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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

Future Societies

What will tomorrow bring? Utopia, dystopia, a muddled, uncertain middle ground. There's room here for near future semi-realistic explanations and beyond the beyond post-singularity nightmares. Let's see what develops.

by Dustin Adams
Every year, a few more kids from my elementary school vanish from people's memories. Today, we've arranged our desks in a circle and Mrs. Witherspoon is explaining that Tracy Peters has gone to a better place. Tracy was struck by a car while riding her bike. She will be remembered until our next dose of Pathway. Then, only I'll remember her.
Published on Jun 11, 2013
by Edoardo Albert
"Which is more important, books or people?" The question was posed in jest, but over the years I had come increasingly to believe that if the librarian's veins were opened, ink would flow from them rather than blood. Even so, I did not expect him to answer as he did.
Published on Aug 5, 2011
by S. R. Algernon
I saw the court through Athena Washington's eyes. I felt a quiver in her lungs with each intake of breath. Her muscles ached for rest, but training and adrenaline kept them going. Her palms sweated as she bounced the ball. The score was 101-99, with the Blue Birds trailing.
Published on Dec 12, 2013
by Matthew F. Amati
Speckled darkness where the Earth used to be. Such a privilege, to watch from the deck of the Titanium Elite Royalty Lounge.
Published on Sep 7, 2020
by Matthew F Amati
Tours of the Pillars of Creation will end at 11:00 AM.
Published on Sep 29, 2016
by Matthew F Amati
Audrey Winters rummaged through the fridge. "Honey? We're out of lunchmeat! Can you go kill us a neighbor?" Ron Winters set down his newspaper and groaned. "The rate we go through food around here!"
Published on Mar 22, 2017
by W. Sean Arthur
Pay attention. This may be my only chance to communicate with you. Read carefully, and think--really think--about what I'm saying. Please. You believe you are in front of a primitive computer, reading text on its screen. You believe you are safe at home or at work, and likely in good health. You believe the year is 2011 AD.
Published on May 30, 2011
by Joe Aultman-Moore
In this, the best of all possible universes, we have the Heisenberg certainty principle.

In the Heisenberg certainty principle, one predicts exactly how the measurement of the position of a particle will change its velocity and how the measurement of the velocity of a particle will change its position.
Published on Nov 29, 2022
by Daniel Ausema
As Hevsen tied the new ladder together outside the workshop, his knot slipped on one rung, sliding over a tiny bulge in the wood. No big deal. No one who'd grown up in that city of ladders and clock towers would ever fall because of a loose rung. He finished the rest and secured it to the workshop doorway with a solid modified double hitch that wouldn't slip in a hundred years. Then he climbed down to his waiting spider, fired up the engine, and drove down the city's webs to enjoy the evening. Six months later, his uncle Shaln was climbing with a box of bolts and gears and other hardware balanced in his arms. When the rung slipped, he lost control of the box, only righting it after a single nut had slid out the box's handle and fallen into the city below. Shaln himself had been in no danger. He quickly forgot the episode as he brought the hardware inside and set to work on his latest commission, a palm-sized butterfly that beat its wings in time to the ticking of the second hand in its tiny clock.
Published on Jun 27, 2011
by Daniel Ausema
We, the citizenry of the city Letura, form up our lines in the amber grass while our home shakes itself free of its foundations. It's real, what the old books say. Had we thought the claims of streets becoming legs some primitive misunderstanding? Had we thought the lines about the buildings coming together to tower above the countryside some kind of religious symbolism? Our caution proves itself merited. The city draws its buildings together into a vast body. A domed shrine becomes its head. Its paving stones bind building to building as they rise upward. I give a wordless shout, and others take it up. The cries echo in angry violence from the barren places where there once were streets. It's a shout of pride in Letura, a shout of defiance against other cities. A shout of bluster to cover our uncertainty. Because what happens next, the old books don't tell. Grave warnings to leave the city at the given time. Strange claims about the cycle of the city's uncanny powers, ideas that we almost dismissed as metaphor. How did a city manifest as a living being? Surely those ancient writers hadn't meant.... Those crumbling books had meant for us to take them literally--and it was fortunate that, even as we doubted, we had done as they instructed. Because of that, here we stand--safe--and there rises Letura. I find my house, tucked into an elbow. My parents' home has become a part of the lower limb. One of many leaden roofs that now encase Letura's legs. Buildings and streets rise high above us, rippling as the city stretches to its full height. Letura's face is a fountain where I drank just yesterday. Its domed head is crowned with the peaks of many roofs. Letura begins to lurch away from its foundations, and we cheer. It leaves behind cellars, storerooms, the buried dead, and sets off across fields. We join at a distance, keeping pace. Letura makes its slow way toward our neighbors in Dahlet, a lazy city whose citizens don't have to work for the grain they farm or the trade that passes through. While we work every day for our city. What will our Letura do to those sluggards? Excitement builds as we follow. Let it crush their buildings. Let it take revenge for the riches Dahlet has stolen from us, our avatar of jealousy and vengeance. Our marching turns martial. Soldiers and bakers, children and elderly, we form ranks and urge our city toward its pitiful prey. We burst into a bloodthirsty song. The first houses of Dahlet come into view too soon. A steeple appears over the rise when we are still far from the city. Far from where the city should be. The steeple is followed by other buildings, by cobbled streets cobbling together a vast and terrible conglomerate monster. This is why our Letura has taken its shape. To fight the evil that is Dahlet. To vanquish the enemy city before it can spoil the land. Of course it was necessary, the rising of our city to protect us and proclaim our status above the avatars of other cities. On the far side of the valley, the lazy people of Dahlet fall into uneven ranks. Their voices raise an uncouth song of wickedness. It falls to us to defend the world, to cleanse the land for our children's children. The cities stomp down the hillsides toward each other. We hold our breaths. What will it sound like when they battle? I imagine a great storm, with the patter of raindrops replaced by falling rocks. I imagine an earthquake, tearing stone from stone. The buildings of Dahlet will crumble. Some of our own buildings will likely fall as well, walls that will never hold up a roof, streets that will require new paving stones. But Letura is just and will surely triumph. Then the people of Dahlet will be crushed for their lazy, wicked ways. That last part is up to us. We surge to the crest, ready to charge, as they clamor opposite us. Letura reaches the rill at the bottom of the slopes first. It plants its feet. I can scarcely breathe through anticipation. Its legs, cased in lead, surely give it the solid base it needs to wrestle Dahlet into submission. I fix my gaze on its arms, willing them to rise, grapple, throw the enemy to the ground. Instead, Letura bows. The plazas of its waist bend, flex, as it abases itself before the other city. Our eager anger drains away. Are we to serve them, those lazy ones? We grumble in shock, and the people opposite us crow as if in victory. What will Dahlet do to our abased city? It could pummel Letura into the dirt from this angle. It could scatter the stones of our homes throughout the valley, so that our city will never rise again. A cry of mourning rises in my throat, a terror of uncertainty and loss. By then, Dahlet has reached the bottom. That other city bows as well. A bow of greeting, a bow of recognition and camaraderie. They rise from their deep bows and pass each other, each heading onward. Each making straight for the scars on the land where the other has been these many generations, for the cellars left behind when the other rose to its feet. What does it mean? The ancient books gave us no guidance, no warning for this. We humans are left stranded, uncertain. Do we fight? Do we continue to follow our city as it moves? Do we go back to the place where our homes had been, soon to be occupied by a new city? There is no grand moment of realization, of us all doing the same thing at once. Instead we trickle away from the field of no-battle, each making our own choices. I slink back the way I'd come. There is a house above the cellar I once owned. It's larger than my old house, though an awkward fit for the foundation it has claimed. Now, a citizen of Dahlet, I work as hard as before. My neighbors are a mix of those who'd lived here as part of Letura and those who'd come later, following the new city. But all are people of Dahlet, and we welcome new trade and gather in grain and other crops. And make our city better than the lazy people of Letura could ever achieve.
