Tag Archives: Sulfurings

Starlight

by Erin Vataris

starlight by erin vatarisGeula was afraid of the dark. She was afraid of the shadows that oozed out of the brick walls in the middle of the night and piled on the floor near her bed, thick and deep, waiting for her to step into them. She was afraid of the sound of the wind as it whistled past the windows in the darkness. She was afraid of the sound of the baked bricks cooling, the tick and crackle of the mortar between them, but most of all, she was afraid of the black empty dark.

Sometimes, when she hung her feet over the edges of the bed, the darkness climbed up them and made them disappear until she pulled them up and found them again. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, especially on the black dark nights when the clouds covered the stars and there was no moon, she thought she could feel it climbing up the side of the sleeping ledge, seeping into her sleeping mat and trying to make all of her disappear.

Geula didn’t want to disappear. She didn’t want the dark to eat her, so she stayed still on her mat and closed her eyes so she couldn’t see how dark it was. She squeezed them closed so tightly that the darkness couldn’t leak in, and then she pushed her fingers against her eyelids until she could see bright flashing spots even after she opened them again.

She did it again and again until she couldn’t see the darkness anymore, then sometimes she could sleep, but the darkness was still there. It was waiting for her to fall asleep so it could climb up the ledge and into her mat and eat her all gone.

Her legs hurt from where Immi had whipped her for falling asleep at the loom yesterday, so she wiggled them a little bit. Not much, or the mat would crackle and the darkness would know she was there. Her lungs hurt from trying not to breathe too loudly. Her eyes hurt from pushing on them. But she was still there. It hadn’t gotten her yet. Geula tried to think about staying awake, but she was so tired. She just wanted to go to sleep. She wished they would let her leave a lamp on, but oil was more precious than one silly little girl’s silly little fears.

Abbi had put an altar in the alcove of the sleeping room for her and traded Immi’s fine-woven linens for a statue of Asherah with a bronze crown that glittered. He sighed the whole while, but he put Asherah in the altar where the moonlight could shine in the window and catch her crown.

Asherah was a fine goddess to protect her. Geula knew that. She knew that Abbi gave her an altar and not another whipping because he loved her, just like Immi had whipped Geula’s legs out of love and didn’t want her to ruin a whole length of cloth by falling asleep and tangling the shuttle so it had to be all unwoven. Geula knew that.

When the moon shone in and the bronze crown sent stars dancing over the walls of the alcove, Geula could almost see Asherah moving. She could feel the goddess’s gaze on her while she shifted and pushed on her eyes and tried to sleep, and Geula was almost as afraid of that as she was of the shadows that filled up the alcove on cloudy nights. On cloudy nights—nights like tonight—she couldn’t see Asherah at all. She could just hear her moving in the darkness, and she knew, just as surely as she knew the darkness wanted to swallow her up, that Asherah was moving.

Asherah lived in the statue in the altar in the alcove, and Geula wasn’t quite sure whether Asherah wanted to help her or beat her for her childishness.

Asherah never helped her. She just stood there being stone and bronze during the daytime, and at night she roamed around her alcove where the altar was, eating the olives and honey milk they left for her and trying to get out. Sometimes on the darkest nights, the nights with no moon, Geula could hear her feet like raindrops, and she wondered what would happen if Asherah got out.

Those were the worst nights, where she laid on her mat and shivered, afraid of the darkness, afraid of Asherah. Those were the nights when she was so afraid that she couldn’t even make herself get up to pee, and she would lay in bed afraid until it all came spilling out of her in a hot wet stream that dried on her legs and made her mat stink. She got whipped when that happened, a big girl like her peeing in her bed, and Immi made her carry her own mat down to the river, heavy and reeking, to wash it. That was bad, but on the worst nights the darkness was worse than whippings. It was worse than washing her mat. It was worse than everything.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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[Untranslatable]

by E.S. Wynn

[untranslatable] by E.S. Wynn from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahTranscript SM-15746:

The only warning I received came in the form of the flash when [The Weapon] hit the center of Sodom. A handful of seconds. Five, maybe.

I am grateful for it.

I’m grateful, because it was more time than most were given.

[The Library] has been my home for almost fifty years, and now I fear it will become my tomb. If you’re familiar with Sodom as it was before the sudden strike that erased it from existence, surely you’ve seen [The Library]. It was beautiful once—a spiraling tower of gold-marbled hunchunite capped with a shining dome of polished platinum and perched amongst the trees at the southern edge of the city, just beyond the university district. I–I remember cursing how far I had to walk to get there sometimes, but now . . .

