Figments & Fancies

In this column, you’ll find short works of weird fantasy and science fiction. You may think of each story as a brief expedition into an idea. Ideas, incidentally, are questions. These are not questions I know the answers to, of course. That’s why I write the story. As a writer, I have two goals: to be entertaining, and to be thought provoking. To me, the best stories achieve both, but one or the other will do. Either way, I hope you enjoy these figments and fancies.

In the beginning, it wasn’t, and then it was, and it has been ever since. It is, was, and will be, the First.

The First knows some things. It knows, for instance, that there is no here or there. The nature of there is to not be here. But there, here is there, and there is here. The First also knows that there is no such thing as chance. All things that could be, are. And it knows that a question is its own answer.

The First floats where there are no streams, ushered along by currents of a different kind, with which it does not have the will nor the wherewithal nor the desire to contend. Here direction exists all at once, its countless facets having yet to diverge. This is the place between places, between cause and effect; between a moment, and the moment before a moment, where potential rides the endless ripples of inertia forever, until it is reached.

As it drifts, the First grasps cords of spacetime floating loosely by, and pulls them taught. One strand at a time, the fabric of reality tightens into structure. The First grips these strings the way a child grips a balloon, and no less than the child does the First want them to slip away. So it opens a space in itself, and draws the strings across it, and with a needle found in a dream, it sews the ends of the strings to the edges of the opening. Then the First plucks the strings, and one shiver, one ripple, one falling domino at a time, reality creates itself.

The First does not know where the strings it holds end. It cannot follow them, or they would go slack, and things would fall apart. You may assume, and reasonably so, that the First is at—or is itself—the center of the universe. You would be right, in a way. Everywhere in the universe is the center of the universe. Everywhere in the universe is a knot of strings being plucked.

If you listen carefully, you can feel the very same vibrations in the molecules that comprise your kitchen table or a glass of water, going forth, going back, going up, coming down. And if you close your eyes in the quiet dark, you will feel them inside yourself, in the whirring mechanisms in your brain, and in the sort-of hum that tells you where your legs are even when you aren’t moving them.

These are the undulations of life. As you listen,

you will realize you are not so unlike them.

You push forth, and are pulled back;

you climb up, and you fall down,

over and over again, for your

entire life, until you return

to the earth, which,

of course,

you never



Sam is a speculative fiction writer hailing from the distant land of Iowa, or was it Idaho? He can most often be found behind the counter at the Sentinel, or inside his own head.