Upcoming Short Fiction by Ian Gordon Galbraith

*This is a Work in Progress

A rain falls for a time before the wind takes its clouds away. Stars shine in the last sky as the two of them say goodbye.

He pauses, “you know… you could come with me to New York, Cassidy…” his voice trails off.

Suddenly he can see she is smiling through tears. They trickle down in bursts. And suddenly he tastes salt and feels warm beads move down his chin.

“… I mean— goodbye Cassidy.”

“Goodbye Tom,”

“Goodbye Cass,” he says again. He feels himself turn red but she just smiles.

The gears are turning in his head. His face must seem almost comical. In that it must be wrenching— he feels it contort as he turns to go. His insides fall to pieces and start tearing at his guts. Demons on ice-skates are doing ballet in his intestines.

He goes to New York. Tom walks down the long lanes down-town in the spring and he can feel the sun on him like the smiles of old friends. Everything is alive in New York in a way he had not seen in Chicago. Here everyone steps with grim resolution. New York is a beautiful battlefield of common day massacres and lives sent amidst each other without purpose, without reason and together they find a common flow. Beautiful. He looks up at the Academy. It shines- bright gleaming glass in the May sun. He walks inside, to a new future, training in “Psycho-Historionics”[1] from the greatest team in the United States, maybe even the world. But the place is strict.

Living there at the academy in New York presents difficulties; they have strict policies on everything from study hours to “free time”[2]. He dies and dies and dies and dies and dies and dies each and every day. Nothing can help him, nothing can save him. His soul is inside of her. He left it there. He paces the halls as the days grow colder.

The snow comes. Summer leaves New York with the geese as they go south. First everything turns into auburn gold. It gets as pretty as Cass… almost… Then it dies and the chill comes. The streets turn white and the wind starts to bite.

The program at the academy begins. They start to take things. His weed, for instance— and so he does not light the joints anymore, strangely the Zippo she gave him disappears as well.

He gives up on pacing. So Tom passes the time between class and clinic spinning records. He spins Translatlanticism[3] and Folie à Deux.   He spins Give Up and Big Iron World and even Marquee Moon. The music[4] is like listening to the songs of Autumn leaves as they spin bloated and red back down to earth to rot into mud that feeds the roots and brings more leaves. He knows its weird— sad music makes him smile. It helps the time go by. Dreams torment him. They are growing more and more vivid. His shrink calls it “New to New York Trauma”, he calls that bullshit. Then the academy takes his records. They tell him the music is what fuels his nightly visions. The record player is left in the room to stand inert. Like him it’s empty, and nothing can fill it now. He files a complaint letter with the dean. Then one day he wakes up chained to a hospital bed.

“What’s going on?” Tom asks as the blurs in the room smooth into cohesion, there are no windows. A pale flickering light wavers above him, just the bulb hanging at the end of a long cord. The ceiling is high vaulted and bathed in shadows.   He cannot see how high it may stretch but Tom imagines it as several stories of inky darkness.

“Just some vaccinations,” a voice assures him.

A shot enters his left arm at the crease near the elbow. Plasma hangs above him, suspended like an insane jellyfish. Next to it there is something green.

“I already have all my shots…” and he notices a large gap in the nurses teeth but then Tom drifts into sleep and vision.

He can see her— she is flying away. He feels himself drift closer. She is not flying away from him but from everything. He falls into her so swiftly he expects the impact to send them both to earth. Instead the two of them take off together. Her wings are like a drawbridge closing shut forever as they lift her up into the air farther and farther away. She was an angel and no one ever knew. She has these high heels on and this black dress that keeps shimmering into new forms. First he thinks it’s a dress, then its jeans and then it’s… an imperial robe… the visions seem to cycle, to flicker.   She floats on as if none of it is happening. Like her aura always evokes this kind of magic. She walks up into the thin air with bold steps like a Buddha ascending into to heaven. Her skin is pale and her eyes are warm and old. Her hair floats with her in the wind. She could be anything.

[1] By applying psychological study to the movements of large bodies of people one can predict the future, allegedly, by applying psycho-historionics, one can predict and control people, allegedly. The science is said to be “Fringe”, polite parlance for too far past the cutting edge.

[2] They let him leave the compound for two hours a day. At first.

[3] See album link for blue italicized words, the reader is encouraged to listen to these albums with the text, the order and duration of each is up to the reader.

[4] I may yet cut this scence, it wastes space. It would offend any teacher.

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