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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 came of age during the cold war. For virtually it's entire existence, it's been easier than not to imagine manmade technology leading to cataclysm. Fortunately, our worst nightmares haven't come true, though we are a species dedicated to walking the tightrope in so many ways. Just as stories fall flat without conflict, modern humanity gets bored without courting extinction on an ongoing basis, we suppose. Definitely, a fertile ground for science fiction.

by Janet Shell Anderson
I hate dawn now. He tweets early every morning, and then the squads go out. I've seen them in the blue fogs, here in Georgetown, near the canal, near the Potomac, men in black clothing, masks over their faces. Neos, they're called. Now I'm looking out this dirty window, high above the cobblestone alley where thin cats appear and disappear into the murk. You're sleeping. Don't wake up. Don't move. I hear voices down below, on the main street, M Street, where we used to go and party. Not anymore.
Published on May 17, 2018
by Megan Arkenberg
After sunset, my reflection appears in the black depths of the kitchen window, thin and pale and drunk. The ruins of the gas station are burning in the hills, a sheet of wet gold floating on my chest. I can almost smell the smoke. My eyebrows are dark and straight with frowning, my lips black with the dry, expensive wine I've spent these last four hours sipping from a plastic cup. I can almost see Michael in the angles of my face, the tipping back of my heavy-legged chair, my nervous fingers crumpling the thin red plastic, fingernails black with grease. I buried my brother three days ago. There's some space on the side of the gas station where the ground is soft. Back when Michael and I were little, back before the world ended, we used to bike up the hill to that gas station and spend all of our pocket change on candy bars and toy soldiers. If I came alone, the woman behind the counter would give me a stick of gum for free, to take back home to Michael.
Published on Mar 7, 2014
by Therese Arkenberg
I have loved the stars too dearly to be fearful of the night --Sarah Williams, "The Old Astronomer"
Published on Apr 18, 2014
by Edward Ashton
Listen. They lined us up then, along the edge of the pit. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder, shivering because they had taken our coats. We stood silent, heads bowed, staring down into the freshly turned earth. We breathed in the crisp winter air, and waited.
Published on Oct 6, 2015
by Alan Bao
The Chinese are coming. The Chinese are coming.
Published on Mar 31, 2014
by M. Bennardo
In several items yesterday, the Visitor was variously described as having six legs, eight legs, or "an unholy agglomeration of writhing, thrashing appendages, unable to be counted." The correct number of legs is eight. In our cover story, it was reported that electronics in the city and some suburbs had been disabled by an "electromagnetic pulse, or EMP." In fact, there was no such burst. Instead, the Visitor itself appears to be continuously emanating the electromagnetic radiation.
Published on Jan 3, 2013
by Dave Beynon
***Adult Language in the tale that follows*** "Please."
Published on May 9, 2014
by KT Bryski
Weather Ottawa long term Good gifts for friend's 25th birthday
Published on Aug 3, 2017
by Finnian Burnett
The last gay in the world lives in a glass cage at the Global Catastrophes Museum. I visit every day; I have a season pass. Her cage is on the second floor, in the back, past the gift shop where my mom bought a life-size poster of the Father General last time she visited. The woman paces. Sometimes she writes with a sleek fountain pen, scratching carefully on a giant pad, sprawled on her chair in the center of the room. Her grip is steady and firm. The ink on the paper looks thick and dark, though I can’t read the words from here. The sign on her window says the enclosure is temperature controlled. A sunlamp comes on in the morning and dims in the evening. A group streams past without pausing. She's not interesting anymore, not to them. The last gay, who cares? The Pure Birth League insists a gay hasn't been born in America in over sixty years and once the camps were closed, well, no one knows. I don't know why this one was kept alive. A warning? Her stained fingers, long and powerful, wrap around the pen. Grey hair hangs down her back in one long braid--she looks like Lara might have as an old woman. Lara, who kissed me one day, and was gone the next, taken to the center while my mother convinced the Human Morality Squad that I was a victim, not an instigator. The pens stills and she reaches for the pad, glancing toward my shadowy corner. I know she doesn't see me; she can't. But her gaze doesn't waiver and my knees go weak. She flips the pad and holds it up. You're not the only one, it says. You're not alone.
Published on Mar 28, 2022
by Beth Cato
"I don't like to come here." Grace's words echoed against the gray shells of brick and stucco. "I don't really, either," said Ryan, his voice soft and husky all at once. Their boots crunched through ash as if it were snow.
Published on Apr 7, 2015
by Beth Cato
Bear-bear is silent, and stays silent, no matter how hard the woman squeezes his paw. She feels the weight of him in her backpack purse now, heavy as the world. His muteness bothers her more than the hollowness she once knew in her gut, or the billowing ash that burns her eyes. "I'll find you new batteries, Bear-bear. We won't let Pariyat down." Her voice rasps.
Published on Apr 19, 2016
by Beth Cato
The library was open, all the good that it did. So far, only three flies had entered that morning. Shawna knew it was almost pointless for her to unlock the front door and turn the front window sign to OPEN, but she found comfort in the routine, even though she spent most of her time outside. The Teen Readers' Club Edible Garden was more lush--and more necessary--than ever before. Few of the children dropped by these days, though. The town only had a thousand folks to start, and as the weeks had passed, more people had scattered to the winds. Rumors abounded of cities that still had electricity and some semblance of stable infrastructure, and of others where the situation was far, far worse.
Published on Jan 15, 2018
by Beth Cato
We began to burn the books, and Dad tried to kill himself. Almost all of the extra furniture had been burned over the previous month, leaving the upholstery and padding from sofas and chairs heaped on the big bed in what used to be just Mom's and Dad's room. Me and Taylor stayed in that room all day since heat rises, and we wore so many layers of clothes that it was hard to go up and down the stairs. Anyway, with so many of the walls and rooms empty, the whole house echoed so their voices really carried from the downstairs library.
Published on Aug 18, 2011
by James C Cato
Future Questing for a toilet bowl, I will hike naked through a smoking crater. My small town will have fallen deeper than any canyon, coughing smog, wallowing gutturally. Main pipes will have warped and twisted and the reservoir will have splashed and evaporated in the pit like a burst water balloon. Everything I predicted will have come to pass, except for the rabies--I hadn't considered the rabies. Dogs and cats and skunks will waver drooling in the dim, rushing at human survivors, difficult to avoid. It’ll seem ironic, that thirst drives half of us while hydrophobia rules the others. I will actually swear that the coagulated spit hanging from those rabid animals looks appetizing.
Published on Feb 16, 2021
by Neal Allen Cline
As I waded in the surf of the flooded human city, I saw below me hundreds of thousands of humans struggling against the waves. Many were already dead but humans are notoriously hard to kill. They fought and struggled to their last breath. I respected them for that. I certainly didn't hate them. We just needed their planet, is all. Our own home, Asteroidea, had been destroyed by a supernova.
Published on Apr 30, 2020
by Elaine Midcoh
"You can't be right," she said. They were sitting at their kitchen table, the remnants of their meatloaf dinner already wrapped in tin foil. His gray hair was lit by the sun's rays streaming through the window. She sliced off another piece of peach pie and held it out to him, but he shook his head no.

"Do the math," he said. "You're as good a physicist as me."
Published on Sep 12, 2022
by F. Brett Cox
28. You stand at the bottom of the steps, each worn smooth by over a century of devotion. God's love is manifest in all things; so you were taught and so you believe. Yet the steps rise before you in seeming indifference. They do not care how, or if, you get to the top. Neither are they concerned about the wash of malevolent noise that lies behind you, barely within hearing. Consciousness and purpose lie solely within your head and heart. You lower yourself to your knees on the bottom step, bracing yourself with your hands three steps above. The almost frictionless surface feels more like stone than wood. You begin your crawl to the top.

