Monday, April 4, 2022

“Secondhand Planet” • by Wendy Nikel

This week The Pete Wood Challenge returns with seven new flash fiction stories. Next up, “Secondhand Planet,” by Wendy Nikel


We settle for a secondhand planet, after the Earth’s destruction. We land amid its fields and shelter in its mountainside temples, dedicated to gods too weak to preserve their devotees or even their own names.

The planet doesn’t fit quite the same. The days are too long, too warm, too bright.

The elders grumble, calling for vast freezers and massive fans to keep them cool. But in the years it takes to construct their power grids, a change has taken place:

The children laugh and play in broad daylight, their irises bright around pinprick pupils, their skin now tan, unburned. 



Wendy Nikel is a speculative fiction author with a degree in elementary education, a fondness for road trips, and a terrible habit of forgetting where she’s left her cup of tea. Her short fiction has been published by Analog, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Nature, and elsewhere. Her time travel novella series, beginning with The Continuum, is available from World Weaver Press. For more info, visit