A Novelty of Stars

~ Brandon Crilly

He examines a polished wooden counter topped with cardstock. “Lobby cards,” the outdated monitor at the front desk called them. Each black-and-white image is framed in either darkened blue, red or gold. No labels to identify them.

One near the front catches his eye. He holds it up. “Which screening is this?”

The front desk monitor pivots its head, scattering dust from its creaking joints. “Algol at Minimum Brightness, 2020,” it says. Only the voice box seems to be in regular repair. “Popular.”

He could almost make a shape from the pinpricks of light on the lobby card’s image, but it’s too worn and faded. Little better than a yellow pixelated smear. No way to know if the screen inside will have higher resolution. The theater charges enough that they’d better.

He sets the lobby card down. “Would you recommend one?”

The monitor stares out the wide, glass entrance at the shrouded sky beyond.

“Any will do,” it says. “This is the only place you can see them, I am told.”

Ace of Wands


An Ottawa teacher by day, Brandon Crilly has been previously published by Daily Science FictionAbyss & ApexPULP Literature, On Spec, Flame Tree Publishing, and other markets. He received an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction Awards, reviews fiction for BlackGate.com and serves as a Programming Lead for Can*Con in Ottawa. With Evan May, he’s the co-host of the podcast Broadcasts from the Wasteland, described as “eavesdropping on a bunch of writers at the hotel bar.”

You can find Brandon at brandoncrilly.wordpress.com or on Twitter: @B_Crilly.

 [ issue 4 :  fall 2021 ]