Now, I’m starting to think that maybe [The Library]’s distance from the city center was the only reason I survived.

Most of [The Library] is gone. Fifteen floors. [The Weapon]? [Untranslatable–]

How foolish war is. All of that knowledge. All of those texts—gone, lost, fused and melted, and shattered. Thousands of years of knowledge erased in an instant. All that’s left is this basement, these archives, these back-up copies of critical texts.

I never thought that [The Enemy] would use [The Weapon]. They always threatened our nation with it. War is like that. Threats, espionage, some fighting, little skirmishes, but never . . . never something like this. Never something capable of killing so many so quickly.

So many, so many dead. Even if Sodom is the only city that was attacked—even if Gomorrah or Admah or Zeboim still stand, even if our nation is still strong. . .

Millions. Millions called Sodom home. Millions.

[Untranslatable]

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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Garbage

by Guy & Tonya De Marco

garbage by guy & tonya de marco from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahMr. Gray uploaded a new orbital script into the E-DEN’s main navigation computer and the forward retros fired in a complex pattern of bursts to place the ship into a stable orbit.

“Tell me again why we’re not just dumping our cargo into the local star’s corona,” said Mr. Silver. “It’s just sulfur, and it’s worthless on any planetary system.”

Mr. Gray turned his one electronic eye to his mechanical friend. “We’ve been paired for most of our mean time between failure lifetimes. Have I ever let you down before?”

“Yes. There was that time on Vega-2, where you posed as a pimp and tried to rent me as a pleasure-bot.”

“Besides that!” said Mr. Gray as he unlocked his wheels and rolled over to the projection table. “You never let anything go. Almost like we’re married.” He fiddled with the knobs on the table for a few minutes.

Mr. Silver looked at the forward window. “What planet are we orbiting?”

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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The Mortician of Sodom

by C.J. Beacham

the mortician of sodom by C.J. Beacham from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah“See you on the other side,” Teodor said. “And remember to breathe.”

I grimaced and sat down to catch my breath. After the explosions this morning, I never expected to see another side of anywhere.

#

I woke this morning when the mountain groaned. It had rumbled twice in recent memory, but no stories from the past eight generations mentioned eruption. When the ground shook today, however, windows rattled until one smashed. My eyes popped open. I rose from the lambskin, peered through the crack between the door and frame. Other eyes peered from doorways across the dusty road. Distant explosions and shrill voices echoed from the mountains, and I sensed the odd glow growing towards the cities of the plain.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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In the Distance, a Clap of Thunder

by David Anderson

a clap of thunder by david anderson from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahThe rock smashed against Rodger’s face with a sickening smack as the mob continued to hurl stones at him, and the Chenku Class Vessel Captain lurched forward, almost passing out from pain as a dirt clod burst on his back, obviously being mistaken for a rock by one of the villagers. A soldier of Gomorrah stepped forward, picking the captain up by the arm and dragging him away to the quarters of the head city guard. The implant in Rodger’s inner ear automatically translated any speech to English, allowing him to understand the words of his captors.

“From what province or land do you come, stranger?” said a large tan man in a robe and armored sandals. He aimed the point of a sword at Rodger’s head, indicating that he wanted a response. Unfortunately, the translator didn’t work both ways, and he didn’t know how to talk back to them, a problem that was usually avoided by not talking to the locals on these types of expeditions. It was always observance-only on these safaris, as mandated by legislation back home. Nothing that could potentially alter the timeline was allowed.

“Perhaps you wish to suffer the same fate as your friend?” the head guard asked as he repeated his inquiries. Rodger wanted to answer, but he couldn’t. He spoke in English to the man, but it only confused matters.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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Idbash

by Melchior Zimmermann

idbash my melchior zimmermann from Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & GomorrahIt had been a moon ago that Idbash had last set eyes upon the great city-state of Sodom. Every month, he would come to the market to sell his wares and buy what he might need from the other merchants. If life on the plains was hard, the soil was fertile and trade with the city-states allowed even a humble farmer like himself to make a living.

Idbash had never found much joy in the rites of Sodom. But he knew that wherever he went to sell his crops, he would need to bow to the customs of his customers. And even if the people of Sodom might have stranger customs than the shepherds of the mountains, they also paid a better price for his wares.

He was setting up his stand once more, in the same spot as the other times, exchanging idle barter with the neighboring merchants, when he heard a loud rumble coming from above. The sky had been a clear blue when he had set out that morning, but during the day, dark clouds had gathered. Afraid a storm was brewing, he glanced up.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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Deluge: Don’t Miss The Boat

As we enter the eight month of the year, we garden gnomes thought it would be apropos to remind everyone of our upcoming deadline for the anthology Deluge: Stories of Survival & Tragedy.

