This is a short story from Emitar over at The God of Hallways

“…there was something terrible in the soil.”

Genre: Science Fiction, Short Story
Rating: I loved it!

What do you do when things as normal as farming and eating suddenly seem cruel?

Something about Mars has a surprising effect on settlers’ crops. Something is happening to the food, something that makes Bill question the most basic things he and the settlers need to do to survive. But he needs to survive. Going back to Earth is not an option; there’s nothing for him there.

Many stories leave the punch for the end, but Bad Season opens with a blow that made me feel sick. And a story that can give you that kind of gut reaction is a damn good story.

There’s something recognizable in this story, despite the extraterrestrial setting. The hopelessness, desperation, and moral conflict sound almost uncomfortably familiar, as do the questions–ones very relevant to Earth life–that kept me wondering even after the story ended.

What are the limits of compassion? Who, or what, deserves it? And what do you do when the necessities of life require some measure of cruelty?

If there is one stumbling block in this story, it’s some of the ten dollar words. Like “nictitating”… ? I may just be dumb, but I had to skip over to Google a couple of times.

But it’s worth it. At just over 2,000 words it only took ten minutes to read and packed in a hell of a lot of emotion. And my vocabulary’s better for it. (Points if I can use nictitating in my next blog post?)


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