Published on Feb 15, 2022
by Alec Austin
T minus three and a half years: In two weeks, Karl Hoestler will graduate from the Akademie Der Zeitreise with an Untersturmfhrer's commission in Temporal Operations. Karl does not know this yet. At the moment, he stands fidgeting in the chill white hall outside a classroom door, listening to the low voices of his thesis examiners percolate through the gap separating the door from the hallway's polymer tiles. He is afraid of what they might be saying about him and the work he has done, but when they go silent, his fear only intensifies. In that silence, it seems that his future has been determined, its pattern fixed and written in time by the old men in the classroom, these instructors to whom he has entrusted his fate.
Published on Sep 23, 2011
by Avery Barker
The ground is quiet. The cities that used to hustle have crumbled with gardens overgrown and suburbs rotted. They are mere ruins that are easy to glance over. Covered in wear and tear from thousands of years. The plants grow thick over the old broken buildings and dirt has buried the civilizations. They are the only signs of human presence left on Earth. Finally, the animals can roam freely not disturbed by mankind's unjust rule. They thrive on the Earth living out mother nature's plans. The way things were supposed to be before humans took over. The forests are flourishing, and the plant life has taken over. The coral reefs are able to live in peace once again without all of the pollution that the humans caused. The air is clean and breathable. Global warming is a thing of the past.
Published on Jan 31, 2019
by Barbara A. Barnett
Stacie Mitchell moved as fast as her pregnant lady waddle would allow, determined to keep up with Geraldine and the woman's twelve-year-old daughter, Anne. Stacie had a not-so-sneaking suspicion that Geraldine was pushing her this hard on purpose. It would certainly be in keeping with the homeowner association's motto: no sacrifice is too great to see your child's potential fulfilled. Geraldine made a point of showing off her sacrifice, sporting a gaudily beaded eye patch over the eye she had given up to "make my little Anne here the best she can be." Geraldine stopped in front of a Victorian-style home--creamy beige with trim of robin's egg blue. "This is where the Hendersons live. Charming, don't you think?"
Published on Oct 8, 2013
by James Beamon
After two days of space travel, I briefly considered suicide. It seemed the only way to save myself from Kael's crappy rations. The crappiest kind, the white pouches with token descriptions like "MEAT" and "VEGETABLE" stamped across the front in bold, black letters. "Almost there," Kael said as he looked out into space from the driver's seat. I could hear the excitement in my brother's voice, see it in his eyes that danced as if the pinprick stars and sweeping darkness he saw now was unlike any other patch of infinite space.
Published on Jan 5, 2012
by Anatoly Belilovsky
She blinked three times to boot her contacts, and braced herself for her double vision to clear, the real and the virtual images to coalesce, but the lag was a fraction of a second this time, much less disorienting than before. "Oh, I love this new upgrade!" she said and watched him stagger momentarily as he booted his own. He looked like a sailor on a ship in a storm, she thought, and playfully willed him a pirate hat and an eye patch and a beard, erected a virror, and chuckled as he did a double take at their reflections.
Published on Sep 18, 2019
by Anatoly Belilovsky
The noonday desert sun beat down on Berkowitz, reflections from the GoebBot's shiny carapace blinding him temporarily. Berkowitz lifted his arm to shield his eyes. "Greetings," said the GoebBot. "Are you a member of the Master Race?"
Published on Dec 10, 2019
by Anatoly Belilovsky
It isn't that we blind people get superpowers to compensate; it's that we pay attention. Cliquot '21 really does taste different from '20; a Stradivarius sounds different from an Amati; and when someone I know walks into the Heart of Darkness, I recognize them, and by the number of paces I know at what table they sat down. "Hello Florence," I say. "The usual?"
Published on Jan 29, 2021
by M. Bennardo
The birds are all screwed up this morning, and for a minute I'm distracted by a swirling flock of swallows that climbs and dives around and around in a crazy loop outside the window. Then I shake my head and say to Njoki again, "I don't want you leaving the house after school." She gives me her scornful look and folds her arms. "I'm sixteen, mama."
