The Speaking Ground by Erica Satifka

Posted by Nicky Drayden on Oct 19, 2014 in Reviews

AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review
Author Website:


The doctor of a colony several years removed from any possibility of outside help, is desperate to keep the colonists from destroying themselves. They seem to be answering some siren call of the land–one patient has ruined her gut from ingesting rocks and dirt, a boy has gone blind but claims to see every thing this world has to offer. Measures are taken to keep others from leaving the safety of their dome and suffering the same fate, but will it be enough?

Red Dome

Image derived from photo by atomicjeep, Creative Commons

Even though he was blind and restrained, the boy smiled beatifically. He’d refused to name his kidnappers, the older children who had driven him out to a nearby meadow and left him there. As a result, all vehicles were put on lockdown until the colony’s eventual rescue by Central Control, estimated at three years from now. All exits were sealed, the code to trip the doors known only to the mayor and the doctor. The doctor kept the code in his pocket, a little lifeline.

This piece of flash takes just a few minutes to read, but manages to churn the gut nonetheless. Lots of grotesque images, and a clear path to oblivion, paved with self-destruction and misplaced optimism. From a couple paragraphs in, we know this is not going to end well, but still it keeps the reader wondering–What is the planet saying? Why is it speaking to these people? What does it want from them? Perhaps if you are curious enough, you’ll find a way to step out of the dome yourself.

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