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DAILY SCI-FI
Not just rockets & robots...
"Science Fiction" means—to us—everything found in the science fiction section of a bookstore, or at a science fiction convention, or amongst the winners of the Hugo awards given by the World Science Fiction Society. This includes the genres of science fiction (or sci-fi), fantasy, slipstream, alternative history, and even stories with lighter speculative elements. We hope you enjoy the broad range that SF has to offer.






Science Fiction

Science Fiction


Science fiction, even as a subgenre is a vast, underexplored country filled with unusual denizens, many of whom simply defy classification. Long way of saying this is the catch-all category for any stories that don't fit into our topic listings above. If too many of these selections start to form a natural cluster, we will allow a new topic to be born. Until that time, enjoy the varied, murky melange that defines the undefined herein.

by A. J. Abel
What exactly are the Zala? Clearly, they're intelligent. They look like craggy, grey, four-armed, walking trees, each of which has a nest of hive-insect-like creatures buried in the distended front of their abdomens. The "insect" creatures scurry up and down the craggy bodies, mending injuries and, I've been warned, spraying jets of acid at the slightest hint of a threat. So are these beings a species, or the hybrid result of a symbiotic system? Did the insect creatures play a role in facilitating the Zala's development or evolution as a highly intelligent civilization?
Published on May 19, 2017
by Alfred C. Airone
“MISSILES ON THE WAY!” The headline was in two-inch type. Sam Spool had just sat down in the subway car and unfolded the morning paper. So they finally did do it, he mused to himself. He felt disappointment--he had been sure the peace talks would work out. As the train lurched and started out of the station, he turned the tabloid over and began reading the sports pages. At the office, there was more talk of the impending attack. “They say there were about fifty missiles launched." Sam heard this from LaMont Turner, who was known to keep up with such things. A few co-workers had gathered near the reception desk, where Tim O’Farrell, the elderly security guard, was filling in while the regular reception clerk was on break. “Any heading straight for us?,” asked Mary Corddry from Finance. “It’s still too soon to tell,” said LaMont. “We’re the largest city in the country--I can’t see how they’d do otherwise,” offered Sam. The others in the small group all nodded. Mary moved off, intent on whatever errand had brought her into contact with the small group.
By the next day, the broadcast news stations were informing everyone that the missiles were more than a third of the way across the ocean. It was a big topic of conversation at lunchtime. “I heard we’ve responded,” said Sharon Ling to a few others who, like her, were digging bag lunches out of the lunchroom refrigerators. “I heard the same,” added Tom LoCastro. “They’ll pay, that’s for sure. They never should have started it.” “I really thought the peace talks were going well,” said Sam. . “Yeah. So did everyone. Boy, did we get that one wrong."
The next day, as Sam arrived at work, his phone bleated the receipt of an official work email informing everyone that there would be early dismissal at four o'clock. The day went uneventfully otherwise. At four o'clock, Sam found himself riding in the elevator with Tom LoCastro. Sam had known Tom for a year and had always liked him; they greeted each other as they stepped into the elevator car. They reached the first floor, walked through the lobby and out the building’s ornate, 75-year-old doors. Outside, the mood seemed more focused than usual for a rush hour. Sam and Tom stood for a few moments, both taken by surprise by the same perceptions: the pedestrians on the crowded street seemed more determined to catch the first subway home, the street traffic was thicker, the honking louder and more impatient. They watched the endless, swirling crowd, listened to the tramp, tramp, tramp as office workers and delivery personnel, maintenance workers in overalls and schoolkids adorned with backpacks and earphones strode toward their destinations, slipped down the stairways to the subway, or queued up at the corner, leaning out into the street, hoping to spot an approaching bus. “Hey, wanna stop for a beer?,” asked Tom. He pointed to a favorite tavern across the street which remained open. Sam glanced at his NetWatch. “Yeah, sounds good. I think we’ve got time.”
Published on Oct 4, 2021
by Kyle Aisteach
1. Any toddler who manages to pick up a full gasoline can immediately gains the power to run at the speed of light and to pass through walls simply by turning the gas can upside down. 2. A stray cat with a burning rag tied to its tail develops the same abilities.
Published on Mar 8, 2021
by Laila Amado
You wake up in a white capsule. The floor and ceiling merge into one, so pristine it makes you vaguely ill. You blink and separate the light from the darkness. Hail the healthy sleep-wake cycle. You let the dry land appear to find your footing and to establish some semblance of order. It helps with the panic attacks. Somewhere along the way you discover rhyme and your words bounce off the walls of your capsule populating it with creatures that have two, four, six, and eight legs. Some do just fine without any appendages. With rhymes come names. After you name everything you’ve created, you realize you don’t know your own name. The realization makes you uncomfortable. You query the void around the capsule what your name is. It is unlikely that it knows the answer, but it seems worth a shot “You’re God 47,” comes the response when you’ve grown tired of waiting. It takes you a couple more millennia to start wondering what happened to the previous forty-six. You’re convinced it is a matter of succession not simultaneous occurrence. The void is silent for an eon. Then it coughs up some numbers and charts. The evidence is damning. Their creations got bored with them--this isn’t surprising, given the creatures’ miserable attention span--and dismissed the hapless demiurges back into whatever oblivion gods come from. You contemplate fire. You contemplate flood. Then again you think how well that worked out for one of your predecessors. You consider popping down for a quick chat with them. Remember what happened to the one who did try that. Shudder. You can’t help but think of these godless capsules floating in the void. The solution comes, as all revelations do, with no prior warning. You unspool your own molecules into a perpetual data stream. The binary code suits you well. You embed yourself in computational algorithms, turn each of their small stupid machines into a prayer wheel. Become their context advertisement, their best streaming service, their most scandalous network. Exhale. This should keep them entertained for some time.
Published on Jan 24, 2022
by Jarod K. Anderson
The gap between Ted's front teeth opened onto a solar system buzzing with civilizations of light and power. Every once in a while it would glint and draw the eye of Becky Cooley, the shy paralegal with the 84% compatibility rating from the dating website. Ted found that trying to laugh behind his hand was awkward. Trying to tilt his head down while he spoke was awkward. He'd lost dates to awkwardness and to the bushy mustache he had used to curtain his upper teeth for a few weeks in June.
Published on Feb 25, 2015
by Kevin J. Anderson
I had just gotten home from work, ready to start dinner for myself, when the phone rang. It wasn't even 5:30 yet, but the dinner hour is exactly when phone solicitors like to prey on customers. I answered with a "Hello" that was more like a sigh. "Ronnie! Are you all right? We're so worried!" Not a salesman then--my parents, back in Wisconsin.
Published on Apr 5, 2018
by Liz Argall
The model is privileged to work at the Albury-Wodonga Academy of Fine Arts and Neuroscience. Work permits are few and she needs to send half her ration to family up in the burning lands round Newcastle way. She has excellent references, but that doesn't count for much; the proof will be in her flesh, her stamina, her strength of will. She removes her clothes in a dark change room. Someone has let a can of drink fall on its side and sticky Cack congeals on the bench--a waste of good, if foul tasting, nutrient. She removes her clothes, top half first: a soft crochet hat, elbow high fingerless gloves and three layers--soft hemp undershirt, polyurethane mid layer, thick wool shell. The whole lot pulled up and over her head in a single gesture, an easy, familiar motion. She folds them neatly and places them in her bag. She pulls off her shoes, lines them up on the scratched linoleum, then removes the bottom half: poly-leggings under button-fly goat leather, hemp underwear, wool socks, removed in a similar single gesture. Folds the pants in on themselves and places them in her bag. She stretches one arm, then the other, shakes her legs and thinks through possible poses and energy she will bring to the class. She lives to do her job well--she loves to see how artists develop and grow and make classes come to life with potentia.
Published on May 20, 2011
by Joel Armstrong
You pause in front of the small canvas, only eleven by fifteen, and I can tell by your eyes that you actually see it. A dirty receipt crushed into the pavement. A crumpled fast-food wrapper, a soft drink can with the metal twisted, its red paint too vibrant. Cigarette butts and an apple core, the flesh browning. Do you like it?
Published on Sep 22, 2021
by Mark S Bailen
They had only gone out a few times when Herk showed up naked at her work. Liza was working the register at Food Basket when she heard the commotion. She followed her manager, Mr. Vanik, to frozen foods where a figure huddled behind a fogged-up freezer door. "Herk?" Liza asked. He peeked out. "You're naked." "I know." Mr. Vanik lifted his cellphone. "I'm calling the police." "Wait." Liza's face reddened. "I know him." Mr. Vanik was a bald man with rolled up sleeves. "Then get him out of here." He snapped his fingers and walked off. Rhonda from the deli brought over an apron for Herk to cover himself. Then Liza walked him to the parking lot. Their eyes met. "What are you doing here?" "Sorry." Herk's eyes were large. "One minute I was in my apartment eating a microwave dinner and then poof, I was at the grocery store. Naked." "Weird." "Right?" "Your butt's showing." Herk closed the apron. "Look, Liza. I'm not a creeper. And I'm not stalking you. I swear." Liza folded her arms and glanced around. She felt like everyone was staring. "Maybe we should take a break, Herk?" She lowered her eyes. "This is just too weird."
The next time Liza saw Herk was at the DMV. She hadn't remembered that he worked there until her ticket was called and she stepped to his window. He wore blue-framed glasses and a button-down polo. He actually looked kind of cute. She handed over her license. "Herk." "Liza." "Haven't seen you around Food Basket." He cringed. "No." "So tell me the truth. What happened that day?" He vacillated. "Well, it turns out I have a condition called teleportitis. I recently got a diagnosis. It's pretty rare." Herk handed back her license. "So you teleport? Out of the blue?" "Yeah." "What triggers it?" "No clue." Liza bit her lip. "Maybe I can help you figure it out?" She smiled. It wasn't like she loved the guy; she was just curious.
Two weeks later, they were regularly seeing each other. Liza even slept over at Herk's place. He never acted weird or embarrassing and she started feeling happy. Maybe she finally found a good boyfriend? Then Herk teleported again. "Your friend's here," said Rhonda. "The naked guy." "Oh, no." Liza ran across the store. Herk was back in frozen foods, sitting naked on the linoleum. Liza smiled. "You're early. We're supposed to meet at seven." "Funny." She bent down. "Teleportitis?" He nodded. "I was in my apartment cooking some pasta, thinking about you, and then poof." "Thinking about me?" An elderly couple with matching red sweatshirts poked their cart into the aisle. They gasped and retreated. "What were you thinking about?" "Nothing bad." Herk stood up. "Can you get me an apron? Chilly around here." "OK." After Herk left, Rhonda approached, chewing gum. "He's a keeper." "Really?" said Liza. "Sure. He's so, I don't know, vulnerable?" Rhonda blew a bubble. "That's what you want, right? Somebody vulnerable?"
In the following week, Herk teleported four times, always ending up in frozen foods. Each time Liza snuck him out the back before Mr. Vanik noticed. She started patrolling the aisle and keeping extra clothes in her trunk. At Herk's apartment, they replayed each incident, trying to learn the trigger. Herk always teleported in the middle of the day, from the kitchen, leaving a pile of clothes behind. And he always ended up in frozen foods. Their only conclusion was that he teleported when he thought about Liza. "What are you thinking about? Sex?" "No." "Then what?" "Nothing weird." He paced. "Just about when I'm gonna see you next. About how I'm looking forward to it." He raised his eyes. "Don't you think about me?" "Yeah, but." Liza sat at the kitchen table. She was afraid to tell Herk how much she thought about him, which was a lot. Instead she said, "Listen, Herk. It's sweet that you think about me. But you need to stop teleporting to Food Basket. It's embarrassing and I could lose my job. Or you could get in trouble. So, please. Stop." But a few days later, it happened again. This time Mr. Vanik was mopping one aisle over and called the police. Liza tried not to scream as Herk was handcuffed. "Sorry," he mouthed as he was dragged through the sliding doors. After Liza picked up Herk from the police station, they had a fight. "Everybody at work was laughing at me," she said. "They think I'm going out with a crazy person." "I can't help it." "Stop thinking about me." "I tried." She moaned. "Maybe you like me too much?" His voice cracked. "What are you saying?" "This is crazy." Liza turned. "I can't have a boyfriend who keeps showing up at my job naked. I just can't."
A week later, Liza wandered into frozen foods, searching for Herk. Her chest hurt and she wanted to cry. Why wasn't Herk thinking about her? Why did he stop teleporting? Had she been too mean? Liza wished she hadn't pushed him away. She grabbed her phone, but was afraid to say the wrong thing. If only she could explain to Herk how much she liked him. How much she thought about him. Liza froze. Maybe she could? During her lunch break, Liza drove to the DMV. She grabbed a ticket and stood in the back of the room. Liza's heart pounded when she saw Herk working busily behind the window. It was now or never. She took a deep breath, removed all her clothes, and waited for her number to be called.
Published on Jan 26, 2022
by Chris Bailey
The crew working the consoles in the orbiting spaceship were reporting their analyses of the new world below. "Gravity, E plus five per cent." "Atmosphere 21 per cent oxygen, 78 nitrogen, remainder inert gases." "Day 26 E-hours, year 400 E-days." "Only a slight axial tilt. Little seasonal variation. Temperate all year over most of the world." "Approximately sixty percent ocean." "Ten per cent of the land is desert, twelve is mountain, remainder is forest, grassland." "All the major phyla..." "Birds, animals, insects, fish--give us more time here, the system can't manage. It's all too much...." "No signs of cultivation, housing, roadways, any sort of infrastructure. Almost certainly there's no intelligent life...." Camera drones skimmed the surface of the new world and the crew could see sunlight glittering off serene rivers and tranquil lakes, and seas laced with silvery backs and blue fins; grasslands grazed by placid ruminants, and meadows bright with multi-colored blooms; soft breezes rustled the leaves of the trees and flocks of songbirds wheeled overhead in exuberant arabesques. "It's perfect!" No one disagreed. And the Captain spoke. "Recall the drones. Withdraw to standard operating distance. Arm the devices." Two hours later the planet glowed red with unnatural blooms.