This is the third anthology in the Biblical Legends Anthology Series, following the wildly popular Garden of Eden and Sulfurings: Tales From Sodom & Gomorrah. It’s important to point out here that we are looking for diversity in perspective, so we’re not just interested in stories that reflect a Christian point of view or its diametrically opposite, atheism. We just want good stories.

While the previous anthologies focused entirely on the Biblical settings as a prerequisite for publication, Deluge: Stories of Survival & Tragedy is looking at a broader theme. We just want damn good flood stories.

Let’s talk about this more in-depthly:

Why Is The Flood Story Absurd?

As you should know by now, Garden Gnome Publications welcomes absurdity. In fact, we thirst on it. And a part of the reason why is because the original stories upon which our anthologies are based are themselves absurd. That’s certainly true of Noah and the flood.

What makes the flood story so absurd?

For starters, this event supposedly happened worldwide. The whole damn world was flooded. That’s rather odd considering that most of us have observed our entire lives that when it rains it never rains everywhere all at once. In fact, the driest place on earth–Atacama Desert in Chile–hasn’t seen rain in more than 400 years.

Another thing that makes the flood story incredibly absurd are the dimensions of the ark Noah was instructed to build. Its dimensions were so large that its size would not be surpassed in shipbuilding until the late nineteenth century. And it was constructed by only one man with his bare hands.

This is not intended to be a theological discussion. We’re merely pointing out that this story contains some remarkable elements, and we’re asking you to exceed those.

How True To The Original Story Should You Stay?

The garden gnomes are interested in stories involving a catastrophic flood. That could mean water or another substance. You can stick to the Biblical setting of the ancient past or take us to some point in the future. Our only rule is you can’t use any Biblical characters. Keep Noah and his family out of it.

We’re hoping, however, that your story borrows elements of Biblical storytelling, both in an absurdist sense and in an inspirational sense. But we’re not looking for “inspirational” stories, necessarily.

We’re really looking for stories that put the “speculative” in speculative fiction.

Stories that might impel our interest would employ the following elements:

  • Horror
  • Fantasy
  • Intrigue
  • Science fiction
  • Weirdness (OMG, do we love weirdness)
  • Mystery
  • Pathos
  • High adventure
  • Heroics, especially the epic kind
  • Magic realism
  • Apocalyptic
  • Dystopian
  • Punk
  • Supernaturalism
  • Paranormal
  • Slipstream of consciousness

And anything that will entertain the reader and make your story a speculative feast for the eyes.

Your story does not need to be limited to these elements nor does it need to contain all of them. These are just some of the things that we like. Most of all, we like a good story well told.

Other Speculative Considerations

If you are a poet, we won’t leave you out. We love poetry. Especially narrative poetry. We want your poem to tell a story. We also want it to include the speculative elements that would be found in a traditional prose story.

Nonfiction writers can get in on the action, as well. If you have survived a flood or know someone who has, then we’d like to hear your story. Embellish it. Make it come to life. Tell it creatively and tell it boldly. We’re all about the fantastic, whether in fiction or nonfiction. We like to call these true stories personal, or reported, essays.

An Invitation to Submit to the Deluge

The official deadline for this anthology is midnight, August 23, 2014 EST. We’re hoping we won’t have to extend that deadline this time, but if we do, we do.

We encourage all submitters to check out our previous anthologies–Garden of Eden and Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah.

As always, questions are encouraged. Send your inquiries to editor @ gardengnomepubs dot com. Send your submissions to submissions @ gardengnomepubs dot com.

Yes, we are a paying market. It’s a token payment, but we do pay. You can get information on payment on our Biblical Legends Anthology Series page. Otherwise, specific information about this anthology and what we are looking for can be found here. Be sure to follow our general submission guidelines.

We’re looking forward to receiving your submission soon. Stay faithful, my garden friends.

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Ruins of Gomorrah

by Nicholas Paschall

Sulfurings e-book anthologyI open my eyes slowly, ignoring the muck that has half submerged my body in the sinking mire that was once our great city. I claw my way free, ignoring the torn scraps of skin peeling off of my body as I scrabble up the foundation of an old tavern I used to frequent; now I live in the rubble like some utter street trash.

That’s what we are now: street trash and monsters.

Stooped low behind a section of wall, I shuffle to a table that I’ve set up as a small shrine, muttering a small prayer as my day begins. Perhaps I’ll find food today?

