Aphelion Issue 245, Volume 23
November 2019
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City of War: A Tale of Allasneda

by Sascha Hannig
Translated by Toshiya Kamei

The gray horizon gradually faded into the darkness of the night. The ashes and the remains of the machinery that covered the ground were swept away by the wind that washed over the mortuary silence of the landscape. The last vital bomb had fallen six hours earlier. The only thing that remained standing even after the bombing was a small Acacia bush, burned on one side and wilting on the other. The air reeked of burned hair, and the earth was still scorching hot.

There were no screams, no cries, or voices of any kind. The humans had ruined the water, and the witches had been responsible for destroying the rest.

Tamara opened her eyes. Her eyelids felt heavy, and her whole body ached. The scream she let out echoed into infinity. She found herself behind a wall – what was left of the house she and others had taken refuge in – but a heavy mass prevented her from moving. Suddenly, in addition to the smell of burned hair, she perceived something else – the smell of burned flesh. She let out another scream, shattering the silence once again. Whatever lay on top of her had hands, a nose, and feet. Had someone sacrificed himself for her? she wondered. However, she couldn't tell who it was. He no longer had a face. She tried to crawl away from the place, but every meter of the ground below her burned her. With the exception of a few areas on her chest and face, every bit of her skin was singed. She wanted to cry, for she knew it was the end of everything. She lay down, gazed up at the sky, and decided to breathe until she had no breaths left. She closed his eyes.

But it was all a dream.

She awoke breathless in her cabin. The creak of the wood as the ship sailed through the clouds, as if on the verge of falling apart, muffled her scream and prevented it from spilling out of her room. It was dark, but she crawled out of bed anyway. As her bare feet touched the cold metal floor boarding, shivers ran through her body. She took a minute to steady herself, slightly gasping for breath.

In her two-piece black pajamas, Tamara, a thin girl with crudely chopped-off uneven brown hair, walked to the rail, disoriented. She'd been having those kinds of dreams for several weeks now. All of them were vivid, hostile, and they all ended with a bomb explosion. Perhaps, she thought, her subconscious was trying to tell her something.

She took a deep breath to cool her lungs. Her arms stretched across the rail as she glanced at the infinite mountains. The Blizzard, that flying madhouse on which she had reached the moon, had been shipwrecked near there years earlier and had sunk along with her treasure among the mountain peaks. The reports stated that the ship had been on its way to Ancuria, a town north of Allasneda, and that there were no survivors. However, the news could have been wrong or rewritten. The captain never had a chance to go down with his sinking ship, because he was already dead. The ship of madmen had crashed without crew, and the treasure had been lost with it.

2019 Sascha Hannig

Born in Santiago de Chile in 1994, Sascha Hannig made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Sombras de venganza. She is the author of the Allasneda series whose volumes include Misterios y revelaciones en Allasneda (2011) and Secretos perdidos en Allasneda (2015). Her flash story "City of War" gives readers a glimpse of the world of Allasneda. She's on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaschaHannig

Find more by Sascha Hannig in the Author Index.

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