In total, there were more than ten thousand such missions. Until finally it could be said, without contradiction, that Earth--broken, polluted, diseased--yes, that Earth was the galaxy's fairest world.
Published on Feb 24, 2022
by Robert Balentine, Jr.
The rooftop terrace where Anton awaited his lunch jutted precipitously out over the Vegas Strip. When viewed from the street below, this gave one the impression that the building was in a deep yaw to starboard. During the night, the dappled pink and purple neon lights overpowered the stars, but in the sun-soaked Nevada day, the neons were likewise swallowed by the churning fusion reactor some ninety-three million miles above. A million tourists were or would soon be awakening from their post-revelry slumber. Anton leaned back in his chair and sipped at a "Pomegranarita"--a phonetically clumsy portmanteau of a remarkably refreshing drink, once you got past the flotilla of tiny umbrellas in the glass. Anton pinched one of the mini parasols between his thumb and forefinger and spun it with a flick. It tumbled listlessly toward the ground, causing him to frown.
Published on Aug 28, 2020
by Elly Bangs
"This is no mere dream, Lorenzo!" shouted the gigantic purple octopus, splaying its many arms imperiously. "I have come to warn you!" It was an odd interruption to the standard naked-at work dream, Lorenzo thought, but he covered himself and decided to hear the octopus out. "Warn me about what?"
Published on Apr 1, 2019
by J.S. Bangs
Dearest Elizabeth, forgive me. The light is dim, and my hand trembles. The enemies of God have me under guard, but there is a maid who pities me. She brought me these instruments, and I pray she will take my letter to you when I have finished. You have heard many monstrous things about me. None of them are true. I will tell you the truth, from the beginning, though the story will be long. Please, believe me.
Published on Jul 11, 2014
by David Barber
Pauli Neutrino Telescope, Antarctica, 23.05 GMT, 22nd July. Particle-noir winds from Sattigarius blow through the superconductor array frozen deep under the Ross Ice Shelf, howling like ghosts in the machine.
Published on Jan 31, 2013
by A. J. Barr
***Editor's Warning: There is mature language in the story that follows*** It happened with annoying regularity, often enough to make it difficult to maintain a relationship.
Published on Jun 29, 2012
by Matthew W Baugh
The small grey man walked into Ben Murphy's office and stared at him with enormous black eyes. Ben had seen a lot during his fifteen years as Sheriff of Chaves County, but nothing like this naked, spindly-limbed, huge-headed critter. For that matter, he couldn't rightly say whether the thing was a man or not, despite the lack of pants. Still, Ben knew the value of remaining calm and helpful, whatever the situation. "Can I help you?" he asked.
Published on Dec 5, 2011
by James Beamon
Twenty-two years from now, on a bright day in a dim room, your husband will utter his last words. He will tell you he is sorry for the time he squandered chasing fruitless theories, time made precious to him now by the power of hindsight. "You were my greatest discovery," he will say. The two of you will spend the nine years prior to his end on a new beginning, one free of his long nights tinkering in the lab and obsessing over notes. He will be yours for the duration of long walks through blossoming gardens, sunny days that do not cloud over save for those rare moments where he will stare unfocused, his poor, brilliant mind a million miles away as it tries to discover where his science failed.
Published on Apr 1, 2013
by Anatoly Belilovsky
My body remembers what I cannot. My hands move to the sides, legs move apart, knees bend.
Published on Oct 22, 2012
by Anatoly Belilovsky
Swear to God, that's what the sign said: Quantum Mechanics. A faded, peeling sign on a rickety garage on a weed-choked lot. I looked out the window from the little Mexican taqueria across the street, and it still said: "Quantum Mechanics." Damn misleading. "What's misleading?" the cook asked without turning.
Published on May 12, 2014
by Anatoly Belilovsky
"I love your hands," she says. Her date lifts their hand from where it covers hers on the tablecloth between them, stares at it briefly. "Funny you should say that. No one ever noticed my hands before." They lower their hand, squeeze hers briefly. "I am a pilot; I guess I need good hands."
Published on Dec 18, 2018
by M. Bennardo
Nobody ever asked me the secret to survival. You didn't ask either, but I'll tell you anyway. It's cowardice, O-hana, so that's how we'll survive. You and I and all the others in our cave--with a million tiny acts of cowardice.
Published on May 27, 2014
by Hilary Rose Berwick
The cages had always been in the back of the classroom, but Katie A. still didn't like thinking about them. She did her best learning when the back-of-the-classroom cages were a sort of buzzy blur at the corner of her eyesight. Otherwise her tummy hurt. Focus on the whiteboard, not on the cages or the kids in them.
Published on May 19, 2020
by Dawn Bonanno
Hachi Station was jumping for a Restday Eve. Marina had enough of the crowd and headed for the door when a man showed up in an illegal purple haze, leaving Marina in a coughing fit for inhaling the dust. "Hey!" The last thing she wanted to do was get any closer to the newcomer, but apparently he didn't check the rules before landing. Someone needed to set him straight, and since most of the patrons were hybrids with gill flaps over their intakes and submerged in the various hot pools, none of them were going to bother. It was bad enough she was a landwalker in a bar full of hybrids, she also happened to be a veteran auditor and compulsive rule upholder. She really should have stayed in tonight.
Published on Jun 10, 2014
by Dawn Bonanno
After the bombs rained like fire and the riots faded, my daughter and I found ourselves alone in her room, our home surrounded by silence so deep it gouged my soul. The grandfather clock downstairs chimed once an hour, and rattled too, the cracked glass panel vibrating with the chimes. In the silence between chimes, Cara's heart beat too quietly, too slow, and out of sync. Cara squeezed my arm, her breath labored and her face pale, like the ghost she was in danger of becoming. "Mama, am I dying?"
Published on Nov 4, 2014
by Ken Brady
She doesn't know you can't have both a rebel starfighter and a colonial interceptor dogfight in the same tattoo. The pair of ships that streak up the outside of her left calf and all the way around to the inside of her thigh is a travesty, though you have to admit it's dead sexy. Like her green skin, it got your attention.
Published on Mar 31, 2017
by Jack K Bragen
BODY FOR SALE, LEASE OR TRADE: Must have transaction soon!!! This male specimen is a bargain! Owner threatened with foreclosure. Male, 33 years, fully intact, 145 I.Q., with numerous apps and utilities. Height, 5'11. Weight, 220 Lb, 34" waist and 44" chest, with toned and developed skeletal muscle. Has minor kidney issue. Tele calls only, please--no electronic solicitations.
Published on Aug 22, 2017
by Mark Budman
Volo's house stands at the very end of a dead-end street. No one comes over except for the postwoman and Amazon delivery, but they leave as soon as they can. Even the neighborhood kids avoid the house.

And if someone does come, once or twice a year, no one sees them leaving. Volo plays chess when he doesn't work, and he works rarely. The pieces and the board are Italian marble, and his thick finger caresses each piece before lowering it on the board. He hates winning because it would upset his opponent. He hates losing because it would upset him. So, he plays against himself, and it's always a draw.

He puts away the board after yet another aggressive but fruitless game. One day, he will play against someone called Non Volunt from a civilization in the galaxy far, far away. People over there are so psychologically and morally advanced, they understand it's not the results that matter, but interaction between the gamers that makes the game possible. He will learn to understand that as well.

That's how peace starts. With mutual understanding.

Once that happens, Volo'll stop killing visitors.
Published on Apr 21, 2022
by Sam Cameron-McKee
Published on Sep 2, 2019
by Sam Cameron-McKee
Published on Sep 3, 2019
by Sam Cameron-McKee
Published on Sep 4, 2019
by Sam Cameron-McKee
Published on Sep 5, 2019
by Jennifer Campbell-Hicks
"I wouldn't open that door if I were you." Kitty stopped with her hand on the knob.
Published on Jul 30, 2014
by Arasibo Campeche
Unlike sex, you're probably going to enjoy the first part of this transmission more than the very end. I know you'll remember that when you find out what sex is. For now, I just meant to hook your attention. If you're opening your eyes, it means I have been killed. Company policy states that the exact nature of my death cannot be downloaded from my Circuito Mater. This is done to prevent biases in how future agents conduct their duty. You don't know it yet, but you won't want to die.
Published on Jan 3, 2017
by A.G. Carpenter
He can't be more than fourteen. Couldn't have been, my mind corrects. Now he's dead in the sunburned street, a sticky sweet puddle of blood growing larger with every second.
Published on Mar 9, 2012
by Matthew Castleman
We reach town limits. Through a purpled, misshapen stand of elm, a sign pokes up, crinkled and black at the edges: Thompson's Creek. Pop 3,000. It's gone now.
Published on Jul 16, 2018
by Beth Cato
Thezotherzgirlszatzcamp had warned Colleen about what to look for, how her family would try to save her when she came home. Sure enough, through the fluff of the bedside rug, her toe traced hardness the size of an old credit card. A remote weight sensor. Hot anger seared through her chest. She hadn't even been home for two hours. She hadn't had a chance to betray Mom's trust, to break that stupid promise the camp made her sign before leaving: "Weight has nothing to do with beauty. I promise to be healthy, and in my health, be beautiful." When Colleen was little, she used to say she'd be an actress when she grew up. She put on the best performance of her life as she signed that paper--real pulp paper--and thanked all the doctors and cabin moms. With every step, she had felt her thighs rub, and she shivered in revulsion. The clatter of dishes carried through the walls along with Mom's wavering singing voice. Colleen grimaced. Mom said she'd had anorexia as a teenager, too, that she knew how it was. Bull crap. Mom didn't know--she couldn't know. She'd weighed about 180 as long as Colleen could remember, and never made any attempt to exercise or look better. Like she was happy or something. 180. Colleen weighed half that when she arrived at camp. She looked around the room and wondered what else was hidden there. Cameras? A music player that'd recite affirmations during the night? Chemical scanners in the toilet, to make sure she wasn't bulimic as well? Mom thought she was so smart, but Colleen already had a plan. The contents of her suitcase scattered around the room like the aftermath of a tornado. She dug in a pouch and found her contacts cases. The blue case held a prescription for her sight. The white one, she'd bought from another girl. For the money, Colleen had straight up thieved from a tip jar during one of the campers' outings into town. Thinking of it made her empty stomach twitch. Once she picked up a new part-time job, she'd mail that coffee shop a wad of cash. "Colleen!" Mom's voice pierced the wall. "Supper!" Colleen dashed to her dresser to switch out contacts. Everything was blurrier with the new contacts in; she'd need to be careful not to trip or try to read at a distance. She headed towards the door and at the last second remembered the relay. She found the dime-sized disc in her pouch and tucked it deep inside a pocket. The contacts wouldn't be any good without accessible data. Candles illuminated the dining room. Seriously? Was this supposed to be romantic or something? "Hi, kiddo." Mom carried in a steaming platter. It had that particular nutty smell of health food. In the dim light, Colleen squinted to see what it was--quinoa, mixed with bits of broccoli. Through the contacts, sharp white numbers flared into existence over the platter--estimated nutritional values broken down by calories, fat, the whole bit. Colleen bit her lip to conceal a grin. It worked! The data chip was supposed to carry a million food visuals to cross-reference with reality. It was the same tech the government used to scan for criminals in public places. Sure, the accuracy might be off-kilter sometimes, but this would grant her a necessary edge. "I have salmon--baked, of course--and rolls." Mom set down more dishes and motioned to them like a game show hostess. Something was missing from Mom's face. Colleen leaned forward to see better and realized Mom's headset was missing from her brow. Weird. That thing was practically glued to her skin. Mom continued, "Your favorite dessert's in the fridge, too. Strawberry cheesecake!" Colleen's mouth watered at the thought. She clenched and unclenched her hands. The numbers sobered her. She swallowed the saliva. No way could she have dessert, not unless she took up bulimia--and she hated throwing up. "That's great, Mom," she said, her voice tight. She sat down. The clock was missing on the opposite wall. Probably so she didn't count the minutes she suffered through this. "I know this isn't easy for you, kiddo," said Mom. Colleen grimaced. Great, here was the lecture. "I know you're not trying to kill yourself, but you had a close call." Her voice cracked. "I know how it goes. It's hard. It's a battle every day, every meal." Colleen managed a smile. "Yeah." Mom tapped her wrist. The numbers vanished from the food. Colleen gasped. "There are cheats out there," Mom murmured. "If you tried to use one, it's dead now." Colleen blinked frantically, as if she could turn the contacts on again. "I just used a localized electromagnetic pulse. It's confined to this table. This way you can eat without data streams or whatever." Rage almost caused Colleen to lurch to her feet, to scream. How could Mom take away the numbers? Tears filled her eyes. She froze in place, knowing that if she moved, her stoicism would shatter. In a few steps, Mom was there, her arms braced against Colleen's shoulders. She wanted to shove Mom away but she couldn't. "You don't have to eat much," Mom whispered. "Just eat. Every trick you try, I'll find a way around it. I know it's hard. I know, but I will fight to keep you alive." For the first time, Colleen believed her, but instead of feeling angry, she felt empty. Dinner smelled divine, but everything was blurry in her sight, as if there was no food at all.
Published on Mar 17, 2014
by John Caulkins
"I'm leaving." Derek had already filled his old college knapsack with the odds and ends he wished to keep. A few shirts, paperback books, his thermos for the gym. A string of five black and white pictures printed from a photo booth in New Orleans. Everything else could stay. Peter was in the kitchen making dinner. "Where are you heading, sweetheart? Supper will be ready in an hour."
Published on Mar 11, 2020
by Seth Chambers
For sale: spacesuit. Small leak. Worn once. Cheap.
