Tag Archives: K.A. Liedel

“The Golden Hour” – Fiction by K.A. Liedel

Street Light - Giacomo Bella, 1909
Street Light – Giacomo Balla, 1909

Time comes to an end, yet the world goes on in K.A. Liedel’s wonderfully strange & poetic short story “The Golden Hour,” the grand finale of our Fall 2015 issue.

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I ALREADY HAVE THE PINK FLAMINGOS and the gnomes, of course, plus the red-hatted jockey holding the lamp. Even the nana bent over her invisible garden with the fluffy white bloomers, the balsa one that practically glows under its shellack of dollar-store paint.

But there’s so much more out there yet. The figurines and birdhouses and whirligigs you can’t find anywhere else, born from the guts of their corner colonial, from its basement maybe. Outside its rippling flags are in every goddamn color from the Pantone wheel and the ornaments crowd around the lawn in a diorama of misshapen plasticine. You know the place, you know its pure topographical schlock. Those are the ones. My own personal MacGuffins.

Call it whatever but don’t call it looting. I’m liberating them is what I’m doing.  I’ve a damned finer destiny planned for them than their owners could ever dream. They’re gonna outlast the world that birthed them, as a vista of ugly rainbow polyptychs that’ll accompany my life into its eternal pause. My tacky, technicolor ushabtiu.

But let’s pause for a moment. Thinking back, all of this, this madness, started with a mere phrase. Temporal decay. There were others, too, just as vaguely terrifying. Prisoners of deterioration was a particularly graphic, albeit inelegant, one. Like a rejected Lovecraft title. And can’t forget UFOTU – that’s Ultimate Fate Of The Universe. Where would doomsday science be without its acronyms and scare quotes? They led off every newscast for a month, peppered between sports and stocks and weather, until the idea that time was dying became the first thing that slithered over the anchors’ lips and then soon the only thing that got out. It had erased the existence of all other events, slowly and silently, just as it was doing to life itself. Couldn’t be measured, couldn’t be seen. The skeptics barked about those last parts but we all knew it. The consensus was never spoken of much but it was inside us, that old, proverbial sinking feeling that can’t be quantified in a scholarly journal. Billions of people living their life under a crushing anxiety that soon grew into a vague sense of total, utter doom.

It wasn’t quite real for me, though, until I saw the president himself, shoulders up so far as to be around his ears. He was staring back at us through the TV in that same damn pose all his predecessors had assumed when some tragedy or crisis made society freeze in its place for a day or two to fret and mourn and look to the heavens, waiting for our frazzled nerves to be soothed by some suit who won just the right amount of swing states. On every single channel, even the local car lot show, even the golf coverage, even the Korean soap operas. That’s when I knew, there wasn’t gonna be a fix. No vaccine, no laser, no team of astronauts led by Bruce Willis, no nothing.

I’m not sure what everyone else felt at that moment, maybe they were reassured on some level,  maybe bought wholesale into the pledges and promises. But me? I was just scared. He uttered that phrase –  there it was again, temporal decay – three or four times in the first minute of his speech, and suddenly, I felt it. Fear. A real fear. Like your heart strangling your stomach. It was really happening. Time was dying, slowly but surely, crawling through the desert on its sand-scraped knees, a wanderer blindly rejecting its doom even as it fossilizes. That’s how I imagined it all going down. And we, us poor humans, would be stuck on its dry old bones like parched bugs, like the peeled-off sarcophagi of dumb, noisy cicadas, undying and immovable but still alive somehow, helpless in our stasis. Continue reading “The Golden Hour” – Fiction by K.A. Liedel