“Three Graves on Io” from Volume 1, Issue 3 of Empyreome Magazine – click the title or the image of Io below to read the piece.
Source: FICTION — Icelandic Fairy Tale
Joshua Scully is an American History teacher from Pennsylvania. He writes primarily speculative fiction. His work has appeared in several online and print magazines and can be found @jojascully.
The Red Planet grumbled uneasily. This subterranean shuddering was no longer only mildly disconcerting. Rayar understood that no matter how surreal his entire situation appeared, the consequences of this mission would be both momentous and tangible.
Coolly manipulating controls within the operation cabin, Rayar disengaged the primary support struts of the first missile. Knowing that the launch window was approaching, he activated the piloting and propulsion systems. Lithium power cells hummed to life far below the launch platform. He exhaled deeply, hoping to keep his nerves in check. He didn’t want his stomach to turn at this critical point.
Each system required time to fully come online, so Rayar allowed himself a few moments of mental release. He imagined his home…
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The Tsar was alive.
His wife and children were alive.
The story about their deaths in Yekaterinburg was fabricated by those hoping to liberate – rather than liquidate – the imperial family. Rescued by sympathizers from the basement of the Ipatiev House on a warm July night, the Romanovs were secretly handed over to the Czechoslovak Legion.
The Whites desperately desired to save Tsar Nicholas II. Following the abdication, the imperial family sought asylum as far as possible from fermenting revolution in the fatherland. The Whites allowed the murky tale of their execution to spread and assured the Romanovs that arrangements were in place for a comfortable exile.
The Czechoslovaks controlled the Trans – Siberian Railway and whisked the imperial family toward the east coast of Russia. Reports of a lone, antiquated locomotive leading a string of dilapidated passenger coaches over the Siberian plain reached Red leadership a few weeks…
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“A team made the discovery about the same time the accident occurred,” Bengoetxea explained. “I was notified, but I didn’t report because of the confusion.”
“I see,” Moore replied.
“Seeing is believing,” Bengoetxea said, with an uncharacteristic grin visible through his visor. The ilmenite mine manager wasn’t usually much given to clichés, and no one in the party had a reason to be smiling.
Of course, Moore didn’t know Bengoetxea especially well. Both attended the various ecumenical religious services offered at the base. Moore had learned that no amount of religion could make the lunar station feel any closer to God.
As the miners and technicians had been sent back to their barracks following the accident, the lava cave was impossibly dark. Bengoetxea carried a case of specialized equipment and a portable lantern.
A steel square set into ancient basalt flows marked the beginning of a long shaft down into…
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By. Joshua Scully
The cable ladder twisted violently in a ripping burst of wind. Distracted by some distant irregularity not yet observed by the others, Zane Graham lost his precarious hold onto a rung some fifty-five kilometers above the Venusian surface. Falling backward, he yelped a panicked but indiscernible vocalization over his transmitter.
Graham fell for several meters before striking the support housing over the third habitation module with an audible resonance. He limply rolled off this metallic surface, becoming lost in the swirling atmospheric cream below the habitation.
Villavicencio and Hays, several rungs below from where Graham had fallen, desperately clung to the ladder. Both silently hoped that Graham was killed by his collision with the habitation. Otherwise, their friend would endure an agonizing plummet toward Venus. If he was alive, he would most likely survive the first few minutes of his fall before increasing heat and pressure simultaneously…
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