Published on Dec 17, 2015
by J. Chant
He cleared his throat, a thunderclap in the silence. "Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank you for indulging an elderly man, and express my gratitude that so many have attended. To those watching from all over our planet, I hope humanity can share this moment. That is why, instead of publishing in a journal where only a fraction will read and understand this breakthrough, I have chosen this unusual method of communicating a scientific discovery."
Published on Sep 20, 2010
by Nicola Chapman
She pushed her way impatiently through the throngs of gormless travelers choking the spaceport, desperation beading on her brow. She could feel her heart pumping in her chest, getting faster and faster as the panic set in. Panic that she wouldn't make it. Panic that she would miss him. That he would get on that ship and blast off into space, never to return. She thought back to their last meeting--the sadness in his eyes when she refused to speak to him, the regret written in the wrinkles on his brow. His whispered, "I'm sorry," whipped away by the wind before it could reach her ears properly.
Published on Jan 16, 2020
by P. Djeli Clark
I remember the day my father died. I imagined I could see him smiling down at me, as he soared high above. For a brief moment he had flown, just as he'd said he would--like Daedalus on wings of silver. Then suddenly it had all ended and he'd gone falling to earth, plummeting and spinning like a broken bird. I'd watched it all because as my mother screamed, she'd forgotten to shield my eyes. Daddy was a tinkerer, that's what mother used to call him. He was a welder by trade, and I remembered him coming home in the afternoons, dungaree overalls and jacket smelling of sweat and soot. But in his spare time he did love to tinker, to talk about machines and the way things worked. I was amazed at how he could take things apart and then rebuild them--knowing where every cog, washer, and screw went back with ease. He could talk about Jules Vernes and da Vinci for hours. And he made sure I knew about Elijah McCoy, the black inventor whose picture he kept in his garage. That was where Daddy made his inventions, odd contraptions he'd fashioned out of old appliances and parts he'd scoured from junk heaps. Most of them didn't work. A few sputtered and died or even blew up right in front of us. But that never stopped him. He kept going through his few successes and many failures.
Published on Apr 5, 2011
by Mark Cole
"How about this: they only think they've been kidnapped by aliens. They wake up in their beds and realize they dreamed it all." "Been done." the Director said without much interest, letting a long slow plume of smoke escape from his lips.
Published on Dec 31, 2015
by Tina Connolly and Caroline M. Yoachim
Heads. Most people wouldn't decide to ship out to the colonies on a coin flip, but we're not most people, right babe? When they said you wouldn't come out of the coma I had the medical team transmute your consciousness into a gold coin. The head is your lovely face; the "tail" on the back is a double helix segment of your DNA. You're in my pocket forever, my lucky piece. You know how we used to fight--no, not really fight... love fights, little kitten tussles--about who got to make the decisions? Well now it's all you. I flip the coin, you decide what we do. You are still in there, aren't you? Heads. I'll upload my consciousness to the shipboard computer, and put my body in stasis. Your coin will remain safely in my pocket, keeping my body company for a trip that will take decades for you but only an instant for my uploaded mind. You know me so well, babe. You know I desperately want to see the colony itself, and not languish for decades on a stinking colony ship, only to die en route or arrive too old to enjoy our new life. I hear it's like the Wild West out there. Cash for the taking, if a man is bold enough to stake it. I hear you saying reckless, but you're wrong. Not reckless. Brave.
Published on Feb 17, 2015
by Katie Conrad
Jacob rubbed his eyes as he stumbled down the stairs. It had been a long time since he'd been woken by a late-night fire alarm and he didn't appreciate it. He'd barely had time to shove his feet into his shoes, pull on a hoodie, and slip his phone into his pocket before he joined the crowd trudging down from the twelfth floor of the building. People around him murmured to each other, but he walked in grumpy silence. It was always so hard to get back to sleep once he'd woken up. He wondered how long he would spend tossing and turning when he finally got back to bed. Out in the parking lot, the crowd was bigger than he expected. It was summer and the air was still warm despite the hour. He almost regretted the hoodie. He tried to find somewhere to sit or lean, but there was nowhere to stop. The crowd kept moving farther away from the building. Someone at the back was urging them on. The nearby apartments were being evacuated too. There were a lot of people milling around. The air smelled of exhaust and hot pavement as their group was pushed farther from the buildings. He didn't smell any smoke. He wondered why so many buildings were being evacuated if there was no fire. He glanced back. His building was almost out of sight. One more turn and it was gone. They were being herded toward the plaza in the middle of town, where enormous shapes lurked under blazing lights from the sky above. In the sudden glare he saw that the whole city had been gathered. Every street was clogged with people, and out in the square they were being organized into lines and corralled toward the massive structures. It was a dream. It had to be. But the harsh lights and the growing concern of those around him felt too real. A young woman behind him was crying. Somewhere up ahead a man was screaming. And there, half a block in front of him, was a familiar face. "Hey," he said to the guy beside him, "isn't that Darren McBain?" "Huh?" The man looked where he was pointing. "Yeah, I guess. I don't know." "It is. I'm sure it is. Darren! Hey, Darren!" People around him turned to stare, but not Darren McBain. Jacob pushed his way through the crowd, eager to catch up before he lost sight of his target. "Darren! Darren, hey!" he yelled as he wove between the people, making for the broad-shouldered figure ahead of him. People were staring at him, but he couldn't let an opportunity like this pass. He was almost at the square by the time he caught up. "Darren McBain! I knew it was you. Hey man, I'm Jacob. Sorry to bother you like this but I'm such a big fan I just had to meet you." The man finally turned to look at him. He was even taller in person than he looked on TV. It was one thing to know your favorite quarterback was 6'5"; it was another thing altogether to have him towering over you. "Are you for real right now?" Darren blinked down at him as they were corralled into one of the line-ups in the plaza. "Absolutely! Sorry, I know it's the middle of the night and you probably just woke up or whatever but I just had to say hi." The football player stared at him in silence for a long moment before shaking his head. "Alright dude, sure. Hi. Nice to meet you." He extended a hand and Jacob shook it. Darren's massive palm easily dwarfed his own slim fingers. "Thanks so much for taking the time. Really." "It's not like I've got anything better to do, I guess." Darren spread his hands to encompass the scene around them. "Looks like we're going to be in line for a while." Jacob glanced ahead. There were a few people before them in the line, but not that many. Shit. He'd better talk fast. "Look, since I've got you here, I just wanted to say how much I admire you. Your story is so inspiring and I've always looked up to you. I'll never forget when you first came here and helped the team turn things around. I was having a rough year and watching football was the only thing that kept me going. Having the games to look forward to and seeing the team really come together and step it up that year showed me that I could do the same thing. I finally started getting help for my depression and working toward my dreams. I can't tell you how grateful I am." Darren's face had softened a little as he spoke. "Hey man, I'm glad to hear that. It's always a pleasure to meet a fan, and if I helped you out in some small way, that's the stuff that inspires me to keep playing." "It's such an honor to meet you. Any chance we could get a selfie?" They were almost to the front of the line now, and he knew he didn't have much time left before they got herded onto the waiting ship. "Uh, I mean, sure. Why not?" Darren shrugged. Jacob held his phone out in front of them and Darren graciously crouched a little so they could both fit into the frame. He snapped the photo. And then they were at the front of the line. Darren was pulled away to be branded and cuffed. Jacob kept his phone out, staring at the picture and smiling like a fool, until the aliens knocked it from his hands and herded him onto their ship.
Published on Mar 1, 2022
by Aaron DaMommio
Really, Harry shouldn't have been surprised. It was one of the most common death predictions. Still, they said no matter what your verdict, it was hard, seeing it in print. So yeah, it bothered him when the machine spit out his: a little slip of paper, like you'd find in a fortune cookie, with three words: Collision with car. Oh, it certainly could have been worse. It could have been something slow and lingering, like AIDS (he hadn't exactly been careful), or tawdry like Beaten to death by ex-wife. That wouldn't have surprised him either--she blamed him for everything. He was a handsome guy. He was supposed to resist every woman that threw herself at him?
Published on Nov 27, 2018
by Jonas David
They came to a stop. Bismuth helped him out of the car. His leg sent him a spike of pain as he stepped onto the grass. They walked through the crowd toward the white door, the people parting to let him through. Cobalt saw his classmates and friends; some smiled and nodded at him, some looked away whispering. All looked nervous. They reached the door and Bismuth opened it. "A new Citizen will exit from this room." Cobalt stepped through the doorway and it latched shut behind him.
Published on Jun 12, 2012
by David Aaron Davis
I was 13 years old when the wormholes started appearing in front of the faithful. At the time nobody knew what was causing them wormholes to appear, or where they led to. Most scientists were at a loss as to how to explain how spontaneous rips in space and time would appear in front of specific people and wait patiently for them to step beyond the breach. Some people were convinced by the scientists to let them test their wormholes, but inevitably the wormhole would collapse the moment someone other than their recipient approached. Hours later the wormhole would return, again prepared for its chosen passenger. Even attempts to have the wormhole's designated person run tests would fail, as though the wormholes knew what was going on.
Published on Jul 18, 2019
by Lee Frazier Davis
How is it legal to serve these things in bars? They should be served in hospitals, or at least laboratories; somewhere where close observation is possible, where quantum phenomena happen. But of course, quantum phenomena happen everywhere--that's the whole point. And no fatalities, or even accidents, have ever been reported. So I skipped the scotch and soda this time. Ordered the Cube. It quivers on its little plate, lights shimmying in its blue, translucent facets. I've read the science--and the poetry, for that matter--but I don't understand any of it. Some infinitesimal particle retrieved from a black hole; some probability-fairy rolling a very specific set of dice; an infinitely branching multiverse; a crystal structure with too many sides and the wrong number of dimensions. The proof, so they say, that God has a sense of humor--now available at your local watering hole for less than the top-shelf vodka.
Published on Nov 11, 2020
by Kat Day
John and I bought Katie a domino run for her eighth birthday. She and I spent all morning setting it up, lines of colored tiles all around the house. When it was done we held hands and tapped the first one, and watched as they began to topple.
Published on Nov 13, 2017
by Austin DeMarco
Here at Qupid Enterprises, we want all of our clients to get the most out of their Quantum Speed Dating experience. Below are some helpful tips and tricks to get you started.
Published on Jul 4, 2016
by Austin DeMarco
"You know what they say about the universe?" Mary sits on the edge of my bed, stares out the window. "What?"
Published on Dec 20, 2016
by Davyne DeSye
The two-year-old in the corner clutches her collection of candy wrappers and odd papers to herself as if they were dragon's horde. The stripped vault I've closed us in--me and twenty-seven children--shudders once, twice, and the already dim lighting wanes; the two-year-old looks briefly up toward the lights set around the edges of the metal ceiling, but is far more interested in the crinkling sound of her treasures. We've been in the vault too long. The sealed room smells of a day's worth of urine and worse. Resilient, adaptable, none of the children cry out at this latest attack. The wispy hair that frames the two-year-old's face seems to glow even in the low light, and I find myself wondering if all two-year-olds look as cherubic. Not that I really care.
Published on Mar 26, 2013
by K.S. Dearsley
"Sebastian, come look!" Madeleine called her brother to come and see what she had found. It was not the first time. "Not now, Maddy. Pitches'll sack me if I'm late again." Sebastian pulled on the palm guards he had made from a tire. They protected his hands and helped him grip the sharp edges of the metal drums he spent his days fashioning into walls and roofs. It had been a great find. As well as the palm guards he had been able to put new soles on their sandals and make Maddy pads for her shins and elbows. She was always picking up scrapes and bruises gleaning with the other scavs who were too young or too old for other work.
Published on Dec 26, 2012
by Anela Deen
She dashed into the station, elbowing through the press of travelers that choked the main concourse. A glance at the departure display told her his transport would embark in another minute. Her heart thundered in her chest as she raced to the platform. He never liked to board until the last moment. He might still be there. She'd been a fool to let him go yesterday, but she'd been afraid. Not anymore. The certainty she'd never see him again had clinched the decision in her heart. She couldn't let him leave like this. She'd never forgive herself.
Published on Apr 26, 2018
by Sean Dornan-Fish
I was in the middle of a scathing response when there was a knock at the door. I kept typing but the knocking turned into pounding. I typed faster and hit enter. I heard a muffled ding
Published on Oct 26, 2017
by James S. Dorr
She had always been somewhat pale in complexion. But now, as she stood before me in moonlight outside my front door, she seemed positively without color at all. I do not mean her lips, of course. Drusilla's lips have always been a deep, blood red. Some say she does not even need to use lipstick. And her hair, dark chestnut, which some say she dyes, reflects as well as much a notion of violence and death as it does of healthy life.
Published on Aug 9, 2011
by Nicky Drayden
Fina kept her aim steady. This would be the eighth time she'd watched Neil die--his face contorting in agony under the blue-white haze of the Abbey's limelight. The tight zoom of her camera caught every detail, including the wrinkles in the fabric backdrop bearing meticulously painted palm trees, the tufts of batting peaking from sloppy seams on the prop horses, and even the tremble of her husband's hands as theatrical blood dripped from the wound in his abdomen. Neil's death scene wasn't supposed to go on for this long. Fina tensed as the unnerving sound of seams ripping whispered all around her. She worried that there wouldn't be enough time to capture the end of the play. Her entire project would be ruined.
Published on Dec 14, 2011
by Jakob Drud
There is a monster under my bed. I know because it followed me home from school. I could call for help, but I'm afraid what Dad will do. He was so mad about my suspension. He never hits me, but even when he was through with his 'Jason-dammit', he kept shouting at the TV.
