I hold with those who favor fire.

My science fiction short story And Would Suffice has been posted over at The Absent Willow Review. They always include pieces of art with the pieces in their issues, which is cool, and in general I’m really pleased to be included.

I got the idea as Rob was reading 2010: Odyssey Two to me, because there’s a sequence on the ice fields of Europa that I thought had some great imagery. The title is taken from the poem Fire and Ice by Robert Frost. While I wouldn’t say the story is exactly apocalyptic, I think it has that kind of flavor, which it shares with the poem.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Excerpt under the cut.

Two weeks later, he was as far from the camp as he’d yet dared to go. There were no severe storms on the planet’s surface, no blizzards, but he was eating less than he should have been, and he was finding that he tired more and more easily. Maybe that was slow hunger. Maybe it was something else. Once, he would have been interested to find out. It occurred to him to wonder why he was bothering with rationing. It occurred to him to be curious about what he thought he was saving his life for. Sheila’s face flashed through his mind, Elisa’s face followed it, but they were blurred and indistinct.

He supposed survival was eventually just a habit.

So he walked, and that day he walked out to the point where the camp was a distant speck on the milky horizon. He stood and looked at it, and he turned and looked at the white flat land in front of him, and he debated the relative merits of turning back or continuing on. And he wondered, if he continued on in this way, if he might not bother with going back at all.

There was a light.

For a moment or two he looked at it, glowing and distant, and he wondered what exactly he was seeing. A star. A meteor. An undiscovered moon. Some other distant satellite. Perhaps it was the reflection of the sun on the ice; the brighter star of the sun was rising directly ahead in a dawn that looked like no dawn he had ever seen before. Something else.

It was getting closer. He watched it get closer, and he didn’t feel afraid. He hadn’t felt afraid since the lander went down. At that point, fear might have been permanently beyond him. The ice creaked low and deep under his boots.

The ice was on fire.

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