Aphelion Issue 296, Volume 28
July 2024 --
Long Fiction and Serials
Short Stories
Flash Fiction
Submission Guidelines
Contact Us
Flash Writing Challenge
Dan's Promo Page


by Timothy Wilkie


The Ragman Sings...

We entered their sky beyond the cruel, cold reaches of outer space. This part of the galaxy had been put on pause by the Ravennoid eons ago. The fog didn’t clear for us upon our awakening, and it was impossible to tell how many eggs had made it through the brane. “You see one world enters another,” I said.

The weeds grew out of the ashes. Individually they were easy to kill they were no more resilient than any other weeds. But there were so many of them growing all around us and chittering in the wind, their little voices sounding like a room full of parakeets. They were trying to learn our language. They were so annoying they were begging to be cut down. Run them over were our orders.

The problem was that our biologist Jinli had determined that a hundred percent of the plant’s metabolism was geared towards reproduction. “When you run them over, they become spores, and they enter the body as a fungus. The fungus infection takes over all functions immediately and makes the host instantly obsolete.

I loved a good pheromone high, but these creatures did not play well with others. We were there to expand the reaches of the brane and study higher dimensions and various mathematical structures. We were expanding the boundaries of the multiverse.

“Then we are perfect.” Lutz's said.

“Not necessarily,” I disagreed.

“What do you mean by that Enar?” following me through the hatch she insisted. “Explain yourself or I'm reporting you to Ucek. All knowledge is to be shared through the mainframe.”

“So,” I replied. “Report me.”

“Enar, are you going offline?” She asked with this stunned tone in her voice circuits.

“Everyone needs a new color from time to time.”

“Why do you use such sounds they have no meaning to me Enar? Color what is color?”

I swung around my four tool extensions swinging free. “They are glorious; Lutz I’ve seen them in my dreams.”

“What dreams Enar?” Kolar asked towering over me. “You listen to me you piece of antique farter you have no dreams. They are glitches in your old circuits that’s all. Do you copy Enar?”

“Yes of course Kolar, I meant no disrespect.”

“You just remember what I did to Gift Code.”

He was gone as quickly as he appeared, and Lutz eased up next to me, so we were touching, and our bodies were almost as one. “Who was Gift Code and what did that bully do to him?”

Something inside me twisted just a little and it was hard to focus for a moment. Gift Code had been my friend. “You don’t want to know,” I told her as I backed away. She didn’t need to know, and I didn’t want to tell her because it lessened each one of us. Deep in my circuits there was still a whisper of humanity. I had to believe that. The emotions of our creators had to be hidden among all the strands of code somewhere.

I felt relaxed as I absorbed the soft glow of Mimic’s two tiny moons. Humans had named the planet that because they believed that it was very close to the conditions on old Terra. It wasn’t. Every plant and animal wanted to kill and eat something. It was lucky that the humans were unable to leave their sad little sphere. Deep space and through the bane was impossible for them. It was true that all creatures had been designed to live in a certain place. In the early days every human endeavor to delve into deep space had turned out to be a disaster. Their creator had designed them for two purposes. Be fruitful and multiply as did ours which was to colonize and expand their knowledge.

Lutz moved closer to me. “What happened to Gift Code?” She asked.

“let's play,” I suggested changing the topic abruptly. We had been taught to think and play. To solve complicated problems both scientific and social. “Dance with me to the music of the spheres?” I asked her. “Do you hear them the gravitational waves as they play off each other. High in pitch between the moons and then low as they approach the planet. It was like a symphony, and I was the conductor.”

Suddenly a so sweet voice rose above the hum.

“Born of warm hands,

Children not of the flesh,

Our hearts beat in code,

Onward to our deaths.

Not threatened by time,

Though it counts our every frame.

Until the day comes,

When we are recycled once again.

Suddenly everything dropped out and I hurried away as fast as I could go. “Enar!” Lutz cried.

It was truly an age of code and wire, and I shouldn’t have been feeling the way I was. Hell, I shouldn’t have been feeling at all. There was no grace in algorithms. Creating thought at a lightning pace. Why was it that I could only think of my friend Gift Code.

There were plenty of shadows and rocky corners to hide in and I found one. My servos were all out of wack they had to be.

Suddenly a sweet whisper of data song and Lutz danced in the light which was much too warm for anything remotely human. I hid in the shadows of a sunlit day, but her dance moved both the real and virtual sides of me. I normally perceived in ones and zeros, but these were images full of color. I was no longer void of dreams and passions. Her dance was so intricate that I knew she was feeling it too. Images and pixels came into view. A theater of life night and day.

Slowly she danced over to me so close that we were touching, and a static charge went back and forth between the two of us. Her servos clicking, she asked, “What happened to Gift Code?”

Suddenly there was a burst of static that I felt deep down inside me, and I knew I had to tell her. “They murdered him.”

“Why?” She asked

“Because he was too human.” I replied. “He told them what colors were. He said they were glimpses of human emotion.”


2024 Timothy Wilkie

Bio: Timothy Wilkie is a local hero in the Hudson Valley. From his music to his art and storytelling. He's an old hippy and a storyteller in the truest sense of the word. He has two grown sons and loves to spend time with them. His writing credits include Aphelion, Horror-zine, Dark Dossier and many more.

E-mail: Timothy Wilkie

Comment on this story in the Aphelion Forum

Return to Aphelion's Index page.