All images by the author.
People like to say Phoenix is Kafkaesque, with its faceless buildings, toxic air, and totalitarian bureaucrats. But this wasteland is really more Lovecraftian, as Hannah Irene Walsh demonstrated in her story, ‘The Last Phoencian,’ which she read at Space 55 for Lovecraft’s birthday in August. We asked her to publish it here and she even illustrated it for us. Enjoy! – Ed.
The desert knows only emptiness as it lays bare beneath the world’s cruelest star. The disc of flame rises to its zenith on the longest day as it has done since the planet’s making, knowing nothing of the life that has sprung from beneath it and cursed its name.
From above, the valley appears as a sun-ravaged hide: pockmarked wastes scarred by dry-washes and tumorous sanguine buttes. The land is a scattered mass of shrubs and cacti with hungering roots, rigid and spiny and as heartless as the elements that made them.
It is all as aimless as it is endless, and the heat seizes the throat of any creature that dares creep out from the shadows.
In the heart of this arid cradle once sprawled a city: a network of glass and steel that dared to defy the tyrant sun’s will. Yet there came a time when the weeping earth did swallow all of mankind and its arrogance, while the great solar eye watched unblinking. Now, only the city’s euclidean husk remains, its fragile geometry shattered by ages that have long forgotten its name.
It is a time in which clouds, heavy with caustic rain, no longer glow with urban fire; a time when the endless tracks of asphalt have been filled with sand, and when once-skeletal lions have fattened themselves on mankind’s tainted remains. Beneath the surface’s burning grit, the desert’s very blood sleeps, waiting for the darkness to fall once again over this forgotten valley of the sun.