Published on Nov 4, 2022
by Ian Creasey
Eric Bullen @EricBullen Sothisistheendoftheworld.Whereareallthe superheroes when you really need them? Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve I'm sorry, but before anyone destroys the Earth I must insist on seeing some proper ID. CureFan17 @CureFan17 This is why I'm a goth. Vindication at last! Eric Bullen @EricBullen Who else is listening to Wagner right now? Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve Hey, @CERN, I told you not to press that! #TooLateNow Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen I've been trying to call you but the phones aren't working. Just wanted to say I'm sorry about how it went wrong between us. Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Thanks for getting in touch. Still, being sorry doesn't magically make everything OK. Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen I know, but I don't want the world to end when there's still bad feeling between us. Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Wow, even the Apocalypse has to be about you and your feelings. Everything's always about you. CureFan17 @CureFan17 Did anyone make a backup of the universe? #TooLateNow Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen It's not about me, it's about us. There used to be an "us". Remember the good times we had? Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 You certainly had some good times. Of course, I wasn't there for all of them. Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen Oh, we've been through all that -- it wasn't what you think. Stop obsessing over it. Let go of your anger. Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve Guess I'd better hurry up and start reading Remembrance of Things Past. Don't want to have any regrets! Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Let go of my anger? Now you're turning into Yoda. Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen Soon we'll all be dead. Is this how you want to die: full of anger? Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Is this how you want to die: constantly harking back to the past? Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen Since there isn't going to be any future, the past is all we've got. Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 That doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. CureFan17 @CureFan17 I never learned to play the guitar #TooLateNow Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen OK, whatever. I tried my best. I'll leave you in peace to die alone and full of bitterness. Enjoy your apocalypse. Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Well, I'm sure you have plenty of other guys to try and make up with before the end. Good luck squeezing them all in. Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve I haven't gone down to the woods to see this year's bluebells yet. #TooLateNow Clare Murillo @Clare_83 @EricBullen That's uncalled for. But I forgot that you always had to have the last word. So I'll let you have it, if it makes you happy. Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Thanks. You always were considerate like that. Just not in other ways. CureFan17 @CureFan17 Should have prayed harder #TooLateNow Clare Murillo @Clare_83 Wow, did everyone see that? Looks very close now.... Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve Best fireworks ever! CureFan17 @CureFan17 OK, own up: who decoded the Voynich manuscript? Eric Bullen @EricBullen It's getting bad here. Not long till the end, I guess. Bowl of Petunias @Bowl_of_petunias Oh no, not again. James Holcroft @AuthorJimmy There's still time to buy my book... #WellItMightBeAFalseAlarm Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve Did you ever tell your mother you love her? #TooLateNow CureFan17 @CureFan17 Did you ever tell your boss to fuck off? #TooLateNow Eric Bullen @EricBullen If this is it, if this is really it... then how did I end up like this? Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve Let's all try harder next time. CureFan17 @CureFan17 @MarieSainteBeuve There won't be a next time! Marie Sainte-Beuve @MarieSainteBeuve @CureFan17 There will for me, I'm a Buddhist. Eric Bullen @EricBullen I'm here, all alone. And it turns out that having the last word isn't so great after all. Eric Bullen @EricBullen Not when it really is the last word, in the last hour of the last day. Eric Bullen @EricBullen Clare, you were right and I'm sorry. Eric Bullen @EricBullen Clare? Eric Bullen @EricBullen Anyone?? Eric Bullen @EricBullen @Clare_83 Clare, are you there? Eric Bullen @EricBullen I love you #goodbye
Published on Nov 29, 2012
by Evan Dicken
Hello, and welcome to LifeVault, the world's only remaining digital preservation site. Now, you can access your documents and photos from anywhere without fear of identity theft or summoning the Stained Ear. Our patent-pending Nostalgorithms are tailored to recognize only you and your loved ones, keeping your treasured memories safe, even from Echoes! >Please enter your username: MeghanLin1993
Published on Dec 15, 2014
by Andrew Dunn
Evacuating Earth was arguably the most difficult thing ever undertaken by humankind. I say arguably because we only had recorded history to go off of which picks up sometime after we knew about fire and the wheel, then tapers off just after moon landings and cellular phones. All of that stuff in between--pyramids, circumnavigation of the globe, manned flight--were steps we could've climbed, generation after generation, to reach the heavens. We got distracted though and built steel and glass edifices that towered into the sky, traveled the globe in search of excitement, and then plastered pictures on social media for everyone to see even as we retreated into individualized worlds of our own creation. By the time we realized demise had metastasized in the world writ large, it was too late to convert eons of human experience into a "How To Evacuate An Entire Planet For Dummies" quick read. Our species was backed into a corner, trapped. And like any trapped animal, panic set in. It became our new norm.
Published on Oct 6, 2020
by Dex Fernandez
Squirrel died in the snow. I heard the shot and came running. I found him gurgling and clutching his throat. He'd been hit right in the throat, right above the breastplate of his armor. He was looking at me, pawing the dirty snow with his free hand, and I knew right then he was trying to scream. All that came out of his mouth was blood, bright red, gushing over his hand and his ridiculous bush mustache, what he called his 'flavor saver.' Spraying the dirty gray snow around him.
Published on Dec 23, 2013
by Toiya Kristen Finley
*out'er rims*, n. *1*. areas of continents flooded in 2014 by rising sea levels due to climate change; the resulting regions. Why she brought the kids one last time would be the question always troubling her, never finding its reasonable answer. She told herself she wanted them to see the shore before the world changed again. After all, no one regretted last chances unless they weren't taken. Six years earlier she'd thought of visiting NYC, the bistro where she met her husband, to honor his memory. But she fussed over the budget. Her last chance passed her by, after half of New York City had eventually been submerged by the encroaching Atlantic.
Published on Apr 8, 2011
by Ewan C. Forbes
The skies were burning outside my window but I paid them no heed. During a break up, it is amazing how long it takes for information from the outside world to seep through. My phone had been ringing for days but I was in no mood to talk. When I finally noticed the storm outside it seemed fitting. As far as I was concerned it was pathetic fallacy. I moped around the flat. Moping was all I had the energy for. I tried to do it without looking at things. Everything reminded me of her: the photos, the dirty dishes, the books, the posters. Everything. I noticed that the t-shirt I was wearing was one that she had brought me. I use her shampoo, so even my hair reminded me of her. I cut it off.
Published on Apr 24, 2012
by Alek Gearhart
Before they came our buildings stood tall, our trees were green, and Lady Liberty's face shone brightly towards the Atlantic. Before they came the world was connected and a child could access all information in the palm of their hands.
Published on Nov 6, 2019
by JT Gill
"Catherine," Father says, leaning against the machine. "Do you remember when we could turn off the rain?" I step around beside him, careful not to tread on the headstone at my feet. The leaves of the beech tree are all a-patter overhead, the sky a swirling mass of dark grey clouds.
Published on Mar 17, 2017
by John Eric Gritland
You break the glass of the gun display. A tinny siren rings out in the broken-down gun store, no one is there to hear it other than you. Gently brushing away the glass you pick up two guns: a revolver that looks like it would be at home on John Wayne's belt and a more modern looking handgun you're pretty sure the cops around town used to use. You check to see if they have their safeties on and then put them in your backpack along with a box of bullets. They clink gently against the bottles of liquor already inside. The siren gives a final screech and dies. You put your earphones in and leave.
Published on Jun 19, 2020
by Renee Carter Hall
The crow tightened his grip on the silent power line. He was not going to fly. He was not. He was not. An instant later, he opened his wings, launched from his perch, and flew the next slow circle of his route. The transmitter embedded in his back had long since given out, and the only input he had now was his own sight, nothing augmented, no algorithm to compare what his eyes saw with the surveillance databases. He circled the dead city block anyway, always watching, even though there was nothing left to watch for.
Published on Nov 8, 2012
by Martin Harrison-Smith
Aris was not used to being anything other than the center of attention. Being the King meant he was usually the most important person in any room but today he had been bustled into a corner with a glass of wine Men and women in white coats sat around the control room reading dials and making notes on clipboards. Communication was being carried on in calm low murmurs. When Aris did catch a few words he heard a mix of scientific terms and acronyms that left him no wiser. But that was all right; he did not need to know how things worked. It was enough to know that it did and that the scientists had developed a cheap, clean power source that would put his kingdom ahead of its neighbors by decades, perhaps even centuries. After all, those guys were still playing around with bronze.
Published on Nov 7, 2019
by Loreen Heneghan
Dig graves. Get a car working.
Published on Dec 30, 2014
by Dave Henrickson
When we finally met aliens, most of us expected they would be different. Why wouldn't they be? Different environments, different evolutionary paths--it just made sense that they wouldn't be like us.

Violence as an art form, though. Who would have thought aliens would come up with that?
Published on Oct 26, 2022
by Liam Hogan
All our futures arrived at once. Through a scorched sky, Morlocks flew anti-grav jetpacks above the ruins of a nanotech Statue of Liberty, aggressively buzzing the Apes, who returned potshots from phasers and plasma rifles as holographic adverts extolled the benefits of moving Off World.
Published on Jul 19, 2018
by Liam Hogan
"The history of the world?" the old man growled, his ruined teeth a horror show in what little moonlight filtered through the dense leaves and branches above. "What'dya want that old chestnut of a story for?" The child--the last born human, though neither she nor the old man nor anyone else knew that--sucked on her thumb before piping: "Wanna hear how we began, how great we was, what our an-ces-tors did wrong, an' what our future is? Please?"
