Flash: Colour Bleeds Out/Only Birds by C.R. Dudley

Colour bleeds out, sounds wind down. Muffled, blind. Straight lines, thick and thin, washed in white and grey. It is winter here. Gentle snowflakes fall, though they strike as something sinister. Am I the only one conscious, the only one not a golem made of meat? Playing pieces for cruel gods. This pawn has slipped through the gaps, into the liminal. I call out, and I see my words, my breath, in emanating waves. Mirrored in the puddle surface a boot hovers above, paralysed by my downcast thoughts. Happily it would have splashed, a small pleasure on the way to work. But now all of that is tainted, and we see, the boot and I, what really lies beneath.

Whole buildings erased, replaced by sea. Wave after wave of attempted communication washes away the humanity stored in my flesh, strips me to my cartilage and cleans it thoroughly. Now I match the snow, barely seen at all and becoming flatter all the time. A whisper on a slate of white noise. No pavement below me, no sky above. Only birds, angry that they are suddenly no more than ink blots on a damaged canvas, furious that the screeches they thought they owned have been supplanted in an instant by silence. In the absence of direction, of anything else at all, they gather to peck at my bones, and I am glad.


C.R. Dudley is author of metaphysical science fiction collections Fragments of Perception and Mind in the Gap. She is also a visual artist and mind explorer, fascinated by the human condition and the inner worlds we create. She considers every project to be part of one continuous artwork. You can follow her blog here.

She is also owner and editor here at Orchid’s Lantern press.

Flash Showcase: Dissonance by Bernardo Villela

Did I awaken in a dream or dream I was awake?

I’d been drifting into twilit sleep, but did I make it? I saw nothing but blackness everywhere.

Not darkness, even when one wakes in a pitch black room there’s a sense—even if it’s subconscious—of a location, time or an innate feeling that things are there but unseen. When your pupil dilates, it comes to you.

This wasn’t blindness but absolute vacuity, I knew I could see, but there was nothing to see.

Light was derelict. Was it slowed, blocked, had it vanished?

Panic wasn’t within me, but an amalgam of ambiguous emotions: the feeling of awakening when you didn’t realize you fell asleep, the feeling of impending mini-apocalypse as a dreaded appointment neared, the no-man’s-land between déjà vu and jamais vu. As I couldn’t take the world as is nor could I imagine a new ideal, was this a new manifestation of Weltschmerz?

In my mind’s eye, which was unclouded, I saw bubble galaxies imbuing new realities. Was that something I sensed by some latent ESP I’d triggered or was that a dream, a daydream or a nightmare?

I felt weightless which was surreal. It was unearthly yet, as I took a step my movement wasn’t slowed and I touched back down onto solid, indiscernible ground. I was not aloft, nor paralyzed, but benumbed.

Seeing blindly, moving unfeeling; how could this be?

Looking down I saw my legs and hands. Another conundrum: There’s light hitting me and nothing else. What was the source of this light? Is it me?

Impossible. Yet, it seemed to be unless most basic tenets of physics no longer applied.

Continue reading “Flash Showcase: Dissonance by Bernardo Villela”

Book Review: Chroma: Calanooka by Carlie Martece

Review by Aaron Lee

This review contains spoilers.

Chroma: Calanooka is the third book in the Constructed Sanity series by Carlie Martece, who has brilliantly woven another story that plays out on multiple levels: this is not simply a book to read, but to interact with.

We follow our neurodivergent protagonists, Leandra and Cal, through the desert to a little town called Summerton. They have difficult lives, trying to survive in a world that does not care about them. They are visited by Kalakai, an alien, who tries to recruit them for cosmic battle and warns them things may get worse before they get better.

Continue reading “Book Review: Chroma: Calanooka by Carlie Martece”

Book Review: Calibration 74 by William F. Aicher

I knew this book would be for me as soon as I read the description: an experimental, poetic, flow-of-consciousness exploration of reality, fantasy and all the spaces in between. Yes please!

This is the kind of book you bring yourself to, in that you’re never 100% sure whether your experience is what the writer intended or whether you pasted your own meaning over the top of their words. There’s enough continuity, enough thread to hang onto, to make the text flow through an arc, but it also leaves a lot to interpretation.

