A Rose on Lincoln’s Grave
They Only Fear the Sea
When Quarantine Was Declared in the City of Eternal Night
A Chapter From the Nocturnus Notebooks
Entered and Notated Up by Jedediah Elysdir Hartman
(written 5/7/93; Webbed 10/12/95)
“I wish brightness would fall from the air,” J.G.D.F.C. whispered once during
that long night. We called him that because he wouldn’t tell us his real
name. “I’ve only known you for fifteen years,” he would say when we pleaded
with him to tell us. “How do I know you all aren’t space aliens intent on
gobbling me up?” We had to admit he had a point.
We were all getting a little tired of the night game there in the City, and
nothing anyone could say would convince little Tomas Thomas not to go off in
search of a light. Yeah, there was a dame involvedisn’t there always?
In this case, a lame tame crane dame. But I’m getting ahead of my story.
I suppose it all started when Ursula The Bear joined our little literary
circleoh, about eight years before the time I’m talking about. Or maybe
it started when Terry plunged eighty stories to his or her death from a
first-floor window, out there on the edge of town. At any rate, by the time
the hydrophobia plague began we all knew something was up, we were all edgy.
But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about.
I’m here to tell you about the night that Tomas found the rose out by
It’s not really a gravenotice the capitalization. Miss Zelda said that
was a good Literary Device, to use capitalization effectively. I miss Miss
Anyway, we just call it Lincoln’s Grave ’cause we know he’d be rolling over
in it if he were buried there. It’s where the slaves live, and a more
retching hive of slums and villas you’ve never seen.
J.G.D.F.C. says that Lincoln didn’t really free the slaves, or anyway only
did it because he had to. J.G.D.F.C. says when he was in School he once saw
an old copy of something called the Declaration of Immanencipation, and in it
Lincoln said, “Oh, for Chrissake, all right, if we really have to, you guys
can go free now.” But J.G.D.F.C. is always trying to tell us about stuff he
saw in School. If Miss Zelda was still around, we could ask her.
But I personally don’t believe there is any such place. School, I mean; I
know Lincoln’s Grave is there. I was there the night Tomas found the
(Now when I say night, I mean this was in the City of Eternal Night, and
night went on for a long time. So it was always night. But this was one
particular part of that night.)
It was a funny little thing, the rose was. All yellow and waxy and
vertebrated. Tomas came running over to us, asking the way he always does:
“J.G.D.F.C.! Ursula The Bear! Argon Indonensius!” That’s me, Argon
Indonensius. He always calls my name last. Before Terry died, he always
called Terry’s name last.
And we all said, what is it Tomas Thomas, what is it?
The way we always do.
And he said, “Looka what I found, looka looka!”
So we lookad.
And Tomas Thomas said, “What is it?”
I just kind of shut up about then, because I hadn’t no idea what it was. But
J.G.D.F.C., just like always, looks around and makes sure nobody else hadn’t
no idea what it was, and then says, “It’s a rose, Tomas Thomas.”
Okay, so we didn’t know then what was going to happen later. How could we?
We were all a little kind of edgy, a little insecure, that’s the way it was
in the City of Eternal Night in those days or rather nights or rather that
So Tomas Thomas goes all excited and squealyvoiced, and he said, What’s a
And J.G.D.F.C. said: “A rose is a rose is a rose. I learned that in
But what does he know, anyway? So Ursula The Bear said, “Tomas Thomas, a
rose I think is a flower.” She always says I think, Miss Zelda used to say
it was a mark of high qualify. So she says, Ursula The Bear says, “A flower
is something you grow and maybe too something you grind up also.”
Tomas Thomas looked up all bigeyed and roundnosed and he said, “How do you
And something clicked in the back of my braincase where the stem part
connects to the back part and I don’t even know how I knew but maybe it was
something Miss Zelda told us oh so long ago before I even remember, maybe
back before, when she was a slave, and I said, “When you grow you gotta have
the sun.” And I said it mysterioso and importunate, like J.G.D.F.C. goes
with his voice when he talks about School, and everybody shut up and looked
And Tomas Thomas said smallmouthed and tongulated, “What’s a sun, Argon
And that was how it all started, because once Tomas Thomas gets his brain
curled up snug around an idea there isn’t no way nohow he’s ever going to
give up on it even if it bites him to death. And that was how Tomas Thomas
got started off on his crackbrained harepot idea to go off and save the sun
and bring back light to the City of Eternal Darkness, and that’s whenright then, like the Over Lords and Masters were listening to us even though
everyone knows they never bother to listen in on proles, right then was when
the quarantine hit.
End of Chapter One.
Mykle Hansen‘s ‘zine
Eyeheart started out as more or less an APA, with contributors
sending material in to be printed. All three titles to this piece come from
phrases used by various others in Eyeheart and SWAPA in early ’93,
though I’ve misplaced the exact sources. This piece was originally printed
in Eyeheart. The style is somewhat akin to that in my “Crystal Terraces” piece; it’s a sort of
free-associating, malapropping style that I enjoy writing a great deal but
which doesn’t garner high praise from my friends.
The phrase “brightness falls from the air” is, of course, the title of both
a short story by Idris (sp?) Seabright and a novel by James Tiptree; I
assume it’s a quotation from something, but I’ve never known what.
I always intended to go back and write more “from the Nocturnus Notebooks,”
but never got around to it, and it’s not high on my list of projects right
now. Still, someday it would be fun to come back and expand this.
Jed Hartman <email@example.com>