Published on May 6, 2019
by Louise Hughes
We agreed we would meet up for the ten year reunion and so, without even a phone call, each of us made our way back. I waited for Martha at the airport in the rain. There were trains waiting beside the platform, bright adverts in their windows encouraging me to climb on board and head south towards the sun and beaches of the coast, but we did not take a train. Rain dripped from her hair to her grin. We wove through the stationary cars on Main Street, hauling our small cases along the pavement, dodging puddles. We weren't quite ready for conversation.
Published on Oct 14, 2014
by Kurt Hunt
On the second-to-last day before the end of the world, I went to work. I sat through four conference calls, only one of which required me to speak, and took a nap in a bathroom stall. I hated myself that day, and when I got home Alex was pissed off that I left laundry to mildew in the washer and Sam was whining about climbing trees--"why can't I, I'm eight!"--and I might have hated them a little bit too. Such a waste, that hate. I see that now.
Published on Sep 28, 2018
by Avery Elizabeth Hurt
"Yes, they are getting out of hand and will likely do themselves in sooner rather than later--and take not a few others with them then they go," Earth sighed and looked around. "And you, Dear?" Jupiter asked. "Will you be okay?" Always solicitous, he refilled her glass without being asked.
Published on Jul 25, 2019
by K.G. Jewell
Transcription of Orkney artifact 345NG, recovered at -10M, 3K SW from primary blast center. Handwritten on loose-leaf paper. Minutes of the February meeting of the Orkney Boarding School Fiction Society, as recorded by Secretary Ewan Charlet, President Sophie Marwick presiding. Vice President Jamie Hurley also attending.
Published on Aug 1, 2011
by Artur Karlov
Jimmy has no arms, see? Never had any. Was born like this. Almost every baby born after the war is missing parts. Some don't have limbs, like Jimmy. Some have bits of the face missing. Some lack internal organs. Those are the lucky ones. They don't live too long after the cord is cut. Less suffering. Jimmy, well... not so lucky. His mother left him with us and took off, as soon as she could walk after the birth. Said she would look for supplies and come back. Said she knew where to find a good stash. We have never seen her again. Maybe she crossed the border, maybe she got shot trying to cross the border, nobody knows. I know she is not coming back.
Published on Jun 13, 2018
by Euphoria Kew
"Do you think there's intelligent life on other planets?" Her question, so cliched at any other time, makes my throat constrict around a sob. But I'm not going to break down. I'm kept together by force of a lifelong habit that's too late to change. Instead, I hold her gaze and smile--like a general might knowing the battle is lost and his armies scattered.
Published on Jun 26, 2019
by Lora Kilpatrick
Atomic explosions are beautiful from outer space. There's a bright, searing flash then a bulbous growth of angry clouds that flatten out like Portobello mushrooms. I watch from a tiny window in the deserted storage bay. Children aren't allowed on the observation deck, including teenagers like me. The psychiatrists say watching the destruction of our planet will warp our fragile minds.
Published on Feb 7, 2020
by Larry Kincheloe
"Happy B-Day", the old man said to the girl as he handed her the package wrapped in cloth. "Oh, thank you Grampy," said the girl. It was her twelfth season and she knew that getting a present on her B-Day was a custom left over from the old days.
Published on Apr 3, 2013
by Michelle Ann King
"You're welcome, caller," Elizabeth says, and disconnects the line. She leans back in her chair, her hands kneading the aching muscles in her neck. One of the temps comes round with a tray, and she grabs a coffee from him with a grateful smile. The red light on her console flashes again. She hesitates, then presses the button to log herself out. She's been on for the last five hours straight, she can afford a five-minute coffee break.
Published on Jan 24, 2011
by Gwendolyn Kiste
"Santa Claus is Coming to Town" No, he's not. But something else is.
Published on Nov 24, 2016
by Sandra Kleinschmitt
The Sun shone bright on the frozen Earth. Aerosols, planted a generation ago by the hand of man, formed a reflective blanket in the upper atmosphere, preventing light and warmth from reaching the surface. Towering ice peaks plunged to meet tundra valleys. Some things crept, walked, flew, swam. In some areas a few things grew. All hid deep at night. All fought to survive. The reflective blanket noted not the insertion of the man made oblong intruders, had no feelings when the oblongs broke into microscopic nanotech, no remorse for creating an ice age. So, there was no regret as the hungry unseen feasted. The aerosols nearest the oblongs were the first devoured. The atmospheric winds pushed them all around the Earth, widening the dinner table. More seats, with more to eat. Feeding like frenzied sharks, the hungry unseen ate enough aerosols that patches appeared in the reflective blanket. Opportunistic Sun beamed light and warmth through the holes.
Published on Jun 1, 2021
by Afalstein JD Kloosterman
It was the start of third shift and Quality Assurance Specialist Wilfrid Sachs was, as usual, typing out his resignation letter on his clean suit's wristpad. ...being long past retirement age, and health no longer allowing me to fulfill my job appropriately, I must again resign my position at Thermadyne Inc. I again thank Thermadyne for the many opportunities it has given me over the years, and trust the company will continue well enough without me.
Published on Nov 20, 2013
by Adam Knight
Dobodo glided down the corridor of the science vessel Stardust. His amorphous form could bend and stretch in the tubes, but his quarry's could not. The specimen, linked to him with an electron tether, was unlike any organism they had yet encountered. Dobodo knew that his teacher, Gleet, would be impressed. Dobodo was the worst student in the class. He was always forgetting something, always giving wrong answers, always finding the dullest bit of asteroid or moon to study and looking like the class fool. But not now. If Dobodo had had a chin, he would have held it high. Gleet glided out of the science bay. “What do you want” he asked as he blocked Dobodo's path. He was distracted, analyzing reports from other students, spread out over the star system. “I have a specimen!” “Of what?” Dobodo beamed as much as a being made of plasma is able. “The dominant form of life. You asked for--” “Where are you stationed?' Gleet interrupted. “My field work is on the third planet in this system. The one with all of the water. It supports life! I mean their atmosphere is a nasty mix of nitrogen, oxygen, and--” “I have cautioned you not to make value judgments of other systems. What is the specimen?” Dobodo pulled the tether, and the creature bounced forward. It was a Moschops, large and solid, with four heavy legs and broad shoulders. Its long tail would have helped it keep balance, had there been gravity. It did not struggle, but that was because Dobodo had administered a paralytic. Gleet, horrified, shimmied backward. “You brought it on board?” “Well, yes, to show--” “Is it still alive?” Gleet asked. “Yes! It is immobile but its vital signs are all--” “Did you touch it?” “Well, yes, so I could place the electron tether on its neck--” “Has it been scanned for parasites?” Dobodo paused. Yet again, he had forgotten something. “No.” Now Dobodo had Gleet's full, exasperated attention. “That organism could infect everyone on this ship! You don't know what it is. You don't know if it carries disease. If it IS a disease. These are basic, basic procedures. When will you learn?” “What should I do?” Dobodo asked, crestfallen. “Take it back! Take it back to that puddle planet, return here, and begin disinfection protocols.” Dobodo slid back to the docking bay, stuffed the dinosaur into the back of a shuttle, and made the trip back to the third planet. He felt badly for the Moschops, and didn't want him to wake up in a strange place, so he returned to the same coordinates where he had found the creature. Or at least pretty close. On the planet's surface, he released the tether. The Moschops slumped to the ground. Dobodo checked again to make sure the vitals were still fine. The paralytic would wear off in a few hours, and hopefully the creature would return to its life with no more than a very strange memory. The lonely shuttle ride back to the Stardust gave Dobodo time to reflect. He wished he could have told Gleet more. How vibrant forms of life filled the water, land, and air. Talk about a stable ecosystem! How those tectonic plates kept bumping up against each other in a titillating manner and putting on such geological shows. How cute their star looked, hanging up in the big blue sky. Oh well, he thought. It is a stable ecosystem. We can come back in a few million years and I'm sure it will all still be the same. Then I'll show Gleet and everyone else that I'm not such a screwup.
Hours later, the dinosaur came to. It stood on shaky legs and looked around. Nothing looked familiar, but there seemed to be adequate food. Life moved on. Then, the Moschops sneezed.
Published on Oct 6, 2021
by Timothy R. Knuck
We ate meatloaf with carrots, celery, and a layer of ketchup that peeled like a second skin. It was reheated and dry and smelled of warmed lettuce. "Eat up," my dad said.
Published on May 8, 2014
by Andrew Kozma
They came to the mountain because that's where their prophets had told them to go. If they went to the mountain, the prophets said, they would be safe and they would be saved. And so they came in droves. They drove cars, they took trains, they rode buses, they hired horses, and they walked. Oh, how they walked. No matter how they came to the mountain, in the end they all walked. Their prophets had called it a mountain, but it was more of a hill topping a collection of hills. Each hill they climbed brought them to a peak and they exulted, but then they looked up. There, before them, was another hill. Behind them was the trail of hills they'd already climbed. The hills collected on the face of the earth like warts.