I read this as the narrator delving into and confronting his own psyche. Perhaps it comes from knowing this was written during the first pandemic wave, when many felt isolated and helpless, but I see someone grasping desperately at straws to find meaning; someone left alone with his thoughts and falling deeper into their clutches. He picks at scabs, seeks out dark corners, obsesses over repeating motifs and patterns, and he digs.

Continue reading “Book Review: Calibration 74 by William F. Aicher”

Vast – Release Day!

Today sees the release of our very first anthology. It’s been a lot of work, but we are so proud of the final result. Vast: Stories of Mind, Soul and Consciousness in a Technological Age features exciting and thought-provoking contributions from ten fantastic authors.

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Chimy and Chris by Stephen Oram

Chris is a scientist. Chimy is a brain, artificially grown in a vat and developing quietly in the dark… ‘I feel the pipe against my surface and see her push it inside me. “Chimy, speak,” she says. I do not know how to speak. What does she mean? How do I speak?’

Little Thief by J.R. Staples-Ager

Thief has undergone surgery at the hands of Genesyx Corporation in order to become ‘ported’ and donate unused brain capacity to the country’s data processing power. What side effects could this possibly have?

Limited Infinity by Thomas Cline

Hess has lived in a reality simulation for many years by law, along with everyone else. But one day, suddenly, there is no one else. They just – vanish. Can he, and the voice in his head, find out what happened?

Dreamtime by Vaughan Stanger

Jerome is in pain. He can’t sleep and is in desperate need of palliative cancer treatment, but now that AI has supplanted every government, he must make a trade to get it. And there’s something he has that the Partners want more than anything else…

The Weight of your Mind by Sergio Palumbo

Brett is a scientist, working on a theory that thoughts produce gravity in minuscule amounts. The problem is, he only knows this at night when he sleeps. During the day he must live a different kind of nightmare…

The Video by Jonathan D. Clark

Everyone watches the video. You watch it. I watch it. We watch it from a distance with disgust, with tension, with the dark thrill of drama. What does the video say about us? What have we become?

The DreamCube Thread by Ellinor Kall

Everyone wants a DreamCube. Feed the ethically cultivated neural tissue, keep it by your bed, and watch it dream! But people are curious. People have questions. Why are the Makers so elusive? Join the discussion!

Luz Beyond the Glass by Ava Kelly

Huge glass spheres sit in gardens. Everyone knows they absorb pollution from the ground, water, and air, to cleanse the filth our ancestors left behind. What most don’t know is what resides in them…

Every Aspect of Every Recollection by Peter Burton

A wonderfully philosophical piece, taking a wander in a mind that has only itself left. Do our memories give us life? Our fantasies? Is it possible we are each more than a single timeline?

Ancestors by Juliane Graef

There is no way back from what humans have done to Earth. But there might just be a way forward… A touching story depicting the persistence of consciousness and three aeons of what happens after.

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You can buy your copy now from any of the following:

Paperback: Orchid’s Lantern Direct, Waterstones, Amazon, Wordery, Book Depository, Foyles, Barnes & Noble and more.

Ebook: Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, iBooks and more.

We’d love to hear what you think, so be sure to leave a review or check back here to leave a comment!

Vast…

I’m thrilled to tell you that the very first anthology from Orchid’s Lantern is due for publication on 28th February 2020! Vast: Stories of Mind, Soul and Consciousness in a Technological Age has been in the works for the last few months, and it’s looking better than we ever expected.

We asked authors to think about the relationship that current and imagined tech has with the human psyche. Does it change us, or do we change it? How might such a relationship develop in the future, and what could the unexpected consequences be?

The resulting submissions were fascinating, and we have pulled together the very best we could find to make this exciting, thought-provoking volume.

Some stories border on the fantastical in their scope, while others paint a picture of a world we recognise. We have pieces that explore the relationship between social media, marketing and consciousness. We have extrapolations of quantum physics and what we know about the dreaming mind. we have dramatic life extensions, 3D printed medical care, DNA splicing and artificial biology aiding environmental recovery. And, at the heart of all this, we have a careful appreciation that science remains humble in the face of our inner mysteries.

