TITLE: CURSED MOON
GENRE: Science Fiction
The cities are slagged, the rising oceans have drowned Sumatra, and once-benevolent beams of converted solar energy slice across the scarred landscape. In ancient tunnels beneath the cinder cone, the People scrape out a stratified existence. A rigid caste system does not allow Loatia, high priestess, keeper of tech, to speak with her ever-present silent Guardian, an untouchable. Accustomed to a stoic detachment, and no acknowledgment from his mistress, he must wait while she submits herself to the priesthoods rites: a ritual that allows elder priests to impose themselves as the first mating partner for the young acolytes...
He focused inwardly, attempting to draw his consciousness away from the tinkling dissonant music, thrum of drumbeats, and ever more vibrant laughter. He sought a vigilant meditation, the standing sleep of the Guardians. Most of his compatriots had already achieved this, braced motionless on spear and wall, yet with their eyes slitted open to maintain the required watchfulness.
Thorimo repeatedly blinked, strained, his neck fibers bulging, and then caught himself and tried to relax. He knew one could not achieve this meditation by forcefulness, yet could not let go of his inner turmoil enough to release his thinking mind to rest.
He could not stop thinking of Loatia.
And he was physically punishing himself for doing so; biting his cheek, scraping his spear against his thigh, digging his fingernails into his palm.
Even more disturbing than the celebratory laughter was the gradual quieting of voices within. Thorimo had almost willed himself into a repose trance when this awareness impinged on him. The revelers were retiring to alcoves and couches, in twosomes – threesomes? Foursomes? to-
He could not think on it. He squeezed his eyes shut. An unaccustomed action. He swayed against the wall, the heat rising invisible in his veins, from the very stone floor beneath his sandaled feet. Not Loatia, not in the arms of that-