four-line Stories

folk tale

Satyr Amerind hybrid union dance
shadowthrown in hive chambers of honey light
andromorphous scream in self-sacrifice, reflecting
a dream-visor removed quick for noticing chroma.


Wind driven, a memory dubbed gaels
licked catlike at our sails; prows cut
dream powered; below decks seven slept;
under in silence the chevron of orca led.

In Other Voids

Everything has its place in the shifting winds,
was said. All of it trapped in the focus of a
magnificent lens, being outer space itself that
curves dreaming souls across to star in other voids.

On Mount Drone

The spectrum: light from fractured dreams
a dream: a piece of carbon. Every sound:
a memory of its having been made, and every
sight: a dream of a time passed away.


Sheaves fold on a sharp wind, slap against
poles as desperate, brief want ads to be
ripped away by an unseen howling whose
chilling message is lost to no one.

Plastic Owl Effigy

We discovered the entrance to a universe halfway up a hiking trail.
We were exploring one of the canyons along the mountain range nearby.
We've made it a ritual every winter to hike up the trails after dark.
There is no one else to bother us or get in our way sledding back down.
A blanket of snow is draped across everything in gleaming silence.
Sticking to the well packed path is necessary to prevent sinking too deep.
We drag our sleds behind us as we wind up the trail with light sticks.
Placing them carefully at bends in the path as markers, little glow posts.
Facing our mortality in the winds of night on a mountainside is a blast.
Sharing the forest with night creatures reminds us of our relationship.
Our relationship to the occult sky and the starpoints spread out above.
The kinship felt with the wind answers the question where do we roam?
Anywhere we please so long as we can carry our hearts and eyes along.
Off a bend in the path about a half mile up the trail we spotted an owl.
It was up on a branch in the half gloom, starlight reflected off its eyes.
Unblinking it regarded us in what some would consider a baleful stare.
As birds have always been our spirit guides, we knew better than this.
Owls in particular are indicators of portentous probability, to us.
This one proved to be something more as it flew away through the gloom.
It looked back over its feathered shoulder at us indicating we should follow.
Its aerial path took it between older trees deeper into the sighing forest.
Having been literally born for exploration of the unknown, we followed.
The ticking forest welcomed us into its embrace. We left our sleds behind.
That owl led us back to the city and is now perched over our front door.
It turned into a hollow plastic effigy filled with smooth rounded stones.
It fools petty scavenger birds from swooping into our yard for scraps.
The sleds were recovered and now hang in the garage, warped with time.
The ringing laughter cascading in our yard brings echoes of this memory.
Our children are forbidden from ever exploring the mountain after dark.
We simply want to prolong their time with us here in our heart.

A Tale For Children

Wikki is a snuggly wuggly
Pretty Blue was cuddly too
Fuzzy Wuzzy was dropped eight feet
Zachary the owl was really neat

All these things I say are true
Now how many pets
remember you?

Smokey was a cocker spaniel
of deepest darkest black
Bambi was a small and spotted
spindly-legged fawn

Lancelot the ocelot and his twin brother
Ivanhoe romped until dawn amidst the pieces
of Bambi spread all over the lawn

Because Bambi got eaten
by a pack of wild dogs
who fell in from the woods
late at night while
the children slept

and the fire from
the fireplace licked
at the logs and all the
adults stood by and wept

because there was nothing that they could do
to bring Bambi back who was scattered
and shredded and gobbled-up by the pack
who though they're roaming around now
and feeling well fed,

they're looking for YOU and all of your friends
and family too to steal into your home
during the wee hours of night and
rip off your face with their teeth--

--they just might.

'Twas a terrible tragedy to behold
Smokey ran off with the murderous pack
the ocelots ate cockroaches,
got sick, and died.
Fuzzy slept under
the tire for the
very last time.

While Pretty Blue and Zachary flew
off into the cloud jungle blue
and Tangle Bones Rubber Head Wikki Wikki Kitty
was left to be cared for by Jen in the city.

~ fin ~