THE SOUND OF THE EARTH
90 pages, Space Western
By Eugena McCrann
A veteran member of the planetary postal service, Cora, is tasked with delivering a delayed shipment of mail through towns dotting the sparsely populated frontier. At the first stop, she hears a rumor that the people of Bittering, the last town on the delivery run, have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Each town along the journey relays a different story about Bittering’s disappearance, ranging from mundane tragedy to paranoid superstition. None of the details match, except for the simple fact that the townspeople are missing. Her two companions grow increasingly reluctant and even afraid to travel to Bittering. They want to return home and report that bringing mail to missing people is a futile endeavor or, if the truth is insufficient excuse, that the journey was too dangerous. Not caring if there’s anyone to receive the mail, Cora convinces herself that the trip is meaningless if she turns back any sooner. She goes to great lengths—coaxing, bribery, manipulation, tyranny, and physical threats—to persuade her companions to press onward and see Bittering’s mail delivered.
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