Lee Gimenez, Andrew Males, Susan Murray, Aurelio Rico Lopez III, Ben O' Neill, Michael Kechula and Walter Jon Williams. Plus...
An interview with author Marianne De Pierres and an article on "Writing Realistic Dialogue" by Gary Reynolds.
Darkness to Darkness. by Ben O'Neill
I remember darkness. Not a simple, straight-forward absence of light, but rather a far deeper depth of black, possible only in complete ignorance of the very concept of light. Time, space, life itself held no meaning to me. The only thing differentiating now from the infinite period of nothingness before was a slowly burgeoning awareness of self. I hold no great store of memories from this period, no wealth of profound musings sparked in those first tangled moments of life. Adrift, my newly minted consciousness slowly began to center around a singular idea: growth. There was no true grasp of the notion, I was simply filled with a latent and uncontrollable need to become more than I was.
Quite suddenly my existence took on an entirely new dimension. My body, of it's own volition, began to take this lofty new notion of growth and apply it. The tiny shell of my being slowly broke apart and spread outwards, and the darkness receded into a thousand shades of gray, blazing bright to my new-found senses. For the first time the world around me took on definition, but I must confess I scarcely noticed. Growth now consumed me.
From my first tiny, introspective spark of life, roots burst forth in all directions, burrowing mercilessly through whatever lay in their path. I reached both up and outwards, discovering in the dark soil around me the energy I needed to grow still more. Gradually as my expansion took on more focus, my progression to the sides began to slow, and all the energy my roots gathered went towards stretching my body ever upwards. I thickened while growing thinner, my base taking on girth while my upward motion was guided by little more than a slender shoot, driven by a desperate instinctual need to reach something, though I knew not what. Suddenly I reached my goal, and everything changed.
I find it ironic that, while I have since lived a full lifetime, the most profound moment I can ever recall is that first instant, as I broke the surface of my subterranean nursery. There was no graduated increase in illumination, no period for adjustment. One instant there was nothing but gray and grayer, and the next instant the world exploded in light and warmth and life. Nothing else has ever come close to the singular perfection of that sublime moment, as I first blossomed from the ground, and the dazzling brightness of the sun first blossomed within my senses.
What happened next was a stark contrast to that moment. It must first be explained that all plants have a natural, innate sense of their surroundings, though they neither see nor hear. My first instinctual act, after my initial jubilation upon achieving the surface faded, was to reach with this sense, to seek my own kind and inform them of my arrival. It was then that I felt the counterpoint to my earlier exultation. Hope swelled, followed quickly by a crashing wave of disappointment. I sensed life all around, indeed the ground abounded with it, but all alien to me. I felt no answering glow of awareness among the assorted greenery, save for a dim, fleeting flicker among the tallest and most ancient. The kinship I sought was nowhere to be found amid all this bustling flora. For long moments I lost all sense of purpose, adrift alone in this sea of foreign life. My disappointment eventually faded, however, set aside in the face of more pressing needs. I had little choice in the matter. I was a plant. Alone in radiant sunlight, I grew.