I hear a scream in the distance, as well as the crumbling of another building. That sounds promising, I think.

Turning, I scoop up the sword I’d scavenged and lope onto the street, avoiding the craters of still-broiling sulfur that made this city an inferno. I jog around the impact craters, past others like me as they awaken to the sounds of the screams. If I move fast enough, I’ll be the first to get there.

Nobody comes to our fair city anymore. Well, nobody sane, that is. Heretics and worshippers of the devil flock here, seeing it as a holy site for their profane rituals and horrid rites. I still have faith—I have faith that God will save us. He will let us leave the still-burning ruins of our city. For some reason, any and all who called Gomorrah home can’t leave this place. We start to choke and suffocate as the cool air of the open plains meets us. It’s as if we’ve become accustomed to the darkness that now envelops this land, and we are cursed by God for its sins.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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Abel

by Melchior Zimmermann

Sulfurings e-book anthologyAbel was breathing in great gasps, a ragged sound coming from his throat. The sulfurous air scorched his lungs. He coughed up congealed blood, dark red drops clinging to his parched lips. Yellow smoke billowed around the heap of rubble that had once been his home. He looked around frantically, searching for a sign of his family.

A broken doll, squashed between rocks. A broken table, its wooden remains still smoldering. A white piece of fabric that had once belonged to his mother’s dress. Nothing was moving. The only sound he could hear was the slow crackling of the burning furniture.

Finish reading the rest of this story in Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah, or download the book at:

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How To Get A Free E-book

Sulfurings e-book anthologyIn this past week’s gnewsletter, the garden gnomes announced they were going to give away a free copy of the latest e-book in the Biblical Legends Anthology Series–Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah. Half of you jumped for glee and two of you just jumped. Through space and time, I heard one confused soul burp and shout, “Pickles!”

I’m not naming names.

Well, the gnomes decided to do what any self-respecting gnome would do under similar circumstances. We met in committee and took a vote, threw out the results, cast another vote, burned the tallies, and then turned to Spiff and said, “Care to?”

To which Spiff replied, “Just do.” So we did.

We extended the deadline.

We were going to have our drawing at the end of July, but we realized that some of you folks are slow readers and that wouldn’t be fair. So we’ll have our drawing instead at the end of August. And we think that’s a good time because it’s just before September. So it’s settled then.

But what is the contest? Simply this:

Review The Garden of Eden

Garden of Eden AnthologyThere’s a reason we give away the Garden of Eden anthology. It’s not just to make us feel good about high distribution numbers. Drug dealers don’t give away crack just to run their numbers up, do they? Well, aren’t we every bit as devilish as your drug dealer?

Don’t answer that.

Instead, read the Garden of Eden anthology and leave us a review. For every review, you’ll get a chance to win the coveted e-book award. We’re giving away one free copy of Sulfurings: Tales from Sodom & Gomorrah. If you’ve already got it, you can choose another book from my Smashwords store or Amazon store. If you prefer, you can hold out for a free copy of Deluge: Tales of Survival and Tragedy. If you want your free copy to be a gift for someone else, just say so!

So what do you have to do to enter this giveaway? We’re glad you asked.

  • First, read the Garden of Eden anthology. You can get the anthology by subscribing to our gnewsletter–the Garden Gnome Gnews–or at any of the leading bookstores: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or Smashwords.
  • Next, leave a review of the anthology at any of those locations. For each review you’ll receive an entry into the drawing.
  • You can also review the anthology on your blog, and if you link to any of the sales pages where the Garden of Eden anthology can be downloaded for free, you’ll receive an entry for each link.
  • Finally, tweet “I read the Garden of Eden anthology” and link to any of the sales pages where the anthology can be downloaded. For each link/tweet, you’ll receive a contest entry (limit to one per day per sales page link).

So, just to be clear. If you tweet “I read the Garden of Eden anthology” and link to the Amazon sales page for the Garden of Eden anthology, that’s one contest entry. If you tweet the phrase and link to the Smashwords page for the anthology, that’s another contest entry. If you link to the Garden of Eden download page on this website, that’s another entry.

And so on.

To ensure your entries are counted, send an e-mail to editor @ gardengnomepubs.com and let us know of each review along with a link to your review. With each of your tweets, @mention Allen_Taylor and you’ll get credit for your tweets.

Oh, and one more thing. If you’ve already reviewed the Garden of Eden anthology, you can still enter. Just e-mail us the links to your reviews and follow all the same rules as everyone else.

If you have questions or need clarification about any of these rules, send those to the chief garden gnome at editor @ gardengnomepubs.com. And may your feet forever smell like rosemary.

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