Four million years ago, Binary Star Cygnus
Matter streamed from the blue
super‑giant and curled in a smoky spiral toward its black hole
companion. At the event horizon, torn atoms paused to cast off x-rays like
parting screams before hurtling to oblivion.
A4-Ni fell without
end. Gravitational tides ripped her insides.
seared her extremities. A mounting shudder threatened to rend her apart.
Sow, nurture, replicate. She clung to the one thought that rose from her memory, a
molecular ribbon, now riddled, pitted, and returning little if anything
Skim the event horizon, then climb the spiral
The dark abyss loomed to one
side. It spun,
compelling her approach, a siren's call.
She held to her tight orbit,
rattled over a washboard of distorted spacetime, then came to a
relativistic stop, breaking free to drift in a vacuous eddy.
I am elsewhere, elsewhen.
The genome she carried was
databanks in corrupted disrepair. Only the mechanism for her self‑replication
Light surrounded her.
Light passed through
bathed her with a blinding intensity. Glistening filaments rippled from her
extremities. Distant stars glowed through silken sacks at her
center. She had
become spider and web, a wispy array of tendrils festooning space,
Like flies, other craft
appeared, seeming to generate spontaneously from the star's dark
corpus. The dead
ashes of their remains streamed through her sensors, mute testimony to
the hole's ripping tides. All dead. All dead, until a gray craft arose, blunt, rounded, a finely
She slid to an embrace, easing
a probe through a rubbery exterior. Information streamed into her
silicon. Protoplasmic structures. Organic tangles.
Fractal patterns of
nested cells regressing to infinity.
Tubes oozed on walls shaping a
silken womb. A small sphere, a silvery pearl bedded in the flesh of its
oyster, spewed tumbling helical strands.
bunched‑sugars. Bunched‑sugars coupled quatrains of alkalis.
"Kuotu ir okemu!" The craft wormed.
Its rippled surface
welts rose. Gray slugs of matter spewed.
Puff, Puff, Puff.
Ballooning blasts hammered her
Gossamer strands snapped
traceries imploded. Reserves of energy flashed in a stroboscopic pyrotechnic
Trailing ribbons, she let go a
punch of radiation.
Where once genomic tissue
squirmed, charred hydrocarbons now swam in a sea of frozen
tissue dripped life‑sustaining fluid. The silvery pearl hung from a blistered
She plucked the pearl from its
tenuous mooring and tucked it into what was left of her
"Fioqcaom...a vakk dekkev."
electronic chatter. She ignored it, shrugging off a tracking tether.
Pursue me, if you can.
She sped toward the only place
she knew, the third planet of nine circling a five magnitude star.
Her vigilance gave way to
sleep and sleep to dreams, staccato memories coughed up from the
quicksand of her tired mind. Images of children danced across her
subconscious, their voices tinkling with song as they ran through green
fields, under blue skies, tossing a red ball into the air.
The dream children dissolved
into dream clouds, slow condensations tumbling through dream
clouds birthed stars, threading them with lifeless beads on elliptical
strings. Then the
dream stars grew old, consumed their progeny and collapsed, sparking
bright flashes in the darkness of her slumber.
I am mother.
She wept as the children
Fossil Fields of Kanapoi, Northern Kenya, Wednesday, June 19, 1985
Rough hands gripped John Lohner's
shoulders, shaking him hard.
Kamau leaned close, his black
face glistening with a fine sheen of sweat, his eyes wide showing a mix
of concern and apprehension. "Wake up! You were screaming again."
John lay on his cot and stared
unfocused. Where am I?
Sunlight struck tent canvas,
flooding the inside with a warm glow. Humid air smelled of mildew, animal dung and
human sweat. Beyond, sing‑song voices chattered in Swahili, competing with
the clatter of cook pots, the bark of a nervous dog and the distant
braying of camels.
John's thoughts drifted, dead
leaves loosed from a tall tree, descending by looping degrees, back and
forth, ever faster until they settled to the ground with a
The words pushed into
consciousness. A town, or village or camel herder's supply post, he never knew
which. It lay
ten kilometers to the west of camp on the shores of Lake Turkana and was his only reference to civilization, or as he preferred
to call it, the outside world. He had arrived a week ago
Saturday. Or was it Sunday?
What day is it, now? He struggled to sit up.
Kamau thrust a white towel at
John stared at its coarse
cotton weave, then down at his sweat‑soaked torso and the tangle of
olive‑drab sheets around his waist. The stale smell of dried urine spiked his
nostrils. He swayed
sideways, his hand brushing an open, near‑empty bottle of
Glenfiddich. It fell off the
side table and rolled on the floor next to another empty
liquid sloshed one end to the other.
"Is the shaman
shaman would fix everything. The man had powers, or so John had been
"He's come every day for three
"I've been out that
"You don't have a clue, do
John took the towel, closed
his eyes and buried his face into its cool, dark dampness.
"You know I'm not
"Who was it this
The dream John had been
dreaming still feathered the edges of his mind, veiling his thoughts in
the same dream. Always the screams. He had no shortage of nightmares, his
mother's suicide when he was five, then twenty years later his
fiancée killed in a car accident.
Death stalked him, or so
Excerpted from "Reformation: Book One [Kindle Edition]" by William E. Mason. Copyright © 2015 by William E. Mason. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.