The contributors and their stories are:

Stephen Oram – Chimy and Chris

J.R. Staples-Ager – Little Thief

Thomas Cline – Limited Infinity

Vaughan Stanger – Dreamtime

Sergio ‘ente per ente’ Palumbo – The Weight of Your Mind

Jonathan D. Clark – The Video

Ellinor Kall – The DreamCube Thread

Ava Kelly – Luz Beyond the Glass

Peter Burton – Every Aspect of Every Recollection

Juliane Graef – Ancestors

Vast is available to pre-order right now from most bookstores, both online and on the high street. The Kindle edition can be found here, with versions for other e-readers being rolled out over the next few days. You can also get the paperback edition right here on Orchid’s Lantern.

New Science fiction anthology Vast

Emanations IX

Thinking about myself. Placing judgement thereon. Judgement that was meant for other people, but I can no longer tell the difference. They show me images on a cinema screen of a woman with my hair and my physique in all kinds of conflicting situations. She robs a bank. She climbs a mountain. She takes her six children to the park and smokes a joint. And when she looks to the camera, without a doubt she has my face.

Only I didn’t do any of those things. Not that I remember. And I can’t help but judge those who did.

Maybe that’s the point. Maybe these actions are approximations, or metaphors for things I have done, and they want to see how I react to more explicit versions of my petty crimes and achievements. They want me to judge myself because they can’t decide whether or not I deserve to go to jail. Maybe it’s to introduce empathy into the entertainment/justice system. Or maybe they’re merely giving me a taste of my own medicine.

Continue reading “Emanations IX”

Emanations VIII

I found you in a different place. You were all tendrils, mostly black with the occasional flash of colour. I focused on your heart, as I always used to, and it vibrated in perfect time with my watch. The ever-flowing water of the fountain beside you reminded me that time was passing. We didn’t have long.

I don’t think you realised you held the key. I don’t think you realised you were gone from my world, or that the only thing holding you together in that moment was the little piece of tech on my wrist. I don’t think you realised who I was.

I reached out with one tentative arm, though in that place it appeared only as a beam of light. It had to touch you gently enough that you wouldn’t disintegrate, but firmly enough to forge a tight connection. None of the information must be compromised during the transfer, or the key would be lost to the void.

Continue reading “Emanations VIII”

Emanations VI

A world of light. It’s quiet here. Peaceful. My forehead is pressed against yours, and I think: you are older now. So much older. Am I older too? Sunken eyes. Grey, worn skin. Wise with it, though. For a moment it seems as though we are about to kiss, but no. We’re way beyond that.

There are no words, categories, or sensations anymore. Only thoughts mingling as one. I send you the violet energy from my reserves, so that you might be nourished, rejuvenated. I see it tunneling through your veins, and you gasp.

In your eyes now there’s a different light. An abstract sort of light. You send it shining right at me. I know it’s time. We have to let go. The cogs whir into action all around us, all at once. The hands begin to twitch. The face is blank. A new consciousness will soon rise.

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Emanations is an experiment in automatic fiction writing. Each slice is to be read as a stream of consciousness, a little window into the back rooms of the mind.

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Emanations V

The memory man wanted to leave scars. To stun and ravish, scorch and discard, slice and heal. He wanted to cleanse the mind, beating thought down as it arose to leave a blank canvas for the marking. It was said that he would bind his victims to chairs and play heavy, emotion-laden songs while whispering stories to complicate their depth. I was all ears.

I was all eyes for the images he tied to scents. All skin for the scraping he tied to taste. He parcelled them up with pretty pink ribbons and hooked them onto my neurons with bent silver pins. His name was etched upon every one because that’s how the magic worked.

The magic. The pain. The scars of remembering. Will they ever be gone?

Laying me down on a child’s bed and showing me the moon. Hanging a playing card on a chain around my neck and shooting the Joker. Blood running down my collarbone, words only gurgles and spits. Filling in the holes with soft towels and expensive shampoos, unwashed bedsheets and no safety catches.

Locking me out but forcing me to look in, lids forced open with drops of barbed verity. The pages of the memory book jumbling before my eyes, but don’t worry. The magic will stick them back together with sour milk and tears, all in the wrong order. Force them into geometric shapes with folds that shouldn’t exist. Boxes and boxes and boxes filled with terror and a hint of lust ‘n’ lemon. They might be here forever.

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‘Emanations’ is an experiment in automatic fiction writing. These absurd little stories burst directly from states of meditation, excitement or indifferent vacuity, and are subject only to the lightest touch of editing for clarity. They are intended to be read as impersonal streams of (un)consciousness; windows into the back rooms of the mind.

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