Published on Feb 18, 2013
by Ike Lang
The broadcast was painfully brief considering the weight of it all. "Citizens of earth," the address began, crackling into existence unprompted across all of your screens.
Published on Dec 7, 2020
by David Glen Larson
The world may have been ending, but that was no reason to throw trash on the floor. The bin was only three feet away. That's thirty-six inches. Simon Sacks could have landed a rocket the size of a flea on a Martian dog's ass, but the chief engineer of the Ark project couldn't be bothered to land a Styrofoam cup in a metal can. Milo propped his arms on the broom handle and stared at the short man in the sweater vest.
Published on May 17, 2012
by Rich Larson
He waited until Eta Carinae was in the viewport, roiling on its stellar winds. It was blinding. "Four hundred times the size of the old sun," he said. "Which, of course, fit upwards of a million Earths."
Published on Sep 26, 2012
by Rich Larson
"I'm doing my very best, you know," Caretaker says, its synthesized voice cool and melodic and carefully betraying no trace of annoyance. Sybil only shakes her head. She is tucked up into the furthest corner of the concrete bunker, her skinny arms wrapped around her shins, nubby crayons and print lab reports scattered around her.
Published on Apr 23, 2018
by Rich Larson
**********Editor's Note: Crude, adult language in this story************ I'm poking the moose carcass with a branch when Masha's call blinks onto my eyeQ. "Hey, sexy," I say, undoing my breath mask. "How's work?" "Why are you in the woods?" Her voice is terse. "Your map's all wonky. You're in the woods, right?" "Went for a run. Stopped to check in on the moose trap." Her shudder gets transmitted as a puking emoticon. She doesn't like me calling it the moose trap. See, the last family who owned the acreage had this rusty old metal swing-set, set up halfway along the trail through the woods. We didn't want to bother with it during the winter, so we left it. This sweltering spring we found a moose, a young bull who'd gotten his antlers tangled up in the chains of the swing and either starved or frozen to death there. Coyotes had already come by and stripped most of the flesh off. The rest was a rotting buzzing mess. Masha really did puke then, all over her new runners.
Published on Sep 14, 2021
by Yoon Ha Lee
At the end of the world, your grave is written not in bitter libations or raven words or elegies breathed across broken glass. Under the dusk of a dreary sun you gather your bones close; across the husk of a weary world you leave behind shadows, but no footfalls. And in the meantime, the foxes come. At the end of the world, all foxes are blind. Their eyes have been plucked out and fed to the everywhere fires, which rise crisp and golden from the mazed streets. With every gun's muzzle-blast, every bomb, every conflagration of inside-out expectations, foxes' gazes rattle through you, in constellations of laughter.
Published on Jun 4, 2015
by David D. Levine
You've got to hold to your priorities, Michelle Fletcher. That's what you tell yourself as you scrub and scrub and scrub at the crusted black grit in your one saucepan. You've got to remember what's important. Your nails are short and bare of polish, ragged and splitting where they clutch the rusty steel-wool pad, and the skin of your hands is red and rough and raw. You have to hope the constant ache in your joints is just from the never-ending effort of staying alive, and not the beginnings of arthritis. There are no decent doctors here. You've only yourself to blame, 'Chelle. You got distracted again, got thinking about what you would have done with a nice salmon filet back in the Heron Point house, and let the rice burn in the pan. Oh, you managed to save most of it, and gave the least-burned bits to Tom and Janie, but the part you kept for yourself tasted of charcoal and shame. A fitting punishment for letting your mind wander. You have to stay on your toes if you're going to keep your family alive on a pitiful half-cup of rice per person per day.
Published on Mar 25, 2011
by David D. Levine
Joan put a hand into the beam of her headlamp, carefully inspecting the white LED light on her pale, pale palm. Was it fading already? She checked her fanny pack to be sure she had a spare battery. Sometimes she thought it would be easier to do her foraging during the day. But going out by night not only avoided the need for heavy protective clothing, it was less disturbing. At night she couldn't see the roiling brown sky, or the blackened shells of burned-out buildings, or the bleached and crumbling remains of billboards and road signs.
Published on Oct 1, 2010
by Ken Liu
"When I was little," Dad says, softly chuckling, "the Moon was so small I thought I could put it in my pocket, like a coin." I don't answer because there's no time to talk. The tide is coming.
Published on Nov 1, 2012
by Samara Lo
Three students. That's how many of us show up today. Last week there were four. Class gets smaller every time, but we still gotta come. I don't remember being this excited back when school was all moldy demountables with creaky ceiling fans. It's the practical, hands-on learning that has me hooked. Our teacher, Mrs. Hyde, makes every subject relevant. She still teaches us the classics like, "How long is that piece of wood?" Mathematics. "Where was it found?" Geography. "Is it from the strongest type of tree left?" Biology. I study hard to make Mum proud. Top of the class, last teenager standing, and all that. I try to ace every subject. Except History. Mrs. Hyde wants us to learn from it. But in truth, no one wants to remember the before. Sometimes Mum and I talk about that day though. The day the solar flares hit. Warm spring air perfumed with lavender. A roast in the oven, crackling with the occasional pop. Politicians with polished hair and pressed suits choking up the news. "Stay calm. It's business as usual." Their flowery speeches could've talked Mother Teresa out of sainthood. Experts joined them behind the podiums and dazzled us with science. "The sun gets angsty all the time. Our planet's magnetic field will protect us." The oven timer buzzed when the satellites went. No internet, fuzzy television and a phone that always got the busy signal. After the first few minutes of awkward silence, it was like learning to talk again. I didn't know Mum could be so funny. Then the power cut. Family dinner by candlelight followed by boardgames didn't sound too boring. No one thought twice about the nuclear power plants. Turned out they needed electricity to keep their cooling pumps running. Things turned a little uncouth for a bit after that. Mum said it happens when everyone is suspicious of everyone and all humanity is h-angry. It's the animal in us. We forget we're an evolved species. We went from clubs to tools and eventually the wheel, yet it only took one geomagnetic storm to hit reset. At least we got to reinvent school. Every day is a field trip. Sure, the hazmat suit gets a bit stuffy, the de-radiated water tastes salty and lunch is the same old beefy liquid in a pouch, but my classroom is now the sunburnt country that some poet raved about back in Great-Great-something-something-Gran's day. Mrs. Hyde is smiling today. The burning sun turns her hazmat suit canary yellow. It matches the chirpiness in her voice when she yells, "Surprise Physics Quiz!" My heart races. Hands sweat. Breath fogs my vision. I hate surprises. I love quizzes. Then she asks, "How much force is needed to knock down a mass of say... a fifty-kilogram teenager accelerating away from you?" I grin and eye my classmates, while hefting the answer in my hand. "Depends on the club."
Published on Feb 21, 2022
by Matt London
The soles of the dance shoes on Joan Jansen's feet were scored and coated with countless layers of rosin. She bent the shoes up and down, stretching the fabric, and inside, her feet. What else could she do? That was her routine. It wouldn't do her any good to pull a muscle or fall down during her final performance. Clusters of dancers stretched to loosen up, their muscles tense from the crowds and the city. They hummed to themselves while in the pit the band tuned their instruments. Joan eyed her co-star David, who paced back and forth, singing the five hardest notes in the show over and over again. Everyone was nervous, as nervous as the first night of previews. So much could go wrong.
Published on Nov 27, 2012
by Avra Margariti
1. Sobbed in my arms as if the world was ending, then forgot all about it in the morning. 2. Washed the dinner dishes piled high in the sink despite it not being your turn, wrist-deep in foamy water until the skin of your knuckles cracked red and raw.
Published on Jun 4, 2019
by Jennifer Mason-Black
And on the last day came the snow.
Published on Mar 1, 2011
by Steven Mathes
Knight would love to say that he went into the woods to be like Thoreau: to learn self-reliance, economy, solitude, all those noble things that noble people learn. No, he ran for it. He fled. His old mentor Pablo used to say that the thing that you run from the hardest is always the thing that circles around to get you. Knight ran into the woods to escape persecution because of his old age. He ran for his life, and now he stumbled along a dark country road. He had many miles to go before he would be in the true wilderness, but it was already pretty bad here. Weeds sprouted through the cracks in the shattered pavement, and the screams of predators carried through the failing light. Grizzlies roamed these woods nowadays, not just the timid black bears of his youth. There were big cats, cougars, not only the spooky but small bobcats. There were coy-wolves bigger than timberwolves, huge packs of them. Worst, of course, were the feral humans like him.
