Our Crystal Sky Is Cracking

An essay by Odette Begichev, presented by Rosemary Jones
Illustration by Katie Nyborg

Come away from the window, Father. Turn away from the dark reflections in the glass. The lights went out hours ago. Let me warm your hands in mine. I will pour some wine for you. Father, look at me, for I am the last real thing left in the world that we made.

I know you mourn her. How could you not? Odette became so beautiful. You created perfection, like the snow you made to fall from the ballroom ceiling—only everything melts away at last, even here. There, did you hear that? The sky is starting to crack.

I remember the night that you asked for my help. “Come,” you said to me, and I ran down the winding stair to your room beneath the lake.

How we loved that room. The green light that flickered across the walls, the beakers of phosphorescent liquids, the gleaming tools of brass and steel, your leather bound journals chained and padlocked to the scarred tables, the barely audible hum of the computers, and far, far beneath our feet, the thrumming pulse of the generators that you designed to keep our world locked in perpetual summer. You captured science, your perfect science, in that room beneath the dark waters. And that night, the glowing schematic of your dream, your most fabulous design, your queen of swans, your beautiful woman with white wings danced across your computer screens. “This will be my finest creation,” you said to me as I clapped my hands at your achievement.

So I carried all your instruments back and forth, poured steaming liquids from bottle to glass, and turned the pages to record your notes. “Books are safer than computers,” you said, “harder to steal from a distance than the information committed to a network.”

Actually, I thought you kept the books for the spectacle of it all. It made you seem more mystical, more magical, in some way. I know it always impressed me.

So, that night, I even held the knife ready for you. Do you recall when you cut my arm? I did not cry out when you took my flesh for your creation. You smiled at me then. I remember that smile very clearly. I thought our night of magic would never end, that dawn would never find us beneath the lake. I wanted that night to last forever.


Our Crystal Sky is Cracking

How could you steal my name as well as my face? How you make your creature sweeter, make her more lovable than me?

To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Spring 2012 collection.

Pyotr Ilyich Begichev

Considered one of the leading mutationists of his generation, Begichev perfected such exotic creatures as the unicorn and the chimera. For decades, his creations were treasured by hunters. When species rights began to become a more popular political movement, he left the inner planets to pursue private employment with more discriminating clients. According to later biographers, he had one or two daughters named Odile and/or Odette (there is some confusion on this point).

Odile Pyotrova

The madwoman known as the Swan Killer became a media sensation following the death of Pyotr Ilyich Begichev and the destruction of the astroid used as the von Meck summer home. She recorded several “confessions” after being captured by Imperials, which she would later reverse. She claimed her father died of a broken heart, although others have claimed that foul play occurred. The postmortem damage to his body made a definitive autopsy impossible.

Rosemary Jones

Rosemary Jones writes adventures set in shared worlds like the Forgotten Realms and Cobalt City. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. She loves mad science in all its weird and wonderful forms, and many mad scientists both historical and fictional dwell in the numerous books that share living space with her. Current writing projects can be found at www.rosemaryjones.com.

Katie Nyborg’s art, plus information regarding hiring her, can be found at http://katiedoesartthings.tumblr.com/

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