Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Odin Chronicles • Episode 12: “Twelve” • by Roxana Arama

INTRO: Welcome to Odin III, a grubby little mining world on the dark and dusty backside of nowhere. It’s a world where everything that’s worth having is already owned by Galactic Mining, and where people have come to squander their hopes and lives, working for the company and dreaming of striking it big. It’s also a world where some very strange and peculiar things have begun to happen, and it all started a bit over three weeks ago, in a bar called Weber’s Place, when Ray Cornwall didn’t just warp the fabric of space/time, he completely bent it…

Part One | Part Two | Part Three | Part Four | Part Five | Part Six | Part Seven | Part Eight | Part Nine | Part Ten | Part Eleven


by Roxana Arama

Jeremy paced outside Galactic’s Odin North Communications Office, thinking yet again that maybe he shouldn’t go inside and hand his keychain flash drive to Shelley, the new office there. He wanted—no, he needed—to talk to his uncle on Odin I, but he also knew he wasn’t supposed to. He’d promised.

He turned away and headed home, but after a few steps, he slowed down, still arguing with himself.

It’d all started with the box of twelve chocolates his uncle Xander had sent for his birthday. Chocolates were hard to find on Odin III, no matter the settlement, so when Jeremy had given two each to his classmates Kassim, Doru, and Isaac, they looked at him like he was now okay. They even asked him to join them after school on an expedition into some old mine tunnels they’d found. A birthday treat, they said. Jeremy wouldn’t wait to be asked twice. He grabbed his backpack and went.

The others had flashlights while Jeremy wore the headlamp his uncle had given him last year for his birthday. He waved at the first Galactic camera he saw up on the wall by the abandoned mine entrance, but Kassim said the motion sensors were fried in that section and the cameras didn’t record. Which was fine with Jeremy, who wasn’t sure his mom and dad would be happy to know he went into the mines. Even though they’d each scored a chocolate from his birthday box.

The walls of those tunnels were white like marble, and the ceilings were low, where Jeremy had to crawl sometimes to get through. It was awesome being there with his new friends, imagining they were all swallowed by a ginormous Odinian beast, squeezing through its guts. It got colder as they pushed in and the air became stale, but Jeremy was too excited to complain.

When the four of them reached a chamber as tall as Hans’s Deli, they sat down in a circle and Isaac took out a red ball he said he’d borrowed from the workshop of Daraja the machinist. He set the ball on the ground and the next moment the space around them brightened up with a 3D map of their galaxy sector, way cooler than the projections they had at school. It showed their solar system forming from a nebula, and infant planets clashing together to become Odin I, II, III, and IV, then the creation of the gas giants, plus a couple of rogue planets shooting out into the void.

It felt real to Jeremy, like it wasn’t a movie. He gasped a few times when they saw spaceships zooming around them, and he could tell they were Galactic’s by the shape and the logos. Then they saw a planet being blown to bits. Isaac said it was called Odrysian. Jeremy had never heard of it.

Then things got weird. Jeremy realized he was watching stuff that hadn’t even happened yet. Like Odin III getting a ring of satellites. And the Little Sun growing into a red dwarf only to be swallowed by the Big Sun, which then burped it all out in an amazing supernova.

Jeremy flinched when a voice behind them said, “What do you think you’re doing? That’s not a toy.” It sounded like Doru, but Doru hadn’t spoken.

The galaxy map vanished, the light in the chamber dimmed, and the red ball flew up through the air. Jeremy turned to see four walking statues. Eyes with no pupils, like the Roman heads in the history textbooks. Really creepy. He tried to breathe but the stale air made him feel worse. The statues were closing in on him and his friends. The spookiest thing was that they looked exactly like the four of them, just marble-white.

Statue-Doru held the red ball in his hand, tossing it in the air, as if playing with it.

“You stole something from us,” statue-Kassim said, “then you snuck into our house. You deserve to be punished.”

Jeremy was used to getting in trouble at school, but now worried they’d turn him into a statue or crush him under a ton of rocks. His hectic thoughts landed on his uncle Xander, who always got out of all sorts of trouble—and he had an idea.

“It’s my birthday,” he said, standing up and trembling. “Would you like some chocolates?”

The statues looked at him with those smooth white eyes, tilted their heads this way and that, and said yes. Jeremy scrambled to dig into his backpack and found the box and gave it to them. Only four chocolates left, and Jeremy wouldn’t be tasting any.

The statues took his chocolates, one each, but didn’t peel off the golden wrappers. They held them in their hands and then the chocolates melted and seeped into the rock of their palms. A faint color appeared on the statues’ white marble. If they had more food, Jeremy wondered, would they look like people, to where no one could tell the difference?

“You can go now,” statue-Jeremy said in a familiar voice, “but don’t you dare come back.”

“And never tell anyone about this,” statue-Kassim said. “You understand?”

Jeremy nodded until his neck hurt.

“Yeah. Sure. Of course,” his friends said. “Won’t tell anyone.”

“You won’t,” statue-Isaac said, and it sounded like a threat. Or a curse.

Since leaving the old mine, Jeremy had had a hard time not talking to anyone about the statues, not even Kassim, Doru, and Isaac. That was why he needed to tell his uncle, his best friend in the whole entire galaxy. Maybe he knew what kind of creature the statues were, and what they were doing on Odin III, and what was that red ball that knew the past and the future. And if his uncle didn’t know, could he find out?

In the daylight, getting in trouble with the statues didn’t seem as real and scary as in the old mine. Jeremy turned around and bolted, not stopping until he reached Shelley’s office. The door hissed open before him.

* * *

Galactic Mining Communication Officer Shelley Mowatt inserted the flash drive into her tablet and read the first line that appeared on her screen. It said, “Dear Uncle Xander,” so she decided not to look at the rest. It would have been wrong to pry. She liked Jeremy, shy and a bit weird as he was. She probably wouldn’t be seeing him for a while, which was too bad.

“Here you go, kid.” She gave him back the keychain with the drive, which he slipped inside his backpack. He’d told her the drive was a birthday gift from his uncle, maybe a couple of years ago.

“Let me know when he writes back,” Jeremy said, and took off, looking tired but smiling.

Shelley watched him from the window until he turned the corner, and only then closed the messaging session with Odin I she’d open just for show.

A dialogue box appeared on the screen: “Are you sure you want to discard the uploaded message?”

Shelley pressed YES. As a communication officer for Galactic Mining, sometimes she knew things people on Odin III didn’t. It’d been five days since word came that the mine Jeremy’s uncle worked at had collapsed. As of this morning, the rescue efforts had been called off.


Roxana Arama is a Romanian American author with a master of fine arts in creative writing from Goddard College. She studied computer science in Bucharest, Romania and moved to the United States to work in software development. Her debut thriller Extreme Vetting will be published in 2023 by Ooligan Press (Portland State University). She’s a member of SFWA, the Authors Guild, and Codex Writers’ Group, and her work has been published in several fiction and nonfiction magazines. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her family. More at or @RoxanaArama on Twitter.

Be sure to stay tuned for Episode 13 of The Odin Chronicles, “Would Scarcely Know That We Were Gone,” by Jonathan Sherwood, coming next Friday.



stupefy (ˈstü-pə-ˌfī) to stun, astonish, or astound


Interface with Stupefying Stories!




Pete Wood said...

Another excellent character study