It is my pleasure to reflect upon this issue of Other Terrain. I found myself immersed in voices of startling authenticity and yearning. The prose and poetry contributions in this issue indicate a willingness to engage with content and form in an experimental way. This is utterly refreshing: pushing boundaries of saying—of seeing, being, knowing.
Jane had seen the news reports. Animated billboards spilled their message as moving colours across travelways; others using public transport would have the same message projected into their eyes from hand terminals, huddled silently on a monotrain. Regardless of medium, the news was always the same: Artificial Intelligence was here. The AIs were free. AIs could change matter. AIs are matter. And the AIs are benevolent. Just ask.
Stassi lay with Cole’s corpse for two nights.
It wasn’t until the third night that she dared to reach out and touch him.
She poked solid flesh with a trembling finger and jerked back in fright, startling her cat, Fuckwit, who lay curled at the foot of her blanket. The feline rose, stretching her back and circling indignantly a few times, before settling back down. She kneaded her claws into Stassi’s feet.
The cave is larger than the beast that keeps it. The walls stretch up high into the dark and the roof seems as distant as the moon when first you enter. The dragon itself is small. It lies stranded in the center of its vast empty domain, a huddle of bones and wasted muscle. You feel your heart sink; awash with disappointment, you regard the pitiable creature from afar. It rolls its sunken eyes towards you and scents the air but it does not get up, makes no move to guard its barren kingdom. You start forwards refusing to be deterred. The treasure could be something small you reason, something that can’t be seen from as far away as this. Something tiny you think… or something invisible even; with a dragon lying there before your very eyes will you really draw the line of disbelief at invisible treasure?
by Keren Heenan
Out here the wind always blows up high and hard before a storm; the sudden buffeting of trees against the wall, low murmur building to a howl and the darkening outside the window. There’s a feeling as if the sky itself could fall. And then comes the rain.
He arrived on such a day. Sometime between the howling of the wind and the bruising of the sky, he glided into town, some said, as if he knew where he was going. But I know now that he probably didn’t.
By Andy Goss
‘We need a dog,’ she said.
‘There will never be another Suki, you know that.’
‘Yes. But it was so good, having that other person, that animal person in our lives. It just seems right to me. Suki has left such a hole.’
Joe fiddled with his teacup, turning it round and round, peering into it as if the answer lay within. But you can’t tell fortunes with a teabag.
by Clare Millar
On the driveway was the kind of van you would expect to be told about before arriving home. Stark white with the letters ‘exterminator’, it was parked right in the way of where Annalise wanted to park. She turned her keys to silence the car. For a moment she lingered with the door two-thirds open, and thought it was likely a mistake; her house was more likely to need an ambulance than an exterminator. But she quarantined her doubts with the soft click of the lock. She jiggled her way between the dead rose bushes and the pearly van. There were no clues behind the windows.
the little girl, quietly climbing
the stairs in a large house, escaped
from a neglectful au pair’s eyes
step by delicate step, small feet
trace the white carpet to the sanctuary,
her goal – mother’s bedroom.
By Wendy Dunn
My mother told me,
‘You’ll be a wife and mother
Just like me
Good girls don’t sleep with men
But wait for the ring
By Sarah Giles
Why do you think I am so different from you?
My pain and my failings are no different to you.
Why do you think I don’t feel what you do?
The rejection and depression it haunts me too.
By Kainat Azhar
I am in love with a dead sage who is an epitome of death
and the painter of hell. He puts his fangs in my neck,
I experience a new world unfolding itself in front of
my eyes: tigers and wolves dance alike on an old symphony
of a vanished civilization, blood drips on the trees, angels die
and we make costumes of threaded time for their burial.
By Kainat Azhar
Knife in my hand, I fight with the ravens. They
visit me when I am alone, I loathe them for
interrupting my mental painting of yours.
My ribs have been tied by a chain
made of gold. I sing to insomnia and
call it sleep.
Swaying in the light of our crescent host,
Of our utmost beaming lady,
Who sings to the salmon,
Who radiates through me, empowers
The pitch black sky to dance through the air.
The rays shrink.
The sun creeps back.
The night, it clings to us all.
Its long digits holding still our ears,
It’s icy breath caressing our skin.
Whatever you do,
Whatever you do,
Don’t interrupt it.
Don’t light it up.
Never startle it.
I can’t bring myself to believe,
In a particular God.
It shakes me to my very core,
To know that I won’t.
How I wish I had the faith,
To abide by fanatic dogma.
How I wish I had the strength,
To discover my truth.
Turn off the machine, despite my fragility.
Turn me off and allow me, grant me my sleep.
I ask of you, why put off the inevitable?
Let me write, despite my hand being illegible.
By the time I reverted back,
Back to the bastard of Babylon,
For far too long had I been kept
From Phineus’ feast.
Harpies, harridans and harlots harping,
Just a real fuckin’ mess.
My barmy tongue crying out,
Screaming and moaning in dry agony
“Let me creep back to mah crypt!”.
Past adrift, the fruitful vine,
Lost in reason, space and time.
Mankind from eggs sprouting forth,
From brood dear, burst I,
Upon yet another swarth.
But these were times for better ships,
With song and wine, a feast of oysters
Turned men mad for swaying hips.
So keep them tight, try not to utter any of this,
From your loose lips.
Lies and deceit,
I’m falling in love,
With things that don’t exist.
But just for this one time,
Eloise Faichney is an emerging writer from Melbourne, Australia. Co-Senior Editor of literary journals Other Terrain and Backstory, her work has been published in Bukker Tilibul, Stormcloud Poets Anthology and Smut Zine.
She recently returned from Yale University in New Haven, where she attended the Yale Writer’s Conference. She sat down with Tina Tsironis to discuss her eye-opening, at times shattering, experience.
By Sarah Giles
Melanie rolled over and looked at her sleeping conquest. The evening had gotten away from her, one drink took her from tipsy to horny and then she met Marc with a wet kiss on the dance floor. A quick fuck was all she needed to quell the beast inside her. Oh Jesus, was she becoming one of those tacky girls? Those slutty club girls who add another notch to their belt with each outing.
The thought of it forced her out of the bed and into the shower. She scrubbed her skin raw, trying to make herself new again. Trying to undo the damage to her soiled skin.
By Skye Jenner
An inspiring artist, Yianni Johns is originally from Karratha, WA, but now resides in NSW. His colourful oil paintings have been exhibited across the world, and even published in Art Takes Time Square.