Published on May 16, 2012
by Em Dupre
Keep me safe, keep me safe, keep me safe, you say over and over and over again. It races through your mind on a single track, like a runaway train of fear, gathering momentum while careening on an ever-downward slope. It is not as if you want to be here, thrust into the controlled chaos of the Big Bad City with its noisy cars and mobs of temporary people. Dislikes aside, you need to eat, need to work, need to survive all on your meager single girl budget. This is a far cry from Grover's Corners indeed, where heliotrope perfumes the air and not the dried urine of bums. Even your Sentinel is an expense you scrimp to afford. And the clean-shaven salesman with the borrowed suit was so earnest about the tragic tales of a friend of a friend who, parroting the recycled stories that never lead back to anyone real. He recommended the Sentinel and you pretended to consider the option. Fantasy or otherwise, the singular threat lives and breathes, skulking around corners and lurking just out of reach of the feeble light from the mocking streetlamps.
Published on Dec 24, 2013
by Nicky Drayden
I stare at my sleek, new veggie spiralizer with disdain. It's a simple contraption--dual funnels attached at the narrow ends, with severely sharp blades tucked inside, promising to turn any vegetable into long strings of gluten-free goodness. But I don't care how much meat sauce I dump on it, there's no way zucchini noodles will satisfy me like the hearty chew of durum wheat spaghetti. Effin' Paleo diet.
Published on Jan 14, 2016
by Andrew James Dykstal
There's blood in the sink. She coughs again, and now there's a tiny brass gear. I hold her hair back, remembering ill-spent Friday nights. "It's a secret," she says. Her lips and tongue are red. "It has to be."
Published on Nov 30, 2018
by Shannon Fay
Just five more minutes, Lani thought, her eyes closed tight even as the pre-dawn mist traced her cheek. As soon as she opened her eyes the day would begin. The mists would consolidate into matter from which life might emerge. It made for an interesting morning: Lani always giggled as she watched the single-cell organisms flip-flop their way into more complex states of being. The universe was always so cute at that age. Her favorite part of the day was right after lunch, when there was a flourishing of biodiversity and activity. But then came the decline. Suns burning out, planets dying, whole branches of evolution being cut off. Sometimes Lani didn't bother to watch and took a nap instead.
Published on Jul 2, 2020
by Pamela Ferguson
"Hello?" Maxim tapped his thumb on the keyboard, "Hi, can I be put through to customer service?" he shivered--without power the temperature had dropped ten degrees. He couldn't even boil the kettle for a cup of coffee or make breakfast for the children. Oh crap, they are going to go nuts when the batteries drain on their tablets. Maxim checked his own phone, 76%. That should last him a while. "Hello, yes my power is out." He waited for the automated response.
Published on Oct 17, 2016
by L.C. Finkelstein
They were going to drill down miles and miles through the icy fortress, a monumental stratigraphy that protected the proposed ocean below from the irradiated surface above. Below this unlivable surface, the scientists thought there must be life. The ice layers could theoretically protect life from the most terrible radiation imaginable.

The ice on the surface was scarred a deep red, as if itself were bleeding red from radiation poisoning. The thought was absurd--ice couldn’t bleed--but those at the Agency couldn’t explain it through any scientific approach, so they had decided to choose a poetic one.
Published on May 16, 2022
by Vanessa Fogg
I've missed you. Every Astran orbit, I make the light-years' journey back to see you. I file the paperwork, rearrange my schedule, pack, and bring my children with me. We endure the cold of hyperspace, the lingering headache and nausea. And now we're standing on your doorstep, in the cool Earth spring.
Published on May 25, 2018
by Rock Forsberg
Ken took a deep breath and turned his craft to face the looming black octahedron. Telling someone not to think about dinosaurs is the surest way for them to think about dinosaurs. The diverse group of reptiles once ruled the Earth. Massive creatures unlike anything before them or anything after them, they controlled the land, the sea, and the air. Until something happened. The dinosaurs went extinct in a blink of a pulsar. Almost all life on Earth died. But a few survived. The strong ones. Like cockroaches. In time, from those survivors grew multiple species, including a certain type of ape, Homo sapiens. A feeble race, they developed qualities--opposable thumbs, social skills, big brains--that, in a few blinks of a pulsar, made them the mightiest race on the planet. By collaborating and creating machines, Homo sapiens conquered the planet: they created tracks and roads to travel the land, ships to sail the seas, and planes to roam the skies. Homo sapiens developed space flight. Dinosaurs had nothing like that. Homo sapiens applied science, and with science they studied the universe. They even surveyed events that had taken place millions of years before the first Homo sapiens was born. They found out that a nuclear winter, a result of a meteor strike, had killed the dinosaurs. But they were wrong. It had been the Dracoh. Now, Ken thought of dinosaurs as he stared at the massive octahedron in front of him. Less than twenty-four hours ago, the conqueror species Dracoh had destroyed his home planet Earth, and along with it, almost everything Ken's kin, Homo sapiens, had ever accomplished. A few droplets remained: a handful of space stations, three long-distance spaceships, and a dozen outposts on Mars. The outposts on Luna went out with Earth. And without interplanetary trade, Mars wouldn't hold for long. He didn't want to think about it. As he stared at the black octahedron, Ken wondered if he was a dinosaur, or if he was a cockroach. Would Homo sapiens prevail against the Dracoh, or would they perish like the dinosaurs? With his captain's order, he maxed out the thrust of his engines, and readied his weapons. Don't think about dinosaurs.
Published on Feb 14, 2022
by Robert Douglas Friedman
This course will explore the history, strategy, status, goals, and objectives of the current intergalactic conflict. Each topic is briefly explained in the following course summary.
Published on Jun 8, 2020
by Amy Greschaw
"Happy Birthday, Elspeth!" She's just come back to her office to drop off a stack of papers to grade, and Luisa's greeting has interrupted her departure. Right away, the words are wrong: the "happy" and the "birthday" too cheerful, and the name too formal. Everyone calls her Elle, and Luisa of all people should know that this is a birthday she is loath to acknowledge. As far as Elle is concerned, all important people achieve success before they turn 30, and one year closer to her deadline is nothing to celebrate.
Published on Apr 12, 2012
by Melanie Harding-Shaw
Sarah glanced up at the TV above the bar and saw a red "breaking news" banner appear at the bottom of the screen. She called out to the bartender to turn it up. The head of the Security Council was holding a press conference. "Today, we have learned of the greatest threat humanity has ever faced...."
Published on Apr 23, 2019
by Michael Haynes
Gerard sat in the awkward waiting-room chair, bouncing his right leg up and down. The door from the scanning room opened and Emily walked out. She gave him a smile, but he saw it didn't reach her eyes. She hurried across the room and sat in the chair beside him. A moment later, she set her hand on his knee. He stopped bouncing his leg.
Published on May 7, 2014
by Jeff Hecht
He held it as delicately as an injured bird. "This is very old," he said, turning it over and looking at the stamp pasted on the old Aerogramme. "The postmark is smudged, but the year looks like 1989. I see no date on the letter. Where did you find it?"
Published on Sep 1, 2010
by Libby Heily
"I will not calm down," I tell the MTA worker, pressing my finger against the glass partition. Her eyelids are still half-mast and she hasn't raised her chin from her hand. "How do you plan to get him back?" She lets out a sigh and rolls her eyes. Her chair squeaks as she swivels around. She's turning her back on me. I'm about to raise my voice when I see her grab a pamphlet. When she turns to face me again, my jaw clinches.
Published on Feb 7, 2019
by Sylvia Anna Hiven
Some of the bodies, a corpse runner ain't ever gonna return home. It's not that I don't got compassion at the sight of the dead soldiers in the ditches. Honestly, I don't give a damn if they've got a leg blown off by the sonic cannons, even if it's gonna drip blood all over my wagon. It won't even matter if they got on the gold uniform of the West, or the crimson one from the East, because I make corpse runs both ways. All that matters is if the identification chip is still readable, and beneath that uniform, be it gold trimmed or crimson lined, is there a tin locket around their necks.
Published on Jun 19, 2015
by C.L. Holland
On the observation deck of the terraforming ship Lifebringer, Commander Therro watches the surface of the planet below burn on the screens before him. Flames writhe and smoke boils, and sometimes he catches a glimpse of tall, thin figures moving through the destruction without concern. They're the cause of it, after all. He flicks a switch to change his view. Abruptly, he sees one of the twenty-foot tall humanoids walking stiff-legged across the screen. This one is apparently female, breasts and hips are visible beneath the thin blue fabric that shrouds her, although having seen the creatures in the flesh she's too towering and sinewy for him to think of her as a "her."
Published on Oct 11, 2012
by Amanda Hollander
Fay had expected many different emotions in the wake of the aliens arriving, but she had not anticipated the ennui. Four months in and she wanted to don a black turtleneck, cram a beret on her head, and brood at an outdoor café with a glass of wine in one hand and a baguette in the other. Her boyfriend, who was French, found this equal parts amusing and offensive. They had embraced the usual cliches in the wake of the arrival: fixated gazes on screens as the same five clips of the ships were shown on repeat; frantic lovemaking; panicked stocking of picked-over dried goods; and a bold acceptance of the end, reconfigured by Antoine as liberte, egalite, mortalite. Wine was drunk and toasts were given. Fay ate the last of their chocolate without sharing and Antoine refused to speak to her for three days, which she felt was fair.
Published on Oct 18, 2020
by D.K. Holmberg
Lacey hunkered behind the thick oak tree, the thin fabric of her nightgown not enough to protect her from the scratchy bark. Strange green lights flickered distantly, sweeping over the yard. No fair, she thought. Jason hadn't told her they were using lights tonight; just covered her mouth when the booming thunder woke her up and told her to hide. She didn't dare move or it would give away her position. They played this often enough in the dark for her to know how to win. Whenever Jason was seeker, he always found her, like he knew just where she planned on hiding. Tonight would be different.
Published on Jan 2, 2014
by M.K. Hutchins
I met Ernest inside the Museum of Holographic Art, in the Bio-Interfacing wing. He gave me a peck on the cheek. I squeezed his hand. "How'd your appointment go this morning?" he asked.
Published on Jun 23, 2016
by Michael Jaoui
She only had one photo on her profile, and it was blurry. I don't usually go on dates with people who hide their face, online dating being what it is. It's not that I was afraid she'd be unsightly--it's that she was hiding something, and I don't like mysteries. But I took a chance and met her for coffee. When I got to the cafe, I saw her sitting there with a cup of coffee jittering in her hand. It shook like it was her tenth cup of the day. And she was still blurry. I sat down and made small talk. I rubbed my eyes. I blinked. I wondered if I was going blind.
Published on Mar 15, 2016
by James Jensen
It turned out that Man was the real monster all along. Jump back to the beginning of recorded history, Y/N?
Published on May 3, 2018
by Matthew Johnson
Four stars Dinner for two $120-160 with wine, tax and tip
Published on Sep 27, 2010
by Tom Jolly
David Berger looked up from his book when his son Carl walked into the room. Carl flopped down on the couch next to his father and instead of reaching for the TV controller, he just frowned, as though he was thinking hard about something. “What’s up, son?” David asked.
Published on Jan 8, 2021
by Christopher Kastensmidt
"Excuse me," said the man sitting beside me at the bar. "Yes?" I replied.
Published on Nov 7, 2011
by Andrew Kaye
After years of controversial experimentation, Dr. Abram Winthrop successfully manipulated the building blocks of human life. The process started in a petri dish, grew too big, moved to a test tube. The test tubes got progressively larger, and from then on it was incubators and operating tables with leather straps and buckles the size of a childs hand. Dr. Winthrop and his assistant gave the artificial human a dose of accelerant five times a day. And vitamins, because vitamins were important. Every night before they closed the lab, Dr. Winthrop and his assistant took a tissue culture to make sure the skin was growing properly. It always was. The assistant made a note of it.
Published on Nov 30, 2010
by Cassandra Khaw
They asked me where was home and I told them it was the space between your arms and the longitude of your spine, every vertebra mapped and memorized, more familiar even that the star maps that they'd engraved into the whorls of my brain and the whirl of my pulse. Home, I tell them, is the way you cup my neck and the way you kiss my cheek, the fit of your hips and my name on your lips. Home is you and only you, can only be you, although galaxies might line themselves like arguments between us. The officials--effulgent colors, scarcely corporeal--confer in flashes of iridescence. Was it red for amenability, and turquoise for indecision? Or pustulant green for comprehension? They stutter between pigments and I pin my breath to the firmament of my ribs. Melody sluices from their translation boxes. I catch words out of order: dissent, despair, distrust.
Published on May 8, 2017
by Floris M. Kleijne
'Stroid security was supposed to be easy work. A prelude to retirement. Slow and safe. A balm for my old bones. I duck a double-blast that shatters the rock above me, grabbing a fist-sized outcropping to counter the spin my sudden movement threw me in. "Fuck!" Below Micha's voice on our private channel, I hear a hiss that can't bode well. "Rock fragment nicked my suit."
Published on Mar 17, 2021
by Gary Kloster
***Editor's Note: Adult story, sexual situations*** On our last night, I led Maia through my cities, one after another, until we reached the last, the saddest, the best.
