Size / / /

CONTENT WARNING:



[click on each image to view full-screen]

Text: Our ancestors discovered it centuries ago. Now it is a tourist attraction, Image: A roadside billboard reads, "Visit the Bottomless Pit, 10 miles." Poem by John Johnson. Art by Bob Hall. Text: they put bumper stickers for it on your car if you park too long in nearby towns, it's a hole in the ground. Like a round black pupil. Surrounded by a concrete iris rim. There is no guard rail. It would be easy for someone reckless to leap across. Image: A drab green field contains a cracked concrete circle around a black hole like a staring pupil. Text: But it truly is deep beyond imagination…a tunnel going down endlessly. Current operators say it was built for entertainment, but it's much older than that. And it doesn't go out the other side of the world, so it must end somewhere. Image: Planet Earth surrounded by its atmosphere, a mirror image of the hole circled by concrete.

Text: There was a small crowd of vacationers milling about. Bored, standing too close, I thought, like people too close to the tracks in a subway, like they didn't believe it was dangerous. There was a toddler, a little girl. I watched as the mother unbelievably became distracted, just for a second. Image: Tourists of all ages gather around a hole the size and shape of a well, leaning over the edge to take selfies, dangling their feet in. A toddler in flip-flops perches on the lip of the hole while a woman holding a shopping bag looks at a small dog. Baby feet twist into the air as the child tumbles forward. Text: I didn't have time to yell. Image: The toddler's frightened face and outstretched hand as the child falls into darkness, a loose flip-flop beside the child's contorted body. Text: The child peered over and tumbled in.

Text: I still think about her falling. I try to believe the experience was so unusual for her she didn't process it as fear, but rather as the sensation of floating, the rushing air a wind, pushing her back to her mother. Image: Four vertical white lines show different stages of the child's fall. The child is halfway down, then lower, then lower, falling, twisting. Text: To plummet like that, on and on, unknowing, it would be a kind of freedom. One night, I dreamed there was a soft landing, just a little ways down, a sunny, grassy, bottom, where she tumbled, alive and happy… Image: The moment of impact—the child landing on her bottom in a patch of grass, bare feet waving in sunshine. Final Text: …with all the other fallen children. Final Image: The child smiles gently as she is greeted by two dozen enthusiastic children of varied ages and races. One boy turns toward her with a ball in his hands. Another child waves from a climbing tree. Another holds his arms wide, inviting a hug.



John Philip Johnson has work in Rattle, Asimov’s, F&SF, Apex, Mythic Delirium, The Pedestal, Phantom Drift, Ted Kooser’s newspaper column, “American Life in Poetry,” and the Poetry Foundation, with Pushcart, Best-of-Web, and Rhysling noms. He would love to live on Mars. His comics are from his new comic book, The Book of Fly, which is graphic poetry in Twilight Zone-like episodes. Available at www.johnphilipjohnson.com.
Current Issue
11 Nov 2019

Osnat went back to talk to the dybbuk again.
By: Rivqa Rafael
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Anaea Lay presents Rivqa Rafael's “Whom My Soul Loves.”
You’re the girl with the basket full of bread and cream, who wandered somehow into this life.
your spongy tongue | as political as begging the world to drown
By: Mary McMyne
By: Ugonna-Ora Owoh
Podcast read by: Mary McMyne
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
In this episode of the Strange Horizons podcast, editor Ciro Faienza presents poetry from the November 11 issue of Strange Horizons.
Wednesday: A Spy In Time by Imraan Coovadia 
Friday: Tell Them of Battles, Kings & Elephants by Matthias Enard 
Issue 28 Oct 2019
By: Kelly Stewart
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Kelly Stewart
Monday: Aniara 
,
Issue 21 Oct 2019
By: Omar William Sow
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Amy H. Robinson
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 14 Oct 2019
By: Kevin Wabaunsee
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Ruben Reyes Jr.
Podcast read by: Ruben Reyes Jr.
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 7 Oct 2019
By: Charles Payseur
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Davian Aw
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 30 Sep 2019
By: Kali de los Santos
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Heitor Zen
Podcast read by: Julia Quandt
By: Sérgio Motta
Podcast read by: Sérgio Motta
By: Isa Prospero
Podcast read by: Solaine Chioro
Monday: 3% 
,
Issue 23 Sep 2019
By: August Huerta
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Issue 16 Sep 2019
By: Marie Brennan
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Hester J. Rook
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Podcast read by: Hester J. Rook
Issue 9 Sep 2019
By: Shiv Ramdas
Podcast read by: Anaea Lay
By: Sarah Shirley
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
31 Aug 2019
Brazil Special Issue call for fiction submissions!
Issue 26 Aug 2019
By: Cynthia So
Podcast read by: Cynthia So
Podcast read by: Ciro Faienza
Load More
%d bloggers like this: