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Empire of Time series


a science fiction short story by John Argo


Harps by John ArgoThe icon hovering in Eon's dream was the face of a young woman, eyes downcast, with a tear on one cheek. Something about her brooding beauty: serene, sad, filled with possibilities.

Eon Reely slept, but lately he did not feel rested.

He did not know the biosynth feared for her life. And his.

Pylon P67 turned slowly in space. Its tempestuous guts were full of sound and steam, scattered l!ght beams and screeching steel. Its power pools and rainbows of raw energy sucked up the waking hours of Eon Reely's days. Still lean of body and crisp of face, he was a maggner in the heart of Pylon P67. His tedious job, dreadful like all P67 jobs, was to keep the maggn aligned with the countless pylons holding up the Galactic Bridge. The Bridge used gray wormholes in alternetic space so 55th Century civilization could travel on the underpinnings as if distances between stellar objects were seconds rather than light-years.

How did a man fall so far from hope? No maggner spoke of the misfortunes that brought him under the Bridge, and hardly any of the maggners had any dreams left. P67 was a vast black cylinder rotating in empty space at the rim of the galaxy, devoid of joy. Around it swept seventy polygons of polished glass that amplified the waves of the obersole as it sang like a whale in the sea of stars.

"I know your name," the woman in the crisp uniform and rakish cap said with sensuous fondness. She sat on a fallen log in a forest among fireflies in Eon's sleeping mind. She was elegantly attractive in a way he'd forgotten women could look.

A single moon's puffy face looked over her shoulder, and the place smelled like, (what?), pines in a mountain wind (what did that mean?).

Eon Reely rubbed his eyes and sat up. "I have to get my sleep."

She grinned at him. "Eon, this is very important." Her voice had dry, personable warmth. Laughter underneath. She had mischievous blue eyes and sensuous lips. Her dark hair was cut neatly , dangling to the eyes in front, over the ears , just covering the neck in back. She had a beauty mark on one of her prominent cheekbones.

"What are you doing in my mind?"

She shrugged. "Getting to know you, is all." She drew in the dirt with a stick as she spoke. Her skirt barely reached her knees, and she had fine legs, shiny black high-heeled shoes; a mossy dark uniform, snowy blouse and smile, green-white-orange bow tie. The heavy, folded lapels had an ancient look.

"This is P67 and I must have lost my mind," Eon said. "Finally, I have snapped, this is it." But he regarded her with fascination.

She pursed her lips and shook her head, "Nope, you're okay. ? Trust me."

"But I'm sleeping!" he cried. "This is crazy. That's not a real planet, is it? That's a bright round ball with a face on it, like a man saying Ooohh..."

"Yes, that's the moon. THE moon," she said, "the moon, the only moon, the moon of the old Earth. Have you really forgotten?"

Eon rubbed his eyes. "I don't know what you are talking about. Yes, there are those old stories, but nobody believes them, do they?"

"Don't be cross, Eon. I like you now that I've gotten to know you."

"Was that you staring at me out of that mandala all along?"

A whisper: "Yes. "

"You had a tear under one eye." A pretty face, he thought, too pretty to look so sad.

"Because I saw what happened to you."

He tried angrily to sit up at this invasion of his deepest pain, but his body was inert. "Nobody has a right! I may be a maggner, but—"

"Hush, my darling, I just want to make you happy." Darling. Nobody had said that to him in years. He turned away.

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