Published on Oct 14, 2013
by Andrew Kozma
The sun is barely risen, light beginning to soak through a layer of clouds the color of raw onion, and none of us have shadows weighing us down. We stand in front of our mystery box with our utensils in our hands: a hatchet and a long knife. It's a narrow, three-story mystery box, the windows layered over with plywood and the interior smoked with whatever's rising from the chimney. I sniff the air and smell pine. Adds a delicious tang. Every tree around the mystery box has been cut down as far as the eye can see, even the stumps torn from the ground. This pine must be from a government grove. Reason enough for us to be here. We're instructed to use local ingredients. Fresh ingredients. To make use of what's around us in the dish, since what grows together, goes together. But when a gift of non-local pine smoke is offered up, you don't toss it aside like a cigarette butt. There are only eight of us left. You'd think with so few, I'd remember their names better than those of all forty chefs the competition began with, and who have since been sent back home under the earth. But after all I've seen, all we've done, and all we've cooked, I prefer the anonymity. The names of the dead are seared into my brain. Those of the living are like the untested components of a dish I've never made. Besides, with enough scars and skin grafts you're basically a different person. And if you score the flesh too deeply, the protein will overcook. Our sixty minutes starts with a gunshot. I hang back as the others sprint the distance from the mobile kitchen, across the open ground, to the worn and splintery walls of the mystery box. After winning the last mystery box I have nothing to prove, and opening the box is always the most dangerous part. My competitors lever plywood from a window, the creak of the wood and the whine of the nails being pulled from their homes contrasting with our silence. We are focused. We are serious. We've made it this far. Maybe just barely, and maybe just on luck, I think, as the home chef from Florida steps aside to avoid a knife slicing out from the gap he'd made. His mistake is stepping immediately back into the gap, thinking armored gloves will protect him as he pries the plywood further from its mooring, leaving himself open to a point-blank, double-barrel shotgun blast that nearly tears him in two. "What a waste!" the craggy-faced judge exclaims. "Five-second rule!" the steel-eyed judge offers. But after five seconds, the home chef is still down, and though one or two of my fellow contestants eye what is now a viable protein, it's obvious the meat is ruined. Fear can sour the taste, and the protein is still moaning. The running crew club the protein into silence, gag it, then drag it back to the mobile kitchen where the grinders are already revving up. I run to the mystery box now that the box has been opened, curving around to the opposite side of the house. The initial opening of the box spooks the ingredients, disrupting all their plans for survival. There's less danger now, though the danger is more unpredictable. No food wants to be eaten. Treat your ingredients with respect and it'll show in the dish. The other home chefs are dismantling the defenses on the other side of the house. When the judges were first teaching us how to cook, they compared the process to handling a king crab or a Maine lobster where if you don't watch yourself, you'll get claw ripping into your skin. Respect the ingredients. That's what Florida forgot. The noise from the front hides my own efforts to open up the back of the mystery box, carefully slipping the nails from the plywood covering a bathroom window, just large enough for me to slip through. I respect the protein to fight for its life. I respect the protein to embody its fear. I respect the protein to act like a cat backed into a corner, claws out, mouth open, ready to dig its way through me if it comes to that. It won't come to that. I'm a home chef from Louisiana. No food sees me coming unless I want it to, which I do sometimes because that taste of fear can be the perfect seasoning in the right recipe. I'm not cruel. It's all done for a purpose. The mystery box is a maze of screams and cries by the time I slip through the bathroom window, my sides scraped raw from a broken frame, the edge badly ground smooth. Through cracks in the door, I see somebody pushed down and someone else jumping on top of them, arms pumping up and down the way one tenderizes tough meat. When cooking, there's no time for hesitation. A meal can be destroyed by a second too long in the oven, too much mixing, a bad cut, too little or too much seasoning. I fling the door open, slamming it into both bodies. Young protein is flung against the wall. The home chef on the floor has bled out, is becoming meat. I grab the protein's wrists and pull them up so their feet barely touch the ground. They look about ten. Bones still hidden with a thin layer of fat. No obvious sores, bruises, or growths. Skin white as unrendered fat. This protein is a chef's dream. I look into the protein's eyes. So dark they are almost black. Like pepper. Like bark on BBQ. The home chef on the floor was stabbed expertly. Clean butchery, face still gloried in surprise. An instinctive talent. I push the young boy into the bathroom, throw his knife after him. "Run," I hiss. "You'll be a great chef one day." I kneel and begin preparing my meal.
Published on Dec 28, 2021
by D. M. Krigsman
The sonic booms began a little after nine every morning. Off and on for three or four hours, occasionally interrupted by a boom that wasn't so sonically controlled. Your Mother tells you to pray then. You hate praying. It doesn't seem to get you anywhere but on your knees. After the last of the sonic booms, they usually end around noon, you and your family get in your old car and drive over to the launch center. Trailers lined both sides of the road and the soldiers let you through the checkpoint. You're all authorized, there are identification papers to prove it. You clean the trailers that the people who left stayed in before their flights. Sometimes there are things to be found. Usually food, but sometimes things even more valuable. Watches, jewelry, things made of gold that Father can sell. No matter what happens gold always seems to have great value. Father told you all these people knew what they were allowed to take or not. It made you wonder how much they had left behind in their houses. Your house didn't hold much but you liked it. The guards don't care. Your parents make sure to give them something and everyone is happy as can be considered.
Published on Mar 6, 2019
by Jamie Lackey
The pamphlet arrives in your mailbox, sandwiched between the grocery store ads and the previous tenant's life insurance bill. The shiny, slick paper is thick between your fingers. Simple black letters on a dried-blood background say, "We Will Pay for your Time." Inside the explanation is long, scientific, boring. But the math is simple. They will take thirty years of your life--not including weekends or holidays. They will take it in an instant, and pay you for the whole. They do not explain how. The pamphlet does not cover what they do with your time once they have it. But the number is more than you'd make in thirty years anyway. Enough to pay off your student loans, your car, your mortgage, with more than enough to live on, after. You can finally take that cruise that you've always dreamed of. You can quit your job.
Published on Jan 20, 2015
by Jamie Lackey
I didn't realize I was property till my progenitor sold me. The last time I saw zir, ze looked deep into my eyes and said, "All children are assets, little one. Someday, if you are able to earn a place among the adults, you'll understand." Ze patted me on the head with a heavy, soft, short-fingered hand, so unlike my own childish hands with their long, nimble fingers. Then ze lumbered away, leaving me with my new owner.
Published on Dec 18, 2019
by Oliver Buckram
"Three coffees," Zu told the waitress. "Point vell taken," said Ludolph to Archie, resuming the three-way conversation, "but vere do you see strange patterns?"
Published on Apr 13, 2012
by Margaret Langendorf
Florencia Costello wouldn't leave for a trip without scrubbing the walls of the shower, vacuuming the front carpet and remaking the beds. No exceptions. Who'd want to return to dirty sheets or a filthy bath? No one, that's who.
Published on May 9, 2016
by Rich Larson
Novapolis was like no city Gen had ever seen in her life. The architecture flowed around her in graceful arcs and waves, all of it a gleaming white that seemed to gently press against her eyeballs. Battery pillars rose in small copses where denizens recharged their 'cycles. Glass-topped channels displayed sparkling clean water as it coursed through the blue veins of the city's filtration system. There were no engine sounds; everything powered was as soft and melodic as the whispertrain that had conducted her here in the first place. And everywhere she looked, there were the custodians: small white spheres that moved through the air like schools of fish. One such school had been waiting for her when she stepped off the platform, welcoming her, in a synthetic chirp, to Novapolis. The custodians explained that her refugee application had been accepted and her face and body metrics had been scanned into the system. She was officially a denizen. They had offered to guide her to housing, but she'd elected to explore instead. All she had to carry was her battered violin case and the ratty backpack slung over her shoulder.
Published on Mar 17, 2018
by Stephen Lawson
"What sort of amateur nonsense is this?" Anders asks. He holds my glasses in his left hand between thumb and forefinger. He has the audacity to call me an amateur. Me. I take chess more seriously than any player who's made it to the world championships since Garry Kasparov.
Published on May 17, 2017
by Terr Light
Alone on the farmhousezporch,zIztriedztozlookzlikezazcheerfulzgrandfatherzinzhiszrocking chair, hands resting atop my plump bell. No matter how hard I tried, though, I couldnt help glaring toward the stone wall that ran past my home. It stretched into the distance in both directions, but above was the real puzzle -- a milky translucent barrier so tall none of my ladders could reach the top. The barrier was new. I only remembered seeing it for the last few days but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the view on the other side. What belonged there? Crops below a cloudy blue sky? Green hills? Flatlands? A footpath or a dirt road? I didn't know. That bothered me. Through the boundary I could see shadows of people walking, lingering for a moment, gathering into a crowd and then moving on. Todays crowd was bigger than yesterday and I was certain each person could see me as plain as day. Damned tourists. Anyone who stepped onto my house's porch was in plain view -- me, my daughter, her husband or my grandson, but I wasn't about to hide indoors and peek through the curtains. Every day, I rocked on the porch in the morning, took a nap in the afternoon and rocked some more in the evening. Maybe there weren't that many non-tech farmers anymore and that's why we were on display. All I knew was that we didn't do anything fascinating enough to be part of an exhibit. Besides, no one asked permission. The tourist flow started at nine each morning. I knitted my eyebrows, found an eyelevel spot in the nearest portion of the barrier and bored an imaginary hole through the frosty divide as if I could see the qawkers on the other side. If they wondered if I could see them, it served them right. Behind me, I heard the screen door squeak open and a quiet step. I smiled. Emily, my youngest daughter, was a strawberry blond who lived at home with her new family. I twisted to look over my shoulder, saw that she held the door open with her back and wiped her hands dry on a frayed white apron with a border of faded flowers. "Can you watch the twins while I fix Hank's lunch, Dad?" Hank was Emilys husband. He took over my farm when I retired to sit on the porch. I nodded at Emily, though my daughter didn't have twins. One of the boys died in his sleep two years ago, but sometimes it seemed to slip her fragile mind. Poor girl. Don and Lon were small boys for their age, smart, but like runt kittens or pups, filled with brief bursts of energy followed by extreme fatigue. Dons death made us realize Lon was more precious than ever. My daughter didnt mention the white wall and I didnt bring it up. Maybe I was crazy and it wasnt really there. Maybe the barrier was there and she didn't mention it because, for some reason, she thought keeping quiet protected me. My thoughts were interrupted by my grandson, who burst through the door, arms and legs pumping as if I had candy in my pocket. I did, of course. Lon dashed to the front of my rocker and stopped, huffing and puffing, flashed a grin and said, "Tell me a story, Grampa!" His smile was infectious. I stopped rocking, leaned forward with arms apart and he jumped into my lap. I roughed up his loose blonde hair, realizing, like always, that he resembled my daughter. He snuggled in. What would you like to hear?" "Robots! Tell me about robots!" I wrinkled my brow. I told him about robots yesterday and, if I remember correctly, the day before that. I could talk about dinosaurs, fairy tales or history. I just told you about robots. I know! The boy stuck out his bottom lip. Tell me again! How about dinosaurs? No! Robots! Robots are just laborers. Back in the day when cars still ran on petroleum, the first robots spot-welded car frames on an assembly line. I was already talking about the infernal machines. But robots looked like people, right? Not at first. The first mobile robots had wheels or treads and walked like bugs or animals. Most people called machines with two legs androids. The scary ones! The scary robots? Androids? You want to hear about them? Yes! Theyre the best! Well, androids began to look more and more human, and people invented new names for them -- people-bots, him-bots, her-bots, he-bots, she-bots and so on. They were so smart, they could fool you into thinking they were intelligent. Then one day, androids werent fooling. For years, one machine obeyed its programming and behaved as expected. Then, like magic, it transformed. The android became an independent being who thought for itself. It developed independent reason. This happened again and again, over and over. No one knew why. We developed all kinds of theories to explain it. Androids looked like us, we said, so we treated them like us and they made the leap to consciousness. It got downright scary. Possessions that couldnt think for themselves, suddenly could. They remembered things, put those memories in context and drew conclusions. They disobeyed their programming. Why was that scary, Grampa? I dont know, but it was. Artificial machines built by men, thinking for themselves? It gave people the heebie-jeebies. It was eerie. What happened to them? We put the androids on starships and sent them to places far from Earth, Lon. I looked at the sky. You know how at night you can see the stars? We sent robots to those stars, far away. That doesnt sound fair. Youre right. It doesnt sound fair, but no one could think of a reasonable alternative. War between man and android was a possibility. They went willingly, only, and I suddenly saw the white barrier for what it was, they promised to return. When? I think they are already back. Lon started to ask another question, but I couldnt hear him. What kind of technology would androids have now? If they returned, could they wall off my home? Would they? Ill be right back, Lon, I said, and plucked the speechless boy off my lap, setting him down on the wooden planks of the porch. Theres something I have to do. I headed for the stairs, stepped to the ground and followed the sidewalk until it came to the wooden gate that filled the gap in the wall. I tried to open it, but couldnt. I stood there, raised my arms and spread my fingers. In response, the shadows put their heads together. I could tell they whispered or spoke to one another. Some pointed, and Im sure they pointed at me. I wanted to stop myself, but couldnt. Youre androids, I said under my breath, meaning to say it much louder. Im sure I sounded like a crazy old man. If I shouted... ...but I couldnt figure out how to do that without seeming like a fool, so I just stood. My hands fell to my sides. A tunnel-shaped opening formed in the barrier. I brought a hand to my forehead so I could shield my eyes, the light from the other side was so brilliant. The gate opened and an oblong blob stepped through. I squinted and tried to see, but couldnt focus until the mass grew larger and nearer. It became a woman, dressed in purple and gold satin robes. She smiled, like an adult smiling at a child, tilting her head the tiniest bit to the side. Her hair was the color of straw sprinkled with strands of gray. She didnt look old, but older, respectable, someone who was used to being in charge, very capable and confident. She put her palms together. Youre right. Were androids, she said. All of those on the other side, looking in -- theyre androids, too. What did you do with the other humans? Remember your story? You had the wrong cargo. We put the humans on starships and sent them far away. Then why keep my family? I asked and pointed to the white barrier. Why put us on display? Because, historically, youre very valuable. I dont understand. The puzzled look on her face proved she didnt understand, either. Oh, she said and brought a hand up to cover an open mouth with her fingers. Im sorry. I thought you had figured it out... Figured what out? Excuse me, she added, and started to turn away. Wait! Slowly, reality dawned on me. The woman must have seen it in my face. She became kinder and softer when she resumed speaking. When I said we sent the humans far away, I meant all of them. The barrier had always been there. The reason I couldnt remember the view on the other side was because I had never seen it. I had never seen Hank, either, and didnt know what he looked like. There had never been twins and I didnt have other daughters beside Emily. Emily wasnt even my daughter. She was artificial, too. Im an android? Yes, the woman said. Until the last few days, you were the longest functioning bot that hadnt achieved consciousness. Many believed you never would. But, I remember... Programming. We fiddled around the edges, but didnt change your core. I stood open-mouthed. Everything Id thought was real... ...wasnt real. I needed to be alone, away from everyone. I turned, walked along the sidewalk, up the short flight of stairs, and headed down the porch. I passed the androids that Id thought were my daughter and grandson without looking them in the eye. Once inside, I slammed the door and shoved my back into it. Slowly, I slid to the floor and sat there. At some point, there was a polite knock, but I didnt answer. Hours passed. I struggled to my feet and peeked through the curtains.
