From the author: Dom knows that when you wish upon a falling star, that wish may come true. But nobody ever told him about wishing on falling planets.
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Dom pried the thing out of the hard ground, then held it up to inspect it. It appeared to be a planet: its icy poles chilled his hands, and its dirty continents smudged his fingers as he turned it about in his palms.
Dom looked around himself from where he squatted. The empty prairie stretched for miles, and the grass nearby was free of any footprints. He’d only noticed the planet because he’d nearly tripped on it. Who knows how long the thing had lain here?
With a grunt, Dom leaned forward and inspected the vacated hole. He found no clues, but did find a moon nearby. He pried that up, too, figuring they ought to be kept together.
“Wish I knew where you came from,” he said to the planet.
It made a noise like a firecracker.
Dom jumped up and dropped it. “What the hell?” he said, and as an answer, the sky above him filled with clattering. When he looked up, he saw something unrolling down from heaven like a giant spool of thread, exhausting itself as it went.
The very end of it flopped onto the grass. It was an ordinary rope ladder.
Something climbed down — a woman, radiating light, clothed somehow in rainfall and spring wind.
She reached the ground. When she walked to Dom, her feet stopped just above the grass. “It fell from the heavens,” she said.
Dom gathered his wits. “Sorry — what?”
“The planet.” The woman nodded at the ball by Dom’s feet. Dom picked it up again and studied its oceans, but they seemed undiminished by the drop. “It fell, the same way falling stars do.”
“Is that so?”
Dom cleared his throat. “Listen. I’m guessing you’re an angel. Did you come to, uh, take this thing back?”
She shook her head. Sunlight scattered from her hair. “I cannot. I can only answer the wishes made on fallen stars — or whatever else may fall. And you used your wish to know how it came here.”
“What, and that’s it?” Dom gestured at the rope ladder. “You came all the way down, and you can’t bring it back?”
She looked unhappy. “I’m afraid so. Had you wished for the planet to be restored instead — ”
“And how the heck was I supposed to know that’s what I should’ve wished for?” Dom switched the planet to his other hand; it was a temperate one overall, but those poles were frigid. “And anyway, what does it matter? Stars fall all the time.”
“There are billions of stars,” she said. She nodded at the planet. “But very few have planets. And of the planets, nearly none have people.”
Dom almost dropped it again. “There are people on this thing?”
The angel looked pained.
Dom sighed. “Don’t worry yourself. I’ll wish you to take it back up.”
“But you only get one wish.”
“I lost my chance with the planet,” said Dom, fishing its moon from his pocket. “But we can wish on the moon.”
This story originally appeared in Flash Fiction Online.
From a mechanical forest that constructs itself to the streets of Kyoto 8,000 years hence, the sometimes whimsical, sometimes cutting short fiction of KJ Kabza has been dubbed “Delightful” (Locus Online) and “Very clever, indeed” (SFRevu). Collecting all of his work published before May 2011 (plus 5 new stories, notes on the stories, and an interview by Julia Rios), IN PIECES offers glimpses into other worlds—some not unlike your own.
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