I'd enter, but I already bought the book!
that doesn't mean you can't enter!
Already got and read it! Otherwise I'd totally be all over it, loving the steampunk. ;)
you can always opt for the alternate but equally cool prize.
I so want to read those short stories! :D
The brown print in Boneshaker was a really nice touch.
2009-12-10 03:45 pm (UTC)
Roswell, the cat or the famous UFO site?
2009-12-10 04:11 pm (UTC)
Her zeppelin had been sitting in a holding pattern on the edge of the city for two hours and Roswell was starting to get angry.
"Target acquired," the computer informed her while centering a red circle on the roof of a building, just inside the limited range of her cannon.
Peering closely at the display, she confirmed the target and pawed the Fire button once, sending a three-round burst toward the target. Four seconds later, the rooftop disappeared in a cloud of smoke and rubble.
"Two hours and only three rotters!" she growled to herself. "At this rate, I'll never get promoted."
She could see the rest of the makeshift fleet cruising above the heart of the old Downtown sector and hear the shouts and cheers over the radio as confirmed kills were reported. Even N00t0n was ahead of her with 15 rotters confirmed dead.
She'd been stuck on perimeter protection after her gas mask had failed the fit test and she'd been temporarily decertified from hot zone duty. "It's not MY fault that there weren't any more of these stupid gas masks in the last supply shipment! If only Logistics would pay more attention and do their damned job."
A shout over the radio caught her attention and she looked towards the center of town just in time to see a large building slowly topple toward the street below. After the dust cleared, she could see a large crater with rubble and rotter bodies strewn everywhere. The building must have cracked the ceiling of one of the many tunnels that spidered beneath the city.
"Tunnel breach. Evacuate. Evacuate. Evacuate." The mission commander was clearing the airspace for an artillery strike. She watched as her radar tracked the shells into the center of the crater. A massive fireball forced her to look away but she'd seen the hundreds of rotters that had been climbing out of the crater and were now charred hulks.
As Roswell turned the airship back towards base, N00t0n's voice came over the radio, elatedly claiming the kills. "We'll never hear the end of this," she muttered.
I love it! (especially the "pawed the fire button" You have set the bar very high!
All entries as comments, yes?
yes, all entries as comments.
that's awesome - that book is on my holiday list! unfortunately, it's finals week and i don't have time to write a short story, but i look forward to reading everyone else's!
2009-12-10 04:47 pm (UTC)
Brushing off my writer's cap...
Roswell sat quietly at the edge of the old airfield. It had been quiet for over a year now, the humans having all fled the city after noxious fog had filled the air, bringing death – and worse, living death – in its wake.
Well, for humans, anyway. For cats, the story had been different – Roswell had woken up that morning, mist filling his nostrils, with a sudden sense of self-awareness that hadn’t been there the day before. Unaware of any of the events that led up to this state, he wandered outside, and was faced with a scene of chaos. People fleeing by any means possible, the dead littering the streets, and a few crazed humans feasting on the raw, bloated bodies of their fallen brethren.
And everywhere, cats. Emerging from basements, homes, alleyways, blinking years of sleep out of their eyes, and ignored by the humans – living, dead, and ghoulish alike.
And now, without warning, an airship had landed. Roswell sat in the tall grass and watched as several people wearing gas masks descended the ramp, and wondered what the hell they were doing back in a city that clearly no longer wanted them. His tail twitched in agitation.
The humans passed by him as he crouched hidden in the overgrowth and they left, never aware of his observance of them. Not, he noted, that it would have mattered if they had seen him. They’d have assumed him feral, and ignored any other possibility. Nevertheless, Roswell kept a discreet distance as he followed them through town. He may not be a threat, but they were heavily armed against the ghouls, and the last thing he wanted was to be on the receiving end of a nervous trigger finger.
Finally, they arrived at the home of Dr. Wilkes, one of the more brilliant, if also insane, of the now deceased scientists of the city. Roswell nodded to himself. The cats had already been through Wilkes’s home, taken anything of value and destroyed anything dangerous.
Armed with the knowledge of their destination, he sauntered back through town to make his report.
2009-12-10 05:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Brushing off my writer's cap...
awesome. many thanks!
I am definintely (hopefully) going to be doing this :)
I was torn, while at the bookstore, in between that one and "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfield... But ended up buying "Leviathan", only because Zombies really don't do anything for me.
