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In the Time of the Hohmann Transfer
by Brandon Myers

During those phases when the great solar windows of Virginia Hollow had cause to be dimmed, a vast fog would rise. Soon the splayed towns and forests above our heads would disappear. Alone and isolated, we watched water in the form of delicate white crystals cover the fields. 

There was an ancient law regarding firearms. The village men rummaged through old records and found suitable artifacts. The short bow (for solitaries). The pilum-pole, net, and cudgel for organized hunts. 

The practice of keeping a trained pack was discovered. In our zeal we paid a caretaker to select and raise hounds for this purpose. We traded for the finest embryos. Our long-haunched runners with their great wet noses and finely spiralled tails were the envy of other villages. On hunting days the dogs might accompany us into the village and gorge on hearts and livers. 

As long as the windows were dim we held holiday. The weather moderators passed word that then we might keep fires in barrels or pits. And so hunters would make circuit of their neighbors to sample their spirits and be warmed by their fire. This was a custom we invented. 

For the feast we threw shucked pimientos over coal beds and roasted our game. The lesser game was woodcock and hare (mouthfuls) and other small spoil, which might be made into pies. The greater was spiny boar and antlered dhus. Hunters with clever tongues would make dramas of their encounters. The spiny boar was also called widow-maker.

Some audacious families would venture out upon the frozen ponds and make elaborate games of staying upright on the slick surface. All around them might be heard the calls of wood-sellers, vendors of aromatic pies, heated draughts and spirits, and even musicians. Though much was sold, much was also given away. 

These events, common a generation ago, are now less frequent. As our Hollow moves outward there is less need for dimming phases. When the new orbit is reached, our fine cold holiday will pass away. That is to be regretted.


Brandon Myers lives and works as an editor in Chicago. Recent appearances include Planet, Strange Horizons, and Bewildering Stories.


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"In the Time of the Hohmann Transfer" © 2009 Brandon Myers. Used by permission of the author.
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