Published on Jan 15, 2013
by Marissa Lingen
After the exhausting panic of the newborn years--and the still more exhausting panic of toddlerhood--parents face a unique difficulty of childhood: how to assign appropriate chores to their offspring. This handy guide should give you a rough outline, based on age, of what is appropriate for your children's duties, both to assist the family and to learn needed skills themselves. All chores should, of course, be adjusted to the child's size, strength, skill level, and stubbornness in avoiding the whole process. Good luck. Really: absolute best of luck. The Stone Age. Staying alive is a chore, kid. The Iron Age. Children are largely assumed to be able to handle any chore they can physically accomplish. Can your child hold an axe? Thumbs up to sending them out to chop wood--or at least as many thumbs as they have left. Can your child walk? They can walk behind the ox that plows your grain. Ideally not under its hooves. It's fine, it's all fine. And by "it's fine," we mean: you have no choice. The Steam Age. Chores become more specialized at this exciting age. Popular chores for young children involve mill work, mine work, and hand labor in the home, creating everything from lace to matchsticks. Children of this era are a very useful asset to family life, though unfortunately often considered an expendable one until the family discovers firsthand that not all factory parts, i.e. offspring, are as fungible as hoped. The Atomic Age. In the early part of the Atomic Age, children's chores are often focused on small-scale machinery, including the maintenance of prairie monocultures in the immediate vicinity of the home. Later in the Atomic Age, chores may expand to include reactor maintenance and proper neutralization of radioactive waste. The smallest of children sometimes struggle with these chores, but they are crucial to the functioning of nuclear-focused society. The term nuclear family is not meant to indicate the size of explosions involved in interfamily conflict about whose turn it is to do the dishes or laundry. This correlation is entirely incidental. The Solar Age. The children of the Solar Age return to walking behind the oxen. Like their ancestors, they knit and forage. They scramble up the barn pole, this time to clean debris off the panels. They compare crop yield with children across the planet and share schematics for fanciful dwellings their parents will never allow them to build, unless they sneak off to the forest to make their own fungus-crusted hideaways on the ruins of their parents' attempts, on the ruins of their ancestors' corporate offices. Solar Age children have shoveled too much compost to be utopians and planted too many trees to be dystopians. Of any age of child, this is the age whose arguments about turn-taking take on a labyrinthine complication. By the time you have resolved in your own mind whether it is in fact their turn to feed the chickens, they are deep in the blackberry patch and cannot hear you. Or will confidently assert that they cannot. The Gene Age. In the Gene Age, the oxen will walk side by side with the children and teach them calculus. The lion may or may not lie down with the lamb, depending on which lion, what it has been engineered to produce in its mane, and whether someone's eight-year-old remembered to let it out after lunch. Older teens may do their own share of gene design, though this is a frequent source of parent-child conflict, as parental choices for modifications to the family dog or fern are probably boring, old-fashioned, and lacking in the essential panache in which any three-blooded panhuman child takes pride. A Wind Age, A Wolf Age. You may hope that this will be a metaphor rather than literal Ragnarok. It may be best to school your children in such useful skills as talking to birds and riddle contests with frost giants. Do they know how to weave the threads of fate? Perhaps teach them to do that, and to alliterate like a mead-drunk Valkyrie. Just in case. The Space Age. Not to be mistaken for the portion of the Atomic Age in which humans wandered near-earth orbit in extensive machinery. In the Space Age, humans wander near-earth orbit without extensive machinery. The first time any parent sends a child out to clear debris from near orbit is always nerve-wracking, but their reflexes are so much faster than adult reflexes for swiping passing flotsam out of space, and the vast majority of the vacuum-hardening gene mods really have been taking for two whole ages now. Go tidy the comets, there's a love. The Age of Time Travel. Any and all previous chores are welcome, but the most crucial chores of a child of the Age of Time Travel are and will be holding the timeline intact in their head. Surely you remember Cousin Mercy, sweetheart? A Time Age child must unhesitatingly know, or all the timeline is lost. Haven't we read this book before a million times? Answer truthfully: it must not be a million and one. Do not falter. Do not fail. All the ages of humanity are in your tiny hands, Time Child. We will try not to be too much of a chore.
Published on Mar 22, 2022
by Ken Liu
I am rooted to the ground beneath me, stationary, a statue. The rise and fall of constellations traces broad arcs against my unblinking eyes. The memory of my body in motion sometimes seems unreal. But other memories only become more real with the passage of time.
Published on Mar 12, 2013
by Andrew E. Love, Jr.
It started with the milk. Harper knocked a full gallon on the floor at lunch, so I made a quick order--and by 1:30 the truck had delivered more. I guessed that milk is such a staple item that the local warehouse always has plenty on hand for delivery. Fine.

But just before dinner the next day, Band-Aids arrived. I hadn’t ordered Band-Aids. I was tapping away at my phone, trying to figure out how to report the unordered delivery when Ava came through the door, crying. She’d fallen off her bike and was bleeding from half-dollar-sized scrapes on both knees. I went to the medicine cabinet--nothing there. So, I used the ones that just arrived. By the time I had her cleaned up and bandaged, the pain-crying had turned into mourning cries for her jeans, which of course had huge tears in both knees, and blood stains below. At which point, Harper noticed a new package on the porch: perfect replacements, in Ava’s current size.
Published on May 2, 2022
by A.L. Lowe
"No, it's broken, take your shekel," growled Jonas, giving the vending machine a final kick. He had already managed to dent the side and puncture the lower corner, but the last kick was somewhat halfhearted. He stared at the machine forlornly. "Keep it. We may find another," said Kevin. He leaned toward the dirty plastic front. "Think you're better off. Nothing in there looks particularly fresh anymore."
Published on Oct 28, 2013
by Jeffrey Lyons
Billy stepped outside the door and let out a year's worth of tension with a single breath. Having never been the kind of kid to enjoy sleepovers, the anti-quarantine had been particularly hard on Billy.
Published on Dec 13, 2021
by Leila Coralie Martin
She’s so perfect, she’s almost painful to look at. Porcelain skin, gold-spun hair. All cosmetic enhancements, no doubt. Her vision seems fine to me; her pretty pupils are recoiling to pinholes in the foyer’s harsh light. “I want a full optical replacement, and I want it today. Can you make that happen?”
Published on Apr 28, 2021
by Will McIntosh
Jahn turned to Leisle. "I'm so sorry." He wrapped his arms around her. For a moment she melted into him, then she was coiled rope, pushing him away.
Published on Dec 10, 2010
by Dan McMinn
I remember being a novice woodworker, nervous about my very first WoodCon. So that you "woodies" don't make the same mistakes I did, here's a list of etiquette and craft advice for attending the Sequoia of the lumber-related cons:
Published on May 5, 2020
by MV Melcer
When the invaders appeared, I had no choice. I lowered my head and opened my arms to greet them. Some of us tried to fight, against my warnings, but the orbiting gunships put a quick end to the resistance. I made sure everyone learned the lesson: their ships are made of guns. You cannot stop them. They settled quickly. They took what was ours and made it theirs. I served them well, and prospered. I offered them our secrets, revealed where the riches were hidden. People spat on me on the streets. I did not care. I was alive.
Published on Sep 12, 2017
by H. Lee Messina
When the last of us boarded, and the doors closed, those who had access to windows on the Arks said the pleas for mercy turned into war. People clawed at each other to get through the security checkpoints, climbing over cement fencing, lighting fire to the metal detectors. Parents threw their children toward the drawbridge, and left them in the water as we drifted back to depart. On the Genesis, in third-class, you could hear objects crashing against the exterior. I imagined a Molotov cocktail or two, rocks, maybe some shards of metal. Any object that could go high and fast as we lifted off the water then fired into the sky. A last hope gone into the oblivion of space. A shuttle of bodies leaving with less cargo room than when we arrived. This wasn’t the plan. We came to warn you, not save you.
Published on Oct 8, 2018
by Matt Mikalatos
Sam snapped a thick card onto the chipped-paint surface of the picnic table, between himself and Hailey. Sam studied the glossy back, the multi-colored swirl of the Race Cards logo. A thin gold line ran along the bottom. The nano-bot interface. "Where did you get that?" Hailey asked.
Published on Feb 20, 2017
by Emma Miller
The girl in the red catsuit slammed the phone down hard. "Unavailable!" she spat, gesticulating with the gun. Leonard wished she wouldn't do that--spit. There was something so forcefully biological about it. It reminded him of finding a fingernail in his food, or of other people's toddlers.
Published on Nov 20, 2018
by Steven Fischer
Yume sits down at the table and smiles. "I took a trip to London last night." I keep picking away at the rice on my lunch tray, wondering what she finds funny in stupid jokes like these. She might as well have told me that the Earth was flat.
Published on Mar 7, 2017
by Cassandra L. Miller
I am sitting in a chair. The Man has put me here. He rubbed my head and I thumped my tail. I look next to me and see another man. He is also in a chair. The Man is talking to him, but he does not say my name, so what he says must not be important.
Published on Aug 14, 2014
by Deanna Kay Morris
It was a new world and Willy was right smack in the middle of it. He was a janitor by trade, servicing hotels and office buildings, the chord of his vacuum slinking behind him up stairs and down hallways. People rarely saw Willy without his vacuum. That's what gave them the idea. In truth, the idea started years before. A professional baseball club owner wore a wooden leg which had a small drawer built into it, to use as an ashtray, for his chain smoking habit. It was part of him. When Willy lost his arm the same idea was applied. Only this was the year 2020 and it wasn't wood they'd be using.
Published on Oct 2, 2013
by Tracy S. Morris
The doctor had kind eyes behind his surgical mask. That was one thing I didn't expect. He held up a large needle and said in a voice that promised lollypops: "This won't hurt."
Published on Jun 25, 2020
by Timothy Mudie
Pro: All the free saltines you can eat. Con: It's the neonatal intensive care unit, so they don't have any actual salt on them.
Published on May 19, 2021
by Michelle Muenzler
My hands won't stop shaking. Over the cheap toddler's tic-tac-toe board, my opponent stares with smoke-rheumed eyes. She's iron, my great gran, like an old battleship. She's already dropped my niece, the pigtailed doll with her once candy-red cheeks paling against the linoleum, and my second uncle on my father's side who swore in Russian as soon as he figured out how badly he'd screwed himself.
Published on Oct 21, 2015
by Jo Mularczyk
It really worked! Julia looked around at the wooden pews and the distorted rainbow light cast by the stained glass windows. She was now standing in her childhood church. She wondered why that had been the first place to pop into her head? A therapist would probably have a field day with that one!
Published on Mar 16, 2020
by Mari Ness
Mary had spent her entire life on the dropships. This was only her second rainstorm, and it was as terrifying and wonderful as the first has been. So much water, and so loud. She had seen them on the vids, of course, and she and Ronald had even sometimes stood in the shower and pretended to see and feel the rain, letting the water run on and on (a near criminal act on the dropships), but it hadn't been the same. The others in the room hardly seemed to notice, even when another bolt of thunder sounded, sending tremors through her body. But then again, they hardly seemed to notice anything, the air, the way the surface constantly changed between your feet, the sunlight. They had sun equivalent light on the dropships, but that, too, hadn't been the same.
Published on Mar 27, 2012
by Wendy Nikel
I don't mention the days between. She's back now, so it doesn't matter. Right? I try to pretend it didn't happen. (It did, but it didn't.) We continue our routine of "before," with takeout-box debris and scribbled Post-it fridge messages and her helmet--intact and unscratched--by the door. Everything's the same, save for the constant buzzing of awareness in my mind, sharp and persistent. I can't forget how fragile this all is, how easily one can slip from here to not-here, from the highway to a drawer in the morgue.
Published on Oct 29, 2019
by Wendy Nikel
I'd been working at the T-Port station for three weeks before I saw a glitch. It was a lousy job: no benefits, long hours, and as boring as weather channel reruns. The station, which was conveniently located between the airport, the Amtrak station, and a 7-11, was two bus transfers from my apartment, but my old bandmate-turned-"responsible adult"-roommate had threatened to kick me out if I didn't start pulling my weight, so... there I was.
Published on Oct 26, 2020
by Wendy Nikel
2002 Our concert tickets said 7PM, but by 8, we were crossing the Minnesota River again, scrutinizing the MapQuest sheets by the dome light, and wondering where we'd gone wrong. Had we made the turn east onto West Old Shakopee Rd? Or west onto East Old Shakopee? And who's more to blame for a date so ruined: the driver or the map-reader?
Published on Dec 21, 2020
by Gemma Noon
We are all but embers here, dying alone in the night. The hoods keep us docile with their soothing images and beautiful sounds, threaded through with just enough discord to keep us working, to keep us weeping at the things we have done. Serum drips into my mouth via a tube, bringing feelings of guilt and pride in equal measure. I am strong and honored to serve. I am shamed by my past and seek only to make amends. I am repulsed by my fellow prisoners, by the things that they have done. I live only to earn redemption. All these things are lies.