Would I really like it, even with zombies?
yes. the zombies, while essential to the story, are there mostly as a lingering threat. the few zombie scenes are memorable, but they're not that frequent at all.
the story is about a boy who goes into the walled-in city to find information that will clear his father's name -- and his mother who, finding out what he's done, goes in after him.
lots of adventure, lots of good, believable characters and very difficult to put down. (complete with an ending that does not disappoint, too!)
Haha! OMG you're completely awesome - thank you so much!
[:: cheek smoochies ::]
[:: bear huggies ::]
[:: all that jazz etcetera ::]
Dig it peeps, famous authors and shiznit posting RIGHT HERE IN MAH LJ!!!
2009-12-10 05:03 pm (UTC)
Relocation in the Age of Decay
Liza James www.findliza.com
In the heavy, unbreathable fog hanging over the last few ruins on the outskirts of town, a round light appeared to grow larger as it approached Old Seattle's abandoned landing field.
A man shuffled around in the rubble, kicking aside a hunk of rusted metal, as he dug the toe of his boot into an open patch of dry grass, looking for bits of copper or iron that the grubpickers might have missed in their scavenging. He let himself drop into an easy crouch beside his rumpled salt'n'pepper cat, watching the giant ship whirr, creak, and ease itself to the ground, where it rested for a few moments before any activity could be detected.
As the dust settled, he stood, left knee buckling slightly under his own weight. He winced, and shoved callused hands deep into the pockets of his worn, but sturdy bomber jacket. The pockets were full of holes, but Kelvin Baggers didn't mind. His motto was "use it till it falls apart" and he stuck by it, even when offered a replacement. Exceptions were made for gas masks.
Kelvin approached the huge mass of previously airborne metal and canvas, and noticed a few engravings below a porthole. He spent a moment trying to decipher them, spinning on his heel as the hatch opened and a few disoriented people stumbled out. They were ragged, but well fed. He figured they must have had decent rations until they left Long Island to the rotters and equally mad scientists. "Well" he thought, "welcome to purgatory."
Putting aside this cynical thought, he welcomed the group and offered to guide them (for the price of a meal) to the main entrance of below-city where the few un-afflicted chose to make their homes.
Living above ground was no longer an option for those who wished to keep their families safe from the crazed. Ironic, that the few havens left, were now where the explosion originated, 12 years ago.
As they made their way toward the tunnel settlements, each member of the party hoped that this time, things would be different.
2009-12-10 05:57 pm (UTC)
Re: Relocation in the Age of Decay
must star roswell!
Dude... the plot of that sounds pretty sweet. I'll have to enter!
2009-12-10 07:01 pm (UTC)
I just couldn't work in the mysterious mad masked scientists
Roswell awoke to the shrill cry of another rotter being devoured by the mysterious acid-fog that had rolled in last Thursday morning. It came in from the west and began pecking off rotters, and only rotters, at an alarming rate. She licked her paw with indifference before leaping from her perch down to the control panel below. Rotters didn’t mess with her, a fact she reasoned was no doubt related to the inherent respect all humans have for cats, but they didn’t pet her or feed her either and so she took some delight in their demise.
Walking across the dusty controls, she gazed out the windows at the spectacle unfolding across the way. The brainless rotter struggled to get free from the formless acid-fog, and Roswell just shook her head sadly at the poor, stupid thing. One simply cannot expect acts like struggling to yield results against a non-corporeal nemesis. With another sad shake of her head, she abandoned the sorry thing to its fate and set off to walk the rounds.
The airship wreck had agitated her at first, having taken out one of two remaining patches of catnip in all of Seattle when it crashed. Upon further investigation, however, she had actually found it quite homey. There were gas masks which attracted mice in their long hoses, and plenty of dangling bits of straps and torn cloth to amuse herself. But most importantly, the wreckage had blocked off the main entrance to the underground tunnels, and therefore denied all other cats access to the one remaining catnip patch in all of Seattle. Now that the mysterious acid-fog was gobbling up rotters, and thereby preventing the mindless zombies from trampling her catnip, Roswell reckoned this airship was damn near paradise.
As she neared the summit of the wreckage and looked out over her home, an involuntary purr began to swell in her throat. Her catnip grew in a handsome patch, green and luscious and entirely hers. Off in the distance, another rotter shrieked as it met its foggy end.
Yes…damn near paradise.
