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A depressing story about GOING TO HOUSTON:

Click here for my review of Frank Herbert's Dune


The war was out there, not in here. Nothing got in here. Not the war, not the plague the war had spawned.

Astbury approached the view port and looked out at his sand covered landscape. Despite the carnage, the rolling reddish dunes and green/purple plant life were really quite beautiful. Inside Astbury’s protective dome the climate was secure and the diseases couldn’t get in. This planet may have been dying, but he and his loyalists sure as hell weren’t.

It looked like noon, but then it always did, due to the three suns. The arid field before him was as desolate as any planet he had visited… and decimated. While Astbury couldn’t leave, he was safe and content. The usurpers may have destroyed his ship, but his dome was impenetrable, and soon more of his loyalists would come to get him off of this sandy pimple in the sky. When they did Astbury would order this world to be systematically leveled while he watched , rather than waiting for the plague his scientists had made to do the job for him. A windstorm began pushing the red sand up in waves which looked like the fires of purgation. An emaciated body was uncovered by the storm. Astbury couldn’t tell if it was one of his own, or a usurper. And he didn’t care.

"Sir?", came a voice from behind him.

"Yes?", Astbury asked of his man.

"Here are the paper files you asked for.", the uniformed loyalist handed Astbury an actual folder of paper from some old conquest, and their fingers touched lightly.

Astbury smiled. "Good, anything else?"

"The transport will be here in forty-six hours."

"Good, no hurry."

"Thank you sir." The man turned to go, but not before giving a light cough.

Astbury placed the file on top of his real oak desk. He walked back to the view port and regarded the quickly fading storm while wiping his dry lips. The storm was over, almost. Nothing on this planet lasted forever… nothing. Certainly nothing now that the plague was out there. Anyone could catch it with the lightest of contact. Symptoms were immediate. Death occurred within thirty hours, best case scenario.

Astbury smiled.

The dome was impenetrable, nothing got in.


Astbury felt the force of an abrupt sneeze. His hand darted to his face too late. He stared in wide eyed terror at the collection of saliva and mucous clinging to the transparent steel of his view port. He was dimly aware that his throat was aching. Another sneeze came, and he caught the residue in his hand this time and eyed it.

Nothing on this planet lasted long… Nothing!

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