John Sundman, author of the gonzo science fiction novels Acts of the Apostles and Cheap Complex Devices has released a new Creative Commons-licensed, illustrated novella, The Pains:
Mr. Lux knew he should pray, but somehow the pains made prayer impossible. He thought, I am twenty-four years old. I am going to die with my body crushed to liquid and my head neatly garroted off by a thin layer of woven fabric that weighs less than eight ounces. He sensed his mouth moving as if to laugh at the thought, but the laugh was frozen in his immobile torso. Can't laugh. Can't breath. I guess I can’t call for help either. But he could still move his head, which he now did, deliberately, casting his eyes around the sparse cell, nine feet wide by twelve feet long, that had been his home for the last three years.
The ancient whitewashed fieldstone walls did not lend themselves to decoration. Centered on one wall, above him and to his left, there was a simple noosifix precariously hanging from an irregularity in a rock. On the opposite wall, to his right, hanging from a nail driven in to a chink in the cement, there was a kitschy airbrushed painting of a thatched cottage surrounded by flowers and with a pair of bluebirds sitting at the apex of the roof. In the short wall beyond his feet there was a narrow casement window with diamond-shaped leaded-glass panes through which he could see blurry hints of trees green with tiny leaves of early spring. Below the window were a desk and chair. On the desk: a Holy Tibble; a Fredian missal; copies of Byte, Datamation and Electrical Engineering Times; a textbook on nonlinear circuits, and one Alfred the Drinking Duck perpetual motion toy.
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