2009-12-10 08:16 pm (UTC)
Re: I just couldn't work in the mysterious mad masked scientists
The Nori wasn’t the finest of airships, but she sure smelled great. Roswell angled her infrared goggles into place, taking in a deep breath as she did so. Yeah, she thought. That’s some good whiff. A good wind, sea air, and that crispy roasted aroma of the nori. Smells like a good omen. Then she pursed her whiskers. Would the memory be enough in the harder days to come?
She called out the order to sink The Nori another few hundred feet and watched her steersman pause. It would be close. But she gave him a firm nod and he complied, shaking his head. This is why they hired us, Kyle, she projected. This is why we live.
The brass on her goggles clinked lightly as she slipped the zoom cover into place. A quick scan of the hillside emerging from the fog revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Yet, she mused. There was a small flash of a signal mirror at the top. Not unexpected since they were now coming into visible range of the tower. It would take a minute for the message to register with its receiver. When it did, The Nori release the secret weapon.
Just a little closer, Kyle. Quickly. That’s when she smelled it, just a small trace but enough for her feline senses to identify. The gas! Up here? In this wind? She whipped off the goggles and scanned the deck.
Kyle lay sprawled over the wheel, his skin already whitening from the effects of the gas. Next to him she spied the source – a small round gas dart embedded in the wood of his console.
It meant that there was a defensive shield in place. It meant in the three days since they sent a scout, they were informed. Or they knew the scout was coming beforehand. They had to. Air dart shielding was expensive and hard to control. You only employed it during very limited launch windows to minimize your own losses. But it takes months to amass an effective inventory.
They were ready for us. They’ve been ready all along.
wow. i so want to see this illustrated -- the idea of roswell with her little brass goggles is just too cute... really. too cute. i would esplode.
I want this book. It's on my wishlist. But oh if I can get it for myself because C.Priest thinks I'm that good!
2009-12-10 09:27 pm (UTC)
Time traveling hippie goddess Clarity Momentous tosses her long, thick mane of flaming red hair back over her freckle speckled shoulders and laughs so hard and loud her minty chewing gum shoots free of her mouth and goes flying across the cabin of her airship, The Joplin.
Roswell, the gorgeous black and white telepathic cat; Clarity's partner in time, has cracked her up once again.
"Sugar, you are the funniest feline this side of tomorrow!" she declares as Roswell sends her a thankful wink. Suddenly, an alarm on a control panel buzzes alarmingly and the ladies are alarmed.
"What's that all about, darlin'?" Clarity asks Roswell, who is already perched on the display panel and reading the data streaming in from somewhere in space and time.
"It's a message from your crazy old man!" Roswell informs Clarity, telepathically. Clarity's father is a scientist who helps coordinate their time traveling adventures from his safely-on-the-ground reality of Austin, Texas circa 1983.
"Send it over here to my screen and let's see what's shaking," Clarity requests. Roswell complies and suddenly an image of Dr. Momentous pops on her screen, but it doesn't look like him at all.
"Lose the Nixon mask, Pop! It wasn't funny the last three times, and it's not funny now," Clarity complains, secretly trying not to smile.
"Sorry, dear. I forgot I had it on," Dr. Momentous explains.
"What's all the fuss, Dad?"
"Clarity, it seems a mysterious purple haze has drifted over the city of Seattle in early 2010 and turned everyone into mindless beings bent on destroying the very fabric of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!"
"Oh, no!" Clarity responds. "You don't mean, ...?"
"Yes, my dear, I'm afraid so -- REPUBLICANS!"
Roswell and Clarity lock startled stares of concern and disbelief. "We've got to do something!" Clarity declares.
Roswell saves the day once again. "Let's time hop over to 2009 and turn the tunnels in Seattle's Underground into a giant vacuum cleaner! When the purple haze rolls in we can suck it all up and save the city."
"Sugar, you're a genius!" Clarity shouts excitedly, but then realizes she and the cat have no idea how to make a giant vacuum cleaner.
"I bet your Dad does!" the telepathic cat reminds the time traveling hippie.
"Did you hear that Pop? We're beaming you aboard!"
Roswell chuckles under her breath. They really can't beam anything anywhere.
"Pack the gas masks Dad, we're coming to get you. Oh, and pick a few pounds of fresh catnip and some of my special herbs!"
Roswell flashes Clarity a thankful and enthusiastic thumbs up and the two ladies notice the wad of chewing gum stuck on the cats claw. Once again the cabin of the Joplin is filled with their shared and delighted laughter.
