excerpt from Mercury Station


Mark von Schlegell



Ms. McCallister, unfortunately, as a true "sister" in the struggle, failed him. The idea of their coupling only ever disgusted her. No other two inmates had near their chance for achieving sexual union, that time-honored strengthening of soldiery bonds, he argued, and really, something of a woman's duty in the movement if you looked at things that way, but she didn't, she always said, and always tossed him away. It was night and they looked out safely at the stars without the fear of the radiation that seeps through up close in the day-year. The height of the cliff now was all the stranger beside the exponentially deeper height of the distance from that China blue pin-head above their heads. It was night and today Earth was visible.

In some parts of that old world above them, Eddard Ryan was fully aware of it; it was Midsummer's Day. In fact there was an old song about the very date in his brain and he began singing it to his true love now.


Happened on the 23rd of June


As I sat weaving upon the moon...

The prolocutor was an Irish feminist. In short, he thought Ms. McAllister would appreciate it. But no, she just stood there looking up Earthside, not listening to him sing duh diddley-um duh diddley-um duh did-ley-eye-day in perfect dactyllic hexameter.

"Earthside, " said Eddard Ryan, "they used to think Mercury an inferior planet. A soldier here reflects that should one want to take advantage of Mercury and its peculiar propensities, it must be understood as superior to Earth."

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Earth is the new below," he said. "The new inferiority. We are all outside earth, now, even in time."

"Are you making sense there? Because here you're not."

"Earth's wars are over. It was for such freedom from them that your suffragettes play-acted so hard at suffering in their wars that never really were. So that the soft meaty acres of zero-g womb-banks off Earth could free the gender from the burden of pregnancy while the planet itself was done in by the psycho-sexuality of male militarism--"

"Can he never stop talking?"

She was now directly addressing Earth.

He sighed. "Terranism represents a reactionary capitulation to the Concerns. Found to be true not only of female prisoners at the Mercury Station Borstal, but of laxed revolutionaries of many stripes: they begin as a realistic, warlike lot. But well before the end of their struggle, before any actual battle at all, you catch them immersing in sentiment, gathering sprigs of Sage in Concern outlets, brewing odored oils of extraterrestrial origin and pretending at worshipping the Pagan goddess quite as if they haven't been living happily on her cannibalized remains all their lives."

She turned with flashing eye. Bold Ryan continued. "There's nothing left on Earth, Koré McAllister, for your Goddess to harvest with her loins as she gallivants so hornily about on Midsummer's Day. Bio-organic visitors to Tir Na Nog now find a de-oxygenated atmosphere, piercing cold, boiling heat and bacteria swarms eating the rot of all the multicellular defuncts. Then they die. They should have stayed where the Concerns wanted them to begin with --"

And at last she had had too much and upon him, she who had never trafficked with Concerns. The various intimacies were like pieces of eight to him as they wrestled, arms about one another, her cheeks brushing upon his. And, in the unusual gravity he was far lighter than she'd thought, and, as he had foreseen, he was pulled directly up into the warmth of her. The gathering warmth of her, warming crooks of her limbs, the pressing into her, a glimpse of panties from behind, pink!

"Arrgg," She threw him away.

Judo training broke the fall. He rolled gracefully, like a spinja, to his feet. But she didn't see it. In fact she was looking up at the point in the sky as if it was looking back at her and was of the opinion that no life-form could ever hope to achieve communication with Eddard J. Ryan without a spaceball bat.

"I'm breaking out tonight," said the back of her head to Ryan.

"You're what?"

"I'm busting out, Eddie Ryan. That's why I came up here with you, today. To say good-bye. And you wouldn't shut up with your know-it-all theories."

He pshawed.

She raised her wings, lept over the cliff.

Koré Mcallister, my heart sings true, Eddard Ryan felt rather well as you dropped swan-like down over Engineering. He smelled your aura still all about him, was still panting from exerting himself upon your physique. Had no way of knowing that he would really never see you again.