Bennett North is a technomage, artist and rock climbing enthusiast whose work has appeared in F&SF, Escape Pod, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. Follow Bennett on Twitter @BennettNorth for occasional tweets about lasers, and on Instagram for occasional pictures of things made with lasers. After you’ve done all that, check out Translunar Travelers Lounge, a biannual sff magazine that Bennett co-edits with Aimee Ogden. Contact Bennett at email@example.com.
And She Rose in the Sky on a Pillar of Flame
When the morning dawned clear as a glass of water, they took Aya to the pyre. The first hard frost was coming soon and fields lay ripe for harvesting, but everything would lay dormant today, as it had for the last two days, and as it would until the funeral pyre had burned itself out.
-“And She Rose in the Sky on a Pillar of Flame,” Fusion Fragment, May 1, 2020.
A Bridge from Sea to Sky
Aoife never felt so far from home as she did when she climbed out of the maintenance pod. The first few times she left it to repair the space elevator, she couldn’t even let go of the pod’s external ladder, despite the safety harness. It wasn’t until her fourth time out that she allowed herself drift free and looked down past her feet to South America, twenty-five thousand kilometers below.
-“A Bridge from Sea to Sky,” Jul/Aug 2020, F&SF.
No Mercy to the Rest
Sadie parked in the lee of Castle Inferno, where she would be spared from the wind, and sat while the engine ticked, trying to convince herself to let go of the steering wheel.
The castle stood stark against the sky, dark stone walls leaching the saturation from the blue. One tower was burned out and soot-streaked. No sign of repair. Was Dr. Inferno hard up for cash or did fresh tarmac interfere with the mad scientist aesthetic?
-“No Mercy to the Rest,” Podcastle episode 604 on December 10, 2019.
When the scream shattered the mid-morning quiet, Beckah was in the middle of guiltily deleting six of her mother’s emails from her work account, unread. It took her a moment to process what she had just heard. There was only one thing that that kind of a scream could herald, and it was pretty late in the semester for it.
-“Glory Night,” Welcome to Miskatonic University by Broken Eye Books, July 2019.
All Profound and Logical Minds
The space station was silent in the way that a black hole is black; it was more than just an absence of noise. There was something physical to the silence, a force pulling in all sound and eating it. Hannah anchored her boots to the floor of the atrium, feeling the reassuring click as the magnets engaged. Emergency lights washed the atrium floor with a watery red light.
—“All Profound and Logical Minds,” Escape Pod episode 618 on March 8, 2018.
Forgive Us Our Trespasses
There’s a thick yellow stink in the town of Zaretan when I arrive, like stomach bile and fetid water. This is a town that eats its shoe leather, I can tell. A town that depended too much on the earth to keep them fed, and now that the rains have stopped and the crops have died, there’s nothing left for them. The first clue is the smell; the second is the absence of rats. The third clue is the shopkeeper sitting on the front steps of the general store like a polished brown collection of bones.
—“Forgive Us Our Trespasses,” Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #237 on Oct 26, 2017.
Smooth Stones and Empty Bones
There’s a skeleton in the chicken coop. It’s some bare collection of abandoned bones, maybe a former fox, and it’s slishing through the pine needles and bumping liplessly against the gate. The chickens, for their part, don’t look concerned.