-- Susan DeMilo
dang, i love the names in this!
It was hard to believe it had been a month already. One long month spent scrounging for food. One long month holed up in the hangar listening to hands scrabbling against the sheet metal walls. It wasn’t going to get any better any time soon either.
It started mid-afternoon on a Wednesday. Seattle had become foggy. It happened occasionally. The screaming was new though.
I’d stayed home from work because I had been sick for a few days, but the screams were penetrating through my cold. The fog and screams hung over downtown for the rest of the day. The evening news was discussing the “gas leak” that had led to some “industrial accidents”. Thursday the fog was still in Seattle, but three blocks closer to me.
I’d dug through my grandfather’s WWI memorabilia and my boxes from college. Between the two, I had come up with a working gas mask and a paintball gun. Using a neighbour’s oxygen tank and ball bearings, I increased the firing power of the paintball gun. I stuffed as much into my knapsack as I could and headed for the airport via the utility and subway tunnels under Seattle.
When I got there, the airport was deserted. Most of the planes were gone. The only vehicle left was here in the hanger, the Luftshiff – an old dirigible they used sometimes during Memorial Day. Apparently, one of the mechanics figured someone else might get out of the city and come looking for a ride. A note and the manual for the zeppelin had been left right in front of it, weighted down with an oil can.
“Please find Roswell. He’ll take good care of you. Some government think-tank brain has gone nuts. Apparently, he thinks he’s that Kroenen guy from the movies. Good luck.”
Roswell could sense the rotters; which is useful to have around, especially here and now. Almost out of food, it was time to fire this baby up. We were getting out. One way or another, Roswell and I were done here. The walls just weren’t going to hold.
2009-12-11 01:19 am (UTC)
Now with Bonus Cherie Priest Anagrams!
It was difficult to decide which was more awkward, the goggles that rose up the back of her neck or the breathing apparatus strapped over her nose and mouth. Roswell had involuntarily hissed when Huey had first tried fitting her with it, even though she knew he had done his best work for her.
Still. Damned fog, damned Rotters, damned everything "out there." That spicier ether made everything more difficult, especially for a small, four-legged courier.
Getting to Heretics Pier was much more difficult now that there was a huge crater in the middle of town. Having to avoid the mindless, ever hungry, creepier $hi† Rotters only made it worse. She wished they'd let a small brain like hers go by unnoticed.
'Highly developed minds must have an irresistible smell,' she thought to herself.
She jumped out of the bank window and down the criss-crossed fire escape, jumped onto a pile of boxes and made her way to the street.
Through the haze she could see a few humans down the street ahead of her. Walking carefully, their precise steps bothered her. Try as they might, humans would never be as graceful and quick as she, even with the breathing gear that bounced as she ran.
She slowed near the humans. They each did a double take as she neared, marking them as Newbs. If Roswell had been able to shake her head, she would have.
She stayed with the Newbs until she heard the groans of the Rotters. It was always easier to have the Rotters catch her scent near humans and then outrun them while the Rotters turned to the slower Newbs.
‘If the price is three Newbs,’ she thought, ‘that’s fine.’
The fresh tofu sloshed in her courier bags. ‘After all, Kyle is expecting me for breakfast.’
"Oh come on Collin, just another one?"
The bespeclacled reader, sitting in the defused, Seattle light that came lazily through his apartment window, glanced irritably at his roomate, who was poised eagerly over his steaming breakfast, camera in hand.
Collin's gaze went back to his book, his expression visibly relaxing as the intoxicating words filled his vision. "Why are you taking pictures of my food?"
"It's a hobby!"
"Sally, we've lived together for three years and never have you taken pictures of my meals."
"Hobbys have to start sometime. Cheese!"
Click. Whirl. Flash from the LCD screen.
As much as he tried to resist, the expression on Sally's face was enough for Collin to tear his eyes away from his lastest read and sigh, "What?"
Sally, her expression a mixture of confusion and worry, handed Collin the camera. He glaced casually at the still lit screen. Then blinked, and looked closer.
"See what I mean?"
"Yeah...where did that black a white cat come from?"
"I was more worried about the zombies climbing through the window in the background, but okay."
"And why am I wearing a gasmask?"
"Huh, how'd I miss that? And...is that a zeppelin I see in the sky?"
A beat. A moment passed between them.
"Sally, where did you get this camera?"
"...I bought it."
"You mean the guy who claims to be a doctor and also claims to have built an interdimentional transport."
