Aphelion Issue 293, Volume 28
September 2023
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page

The Dwarf

by Lori R. Lopez

Stargazers said it hurtled out of
nowhere, as if from a Cannon's mouth,
far-flung across the Nebula's expanse,
reaching our Solar System like
a Comet. A Shooting Star.

The Dwarf had not been glimpsed
due to the angle of its trajectory.
And the speed. It must have skipped
or skimmed past the Sun, hiding in glare
until its moment of discovery.

How can a Star move so fast?
Rocketing straight to Earth…
an unwelcome visitor; a brilliant
astral glow bent on destruction, for we
hang directly in the Nova's path!

As if a target — as if a destination.
Unlucky. Cursed. Star-Crossed.
Call it what you will. We knew it was
only a matter of time until something
snuffed our candles, put out our lights.

Its route is a collision course and we,
despite ingenuity and brains, are
helpless to prevent the devastating
impact of a fiery orb. Hell on wings!
A random Death-Star burning bright.

So little time to spend bickering.
All we can do in the final days, hours —
say our goodbyes, close the curtains,
grip hands, sip a cold beverage, try not
to melt. The crazies will go less gently.

As rumors circulate, theories percolate,
False News is rampant, conjoined with
speculation, a tide of disbelief and terror.
Fire-Proof and Flame-Retardant sales
escalate, Heat-Suits in demand.

Some have yanked shelves, drawers
to seek refuge in Freezers and Fridges,
hoping their breaths will hold out.
Some load ice-cubes in Panic Rooms
and Bunkers. Desperate to survive.

Submarines offer trips to The Deep.
Space Programs sell tickets to ride it out
above. If only there were Colonies on
Mars. Maybe they would perish too.
Scorched. The End is near.

Prophets murmur "I knew it!" while
Scientists stare at instruments, take grim
measure as Calculators and Computers
in overdrive flash or beep the same
inescapable conclusion…

There is no hope.

This is happening. The heat growing
intense, stifling. Power Grids will fry.
Air-Conditioners will die, maxed out
as Temperatures exceed our limits
of endurance… our threshold.

A fine line before systems fail, water
boils and everything else bursts, dissolves,
fuses. A few flicks or so from Doom.
Make your peace. Don't waste a second
that remains being stubborn!

Where would it get you? Unwind your
tightly wound emotions and resentments.
Release your fears. What could be worse?
Accept the inevitable. The cure-all remedy
for trivial concerns!

A few crackpot Astronomers claim
the cosmic entity is unusual. Paranormal.
There really is a Dwarf. Piloting a luminous
Chariot Of Fire, sailing like a Fifth or
Sixth Force in Nature, a projectile.

Catapulted across by reactions that
resemble emotions. What does it mean?
Could the approaching Nova be
an omen, a sign? Could there be at its
core a pearl of meaning? A message?

Does it offer us mythical substance,
pretend there is purpose to its path
only to pull out the carpet and laugh?
Are we simply its carnival marks
as the Traveling Show arrives?

Are we so desperate for a chance —
willing to dream it is steered, not
an arbitrary looming celestial disaster?
Wait, I think I heard a raucous cry
of greeting or warning!

No, just my neighbors being noisy.
When faced with the insurmountable,
we do have our breaking points.
Some of us last longer than others.
Those like me aspire to record it.

Capture the details, the blinding ultimate
image. Still I must admit, I am hoping
for a face; for a degree of intelligence.
Elbow-room for discussion. A peek
at the Grand Design…

Whatever answers to the riddle
of Life may be headed toward us.
Dwarf or Giant. Kismet or Karma.
An awakening. An eye-opener.
An oracle. The flying ball of Fate.

Perhaps simply a Wishing Star.

© 2023 Lori R. Lopez

Author photoLori R. Lopez is a peculiar author, poet, illustrator, and wearer of hats. Verse and stories have appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies including The Sirens Call, Spectral Realms, Weirdbook, The Horror Zine, Space & Time, HWA Poetry Showcases, JOURN-E, Impspired, Aphelion, Altered Reality, Dead Harvest, and California Screamin' (Foreword Poem). Books include The Dark Mister Snark, Leery Lane, An Ill Wind Blows, The Witchhunt, The Fairy Fly, and Darkverse: The Shadow Hours (nominated for an Elgin Award). Some of Lori's poems have been nominated for Rhysling Awards. You can learn more about her at the website shared with two talented sons: https://www.fairyflyentertainment.com

Find more by Lori R. Lopez in the Author Index.