Published on Jun 15, 2012
by Will McIntosh
It took a moment to place the sound, because no one should have been making it in their house. It was the soft, rhythmic squeal of a mattress and the wheeming of a woman approaching a stifled climax. The sound sent an icy blast through Phoebe's stomach. She had begun to suspect, but only in the abstract. The shift to concrete was jarring. He wouldn't humiliate her like this, would he? In this tiny house, with his mother home?
Published on Oct 14, 2011
by Lynette Mejia
The little girl holds the delicate tissue paper carefully between thin, soot-stained fingers. The scissors are old and dull, handles missing their plastic covers. Blisters have formed on her hands where they've pinched, though she barely notices. Pain is an old friend now, and besides, she doesn't mind the company. She works slowly, deliberately, tracing the shapes with the stub of a burned pencil before cutting them into small, wrinkled hearts. The translucent scraps pile around her feet like snow, and she smiles at the memory of winter.
Published on Aug 17, 2017
by Lynette Mejia
First Movement You are eight years old and lying outside at night, staring up at the stars. There is no light pollution because you are far from any city, and because the electric company shut off the power three days ago. Inside the rusted travel trailer the heat was suffocating, so Mama dragged the mattress from her bed out here onto the thick green carpet of grass. Even with the mosquitoes and without much in the way of breezes, this is much better.
Published on Sep 4, 2018
by Sean Melican
I sneezed. My daddy held his hand over my mouth. "Hush, son, hush, all right?" He buried my face against his shirt, which smelled stale and faintly of rice, beans, and collard greens. "I love you. Try not to sneeze for a while, ok? Not 'til we're up there and then it's ok." His big hand pressed me tighter to his chest. My memory of walking through the doors is just those few moments. I don't remember standing in line.
Published on Apr 5, 2013
by Bernie Mojzes
The bells of Strahov Monastery hadn't rung, I'm told, for over eighty years. Termites got into the thick wood beams some twenty-odd years before the building was boarded up and abandoned. Or maybe it was carpenter ants. Or maybe it was just dry rot. The details don't matter. What matters is that steel I-beams were set into the millennia-old wood and stonework and the ancient bells welded to them to prevent catastrophe. I've seen them. There's no way they can ring.
Published on Sep 16, 2011
by Timothy Mudie
The end of the world is a rolling snowball, a speck of dust accumulating debris until it’s so massive it has its own inexorable pull. And what do you call that but fate? Nicholas stands atop the hill across the street from the house where he grew up. Where he sledded as a boy; where he snuck kisses and beers as a teenager; where he read and dreamed in the sun on summer afternoons. He breathes deep an infinite number of worlds, a kaleidoscope of possibilities deep in the parts of his brain and heart that extend beyond rational possibility. And then everything--each robin tugging earthworms from dirt, each dancing molecule. Stops.
Nuclear warheads feel no emotion, take no offense at minor slights or major provocations. They recognize no borders, hold allegiance to no nation. They dream only of fission and fusion. The problem, of course, is that their wielders dream of other things entirely. When Nicholas walks to the top of the hill across the street from the house where he grew up, hand in hand with Terry, their smoldering secret love swells within Nicholas’s heart, fizzes like baking soda and vinegar in his fingertips. This evening, watching the sunset, he knows they will share their first kiss. What he does not know is that hundreds of miles away, silos open. Missile fuel ignites, and the weapons rumblingly glide skyward. Retaliation begins before the first bomb explodes. Nicholas holds Terry’s hand, eyes watering with sadness and pain from the glare, as uranium isotopes split or come together. As the shockwave disintegrates the boys, leaving behind nothing but mingled dust. The end of the world is a rolling snowball, a speck of dust accumulating debris until it’s so massive it has its own inexorable pull. And what do you call that but fate?
Gray goo. Such a silly name for an apocalypse. Nanotechnology run amok, replicating exponentially and without end. Spreading from the university lab where they inadvertently learned to create more of themselves. The laboratory’s inhabitants become their own machines. Science never interested Nicholas. At university, he studies literature. As he retreats to the top of the hill across the street from the house where he grew up, he intends to write a poem about Terry and his own broken heart. Winter break from freshman year, the grass beneath his feet crunchy and cold. The nanobots overtake the world so swiftly, with so little warning, that Nicholas doesn’t even have time to call Terry to profess that he will love him in this life and every other, before the tiny robots consume him, heart and brain and all. And then everything--each robin tugging earthworms from dirt, each dancing molecule. Stops.
No one in the government biological warfare lab ever watched a movie or they would have foreseen this. No manmade virus ever infects only the enemy, ever stays confined to test tubes. They cannot be targeted. They evolve and spread and reproduce and kill. Maybe if the scientists and their bureaucratic superiors spent less time devising doomsdays and more time at the cinema, things would be different. Nicholas expects to be alone on the hill across the street from the house where he grew up. He climbs, coughing black mucus. Pus streams down his cheeks. Clumps of hair drop from his head and trail behind him like breadcrumbs. Like a sick dog, Nicholas drags himself to his favorite place in the world so he can die. In the clearing with the flat rock where he likes to sit, he sees Terry through rheumy eyes. Waiting. They weep, press chapped and bloody lips against sweaty foreheads. The end of the world is a rolling snowball, a speck of dust accumulating debris until it’s so massive it has its own inexorable pull. And what do you call that but fate?
The odds are astronomical. A bitter joke that has been made by millions since the concurrent asteroid swarm and solar flare was announced. Either event could potentially end life on Earth, wipe out human civilization at least, but both together? It’s pointless to blame the astronomers, the space agency engineers. They did everything they could. Minutes left, Nicholas stands with Terry, their family and friends around them at a makeshift altar on the hill across the street from the house where he grew up. Though no one could blame them, their smiles aren’t bittersweet. They will spend every moment of the rest of their lives together. The assembled murmur their own farewells and I-love-yous. The sky above is so loud, and so hot. And then everything--each robin tugging earthworms from dirt, each dancing molecule. Stops.
The earth trembles, rolling like waves upon the ocean, which currently holds only a third of its creatures, which has now dried up by one third, which now turns to blood. A cloud of locusts with lions’ teeth obscure the charcoal-black sun. Three weeks since Terry’s car was sideswiped into a highway guardrail by a drunk driver, two weeks since Nicholas stormed out of the funeral, crying and cursing. Now, listening to the wails of lamentation that fill the sky, so thick he can almost reach out and touch them, Nicholas thinks, Maybe there is a God after all. Which makes it so much worse. On the hill across the street from the house where he grew up, Nicholas digs his hands into the grass as if he can hold onto the world. Nicholas rages against this dying of the light. He will not forgive. The end of the world is a rolling snowball, a speck of dust accumulating debris until it’s so massive it has its own inexorable pull. And what do you call that but fate? And then everything--each robin tugging earthworms from dirt, each dancing molecule. Stops.
Published on Feb 8, 2022
by Kurt Newton
Yup, it's Groundhog Day here once again at East Coast Sector 3 Shelter H, and we're gearing up for our annual Groundhog Day extravaganza. The Mayor of Pittsburgh is here, and his beautiful family, along with a host of wealthy dignitaries from the business community and sports and entertainment fields who were lucky enough to secure a spot in our lovely underground facility. I'm your emcee, William "Bucky" Halverson. Can everyone hear me?
Published on Jul 29, 2020
by K. C. Norton
"I'm tired, Viva," I said, blowing into the cup formed by my hands. She said, "Me, too," as she tugged the flaps of her hat low over her ears and looked away from me across the field that would yield no crop but winter now. Her breaths came out in little puffs of steam. "Have you found Daffy?"
Published on Nov 27, 2013
by Anya Ow
"Crikey, it's a bit grim here in Canberra, innit?" said the PM as he bulled into the meeting room, peeling his facemask off sweaty skin. The men in the room nodded from where they sat clustered under the coldest vent. "How long have we got?" The deputy PM checked his phone. "The fire front's still a fair bit away from Parliament House. Unless the wind changes, we won't need to evacuate."
Published on Aug 10, 2020
by Autumn Owens
We're eating our last meal tonight--a grim Last Supper, except there is no Savior at the table. Everyone is quiet, even Emma, but for once I wish she'd talk. Aunt Nellie pops a bottle of champagne in the backyard as all the adults look on, clapping weakly. Aunt Nellie laughs, her hands covered in alcoholic froth, but it's a manic sort of laugh, tapering to a high pitch and ending abruptly. She pours the champagne into thin glasses and then she falls quiet, too. We slide into our seats on the back patio.
