Force against force

Richard Magahiz

Force against force

You know that port, I bet, out past the Belt.
Ask Jupiter Control the way to go.
I watched the lander drift past globs of ice.
Dendritic ribbons wreathed the stoma lips.

But their encryption keys weren’t real at all.
With engines off, a lack of gravity,
They never found a way to get to them.
But corporation’s shock troops don’t think twice.

I cracked my joints and pulled my bulk abaft.
The grapples made the whole ship start to shake.
She snicked a mag of armor-piercing rounds.
That sin verguenza needed to be gone.

A tongue of heat fused 8-ball’s sugar crust.
I shouted “Showtime, babe!” as rows of teeth
With garnet throat rings scrabbled at our hatch,
A roiling frothing mass of nothing good.

A calibrated leap into the void,
Then I threw down the cryptowhip and fired.
Some bullets ricocheted from boron curves.
She got it in the pseudencephalon.

And then, it was so strange, so jumbled up.
Her movements stopped and stuttered, then again
The bandit had evaporated <poof!>
That’s when my migraines took up residence.

We climbed a naked transfer orbit back.
I couldn’t care about our base or Mars.
Inside my brain the sights we saw congealed
To something golden. Perfect. Poisoned. Cold.

Richard Magahiz tries to live an ordered life in harmony with all things natural and created but one that follows unexpected paths. He wrangles computers as a day job but imagines a time when life might center around other things. His work has appeared at Star*Line, Dreams & Nightmares, Sein und Werden, Call Me [Brackets], Bewildering Stories, and Contemporary Haibun Review. His website is at

Author’s Backstory and/or Crafting: “Force against force” was assembled from lines I started writing around 2013, automatic writing of a speculative nature, but metered. In 2021, I began grouping together lines that seemed thematically related and started to see a military piece narrated by some grizzled veteran of space wars begin to take shape. (Note that I am personally not a veteran of any sort.) From that point on it felt important to me that the narrator’s squadmate, identified with female pronouns, would meet with some fate that was not made clear by the end. The piece didn’t reach its final form of quatrains in blank verse for another two years.

Editor’s Comments and/or Image Credits: Image is from an article

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