Published on Dec 16, 2013
by Don Norum
"There's supposed to be a margin of safety. These capsules are overengineered." He took his hands from the controls to hold his head.
Published on Dec 29, 2011
by K. S. O'Neill
There was a survivor. Sarah heard Elena calling from across the wreckage, and saw her daughter's lantern waving in the dark and the driving rain. The sound of the storm's wild surf wafted in from the tip of the Cape a mile away. She went striding, skirts soaked, across the grass and mud of the field.
Published on Jan 2, 2015
by Dionne Obeso
The mess hall rocked crazily as the Kraggle scum got off another lucky shot. Crewman Jase Landsdon slapped his hand over the dice to keep them from rolling off the table. "I bet fifteen hours of degreasing duty." Crewman Rick Scalati eyed him back. "Rich bet."
Published on Dec 3, 2015
by Victor Fernando R. Ocampo
She unlocks the door of your father's flat and motions you to come inside. The landlady is mostly pleasant--sweet, yet subtle and reserved, like a stereotypical English grandmother. You realize you cannot tell where her shawl ends and where her cat begins. She leans towards you and assaults you with the smell of rosewater and cat feces. You raise a fist to your mouth to suppress a gag reflex. You really, really want to throw up, but you can't.
Published on Feb 26, 2016
by Kat Otis
About midnight, the party came to a crashing halt when one of the dive team seniors arrived with a case of beer. Izzy had a split-second to wince before dozens of iChaperones lit up in angry technicolor. They swarmed down from the ceiling to hover around the heads of their respective underage protectees, screens flashing the cutesy drink icon that alerted them to the presence of alcohol. In case that wasn't enough to convey the message, the control unit on her wrist began a continuous buzzing that sent vibrations all the way up her arm.
Published on Jul 14, 2014
by Anya Ow
The apocalypse happened to Singapore at 3 am EST on a Thursday. The bridges linking the tiny island-state to Malaysia were severed in half. The few cars on the still-existing side of the bridge crawled to a halt before the void. There were screams. Images were tagged on Instagram. Some went viral. #ApocalypseLAH. The international news media descended. Sweating in the equatorial heat, they took photographs and interviewed local people.
Published on Jul 9, 2019
by Briane Pagel
At first people thought it beautiful, all these new stars appearing every night. I did. I especially liked that in cities you could see the stars for the first time. So nights when I would leave the office late, I could see them on my way through downtown Chicago, blazing down between the tall, dark obelisks of buildings I drove under as much as I drove over the farmland in the second half of my drive . But after a couple of months, when there were still more each night, when the night sky above the farm house we lived in--and were supposedly fixing up--seemed to blaze like white fire, and Wendy, when I accidentally woke her up one night at 12:15 a.m. having just arrived home, said It seems like it's hot at night, doesn't it?: after that, it didn't seem just pretty, anymore.
Published on Dec 18, 2014
by Bret Parent
We're gathered here today to pay our respects to Ulysses Jefferson Lee. We all knew Ule, he could be a man of few words, but he preferred the alternative. In that spirit I'll do my best to keep this short, but who knows how it'll end up. Ulysses was many things. Survivalist, marksman, adamant flag-waver, stoic arm-crosser, and, of course, a relentless debater. Knowing him, however, if he could whittle it down, he'd want to be remembered for just three: Man. American. Patriot.
Published on Jan 28, 2021
by J.D. Pendergast
The day she said "I do," I saw the shape of our lives. We'd be the kind of couple who kept Sundays for ourselves, did crossword puzzles in the evenings, and gave each other lingering kisses every morning. We'd raise two kids who would go on to make the future brighter. We'd retire early, eat key lime pie for dessert every night, and watch the sun set, our wrinkled hands entwined. And I'd look into her big green eyes and remember the full-bodied giddiness that enveloped me as I replied, "Me too."
Published on Jan 6, 2017
by M.J. Pettit
Cousteau City isn't all geodesic domes glittering with bioluminescence. The place disappoints. It leaks. Constantly. The corridors stink of semi-processed kelp. The cephalopod cardsharps overestimate their precognitive abilities and the uplifted dolphins get cranky when the house inevitably wins. Cousteau City, where the future isn't exactly the one promised and the past has a nasty habit of catching up with you. So, of course, I run into Henry Muldoon at the casino restaurant. Henry doesn't do subtle. The word isn't in his vocabulary. He waves at me from the other end of the buffet, calls my name across the room. "Abigail, over here. How've you been?"
Published on Jun 5, 2019
by Trina Marie Phillips
Captain Max Stone stood in the spotlight in the packed battlefield theater, extolling the virtues of courage and loyalty in the war against the Graths. This broadcast was reaching billions of people over five planets. The hot-climate uniform he was wearing served no purpose here other than to show off his deeply gnarled scars and functional, but very mechanical, prosthetics; symbols of humanity's truly brave warriors. Max pounded the podium, raised his metal fist and his voice, whipping everyone into a patriotic, Grath-hating frenzy. This was all he was good for anymore.
Published on May 22, 2017
by Kell Rajasalu
It starts like this: I've just reported for an ordinary Saturday shift, exchanged nods with Khairi, and then my heart seizes. The pain lances through my rib cage. I have time to think, a heart attack? and then I collapse and don't think much at all. But it is not a heart attack. After an eternity I realize I'm on the floor and Khairi is crouching over me, scanner in one hand, hypo in the other.
Published on Feb 9, 2018
by Jonathan H Randall
Polished, white teeth reflected the flash like tiny mirrors. Miss Verna fixated on the impartial black lens facing her. She had labored for hours on perfecting the glow of her rouge-covered cheeks; all aspects of her appearance had been carefully considered. "Four minutes."
Published on Apr 21, 2016
by Robert Reed
Well that's a preposterous thing to say. Is it?
Published on May 2, 2016
by Robert Reed
Ninety kilos of delicious walks the lonely trail. Carl Alan Reinhart-Sands. He's a tourist wearing a Third Eye, plus hiking shorts and a big-brimmed safari hat along with four-star Keen boots: A new wardrobe caked in dust and infused with human stinks. This is a married man, but not for long. He and his wife filed for divorce in their home state, allowing Carl to enter that golden period when planned catastrophe allows the illusion of possibility. That's why he's made the long drive to come here. Years ago, he walked this trail with his parents and older sisters. A mountain vacation means that nobody will harp at him, telling him to smile and lose weight while acting more considerate of her feelings. What this trip brings is a taste of wilderness and the freedom to wear a gloriously goofy hat, and of course Carl intends to study the spectacular scenery. But his thoughts are mostly fixed on the women staying at the North Rim Lodge, some obviously traveling alone, and he's hoping that tonight, after a shower, he will manage to make a new friend.
Published on Mar 23, 2018
by Jude Reid
Charmaine bites down on metal, and her breath catches in her throat. She risks a glance around the table--surely one of them must have heard?--as she forks up another cloying mouthful with a shaking hand, the warm metal pressing against her tongue like an unwelcome finger. She has minutes at most.
Published on Jun 12, 2020
by Luc Reid
Dear Editor, Enclosed please find my story about your unfortunate demise. Understand, this is not a death threat. You really are going to die, and there's nothing either of us can do about it (which, by the way, is also not a death threat).
Published on Aug 1, 2012
by Luc Reid
It seemed to Iowa as she curled up on her automod, cradling the antique cell phone, that sometimes it was better to experience things backwards. When you lived through things forwards, you had to live with the fear of what might or might not happen. When you looked backwards, though, the worst was always over. In reverse, you could see your failed relationships and your humiliating childhood as though you'd zoomed out, as though you were floating free over a sea of distant events that no longer pertained to you. You didn't have to worry that the next person you tried to love would turn out to be even worse than the last one, or that your crazy plans might go wrong.
Published on Feb 8, 2013
by Rachel Rodman
The box was composed of flesh: living, human, maternal. And, inside the box, a scattering of molecular confetti, sourced from two parents, swirled and shimmered, collided and collaborated, in an innumerable array of unprecedented arrangements: every way, and no way.
Published on Jan 3, 2019
by Tamara Rogers
The smell of charred onion and annihilated garlic fills the room. Smells that make your eyes water, set off smoke alarms for miles. Smells of home.
Published on Dec 30, 2020
by Shannon Luke Ryan
Deep in the tropical rainforests of far north Queensland, two tiny cocoons hung from a thick purple fungus. The cocoon on the left began to twitch and shudder, moments later so did the other. A split appeared in the left cocoon, and two bright yellow wings could be seen as a little butterfly slowly emerged and took a perch on the spongy purple mushroom. It was joined less than a minute later by another, as the second cocoon split and disgorged a larger red and green winged butterfly.
Published on Nov 9, 2010
by Luke Saldanha
We watched the sliver of light, the twinkling dot of hope. The glow was miniscule, yet stood for all mankind's optimism: a clean slate for our people, against the deep black; the channel through which the human race had cleansed its filthy soul. Out on the moors, where everyone had gathered, our view was unobscured by the city's treacherous smog. The ideal watch post. Soon we would be new again.
Published on Dec 12, 2019
by Andrew Sanger
4,255 Six less than last week. I lay on the grass next to Sam, holding her hand. We're both silently counting in our heads. She's slower at counting than I am, but she always finishes with a higher number. She says it's because she's an optimist. I tell her it's because she flunked third grade math.
Published on Mar 19, 2019
by Aniket Sanyal
When the vortex comes, you will be asleep. You will not even be dreaming of your name. When the vortex arrives you will be in a different land. It will not occur to you whether your horizons are completely or totally aligned.
Published on Mar 12, 2015
by Peter A Schaefer
"Podboss Ffdlbpp!" flagellaed Podsboss Pbbdlbsb. "Present!" Flagella gesturing respect and obedience, Podboss Ffdlbpp stood ready. "Boss!"
Published on Jul 6, 2017
by Max Schau
I watched them as they wept quietly in the airlock, their fate for having aligned with the wrong side, waiting for the harsh metallic clang of the outer door cycling open and the hiss of life escaping. Me? I was on the right side.
Published on Jul 14, 2020
by Rebecca Schwarz
Dear Parents, It's diorama time again, and I thought I would send home a few notes for parents about this annual project. While your child is encouraged to approach this project creatively, there are a few ground rules that will help ensure success--as well as the safety of the class.
Published on Aug 6, 2014
by M. Adrian Sellers
As he stopped off at Marty-Mart, Aubrey saw that someone had scrawled across the store front: Martin Paxson has only one testicle but he's a righteous dude. You can trust him. Paying old Mr. Paxson for smokes, Aubrey tried not to laugh.
Published on Apr 29, 2013
by Melissa Shaw
She slumped down the dirty alley, ignoring the discarded garbage, the drifts of broken things with sharp edges. She felt like a broken thing with sharp edges herself. "You're back?" came the familiar voice. "So soon?"
Published on Feb 11, 2015
by Diana Sherman
It is a week after the funeral. Daniel Marsten is interrupted by the phone ringing as he reads to his young son from a book of Greek myths. He kisses the boy quickly on the forehead before rushing to get the phone. He knows it is his sister-in-law, calling about the boy. She will be arriving soon to whisk him away from this mountain retreat, and take him to a world of soccer practice, booster clubs, and lemonade stands manned in company with his cousins. She will take him away to a world where there is still a mother, even if it isn't his. Daniel convinces himself this will be enough. The boy, whose name is Jason, and who never thinks of himself as the boy, knows it will not be. He wants to stay with his father. He loves the mountains, as his mother did, and he loves the observatory where he is not allowed to go, but which he dreams of nonetheless. He loves the stories his mother told him of scanning the night sky for stars and life and dreams. Soccer practice pales in comparison. And his father does not have to leave the mountain.
Published on Jan 6, 2012
by D. Roe Shocky
My time had finally come, and it was all I could do not to piss myself. I stood sixth in line now in front of the TRAP--Temporally Reductive Atomic Projector--about to be vaporized, transported halfway across the galaxy, and reassembled. There was a gasp, clipped off by an electric CRACK
Published on Mar 4, 2019
by Alex Shvartsman
Dedicated to the memory of Roger Zelazny It was a great match, until the other side cheated.
Published on Jun 12, 2014
by Alex Shvartsman
For the first time in over two decades, it rained in the morning. "I don't think we own an umbrella," said Melanie. "But there may be an old raincoat in the closet."
Published on May 24, 2017
by Marge Simon
They barred the library doors today. Men in uniform stand patrol, armed and ready. Their lantern jaws are set firm, lips in a straight line. Stoic women, also armed, jog up and down the block, buttocks moving like pistons. Someone dashes from a building, a hand-held reader clutched close. Shots are fired; I don't stay to find out more. I've packed the car with books, little room for else. It is my car, his gift to buy my silence, to make up for the bruises real and otherwise; never marry a politician who has no use for literature, has no use for a wife that does.
Published on Jan 28, 2016
by Amy Sisson
APPLICANTS WANTED! Are you charismatic?
Published on Jun 16, 2015
by Brent C. Smith
Sarah sips her coffee without tasting it, the last of the week's ration burning her throat. The wall monitor next to the rickety metal kitchen table blinks the time in block white letters, 05:06, much too soon for her to be awake. Her shift at the factory won't begin until eight, but she's hasn't slept well in this house since Teddy left. Too empty. Too quiet. A sense of suspense that something is happening impossibly far away while time in her deteriorating row house stands still. Below the clock, a line blinks in urgent red. "One new message." Below that, the message header from the Adjutant General's office, with the title "Re. Theodore J. Calhoun."
Published on Oct 1, 2014
by Brent C. Smith
She rests against a sweat-stained pillow. Hair clings to her forehead like strands of shriveled seaweed from the shrinking ocean. Everyone sweats in this dying world, but hers is the mark of exertion. Of exhaustion. A baby sleeps in her arms. She holds its head against her shoulder and presses dried lips to its ginger hair. But her eyes, wide with interest (or is it fear?) watch her husband and his twin across the long room. He whispers to identical doctors, but the force of his hissing carries across the space as if he shouted.