"Yeah, it looks a lot like a tricycle with Christmas lights on it. But I figured, hey a camera! What's the wrose that could happen?"
They never found out. For at that moment there was a click. A whirl. And booming, otherworldly voice saying, "...Huh, that's...odd."
2009-12-11 02:23 am (UTC)
Out of Options, by kilroy
Roswell looked out the windows of the airship down at the place for which she had been named. Both times she had been to this city, something had gone horribly wrong. But she was back again.
The first visit, so many years ago, had been a lark. Pandora had been hired to rob the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and then they'd taken in the sights at Carlsbad Caverns. The visit to Area 51 had just been an afterthought, but Pandora's stolen equipment started beeping just after they'd arrived, and then it started spreading knockout gas. Pandora had been knocked out, and couldn't run when the men in gas masks arrived. Hiding in the shadows, Roswell watched as they cackled with glee, operating some sort of controls and making Pandora climb into their truck.
She'd returned just under a year later, this time with Autolycus. They'd tracked the employees, hitched a ride under a car, and snuck into the lab. And they found Pandora -- who screeched in alarm and attacked them both. Roswell had been horrified to realise Pandora hadn't attacked because she didn't know who they were: it was because she did. Autolycus was paralyzed with shock: he couldn't act against Pandora, but she was no longer the same cat. He had been taken, again by the laughing men.
Roswell had determined then, painful though it was, to give up her friends for lost. But the laughing men in the gas masks had improved their mindfog. Pandora had only screeched: Autolycus had given up his secrets. Roswell no longer had any safe place to hide, because
Autolycus had been there from the beginning. Not even the utility tunnels running under the Seattle Pacific campus would be safe now.
Roswell had known when she got the call at her home in Philadelphia that Autolycus had given her up. But she had known he had no choice. And, it had been made clear, neither did she. So now she was back.
After composing this story with vi, I arranged to cut-and-paste it into this window, which involved running the command "cat RoswellStory". I thought you'd like to know that.
2009-12-11 02:32 am (UTC)
Flashes of Light, by Copperflower
Roswell stood in the ruins of what had once been a main street. The asphalt was broken under her paws. A strange olive haze hung in the air and the world smelled of death. A rotter staggered across the road not five hundred feet from her; there was a flash of light and a rush of heat and the rotter fell, dead, to the ground.
A call from Roswell's human pulled her back. Her fur singed, she padded back down the road to the pilot, who lifted her into his airship. He spoke a strange dialect, but Roswell could determine his basic meanings from his actions. And he fed her, and kept her out of this city of death.
Roswell placed her forepaws on the window ledge and looked out over what was once Seattle. As the ship rose, she could see less and less of the city. All she could see was the fine olive haze, and other airships, and flashes of light.
(I belong to Darren & Nancy.)
2009-12-11 02:53 am (UTC)
A Grisley Scene Before Breakfast
I awoke with a start with something tugging at the bag under my head. A small black and white cat, was poking it's head into the satchel of food I had salvaged from the burnt out grocery store. I shooed it away; but it sat just out of arms reach and stared at me as if to say, “OK, for now; but you'll get tired eventually.” It was a smug look of confidence.
I looked over the window sill at the street below. I had to stay up high to avoid the swirling fogs that drifted in at night. As I watched, an airship lumbered into sight out of control. People jumped from it as it neared the ground and crashed. The commotion attracted a few rotters. As they notice the rotters the group grabbed what they could, from some of the ones that weren't moving. The last off the ship was a tall thin man in a long padded jacket and heavy green goggles. He carried an iron case like the ones I had seen at the Fish Market. His hair was a gray cloud around his head and his face was covered behind the high leather collar that masked his face up to the bridge of his nose.
The others checked their gas masks and headed for the tunnel entrance. The man stopped and opened his case. A rotter was getting close. The masked man laughed manically and struck the rotter with what appeared to be a hammer. The rotter collapsed, struggling to get back up. The cat jumped up on the sill to watch, no longer interested in my bag. The man quickly took a glass slide and pushed the surface of it against the gap he had opened in the rotters head. More were getting close. He picked up the hammer and smashed the rotter several more times before rising and heading for the tunnel with the slide securely in the case.
The cat licked its lips and jumped down for the ledge and began to nose into the food satchel. I let him be.
