by Laura J. Campbell

She wondered if – after you were dead – you ever dreamed of Earth?

Christopher Rohde via Creative Commons

Her papers whirled through the scanner, giving her a few moments to think. It was usually too hectic to think. But while the machine gave her the opportunity, she looked outside the big office window. It was 5 pm and the commuters were hurrying home. The sky was periwinkle, large cotton ball clouds assaulted by the heavy orange light of the setting sun.

There was a smell of autumn in the air, thick wet leaves falling from the oaks. She had been very upset recently, stress from work, from relationships, from impending holidays. And then she remembered: her father’s last consciousness had been in autumn. Before the cancer had claimed him. Mind, body, spirit.

She had dreamed the night before, her father appearing to her in the dream, speaking comfort and giving her the most reassuring hug she had in years. They say that when you dream of a dead loved one, they are in Heaven thinking about you.

She wondered if the dead remembered the smell of autumn, the wind brushing dead leaves from the trees, the autumn sky becoming heavy with the setting sun. Did the dead dream of the living?

The scanner stopped, its task complete. The world swallowed her again.

Laura J. CampbellLaura Campbell lives and writes in Houston, Texas. She is an internationally published author, with over two dozen short stories published in the dark fiction, horror, and science fiction genres. She also has two novels (Blue Team One and Five Houses) currently in publication. In 2008 she won the James Award for her short science fiction story 416175. Her husband, Patrick, and children, Alexander and Samantha, support and encourage her daily in her writing.

Siona Karen via Creative Commons

These are not my hands. I control them as if they were, but they belong to something else. If I run them across the whiskered walls, it tickles but in an abstract way, like prodding a leg that has fallen asleep. I’ve cut myself so honey and rice seep from the wound; when mixed with the whiskers it makes a stain of black under the blue, blue light.

I was another creature once, but now that’s far away. In times like these, the first response is to test communication.


I think there won’t be a reply, but I wait for one anyway and it comes after clocks have long stopped working.

—Do not greet me as an equal.

What a funny thing to say, now if only I could remember how to laugh.

Here I say, —Lift up yourself and show me a face or speak a name.

—Commands? There is cruelty in the sardonicism.


My body is meat, and I understand at once the humor in my request. Speech is for the time-locked and a face cannot be shown from the inside out.

—Oh, I say —These aren’t grains of rice and this isn’t honey.