by Deb Houdek Rule

Originally published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume IX, ed. Dave Wolverton, Bridge, 1993, Borealis is the story of a boy and his cat being used as pawns to manipulate a Viking-type society and world in the distant future. Originally published in L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume IX, ed. Dave Wolverton, Bridge, 1993. ©1992 D. A Houdek (Deb Houdek Rule)

“We’re going to crash,” Brock said.

Ember had realized this several orbits earlier. She had been howling her displeasure for twenty minutes, not wishing her short life to end in the fireball of a decaying orbit, no matter how spectacular the sight would be.

Aswin Brock was less bothered by the ear-blasting shrieks of his furry copilot than he was by the fact that none of the ship’s controls seemed to respond to anything he did. Not that he knew what he was doing, but for the entire trip Brock had clung to the fantasy that he was actually in control of the ship; that pressing at least one of the myriad of buttons would do something.

It did not seem to be the case.

The planet was growing very large in the viewer.

Aswin Brock slammed both hands down on the controls. Ember quit howling and stared at him wildly. The ship ignored them both and continued its suicidal plunge.

The young man and the cat both sighed, relaxed and decided (with considerable force of will) to abandon their hysterics and enjoy the view.

It was a sensational view. Although this was the third planet he had been to, Brock had never been privileged to see a planet from space. He had rather hoped to visit many more than three (or in this case not quite three) planets. He sighed again and stared at the viewer.

That would be Borealis, the northern continent, rising up to smash them. A vast glacier sparkled beneath the unsetting summer sun. At its base, the land showed vivid patches of green among the sharp rocks.

Read the rest of the story in Season of Marvels: Viking Tales, short story anthology available on