On Silent Ground
On Silent Ground takes place in the 67th century and follows Jenart Bench, a posthuman Sycean Machine. In the fall of 6659, Jenart takes his son, Aleph, to shadow him at his job, as a superintendent of ship construction. Jenart hopes that Aleph might follow in his footsteps, but recognizes that his calling is being a pilot. Aleph strays away from Jenart to speak to a young cadet about being a pilot, drawing his father’s ire. But as Jenart begins to chastise his son, he is shocked as the station monitor announces that a heavily damaged ship has docked.
As time wears on, Jenart witnesses more and more ships coming into the dock with damage and missing crew. He knows that pushing Aleph away from his desire to be a pilot will damage him emotionally, similar to how Jenart’s father screwed him up. But he finds himself giving in to his fear, terrified of Aleph dying in service.
As the allied nations declare war, they demand that his station build more ships to aid in the conflict, He all but forces Aleph to volunteer and put his plans on hold. Months later, Aleph confronts his father about the refugee camp and the atrocities he saw there. Jenart forbids him from joining the stellar navy, and Aleph storms off vowing to do what he thinks is right.
Jenart then witnesses the pain and suffering in the refugee camp himself, reminded how he felt called to work and how his father refused him as well. Jenart frees his son from the volunteer contract, but still hopes that Aleph won’t put himself in danger and put himself fifty years away from his father. As Aleph graduates, he chooses leave and Jenart has to come to grips with the sense that he somehow failed to keep Aleph safe.
After several years, Aleph returns home with his own son, and Jenart recounts to him the way he felt all those years ago in the fall of ‘59.
Matt Murphy is an Illustrator and writer who focuses on the production of self-published comics and zines. A charter member of the Chattanooga Comix Co-Op; he has been a featured vendor at Chattanooga ZineFest 2016 and has had his works presented in the Cress gallery and the AVA gallery, both located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He is currently pursuing an MFA in visual narrative at the School of Visual Arts in New York, New York. While not attending classes in New York, he resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee where he teaches at Bachman Academy, a boarding school for children with learning differences.