“What Waited Beneath the Mountain” by Cassandra Rose Clarke
You have never seen the night sky,
the glitter of stars against black silk,
the illuminated rip of the Milky Way’s
arm reaching to the edge of the universe.
You have only seen the underside of the ice,
a blue ceiling veined with ancient cracks.
In your language you call it The End of the World,
and you can not fathom that there is an
enormity on the other side. You can not
fathom anything but the blue fissures, the
cold stone that burns the underside of
your tentacles if you reach out for it, this
shield protecting you from other worlds,
other oceans, warmer than the ocean in
which your civilization dwells and filled
with creatures approximating you in
shape and size but with only a dull
and primitive intelligence. Your people
mastered civilization long ago. But the ice
keeps you from seeing the tiny strangers
watching you with weak eyes, recording
you with humming computers. And if
the ice shattered, if your world peeled
itself like an orange for the universe,
would you even recognize them as human?
Cassandra Rose Clarke‘s work has placed in the Rhysling Awards and been nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award, the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, the Pushcart Prize, and YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults. She grew up in south Texas and currently lives in Houston, where she writes and works for Writespace, a literary arts nonprofit. Her latest novel is Halo: Meridian Divide, out now from Scholastic.