2009-12-11 04:27 am (UTC)
Morning in Seattle
Roswell regretted having to kill Miss Palmer. She had shown such resilience to the gas that he thought she might be developing some immunity, but when the airship passed through the green cloud, he saw that she could not resist the change. The resulting melee ended badly. He saw the red of her dress standing out against the bleak, grey landscape below the crippled airship. He hated shoving her overboard, hated watching her fall, but he knew she would be back.
She always came back.
The damage she had caused his airship would soon force him to ground. He pulled his goggles over his eyes the best he could without thumbs and waited to land. The GPS told him he was close to home. Barring rotters and the damned dogs he might actually be on time.
The night had been worse. Mister Cassidy and Miss Stars had spent thier night photographing rotters on the outskirts. Roswell used his time more wisely. He was going to find the control units that Mr. Cassidy would need to re-program the drills. Had he known that the scientists were after those same devices he might have changed his mind. If not for mech suit, Roswell might not be alive to meet his friends this morning.
Those masked freaks would never ask, “cat got your tongue?” again.
The airship bumped the ground, dragging the basket, forcing Roswell to dig his claws into the sides. He climbed up and jumped. Immediately the rotters came for him, followed by dogs, always the dogs. He sprinted for the tunnel entrance, hearing the dogs behind him. He reached the tunnels, slamming into the activator as the dogs were on him. The doors slammed closed and he heard the blades spinning. Dog pieces sprayed out into the faces of the advancing rotters. Was that Miss Palmer’s red dress? He hoped not.
He stumbled through the tunnels into the bunker. Two gas masked figures stood over him. They slowly lifted their masks. Mister Cassidy and Miss Stars bent to rub his head and remove the sling.
“Just in time for breakfast.”
So far, this one is my favourite!
Picture a park. The grass is wet with morning dew, the air slightly chilly, but the sun is brightly shining.
Now, picture a dot coming ever closer to the edge of the park, heading straight for the street at a speed that seems impossible, even for a creature as naturally gifted as a cat.
This is Roswell, the 57th precinct Grate Warden. All Grate Wardens are cats. There used to be dogs but turns out, cats are the only ones immune to the Necro Fog.
Behind Roswell come two figures in biohazard suits stained beyond recognition. These two figures are running after Roswell as fast as they can, with the added impediment of vintage WWII-era gas masks covering their faces.
Then comes the horde of rotters an airship dropped off, fifteen feet behind them, twenty seconds ago. The drop crushed some of the hordes' mech but enough "survive" to swarm Roswell and her pet scientists with all the mindlessness of clockwork.
Roswell reaches a blue building. She darts to the side, reaching with her left paw for a bit of metal grating. As she fiddles with the grating, she hears one of the figures squawk into the radio.
"Roswell, stop squatting on your furry ass and open the bloody grate already!"
"You make one more remark about my ass, and I'll make you kiss it before I open this grate."she replies.
Roswell hears a breath, as though drawn in to retort, but the second figure’s voice cuts in.
"I wouldn't test her. I heard the last two idiots to cross her almost had the Necro Fog breathing down their necks before they kissed her furry butt, and she let them in."
Roswell finally gets the bar out of it's setting, places her left paw in the lock hidden underneath, unsheathes her claws to unlock it, then slips through the hidden brick opening just as her two pets come thundering down to drop past her.
As the rotter horde turns the corner, she pops her head up to meow her disdain then closes the grate in their stupid mech faces.
Roswell was aware that a cat outfitted with their own small airship was an exotic sight. Even more eyebrow-raising was the tiny, hand-fitted mask the children had crafted for the cat.
The miniature airship kept the cat high above their heads, yet still all-too-close to the miasma of blight gas hanging over the city. Some children went to bed told horror stories worthy of pulp novels about the rotters of the west. Some children, the orphaned and curious progeny of dead scientists, went looking for them. It was childhood as only they could recognize it: an eternal game of cat and mouse, faces rendered into silent monstrosities by the masks that protected them from becoming like the terrible creatures that had once ran the candy shop, the newspaper rack, perhaps even former teachers.
They had no one but Roswell, and Roswell consented to their machinations. Had there been no blight gas, no rotters, perhaps they all would’ve stretched out by a cheery fire together. Instead, Roswell would rock back and forth in agitation in the tiny airship, setting the bright string in Abby’s hand tugging her arm upward, as if to silently wave at the incoming horrors. Desperation is the mother of invention, and the children were desperate indeed to send their kitty into the sky like some strange canary, to warn them of their quite possible, and imminent, eternal doom.