Farewell from the Bookshelf!

Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.

All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.

Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!


Unity, Squared by Sara Lansing

There are times, when the wind is roaring through the stripped frames of the Antares, and the sun is setting, swollen and yellow, through the blowing dust, that I feel so alone, alone as the last soul in all this universe.

But it is so unreal. Where is reality? Is reality the harshness of the broken ship, or is it the hope of rescue? Is it that beacon that calls to the stars and which I truly believe will one day draw a shuttle to my salvation...? Our salvation.

Or is it the one I love?

Does reality dwell only in the hope and belief that life does not end, and that broken flesh can be mended?

Shanna, Shanna, my love, it is so unfair that your spirit should define this terrible place, a voice in the wilderness, a whisper from beyond... And the lifeline to my sanity.


A figure stood in the deepening ruddy twilight of an unnamed planet, a hand raised to the blowing dust to keep a broad faceplate clear. By the feet of that figure lay a jagged, wind-scoured rock on which was burned a single phrase. Shanna's hope.

The figure turned, hunched in the wind, and moved with careful step between the rocks and the ever-shifting sands to the exposed flank of the ruined Antares, climbed a flash-welded ladder to an airlock, stepped within and sent the outer hatch across. Clean air flooded the chamber and a raging blast scoured all dust away.

Moments later the figure emerged in the dimly-lit, slanted interior of the crippled vessel, among the silence of desertion, and sat back on the suiting bench for a long, exhausted while before beginning to remove the worn, tough suit piece by piece. At last the suit was stowed in its niche and a woman with the pale features of strain and malnutrition stared at herself in a stainless steel surface. Eyes once filled with life were like the blank orbs of a doll, and scrappy hair hung in a witch’s straggle. With the precise motions of one who knew that an injury would mean death, she turned on the tilted deck and followed a safety line strung on the high side of the corridor.


Hi Shanna, I’m home! (Big smiles, a long hug and sweet kiss.) I got a fair bit done today, never as much as I would have liked, but enough. I realigned the suntrackers so we’ll get back to about 70% delivery on the solar cells, but the dust is scouring the protective coatings and reducing light reception. Unless this dust storm stops blowing a day will come... No, you’re right, best not to think of that. Just keep working on bringing the hotcores online instead as a fallback.

I explored the ridge to the south, it’s lucky we crashed where we did... Lucky we crashed, that’s funny! No, really! The other side of that ridge is a steep drop to volcanic gullies and rilles that would have smashed this ship apart beyond all hope of survival. At least the others got out when they did. I checked the logs when I got back, but there’s no signal. Hmph, that one hi-band antenna is our lifeline, the beacon goes out, a reply will come back the same way. We must hold onto the fact the escape pods have a better chance of being spotted up there than we have down here, and they’ll send a survey ship back. It’s only a matter of time.

Time... How long has it been, my love? Five weeks? Let me check...
(A quick flutter of data through circuits, multiple overlays in the perceptive envelope...) Seven weeks. Seven? Where did they go? (Long silence.)

What’s that, grrl? You’d like to go for a swim? Me too!


No lights burned in the chamber she had set up for living. She flicked on a single fluorescent bar as she stepped in and sank into an acceleration couch’s welcoming comfort. The telltales of the computer interface lit as the ship’s surviving systems registered her presence, and she reached to the instruments at her side to tap a screen. Her evening meal ration began to heat in the food hole, nothing special, just enough to keep body and soul together, drawn from the emergency stores that had withstood the shocking impact of the Antares.

She saw her reflection in the cover of the food unit, saw how slimness had become gaunt, how her uniform coveralls hung loose on a body now motivated mostly by the will within. Her nametag, over her left breast, was meaningless, the letters backward to her eyes, though she knew they spelled out Harelson. Maggie Harelson... That was her name. Yes.

She ate without tasting, her eyes on the visual display of the com array, as they usually were at this hour, ‘monitoring,’ she called it, though any incoming signal would be brought to her attention by the main computer without her input. The radio sky pulsed and shimmered as the computers endlessly scanned the frequency spectrum for the ghost of a signal, whose reality might spell escape from this living hell.

At last she pushed aside the plastic food container, scraped clean, and with a sigh of relief drew on a sensory headset, adjusted the contacts to her temples and let her mind go blank...