Published on Aug 7, 2018
by Colum Paget
"I see the acid-elms have a new predator," says Zina. "Good," says Olesia, "Death to traitors."
Published on Jan 24, 2012
by John Paolicelli
The Children of Chiron sat silent in prayer as they waited for their holy leader Joshua to enter the temple. The red-robed zealots bowed their heads as they genuflected, making the crowded hall look like a roiling sea of flames. Rebekah looked around at the undulating crimson and wondered if she was in Hell rather than the portal to Heaven. "Mary," she whispered to the woman seated next to her. "Mary, I had a dream last night for the first time in a long while. It felt so real; it looked so vivid, so beautiful. I dreamed--"
Published on Jul 4, 2011
by H.G. Parry
The police had been again in the night. Tommy's bedroom was right near the stairwell, so he could always hear their footsteps thundering up before the sound of glass smashing and the screams. In the morning he went into the corridor to see which door it had been. There were always glass shards crunched into the linoleum afterwards, so he wore his slippers. "The neighbors from Flat 705 have gone," he informed his mother as he came back. "The Wallaces."
Published on Feb 27, 2015
by CTE Peacock
They could have let her off with a warning. That's not what they did. The station was a madhouse, alive with noise, confusion, and air too thick to breathe. There was the press of hundreds of citizens desperate to leave the City in time. Handwritten signs read "Hold on to your children," "Personal belongings limited to contents of one backpack," and "Everyone must go through medical screening before approval to board the train." Then there was the sign that read "No pets allowed. No exceptions." She had ignored that sign, or perhaps she hadn't seen it, intermingled as it was among the crowds, the chaos, the cries of frightened children.
Published on Dec 22, 2020
by Richard Bertram Peterson
The young child pressed her face against the triple-paned window. "Mommy! Mommy! Look! It's snowing outside." She jumped and screamed with excitement.
Published on Mar 9, 2020
by Brenda Peynado
We broadcasted the radio and TV programs, our messages of welcome we thought would show humanity's kind depths, our documentaries of triumph, the math that was our most complicated, and pointed them towards the stars. But Lucha Libre leaked out and so did MTV. The stories we thought showed our dignity only showed how much we were willing to sweep under the rug to mythologize our humanity. So the Sloths came--to put us out of our misery. We call them Sloths because it looks like they're barely moving, just giant blobs of flesh, but the truth is they're moving so fast we can't see it--a million legs all over their bodies so quick the human eye can't catch them, mouths so nimble they spout entire treatises before we've even registered a hum. In the first days, someone caught the Sloths on camera, put it on Youtube in slo-mo so we could see how wrong our name for the creatures was, names the news stations themselves had given us. Then the stations were wiped out. Then we lost access to the web.
Published on May 17, 2016
by Sarah Pinsker
1. A poisonous snake could bite you, and you could die. 2. You could prick your finger on a previously undiscovered poisonous cactus.
Published on Jul 20, 2012
by Pmmg
Strange the night was. Strange that he should be awoken. Strange that anything at all should come so near. Capt. Tiberious stood on the bridge and looked out. There was nothing. Why have we slowed? he wondered, Why wake me? Still he peered into the empty starlit void. Just one moving thing out of place could spell their doom, but he saw none. The console flashed, "Incoming Object," there must be something. The colony ship, "Promise," mankind's last hope. Leaving behind a dead planet, all of humanity had put their hope into this last voyage to a distant star. A lone planet that was so much like their home had once been that it could be used to start over. A brand new world. A world before the depletion and unfettered storms of radiation. A world now so unlike Earth.
Published on Dec 13, 2017
by Kenneth P Regan Jr.
It was a sight to see, the final act. Artists raced, stealing hearts and minds like starving thieves; their works no longer fruits but diabolical tools. Priests and scientists alike fought over short-lived miracles, in desperate attempts at salvation. Some continued with more traditional labor--work they loved or knew best. Others were not so content. Those seeking more joined the battles. Men and women raped and pillaged. They danced as guns blazed, swords met shields and the land and sky turned red. And in that moment, as the world turned its final pirouette and the asteroid pierced the atmosphere, we fighters all discovered stalemate.
Published on Aug 10, 2017
by James Reinebold
I work a register over at Burger Brothers, the one behind the crater from the orbital bombardments three years ago. I've been working there for a while. Since before the gangs, before the fires, before the zombies, and before the bugs. I'd really like to quit, but I'm waiting for the right moment. It's best to move cautiously in the wastelands: stay low, keep behind cover, and don't make noise. Hide from drifters (they only bring trouble). Don't touch anything that glows. The restaurant is about a mile from my apartment. Walking to work each morning isn't as dangerous as you might think. There's plenty of cover in the wastelands. Places of all sizes to hide: trenches, burned out wreckage, drainage ditches, bomb craters, abandoned gas stations, and the big cavernous bug burrows (all dormant now, thankfully).
Published on Jan 12, 2017
by Andrea Carolina Rivera
Palmira dessert is four hours and eighteen minutes away, according to Google Maps. I check it as I drop our bags on the backseat of the car. We’re not taking much, just a few of our favorite things: my books, his medals, our memories. Dan stacks the last gallons of gasoline in the trunk, making sure they are properly sealed before shutting the door.

I take a last look at our house, thinking of all the things we wanted to do before leaving. Fix the leaky shower on the second floor, change the kitchen tiles, have a movie marathon, throw a New Year’s party, get a pet. Perhaps in the future.
Published on May 27, 2022
by Bruce Holland Rogers
Public service ads produced by the Big Three had been running in all the major media: television, radio, magazines, and web sites. Each of the Big Three took a slightly different approach, targeting different consumers, but the basic message was the same. The Brent virus was dangerous. It didn't kill, but it caused permanent changes to brain chemistry. Initial symptoms resembled the onset of the common cold. There was no vaccine. No cure. The best defense was prevention. The ads emphasized frequent hand washing and basic hygiene. Anyone feeling the first signs of a head cold should stay home and submit to a quarantine order.
Published on Aug 13, 2012
by Guinevere Robin Rowell
They announced the end of the world on Friday afternoon. Of course the apocalypse couldn't come on a Monday.
Published on Sep 21, 2011
by D.J. Rozell
"Every night we pray for the safety and long life of Professor Darwish whose tireless eyes warned us in time. And we thank the many scientists and engineers who built the rocket that pushed the Icy Destroyer of Worlds away from Mother Earth." Here I pause for the children to make some small gesture of honor in whatever tradition they find comforting. "The Destroyer was angry for being denied Mother Earth, so he shoved Father Moon who is not so big. This made Father Moon wobble in the sky. But Father Moon is stronger than he looks. He flung the Destroyer far into space never to be seen again. Afterwards, Father Moon shone like a diamond in the sky as a sign that we were safe." When I get to the part about the bright moon, the young children clap while their older siblings watch in silence. This is the show I put on with only a decorated sock puppet narrator and a few cardboard cutouts made by a teenage boy I lost track of months ago. The young children watch as though it was a billion-dollar Hollywood production. I end with some simple science demonstrations dressed up as magic tricks. One never stops being a teacher.
Published on Jun 15, 2021
by S. A. Rudek
***Editor's Note: There is language here that may not be appropriate for young, or PG, readers*** The first time I hear "California Gurls" by Katy Perry, we are heading south on Magnolia Drive toward Montauk Bluffs because we think there might be guns down there.
Published on Oct 13, 2011
by A. Merc Rustad
Benjamin sat on the sidewalk with his favorite dinosaur book, the one about Velociraptors. Up in the sky, the clouds of silver nanobots flew higher and higher until he couldn't see them anymore. It was very quiet now. Benjamin held his book tight so it wouldn't get lost or eaten up, and looked around for Daddy.
Published on Mar 20, 2014
by Darragh Savage
Out his window is Texas. Red earth. The location of Houston where he had once owned a percentage of an oil refinery (did he still?). This refinery he had only seen once, from the window of his chauffeured car as he drove past it on his way to somewhere else, a collection of monstrous pipes and scaffold and fences and oil drums, which as it scrolled by looked as if it were on fire because the light as well as the earth is red there.
Published on Feb 24, 2017
by Chris Scott
"It's the dollar, that's the problem," Mary said. The ladies nodded in agreement. They had just finished their spin class and were having their coffee. But only one because it was so darn expensive here. The city paid for the facility, you think they could lower the cost of the coffee, even if they weren't seniors just yet. They had more than enough money, the way they charged for things! "Oh, yes. We couldn't go to Mexico this year. Or the States." Eunice added some Sweet 'n' Low and surreptitiously put some extra packets in her purse. "Well, what do you do then?" Sharon chimed in. "You can't do anything. Everything's so expensive." "I wish there wasn't a TV in here," Mary frowned. "It's too loud already. Why do they have to have the news on? Why can't they put on The View?" She looked away as BREAKING NEWS flashed on the screen. "SSH!" the next table hushed them. "Put on CNN!" someone else said. Sharon rolled her eyes. "Really." Someone turned up the volume. NORTH KOREA LAUNCHES SURPRISE MISSILE ATTACK IN RETALIATION TO... may have held their attention. Maybe.
