TITLE: Doomsday's Wake
GENRE: Science Fiction
Utokra didn't believe in killing; he believed in piety and reason, the knotted strands of which had occupied him so fully, he had not seen the tangled noose pulling close around his world. He wasn't old just yet, though he already had a dozen arthritic joints in his legs and grasper tentacles, and the fur on the crown of his skull had gone red. He was also a bit absent-minded-vexingly so at the moment. A bristly, yellow bloom had drawn him into the ice-garden to sample its sour perfume. Now the summer snow had turned to sleet just as the light faded, and as he stretched to reach the top of the Center gate, he stretched also to remember.
Ashwan, the largest moon, still slept below the treetops. Her three lumpy little sisters were all overhead, their sunlit and moonlit faces overlapping in bright, almond crescents like the eyes of a Chot'oul. Indeed, this rare conjunction was known as the gaze of Chot'oulea, and its appearance had long been known as an omen of change. Utokra pulled the latch-wire over the post and leaned close to the gate, parting the beaded vestigial tentacles dangling around his face. He peered through the wire mesh and over the shadows crisscrossing the snow covered courtyard beyond. The contributions jar still sat on the kiosk outside.
Absent-minded indeed; dealing with the council bureaucrats was making him senile. He wouldn't need any contributions if they would just restore his stipend.
. . .