The rush of dislocation was like coming home, and when Maggie Harelson emerged head and shoulders from the warm sea the sun on her face was a caress. Shanna was there as ever, like a mermaid, her long hair streaming. The women trod water after their dive, then began to stroke for the beach close by. Gentle waves pushed them ashore and they relaxed in the warm shallows for a while before striding up the beach to their camp. The breeze was cool on their bare skins, and they towelled off briskly before coming together in the full body hug that was the spice of their lives. Kisses were sweet as wine and exploring hands triggered quickfire nerve impulses that set them sighing and laughing into each other's mouths.

Shanna pressed Maggie gently back onto the rug on the sands and lay over her in a glide of smooth skin and wet hair, kissing and caressing, and their joy of being momentarily wiped away the agony of reality. Loving was the reward of living, and so long as there was life, there was love. Darting tongues and skilled fingers found well-known trigger points and each woman arched her back in her turn, crying out, to startle gulls on the red cliffs above the bay, in the ecstasy of climax. Panting, gasping, nothing else in the universe mattered in those moments, and the caressing aftermath, when they lay together in the cuddle of all lovers, was their affirmation that there was a way out of limbo.

“I’m concerned for you,” Shanna whispered. “You’re giving me the power.”

“You need it,” Maggie replied bluntly. “I’ll survive, my love. Because I must. You can’t without the power.” She smiled and stroked her lover’s face. “It gets cold. There’s not much to eat. At the end of the day, people have survived far greater hardships.”

“You truly believe they’ll come?”

“There would be no point fighting to survive without that belief,” Maggie whispered. “You and I will be together again.”

“Mags... I’m dead,” Shanna mouthed almost silently.

“Technically, yes. And technically, no.” Maggie’s smile was the forlorn hope of the desperate. “When the cockpit was wrecked and your seat broke loose, you were fatally injured. It’s your good luck the suspension pod in sickbay survived and I got you in there before you flatlined.”

“Or my curse.”

“Don’t say that.” Maggie squeezed her eyes shut for a moment. “I need to believe. Your injuries are treatable and life was suspended before the end.”

“I’m a whisper in my own brain,” Shanna said, her voice blending with the roll of the sea. “Eventually I’ll loose coherence. And then... Who knows.”

Maggie took her face in her hands and kissed her firmly. “But that day is far away. So long as I keep the power to the pod above minimum safe level, you’ll survive.”

“And you’ll die slowly of cold and hunger.”

“It’s my choice.” Maggie stretched in the illusory warmth of the virtual sun. “I have faith.”

For a long moment Shanna was motionless, her eyes flicking right and left as if she were reading text, then she rose suddenly to her feet and looked around. When Maggie joined her, a strange current of excitement had entered her own consciousness, a prickle at the tips of her nerves. She put out a hand to her lover, who took it in a fond clasp, allowing herself to hope just this once before they faded out, and became as ghosts to each other.


Time sense distorted across the VR barrier and Maggie found the signal had been incoming for more than two hours when she opened her eyes and drew off the headset. Long enough for it to make no difference. Two faces she did not know were lit in the dim glow of emergency lamps, clean helmets were set aside and a young man with medical insignia on the shoulders of his suit was running a scanner over her. He looked up into her eyes and whispered “Welcome back, ma’am.” He turned and called his skipper.

The other man turned from inspecting the central computer interface and offered her his hand. A broad, craggy face was lit with a human relief that touched her heart. “Captain Harelson, it’s good to find you in one piece. Captain Mason, ship Bellatrix. We picked up the pods two days ago and backtracked their course. It’s a miracle you put her down at all.”

“The last pod malfunctioned,” Maggie whispered. “My senior pilot and I could only ride her in and do our best.” She released his hand, savouring human company but knowing she had held it long enough. “Speaking of whom...”

The medic inclined his head to the long, sealed sleep casket that nestled at the opposite wall of what had been the sickbay and nodded. “Both legs broken, ruptured spleen, punctured lung, if you hadn’t suspended her she would have been dead in minutes. If that. But according to the computer, she’s still in there.” He smiled and lay a gloved hand on her shoulder. “We’ll get her back to the Bellatrix, then leave it to me.”

Captain Mason took her hand and helped her rise stiffly. Her wasted frame and haggard face had not escaped his notice, and he knew why it was so grim here: a suspension pod took power to run, and he could only admire her determination in the face of bleak disaster. “Let’s get you both home,” he said softly.

Maggie crossed to the pod and looked through the monitoring panel at the face she knew best in all the universe, and lay her palm to the glass as she had times beyond reckoning, and in her mind’s eye she took her lover in an embrace as close as two beings in one skin. Not much longer, my love, she whispered silently to herself.

Not much longer.

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