Published on Sep 20, 2021
by Elizabeth Shack
At recess the Arks dot the sky like unwinking stars. Ally and her friends aren't supposed to talk about it, eyes wide above the breathing masks that muffle their voices, but they do. Where they'll go, what they'll bring. Every kid Ally knows has a suitcase packed, just in case they win. Hers has photos from the zoo and a birthday card her little brother Rafe drew in red crayon. He called the scribble Mars. The only time they don't talk is after the monthly drawing, when no one can bear it. Some kids, somewhere, were chosen, but it's not anyone they know. At recess no one looks up. Those nights, Rafe crawls into her bed. He doesn't understand--at four he's barely old enough to enter the lottery--but he knows something's wrong. Their parents are crying, and Ally will keep him safe.
Published on Jun 3, 2013
by William Shaw
The world was ending; this was no time for sentiment. I had the last working car in the neighborhood, one hour to get to the designated army base, and no room for passengers. "Please, take my baby with you!" cried my neighbor, holding aloft her snot-nosed toddler. "I'm sorry Mrs. Jones, there's no time!" I put my foot to the floor and accidentally knocked over one of her bins as I shot out of the driveway. Whatever. In just a few hours the asteroid would hit, and the bin would be the least of her problems.
"False alarm, everyone!" the shout came across the crowded army base. It turned out the scientists were wrong. The asteroid would sail right past the Earth, causing nothing worse than a few trippy sunsets. Everyone was sent straight home.
I turned onto my street and saw that Mrs. Jones' bins had been emptied across my lawn. I pulled into the driveway and found her and her toddler standing on my doorstep. Mrs. Jones tapped her foot. "Listen," I said. "I think we've all made mistakes today...."
Published on Nov 25, 2021
by Brent C. Smith
The sun disappeared just now, like a light bulb popping in an empty basement, leaving darkness so complete a brain invents color to compensate. There, then gone, in the space between seconds. Did you feel it?
Published on Jul 6, 2015
by Connor R. Smith
A suited figure careens past the observation deck and slams onto the main galley, hydraulic joints hissing and buckling as they absorb several kiloNewtons of force. Mag-boots allow the creature to walk at an angle parallel to the horizon, like some cosmic deity. Light blooms behind it, and small, dark silhouettes reveal the outlines of the final evacuation shuttles. The huddled passengers look past it in horror. Numbering less than two thousand, pathetic, confused, and reeling in shock, they take no notice of the approaching figure, their eyes instead affixed to the conflagration below that marks the death of everything they have ever hated or loved.
Published on Nov 18, 2019
by Craig W Soffer
The world is supposed to end tomorrow. I'm not worried. Just another in a long string of prophecies made by ancient peoples who got the math wrong. The world will no doubt eventually end, just not tomorrow. I'm an anthropology professor, and tomorrow I'm giving a guest lecture to a friend's computer science class. I've got both feeds open, the feed for anthropology and the feed for AI and robotics, looking for some talking points for my lecture.
Published on Feb 26, 2018
by Claire Spaulding
I call Dani at three in the morning. "They came for my family," I say. "Finally."
Published on Feb 10, 2015
by Eric James Stone
What did the lady find in the future? There was nothing... There was nothing bad there. Nobody was sad in the future. Nobody was poor. Nobody hurt anybody else. Nobody was sick. Nobody did anything bad. You're right, that does sound like a happy place. But the lady wasn't happy in the future. She was all lonely. She wanted to see her little girl again.
Published on Dec 14, 2010
by Kate Sheeran Swed
When the sky first changed, I thought it was pretty. Champagne gold, like a gift. Like a Bond villain decided on the color. The more I look at it, the more I think it's actually the vomit of some alien race that decided to use Earth as a trash can. Could be.
Published on Apr 11, 2016
by Cooper Tamayo
I'd have loads of sex, I said. I'd make amends. Get blitzed. Pig out. Dance naked on a rooftop listening to Bruce: You ain't a beauty but hey, you’re all right. I’d burn it all down. I’d fight. Hide. Jump into the sea. Go out on my own terms. But you shouldn’t trust hypotheticals. We’re terrible with them. When the last day really came, when the sky turned a bleak and sunless yellow, I walked my dog. I fed him bacon, brushed his coat. Then I sat with him on the couch, scratched his ears, and waited while the atmosphere tore away and the world went up in smoke.
Published on Dec 23, 2021
by Karin Terebessy
After the bomb, we learned to walk slow. Slow as acceptance. Laborious and dragging. Heavy as longing. In just a few generations, the big people died off. Big lungs, big breaths, blood hungry for oxygen. We little ones survived. Sipping the sparse breath between.
Published on Dec 10, 2015
by Lavie Tidhar
The dog barked again in the night. I went out into the yard armed with a stick, but couldn't find it. The spectral dog has been haunting my dreams. Who did it belong to? None of the neighbors had kept a dog. The road beyond the communal gardens was clear. It had been empty for weeks. I could not remember the last time I saw a red double-decker bus pass. It used to bring me comfort, seeing the empty buses still pass on the road beyond my window. I imagined myself sitting on the upper deck, alone, looking out at the houses and building blocks going past. I would ride the bus to the end of the line, I thought. I would ride the bus to the terminal and get off and wander alone through rows and rows of silent buses, under a convalescing moon.
Published on Oct 13, 2020
by Brian Trent
During the wedding in Niantic Falls, people tried not to look at the white light in the sky. The overcast heavens reflected on the lake like a massive gray mirror, but the grassy embankment where the wedding party assembled seemed as bright as emerald. Even the pale lawn chairs glowed softly. There had been some discussion of dispelling with the tradition of keeping brides' side and grooms' side separate, particularly since the two groups were so wildly uneven. A full hundred attendees crowded the chairs on the brides' side of the green hill. They gazed wonderingly across the aisle to the mere two dozen guests of the grooms who had come to their lakeside village.
Published on Mar 3, 2014
by James Van Pelt
Bri told me the lift ships to Terra Station took off Tuesday and Friday mornings from Campbell Field. They made the cabin look like an old-time luxury liner, like a zeppelin crossing the Atlantic, with wooden wainscoting and brass fittings. She said stewards in white jackets and white gloves served champagne in souvenir flutes engraved with your takeoff date. The ship held five hundred colonists, chosen by an international lottery, but because separating loved ones was cruel, the lucky could choose three people to go with them. It could be family members or friends. Lottery winners had all debts paid, and if their leaving deprived a family of income, the corporation provided absentee pensions to prevent suffering.
Published on Jan 19, 2016
by James Van Pelt
Never start with the weather. But what if the weather is the whole story? Solar weather to start with, but also the weather as I write this? Wind rattles the windows. It whistles, moans, and whispers like sheets sliding on sand. Rain taps its fingernails against the glass. Electricity went out hours ago. I find matches in the drawer by the stove, but it takes a while to locate the candles stored in a box with the Christmas decorations behind the suitcases and winter coats. Good thing the phone has a flashlight built in, as long as its battery holds out. No phone signal though. Turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to save energy. It's funny how useless a building feels without power. Wind stole the house's voice. Family is away visiting back east. No kids. No fans. No refrigerator. No television. Although, to tell the truth, I don't miss continuous disaster coverage. Magnetic storms. Coronal mass ejection (a CME). That's what they said before the lights went out, but they said the event would be just a few hours, and it shouldn't affect cars! I don't think the authorities know what's going on.
Published on Jul 22, 2016
by James Van Pelt
Spices and creative thinking in the kitchen offer the diner looking for the best culinary experience no reason to despair in these new and challenging times. The stores have long ago been sacked, of course, shelves cleared, and many burned to the ground, but they were obvious targets. You won't discover the ingredients you need there, and certainly not the main courses. The last time I found anything useful in a store was last year, and it was a box of oatmeal that had been kicked under a counter. Mice had been at it, but what remained, cooked with a pinch of wild peppermint leaves (bruised but not shredded), and topped with three poached robin eggs smelled delicious and has lingered in my taste bud's memory since.
