Recognition

Lorth floated through the veins of the town, his tentacles pulsing with each heartbeat. He saw in front of him, he saw behind him. He saw before him, he saw after him. He saw outside himself, he saw inside himself. With each influx and outflux of his limbs, he traveled onward through the town and forward through time, second by second.

Alix the adventurer had never left her hometown. Some adventurers spread broadly throughout the world, some specialized. Alix was very specialized indeed. She knew many secrets of her town, she had seen many things– but not enough. She had yet to meet the eyes of the town.


Lorth swept through a patch of clover with a single burst of movement. The flowers blossomed brightly, more decorated in the ultraviolet spectrum, less so in the future when they were brown and dried. Lorth pulsed onward, toward the sea.


“The eyes of the town?” said Hector Robinson. “There’s no such thing– this town is blind.” He turned away and began hauling on his nets.

“They exist and I will find them,” said Alix.

“You, little fluffball?” Hector said, not unkindly. “You should stick to poking around in alleyways. You can find all kinds of eyes there.”

He pulled on the rope and sighed. There were no fish, as usual, but plenty of driftwood.

These eyes can see anything,” Alix said. “And I, Alix the adventurer, will be the first to see them.”


Lorth swam through the ocean currents, surrounded by the detritus of the town. Driftwood and plastic wrappers swept past him. Light drifted down from the sun, up from the center of the earth, darkness drifted past from elsewhere.

From a cluster of seaweed, the hand of a feral merman reached out, and latched itself to Lorth’s tentacle. Lorth kicked feebly, curiously. Hunger was in the merman’s eyes. His stomach full of kelp and squid. 

Bored, Lorth sprayed a jet of poison and drifted away from the merman’s body, looking down at the ocean floor and up at the surface of the sun.


Hector Robinson twitched one of his own eyes at Alix. “Well then,” he said, “where do you intend to find them?”

“They must be somewhere in the town,” Alix said. “So I’ll begin in some place, then look everywhere else.”

“An exacting logic.” Hector tugged hard on the second net, but dislodged only a strong smell of salt.


Lorth swam toward the shore, where he found an intriguing lattice. His gaze and his touch drifted along the web, feeling the filaments. It surrounded him.


Hector tugged harder, and dislodged nothing. A foreboding filled the air. “Really,” he said, “it would be better not to see them.” “I thought they didn’t exist,” said Alix.


Lorth could not be caged. He swam far into the past, before the sea had covered this land. As he stroked higher into the air, Lorth saw a group of distinguished beings in the distance, gathered on a hilltop. They stood in a circle around a single polished stone.

Curious, he pointed himself to swim towards them– then paused. Something, some desire, drew him back.

The eyes appeared the instant Hector released the rope, spreading against the sky, filling Alix’s field of vision.

Lorth saw a weathered man with a dripping mustache, and a little girl, round like a tribble.

“Don’t look,” said Hector, coiling his eyes and pulling his cap over them. “In fact — Alix — you’d better run.” 

Lorth drifted closer in all directions.

Alix covered her eyes, peeking only a little, and backed up slowly. The eyes followed her, drifting forwards, some slowly, others fast.  Lorth was curious again. He opened some more of his eyes.

Alix bared her teeth. The eyes still blocked out the sky. Alix bared her second set of teeth. She pointed her sting-tipped tail. She flexed her claws. She extended her retractable fangs. She hissed.

Lorth had been stationary for too long. Bored, he turned away toward an alleyway in the future, sweeping his eyes after him.

Through her paws, Alix glimpsed the eyes retreating. All fear left her. She was too curious. She dropped her paws and looked up.

Their eyes met.

By Hannah Baker

Phil’s Eggs

Phil

  It was opening day. Phil stopped in for breakfast at Maurice’s steakhouse. Corned beef hash. And coffee, of course. Coffee and whiskey were the only drinks that Maurice served. But he always said that it was important to diversify.

  “It’s important to diversify, Phil,” he was saying now. “Steak and eggs. Bacon and eggs. Even tomato and eggs.”

  “You know that’s not my style,” said Phil.

  Maurice shook his head, wiping at a glass. The same glasses were used for both beverages. “You don’t even like eggs.”

Maurice

  “Can’t stand ‘em,” Phil agreed.

  Maurice just kept wiping. “I don’t get you, Phil.”

  “But you like me,” Phil said, pushing back his plate.

  It was true. Everyone liked Phil. It was why he had so many friends.

  “What time are you opening?” Maurice called as Phil walked through the swinging door.

  “As soon as the signs are in place,” Phil called back, tapping his nose.

  Whistling, he walked along Gristle Road toward the fens. It was a beautiful day. Rays of sun could even be seen through the mist.

The Misters Anche

  “Morning, Phil,” croaked old Mr. Anche, from where he hunched in the doorway, sandwiched between his brothers.

  Phil tipped his cap and walked on.

  “Big day, Phil,” Judith called, leaning out of her window above the underpass. 

Judith

  Phil just grinned and waved.

  Phil was happy to see all his friends, and happy to walk through his town on such a fine morning. But he was happiest of all when he got to the edge of the fens and saw it. Just a dark little hollow between a dry cleaners and a boarded-up strip club. But it was all his, thanks to a few strings pulled by a few friends.

  And the signs were in place. Buddies of Hector Robinson’s had made them from driftwood in the night and left them stacked just inside the door. In bright green paint, they read:

Hector Robinson

PHILS EGG’S
  Phil loosened his tie and set to work, whistling. He dusted the shelves. He hung the signs from their hooks. He unpacked the crates and crates of eggs.

  Phil knew he didn’t need to diversify. Phil’s Eggs was perfect. It didn’t need Easter eggs, or chocolate eggs, or eggs with toys in them, or wooden eggs, or magical eggs, or decorative eggs. Phil’s Eggs was a simple shop, for friends who liked a good, simple meal. Chicken eggs, duck eggs, quail eggs, and cow eggs. That was all he needed.

  He’d had the idea about a week ago, and now it was finally opening day. Phil could move fast when he wanted to. He always had friends ready to do a favor for him, just like he was always ready to do a favor for them.

  Phil got to the last crate, which was small and damp-looking, and smelled of sea water. When Phil touched the wood, his fingers nearly sank into it.

  A rotten batch? Carefully, Phil wrenched the boards off with his claws, one by one.

  A single egg sat inside, on a nest of old newspapers. It was black, but not the black of rotten eggs. The black of a movie screen before the picture starts.

  Phil took off his hat and leaned close to the egg. It was about the size of his hand, and had a smooth matte texture. “Hello there,” Phil whispered. “What are you?”

  Carefully, he laid one finger on the side of the egg. He felt the delicate material of the eggshell, and below it, faint and irregular, a heartbeat.

by Hannah Baker