Venus and the Feathers by Lee Douglas

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Venus and the Feathers by Donald Douglas III
Illustration by Sue Babcock

“When the feathers stop falling,” Benson let go of the black feather and it floated to the ground.   He picked another from the package of black feathers he’d purchased online. The living room of his apartment looked like a hundred ravens had been plucked. Feathers on the couch on, the bookshelf, the table. Benson had a trail trod clean of feathers from the living room to his bedroom where fifty more packages of feathers were stacked on his bed.

“When the feathers stop falling,” he let go of another. It landed with the others on the carpet in front of the couch.

Because an asteroid smashed Venus into three giant rocks seven days ago, Benson had slept among the feathers on the couch for five days, and the T.V. hadn’t been turned off the news channel for three days. He grabbed a feather out of the bag and dropped it.

The T.V. always had the countdown on the top right of the screen. Thirty minutes until Venus Piece 3 passed. Benson grabbed a feather. Let it go. It fell. A knock on the door kept him from grabbing another out of the clear plastic bag.

“Benson,” Claire called, “Open up. It’s about to happen.”

Benson dropped a feather.

“VP3 is gonna pass over us and you’re not going to watch it?”

“I have the T.V.”

“But we’ll be able to see it in person.”

“When the feathers stop falling, Claire, we won’t be tethered to this Earth anymore. We will all be pulled by VP3 into the sky.”

“You don’t really…open the damn door, Benson.”

Benson dropped another feather. Walked on his carpet of feathers to the door.

“Thank you,” she stepped into his apartment. “What the hell?”

“The feathers refuse to cease falling, Claire, but soon as they do Earth will never be the same again.”

“You really believe in the Venus Moon theory, huh?”

“The Venus Moon is not a theory.”

Claire picked up a feather twirled it through her fingers. “You know you could’ve saved your room by just reusing the one?” She winked and sat on the couch.

“The feathers came with the hazard kit the Venus Moonists send the initiates.”

Claire’s burst of laughter, even though targeted toward Benson, made him grin. Her teeth were bright and the laugh lines around her mouth gentle.

“How much did that set you back, oh wise Venus Moon Initiate Benson?”

His grin faltered. “What are you? My mother?”

She patted the couch cushion next to her, “Just a concerned neighbor.”

Benson grabbed a feather out of the bag and watched it float to the ground. Claire grabbed a handful of feathers off the carpet and tossed them in the air. “How many birds did they kill to get these?”

Benson stared into his bag of feathers. “It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. Everything is going to be vacuumed up by the gravitational pull of Venus Piece 3. We know this because with each feather dropped it takes a little longer to fall.”
Claire smacked the couch cushion next to her. “I liked you better before all this nonsense. Now will you sit with me?”

“It’s not nonsense! You’re just in denial about the end of our life on the planet.”

“Nothing’s going to happen except a once in a lifetime event,” she stood, “Now let’s go outside and watch VP3 cross the sky.”

Benson dropped a feather. It fell. It floated. It stopped inches above the ground. Benson gasped tumbled backward from the feather like it was a comet shooting straight for him. His tumble rustled up other feathers on the ground. The black feathers floated up and up. Some hit the ceiling others hovered eye level. The remote hit Claire in the head. Pens crashed against the ceiling fan.

“It’s happening. The feathers are flying.” Benson stumbled over to the couch, churning up more feathers as he did. He sat down next to Claire. The countdown was gone from the corner of the screen. A dark red image of the sky filled the T.V. It looked as if the sky was made of molten lava.

“It’s beautiful,” Claire said.

“It’s our doom,” Benson said.

“Let’s go outside.” Claire grabbed Benson’s hand and dragged him out his door. Everything was covered in a shadow of bright red. Things were floating into the sky. Small rocks, enormous amounts of trash, and: “Is that the landlady’s Chihuahua?” Claire pointed.

“I think so,” Benson said, “But look at VP3.”

Bright splashes of yellow exploded like fireworks within the red bubbling rock. For something so large the silence was disturbing. It was as if hell were passing over earth.

They watched VP3’s surface roll from the sky. They watched it eat the moon and spit it out. They watched it pass and then went inside. And when Benson’s eyes adjusted the feathers weren’t floating. Claire squeezed his hand and smiled. She grabbed a handful of the feathers and threw them in the air. “The feathers refuse to cease falling.” She said, and winked at him.


Author Bio: Lee Douglas is attending the MFA Creative Writing program at Lindenwood University and is a graduate of Missouri Western State University. He has been published in Abomination Magazine, The New Writer, Rock Bottom, and See Spot Run.