Published on Aug 18, 2017
by James Van Pelt
George walked the long, curving street, head up, watching the shadows. A midnight stroll wasn't safe--too many animals that used to avoid the suburbs had lost fear--but at night he could convince himself the neighborhood was the way it had been a year before. He pretended normality, even though the city had never been this dark or quiet, and he kept his hand on the bear spray in his pocket. Thirty-foot range. He had a case of them back at his house. Foxes owned the city now, and dogs and bears and deer. Eventually, he supposed there would be wolves. They called it the Three-Day Plague. A touch of something on Monday. A cough and fever on Tuesday. Dead by Wednesday. Not everyone caught it at the same time, but the progress was the same. George had retreated to his house to wait for the inevitable.
Published on Apr 12, 2019
by James Van Pelt
I went to the gym on the day before the world ended. No one greeted me at the door when I came in, but I scanned in my member number anyway, surprised that the place was open. The bank of elliptical machines was empty except for a young woman in a college sweat shirt and pink running shorts who worked the pedals hard, pushed the handles quickly, efficiently, sweat dripping from her chin and elbows.
Published on Jul 12, 2019
by John Van Pelt
"What is it!?" Boy's eyes sparkled. "Is it anything?" "Let me sit first, won't you?" I steadied myself with my good arm, and sat heavily on an Elder stone. "Let me see." I took the rectangular block from his grasp with both hands. It was lighter than I expected.
Published on Feb 23, 2012
by Sean Vivier
“Thank you for coming. We wanted to talk to you about your submission. We have some notes. Is that all right?” “I mean, sure. I’m still at the beginning of my career. I can only stand to improve.”
Published on Jun 14, 2021
by Damien Angelica Walters
Hush Leda sleeps within a nightskin.
Published on Feb 28, 2014
by Damien Angelica Walters
After the end, you don't have to go to school anymore. No more sitting in Mrs. Jenkins' fifth-grade class, holding your breath whenever she starts calling on people for answers. And maybe it wasn't that you didn't have the answers, maybe it was that she made you stand in front of the class and explain them to everyone else, and maybe you always hated that. You also don't have to ride the bus anymore and that's even better than not having to stand in class. Greg, Tyler, and Shaun, the boys who sat in the back seat, always picked on the girls. If you were pretty, they picked on you a little--pulled your hair, tried to grab your books. If you weren't, they picked on you a lot--names and jokes and if they pulled your hair, they pulled it hard and if you cried, they laughed. You think the bus drivers knew; they just didn't care. Or maybe they were afraid what would happen if they cared.
Published on Jun 10, 2016
by Nathan Wellman
Daddy, watch me do the airplane thing! Robert shushed Dinah and told her to keep still. She was jostling the other people in line. Theyd been here for eight hours, but he hadnt heard a single complaint from anybody. What did they have to complain about, really? Up ahead their shuttle to safety was belching steam as the engineers put on the finishing touches. Soon it would be up, up, and away. Bye bye Earth. Bye bye apocalypse. They would wait with perfect patience.
Published on Nov 25, 2010
by Gwen Whiting
After the bombs dropped and the sickness came, when everyone was smashing windows and building barricades out of canned goods and hoarding gasoline in old cans, my mom said that old man Carter robbed a candy store. When people first heard about it, they thought he was crazy. Especially in those first days when it was hard to even get water, and nobody had power or knew how to get it. Half the time the city was dark, and when it wasn't, you didn't want to see what it looked like anyhow. My mom learned to like the taste of dog, she said. But every time she talked about it, she cried. But eventually, everybody got used to the dark and to eating whatever the old world left behind, whether that came in a dented can or had a collar around its neck. I heard some people did worse, but we didn't know anybody who'd admit to it. Once that happened, old man Carter started selling chocolate. He never had much on him, and no one ever knew where he hid it. He'd come around to the squatter flats and to the old skyscrapers the gang took over and he'd knock on doors and wave at people. Once in a while, he'd yell out real loud, "Chocolate!" but that wasn't generally necessary. Us kids watched for him. Some of us even thought we could smell him--that milky scent of sugar and cacao that made your mouth feel all soft and melty inside. He'd trade it with our parents, a bar at a time. Sometimes for food, other times for bullets. Carter wasn't too particular about taking what was offered. It was the trade he was interested in, chatting back and forth about who ruled what neighborhood, where water could be found that week, who was having a baby, who lost one. When Carter sat down next to our fire, it felt like the old world my mom sometimes talked about, where people drank coffee together and talked about other people. We didn't know gossip real well, us kids. To gossip, you had to have something to gossip about and we just weren't allowed to get close to other people anymore. When he came, my mom didn't look sad anymore for a few days. Sometimes she'd melt part of the bar into hot water, and we'd take turns drinking it a sip at a time. Carter liked kids. He saved squares of chocolate and if you were lucky enough to catch him on the road, he might give you one. Except that he'd stand there and make you eat it while he watched. Somebody told me once that he'd given a kid chocolate and one of the rover gangs found the kid after Carter walked away and killed her for it. I don't know why nobody ever killed Carter himself--I guess they were too afraid of losing that chocolate he'd hidden. I grew up dreaming about it. I guess we all did, even after things started to get a little better and a windmill got built and things like power and electricity seemed like they maybe weren't things our parents made up to help us go to sleep at night. But nobody had figured out chocolate yet. Then one day, Carter came to our squat, coughing and dragging. I had to practically peel him off the wall to get him to come inside. His skin was awful yellow but at least I didn't see any sores or pockmarks. Maybe he just ate something, I figured. The rovers who are left aren't fair about their trades; half the time, they'll give you something spoiled just out of spite. "I don't know what we got for medicine," I told him. He shook his head. "I don't need none. I'm dying, girl. Ain't something I ate. It's just old bones and an old heart telling me it's time to go. Fetch your brothers and your mom. Anyone you can find. I need to tell you something." I'd always thought I was Carter's favorite; we all did. But for him to come here to die, well, now I knew it was true. I went hollering through the street that old man Carter was dying. It didn't surprise me that anyone with ears started running toward our squat. It was a good thing that the walls were half-gone, the way that people started crowding around the building, trying to see in. Trying to hear what he had to say. Wondering what was going to happen to the chocolate. He was wheezing and gasping by the time I got back, holding his chest. I hoped somebody had thought to ask him for a bar of chocolate or maybe even just some chewing gum. We hadn't seen Carter in months and even with him breathing like that, I couldn't believe he was dying. "I'm dying," he told us all again. There wasn't much of a noise at that. No one really knew what to do. On the one hand, we were used to death. On the other hand, it wasn't generally a natural death with someone announcing it beforehand. "I just come to tell you--I buried it all. The chocolate." Now that caused us all to make some noise. Whispers and murmurs and a couple yelps: it probably would have gotten worse if he hadn't raised his hand for silence. "It's the only fair way. Finders keepers. It's all in different places so you'd best get looking." His head slumped back on an old t-shirt my older brother had wadded up and stuffed under his head. After a while and a lot more talk, people wandered off. I wished we had a shovel just then. We could have sold it for a lot of bullets. Whiskey, maybe, or even medicine: the real stuff that came in bottles. When everybody left, my mom told us to make sure we had the gun loaded. There was no telling if someone was going to come back to see if Carter'd left us a farewell gift. I asked my brothers. He hadn't. I went back over and sat next to the old man. Dying's a lonely business, I've been told, and I thought he ought to have company. He slept and he woke and fell asleep again. Just when my own eyes were starting to close, as sun was coming through the walls, he whispered something to me. "There ain't no more." "No more? No more what?" I asked, but by then, he was gone. But I knew. He'd died just because he didn't have anything more left to give. No lollipops or chocolate drops or butterscotch pieces. No chocolate. Over the next few days, I watched people dig. For once, they weren't shooting each other or squabbling. Us kids made digging tools out of old nails and a few pieces of rotting wood we found. Didn't get any chocolate but we found an old can and some scrap metal. It didn't last. At least not for everybody. We all went back to doing the things we'd been doing before. Every so often, you'd see someone look at the ground and lick their lips and you kind of knew what they'd been thinking, even if you didn't talk about it. But the story lived on. And you'd see a kid digging at the ground and grinning, long after no one talked about what chocolate was or how it tasted. That's when I understood old man Carter.
Published on Oct 22, 2021
by Sean Williams
A fine day down here means sky like a baby-blue bowl blurring into the horizon in all directions and no wind to speak of. Six degrees below freezing. Cass heads inside to tend her garden.
Published on Sep 8, 2017
by Filip Wiltgren
Published on Jul 4, 2019
by Myrto Lida Zafeiridi
The sky had a brilliant purple color and the air seemed somehow fresher, more fragrant than usual. The temperature was exactly right--not too warm, not too cold. All in all it seemed like a perfect spring day. How ironic that in a few moments this world was about to be destroyed. A few hours before, there had been an announcement on every TV and radio station of the planet.
Published on May 11, 2017