The April morning blaze invokes my nightmare as Emily lies there, still rasping, alone in the flicker of her longest dream.
Her last words at Christmas begged me to finish the garden behind our historic French Colonial, hurriedly rebuilt after seventeen hours of hurricane winds, but by New Year she was bed-ridden and mute by Valentine’s Day.
I wipe drool from her chin, look at the pillow and the silence it promises, and wish I had the goddamn guts to do it.
Every week I retell Emily’s favorite story- the one with the pig and a spider who protect each other -and bring hibiscus tea and fresh pink orchids as I clean the acne on her back, empty her catheter bag, but she’s quiet, unmoving, haunting.
I hold the garden trowel, me the un-gardener, the withering hand to all things good and green, dreaming of different futures.
"I love you my ghost, my baby, my beloved," and with a trowel in one hand and a downy pillow near the other, I rise to decision.
There should not have been a golden oak table that deep in the heavy forest, nor did I expect characters in ballroom garb. The party scene glowed yellow-green in the twilight thicket. Three Victorian men in ebony suits and a woman in dark claret waited, all of them strangely masked. Flabbergasted from my wanders, I paused, then sauntered forth wide-eyed.
On the air, a heavy scent of moss, no birdsong. On the table, a feast with candles that did not stir from the wind.
She turned, animatronic, revealing silver skin of a ravishing bosom and delicious black lips. Her masquerade moved- hot red and orange, a Phoenix nesting in its flaming tailfeathers.
"We’ve been waiting for you, love" they said. One-voice-for-four.
I gawked. Skin like fish underbellies under threadbare, stained jackets. At twelve, I already knew warnings of strangers. A hundred ghastly tales came to life, momentarily. But these four waited like ancient waxen statues. And I was young and fast.
"Sit, you must be hungry," said the one-for-four. And I was. On the table, my favorite dishes, from oranges sliced just so, to honey-drenched baklava and cinnamon cider.
A thin male with a pearled and beaked mask grafted into his face sat odd-angled with a playing deck face down before him. A single overturned card showed a hairless, fanged monkey with broken wings and a tiny circus hat.
The candles burned yet no wax pooled along their collars, and I moved sluggish in their limelit glimmer.
I cleared my head.
"Take off your masks."
They laughed, thin and saber-like.
"Oh no, sweetness. That won’t do."" The four-for-one murmured. The silver-skinned woman beckoned woodenly to sample the feast.
How I wanted to. My nose filled with aromas of nutmeg, brown sugar, cardamom, but underneath all: something sick. Like kelp rotting on hot sands. Somehow, an empty peace filled me
I moved to the table, ensorcelled. A mustachioed rogue grinned russet teeth from behind a moth’s head, and the one-for-four whispered.
Those arctic words.
"Amor Aeternus" they breathed.
A shiver and I broke, running. The whisks of pursuit neared for miles, but I was young and would not be kept.
* * * *
Now, I sit here at sixty-seven, with pancreatic cancer and two dead sons, and I wonder. My treatment leaves me scarce money for even canned food, and the flophouse I squat in stinks of piss. No pension and all savings spent.
I think to that forest party. To the pearl onions and the glistening fillets. The numb peace.
Here, I lack the courage of the pistol, and the open Bible betrays me.
I shake as I entreaty with the slithering pain in my gut. No one visits.
Tomorrow, I think. I shall seek the party. The feasts and the candles that do not stir from the wind. I wonder if those empty kin remain, still lingering these years past, deep in the unchanging woods.
Tomorrow then, while my legs still have strength.
He fled the city of violence and she followed him, newly pregnant, into the lich-walks of bitter mountains.
Come spring, the mountain paths near their thin cabin had plenty skulls under thaw, like a grim flowerfield of beast and bone. Many were small-- jackrabbit, white-crowned sparrow, fieldmouse. Whitetails.
His heart was of the mountain and the knife-edge paths that led higher, to colder places.
Her heart was of the sea, dreaming of sunlit flatlands far from the broken, earthly spines of Titans.
Despite winter and child, still he walked. Winter could not still his wandering, lost in hilltop reverie. At first: "Stay, please," but when the maple cabin doors clabbered shut again, again, and again, she tried "For your baby."
She knew him gone by Christmas. Her grieving affairs were private, and not for others to know.
Spring came with a baby, but she would not walk to the high hills. Next spring came and went as she planted, dug, and repaired while the little girl learned to walk beside her.
By the ninth season of his disappearing, she ventured forth with child, rucksack, and food for a few days. She trod the known paths to her and him, sadness and memory overtaking like swift mist. In the cold May thaw, she stepped on fragile forms beneath the white dust. With this loud crack, she found it all—sash, knife, and compass.
The three had failed him. No bones marked his fall, no skeleton to return to the dark. She bent and heard a rustle- there. In the heather.
As if waiting, a cougar, six hundred pounds of claw, stepped forth. Behind it, a cub. The cub was young like her daughter, and it was well-fed. Mother locked eyes with mother. A communion. Cougar and cub watched, reverent.
Like a constellation knitting itself together in the great void, despite the great rending and flash, there is new life. Mother looked to mother, and then as if by supernatural communion, feline passed human and there would be no more attack on this family.
She buried his remnants in a hilltop field of small animal skulls, far from the city of murder and her daughter began to learn the hills.
"A man has a choice, I chose the impossible. I built a city where the artist would not fear the censor, where the great would not be constrained by the small, where the scientist would not be bound by petty morality. I chose to build Rapture. But my city was betrayed by the weak. So I ask you my friend, if your life were the prize, would you kill the innocent? Would you sacrifice your humanity? We all make choices, but in the end…our choices…make…us!" -Andrew Ryan
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Microsoft HoloLens is the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.
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Age of Empires Online is a multiplayer online real-time strategy game developed by Robot Entertainment and Gas Powered Games, which released on August 16, 2011. Based upon the gameplay of the Age of Empires series, it was originally developed by Robot Entertainment, but on February 24, 2011, Gas Powered Games, took over production. The game was published by Microsoft
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Crucible, a 6v6 third-person shooter, with MOBA elements. This last-man-standing-style game pits players against one another in a battle for survival on an alien planet. You’l be able to customise your hero with different abilities.
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System Shock 2 is the sequel to System Shock, released on August 11th, 1999 in North America. The sequel was originally designed as a standalone title with no relation to the previous game. Story changes were made when Electronic Arts (who owned the Shock franchise rights) signed on as publisher.
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Thief: The Dark Project, also known as Thief 1 or T1 or simply Thief, is a first-person stealth game developed for Windows by Looking Glass Studios and published by Eidos Interactive. It is the first game in the Thief series, it is set in a Middle Age steampunk-fantasy setting, in a metropolis called The City. Thief casts the player as a professional thief named Garrett, who was trained by a secret society. He intertwines himself into a sinister plot while merely attempting to live off of his chosen profession. Based upon the Dark Engine, the game brought many new ideas and technological achievements to the software industry when it was released.
Thief was the first stealth game to take place from a first-person perspective, and it introduced light and sound as stealth gameplay mechanics. The game underwent a tumultuous development cycle, during which initial plans for it to be action-oriented were altered to focus on stealth. Its final design combined ideas from first-person shooters with a focus on avoiding confrontation, which led the designers to label it a first-person "sneaker".
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