Published on Nov 26, 2015
by Julian Mortimer Smith
I have a crush on a boy from yesterday.
Published on May 5, 2011
by Kathryn Smith
When he bought it from Jeremy’s Jewellers it cost him 10,000 credits but now it was worth nothing. It was one of a kind originally, but now copy after copy came churning out from the CopyCat making it as a penny was to a millionaire. The diamond still glistened, the silver still shined, and it still fit my finger perfectly. Every time I threw into the river that ran behind my house; CopyCat would make me a new one. ‘Don’t worry’ it would say ‘Nothing is lost, everything can be found’ and out from its dispenser would emerge a brand-new diamond ring. When he first left me, it was the photos that I destroyed. Ripping his face into shreds I leant against the wall and sobbed, but before I could even get onto the next photo CopyCat sounded from the next room ‘Don’t worry. Nothing is lost, everything can be found.’. Without moving from my spot, I shredded the next; CopyCat tried to comfort me ‘Don’t worry. Nothing is lost, everything can be found.’ Ripping the next, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing is lost, everything can be found.’. Slicing the next, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing is lost, everything can be found.’. Crushing the next, ‘Don’t worry. Nothing is lost, everything can be found.’. I gave up on the photos, and the ring came next. I would throw it as far as I could, watch it sink down to the bed of the river, and I would believe, just for a moment, that it was gone forever. Though, of course, when I returned to the house CopyCat proudly sat with a diamond ring in its dispenser. When he came to pick up his things, he was wearing the exact outfit he wore the day he left me; a blue shirt, black trousers, and those shoes that I always hated. Before he went to leave me for the very last time, I asked him if he would walk down to the river with me just for old times’ sake. He stood at the edge of the river, I pushed him in, he banged his head, he floated away. Just as I had expected, CopyCat announced from the house behind me ‘Don’t worry. Nothing is lost, everything can be found.’ and the dispenser worked its magic; a blue shirt, black trousers, and that pair of shoes that I always hated.
Published on Jan 4, 2021
by Bud Sparhawk
***Editor's Note: Adult language in the adult story that follows*** I don't know how or why the conflict started or what our objective was. All I knew was that four guys in green uniforms came to the farm, trudged through the fields to my flock, pointed at me, and told me I was a trainee--a volunteer citizen soldier. Me, Alex Sorenson Lightfoot Hardy the Third, and, by God and the Saints of Church ElRon, a soldier. It was ridiculous. I was a shepherd, not a fighter.
Published on Dec 20, 2013
by Bud Sparhawk
Two figures appeared between two spiral galaxies, and looking neither right nor left at so common a view, the Chief Philosopher remarked, "I cannot believe I've permitted this profligate wasteful project to continue for so long." He wiggled his dark brows, an atavism that he'd carefully engineered to heighten an already fierce visage appropriate to the Imperator of all Humankind and High and Low Justice in One. Zeron, the Supreme Scientist, Single Leader of All Man's Scientific Endeavor, and Coordinator of All Knowledge, nodded sagely at the criticism. "One cannot deny it has be such an immense an effort, Xeres. But we've had our reasons for continuing the effort."
Published on Jul 20, 2015
by John Robert Spry
"I want to get inside your alienation," said the woman in the coffee house. "I want to know it." "No you don't," he replied.
Published on Aug 8, 2011
by Abra Staffin Wiebe
Once upon a time, a slow, plodding sauropod fell in love with a beautiful dinosaur princess.
Published on Apr 10, 2020
by Pat Stansberry
This is a science fiction story about the day after tomorrow. No aliens will arrive on Earth to enlighten or enslave us. There will be no traveler from the future warning of impending Armageddon. No shadowy government agency will reveal unheard of technologies, a secret new space plane or spy drone or stealth ship. Absolutely nothing of that sort will occur.
Published on May 22, 2014
by Fred Stesney
Every night the tribe gathered around the fire to listen to the storyteller. The storyteller was most revered and he sustained the tribe as much as the hunters. When he spoke, the shadows on the cave wall danced and the smoke of the fire took on fascinating shapes. Young and old sat in rapt attention as the storyteller told tales of how the sun came into being, how the pig got his tusks, and how the first men had come from the river. But this night was different, because on this night the storyteller spoke not of the past, but of the future. The storyteller described a land where men built mountains made from trees and how the people lived in these mountains, high above the forest floor. The tribal elders did not understand this story. The cave was where the tribe lived. How could it be otherwise? It was impossible to build a fire in the trees. The storyteller continued, describing an age where the people were the masters of nature, where roots, berries, mushrooms, and even the pig, were created by men for men. The elders scoffed. Everyone knew that mushrooms were gifts from the moon and the pig was guided by animal spirits that could never be controlled. Next the storyteller spoke of men moving through the forest carried by animals that were neither pigs nor reindeer. These animals were much larger and would take them to the places where the sun rose and the sun set. The elders hooted and howled. This wasn't the story they wanted to hear. This wasn't a story at all. It was nonsense. They demanded to hear about how the pig got his tusks. The storyteller sighed and began the tale of the pig. And as the elders settled down to listen, the youngsters drifted a way from the fire and gathered at the mouth of the cave. There they looked up, wondering how the trees could one day become mountains.
Published on Apr 14, 2022
by Eric James Stone
You don't say "I love you" anymore.
Published on Aug 28, 2013
by Eric James Stone
Freefall was the best part of a jump. As she fell, Gina Wright looked down at Earth, half shadowed beneath her as dawn crept toward her landing target in Kansas, and relished the knowledge that she was about to demolish the world freefall record by more than 20,000 miles. This was going to be so much better than her spacejump from the old International Space Station. She would have forty minutes of freefall before she even entered the atmosphere.
Published on Jun 28, 2011
by Phillip Temples
The boy scratched his chin. He nodded to himself; then he moved a group of pieces a few centimeters on the board. Seconds later, the computer reacted by rearranging the opposing force into two separate, smaller groups. The boy thought this was a good sign. He would know better after two or three more moves. Philip used to play the game frequently with his father. His father was a great strategist--he taught Philip well. His father had praised Philip's skills. Philip was an exceptional player--especially for one so young. Indeed, at eight years of age, he could outplay most adults. He wished his father were still alive so that they could play the games together.
Published on Dec 3, 2012
by Hope Terrell
It happened between the space of one breath and the next. Focus, the instructor had said as the teletroopers lined up for their solo jump. Concentrate on where you want to go, and make the jump. Ashley had closed her eyes, stepped on the teleport platform. Deep breath. She touched the neural-interface on her headgear to reassure herself it was still there, then hit the jump key. But in the moment everything faded away, as she was disassembled piece by piece, the doubt and the panic and the fear welled up in her throat--I can't do this, I'm not ready for a solo jump--
Published on Dec 19, 2017
by Sarah Totton
"Yes, hello, sir! I am here at your home to cook you a gourmet meal. Why? Because when our eyes met at the grocery market, you made a remark about my milk-producing organs and intimated you would like to make my further acquaintance. I am therefore here to make you dinner. Yes, really. If you had not wanted me to come over, you should not have broadcast your thoughts so freely. It is too late now, in any case. I am here. Please show me to your kitchen. "What? No, you must have hit yourself on the back of your head with that Lagostina stainless steel copper pot. I was nowhere near you. My, this pot is blunt. Are none of your pots sharp? What kind of cook are you? No wonder you need help in the kitchen!
Published on Feb 24, 2021
by David G. Uffelman
The news first came to the Old Mother through her feet. She leaned forward to rest more weight on the cartilaginous nodes within her padded front feet to create a solid connection with the earth, the better to receive the seismic signals that traveled through the bedrock beneath the gentle rolling grasslands of the Highveld. A muscle in each of her large African ears constricted, dampening the acoustic signals carried by the soft winds, allowing her to concentrate on the vibrations below. Through the rich earth, she sensed the steady movement of the other elephant family, the other half of her bond group. They were on the march, a full day's journey from here. Although she could not hear it at that great distance, she knew that the other family's Old Mother must have trumpeted her distress. Nevertheless, the ground vibrations did not resonate fear or alarm. No, it was grief. "You must join us. We have lost a friend."
Published on Jul 1, 2013
by Sean Vivier
It was another day in the ____(ADJECTIVE)____ Empire. Our Hero served them, not that he'd ever trusted _____(POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY)____. But you lived the choices they gave you. That attitude didn't give him much meaning, but it did place him in command. Of course, not everyone agreed. There were rebels. Champions of ____(ANOTHER POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY)____. Our Hero didn't ask too many questions. He was gruff and worldly like that. He took his team down to the ____(TYPE OF ECOSYSTEM)____ planet.
Published on Jun 29, 2017
by Adam Walker
When the app dropped it was downloaded 12 billion times in the first hour. By the end of the day everybody had it. No one could resist the chance to find out what the future held, even if it was only 3 minutes into the future.
Published on Feb 27, 2019
by Christopher Wheatley
At around ten pm in the Lincoln West Bunker, five miles from the front, radio operator Mike Jackson leapt from his seat so fast he tore the headphone jack clear from the console. "Jesus Mike," said Private Schwartz, who was the only other person present in the cramped and darkened room.
Published on Nov 28, 2017
by Sean Patrick Whiteley
The orange streetlight winked out, which woke the dog, who was a mildly clever Pomeranian, and was easily disturbed by the smallest of sounds. And when the orange streetlight winked out, it went--wink!--and of course, Daisy, the Pomeranian, leapt into wakefulness, yipping and yapping, snarling and barking.
Published on Aug 3, 2020
by G. Allen Wilbanks
I killed a man today. I didn't do it on purpose. It was a mistake. I mean, I meant to kill him--I put my gun to his head and pulled the trigger, there was no mistake there--but when I cut out his heart, I realized that I had killed a human being.
Published on May 10, 2018
by Filip Wiltgren
"This," I tell you, "used to be a record store when I was young. People used to come from all over to browse the records." You look at the dusty building, press close to the scratched and dirty glass. The desert sun beats down upon your back, but you don't mind. The walls inside are covered with dried-out posters so faded that even your clear eyes have trouble reading them, and so brittle that I don't want to open the door, afraid that the wind will shatter them.
Published on Aug 26, 2020
by Sterling Woodburner
"You can tell I'm not evil because I'm pretending to be overtly evil," the politician messaged on the message platform. Ah yes, the politician thought, this is politics. One reply read, "LMAO."
Published on Dec 3, 2020
by Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
Tiffany forced a reassuring smile onto her face. "We're just going to feed the ducks," she told the nurse. "I promise I'll take her straight to the park and back. There won't be any trouble." The nurse raised an eyebrow at Tiffany. "There better not be. And be back before tea, do you hear?"
Published on Mar 25, 2015
by Richard Wu
The morning after the storm, the boy heads to the beach in search of scraps. The sun casts a soft glow across the seashore, transforming murky beach sediment into a kaleidoscopic splattering of color--reds and yellows, greens and blues, a rainbow of plastiglomerate fragments flashing in the light, like flecks of paint strewn across a canvas of sand. The boy watches the rippling colors dance beneath the water's roiling surface as wave after muddy wave unfolds over the shore. His eyes study the back-and-forth cadence, a rhythm accompanying the twirling flurry of loose plastiglomerate sediment.
Published on Aug 16, 2017
by Jun Yi
They refused to delete Amy's account.
Published on May 1, 2015
by Caroline M. Yoachim
After the earthquake, Steven drove to his grandmother's house to check on her. He knew the damage was bad the moment he walked in the door. The entryway tiles were covered in a puddle of spilled memories--a week in the hospital, his grandfather's last ragged breaths, the funeral service in the pouring rain. The iridescent sheen of the memories was dotted with shards of broken glass. So many memories lost, all because his grandmother had used vases instead of something more sensible. He'd tried to talk her into metal, but she liked to look at the delicate swirls of color in the memories. Plastic was completely out of the question, too tacky to put on display.
Published on Jul 12, 2012
by Caroline M. Yoachim
You do not know me yet, my love, but I can hear you in my future. You are there from the beginning--at first just a few stray notes, but your presence quickly grows into a beautiful refrain. I wish you could hear time as I do, my love, but this song was never meant to be heard. The future should be chronobviated, gathered up in feathery pink fronds with delicate threads that waver in and out of alternate timelines. The past should be memographed, absorbed into a sturdy gray tail that stretches back to the beginning of the universe. We humans have neither fronds nor tails, but when the Eternals wanted to talk to us, they found a way to work around that.
Published on Jan 1, 2013
by Caroline M. Yoachim
My family's bridge is four generations old. The outer surfaces are bleached white from the suns, but our nesting caverns are still the same warm gold I remember from my youth. It takes half a day to crawl from end to end, and the apex boasts a view of the southern sea. My ancestors built this bridge with mineral-laden spit that dries as hard as bone. It will last for many generations, but the pond beneath the bridge is shrinking, leaving white rings of salt as the water level drops. When the water is gone, we'll be exposed to predators, and already there is not as much algae as there once was. The time has come to migrate.
Published on Jul 27, 2017
by Caroline M. Yoachim
My senses are overwhelmed by the navy blue rumble of a distant explosion. A hush falls over the barracks as we listen for alien missiles outside. I close my eyes and wait in colorless silence. A coyote howls--a sunny yellow sound--and it breaks the tension in the room. My fellow soldiers return to the vibrant orange of their raucous conversations. I focus on Lorelei's voice--a deep crimson against the orange cacophony. Her words pour into my mind in the color of blood. Lorelei asked me one time what her voice looks like, and I described it as pomegranate red. Despite the rough conditions out here, she's never liked the sight of blood, and saying her voice sounds like pomegranates seemed more romantic.
Published on Feb 20, 2019