Published on Aug 14, 2012
by Mary Berman
The lieutenant is swallowing. "So, sir. You know The Wall." The Wall is a ten-foot-high, two-foot-thick slab of iron-spiked, barbed-wire-topped concrete, spanning the jagged border between the nations of Grattland and Niai. The Grattish built it, and the Commander, a proud Gratt and the man currently suffering the lieutenant's presence, was instrumental in its construction. He's very proud of it.
Published on Aug 20, 2019
by Renan Bernardo
Olaf sold his left eye. He unplugged it from its socket and laid it over the counter. It fizzled for a second, staring at the buyer with a dead gleam.

The buyer, a blind man in his eighties, scanned his thumb on the pay-reader and respectfully bowed his head. Olaf dropped the eye into his hand like a coin. The buyer plugged it and left the shop with a smile, stick under the arm.
Published on Jun 29, 2022
by Hannah C Bialic
"2% originality." The robotic voice clanged out through the headphones as a thin receipt printed out of the wall. The boy frowned heavily, pulled the headset off, and then hung it hurriedly behind him. He jumped out of the seat, and rushed towards the exit, his cheeks flaming with embarrassment. The receipt drifted to the ground unclaimed. The students still waiting in line shuffled nervously.
Published on Nov 11, 2015
by Tommy Mac Bird
Lisa: “What if we say Native Americans discovered the Americas? They didn’t, but it is closer to the truth than saying that Columbus did it.” Lisa is new to the Lion Academy. She was born outside the Block, but somehow ended up living inside of it. The authorities discovered her and sent her to the Lion Academy for reeducation.
Published on Apr 21, 2021
by Mike Blackwelder
The freshly assembled caterpillar inched its carbon fiber segments along a twist of rebar until it got to the ragged end where it began to chew. Its jaws made shiny little divots in the rust. Programmed hunger gnawed as insistent as the real thing but the metronymic beat of tiny wings made it look up from its meal.
Published on Sep 29, 2020
by James Bloomer
Clarke stood on the dunes, watching the party coalesce on the beach. Over the horizon, and the grey swell of the ocean, lay Africa. Beyond their borders. Outside. Lands of suffering. A knot formed in his stomach just at the thought. He shifted his focus, tried to relax, and scanned the crowd for the familiar gait of his brother, longing to catch a glimpse of his face, but from a distance he couldn't quite resolve the features of the crowd. The wind blew hard off the sea, flicking his hair around his eyes and making the task more difficult. The exhibits, consumer products whose trails constituted art, stood on pedestals on the beach, the crowds floating between them. "You've not really entered into the spirit of things, have you?"
Published on Aug 2, 2011
by Derrick Boden
It's pandemonium as we dig into the starting blocks, a hundred three-legged abominations. Our calves tug painfully, grafted to those of our counterparts. The track--a nightmare of gravel trenches and barbed turf--stretches to the arena's terminal edge. The crowd seethes in anticipation of the solar system's largest coming-of-age spectacle. Ready to christen a new generation of Alphas rife with the competitive urges needed to ratchet our species one rung closer to evolutionary perfection. I'm ashamed to be here.
Published on Dec 7, 2018
by Mark Alan Bondurant
"'And they rode away into the sunset...'" "What's a sunset?"
Published on Jul 2, 2018
by Dan Bornstein
To appreciate a good apocalypse you need a front-row seat. The last thing you want is someone's silly head blocking the view. That's how my friend Phil explained his insistence on buying tickets for the nuclear fireworks festival a full year in advance. And he would settle for nothing less than splurging on the Fissionale--the most impressive night of the event. The show was about to begin. We were sitting with goggles and earmuffs ready on our laps. There was a glow of city lights over the horizon; ground zero was densely populated, and much of the thrill came from knowing that the mushroom clouds weren't just for decoration. "What I don't get though," I said, "is how they find new people to kill every time. What kind of sucker wants to live in a place like that?" "Real estate is dirt cheap over there," Phil said. "Nowadays that's enough to make anywhere attractive." The siren started wailing. We hastily put on our protective gear and waited in silence. My heart was pounding. Suddenly the whole sky was lit by a blinding flash. I thought it was the mother of all bombs, the last terrifying moment of human history. But I was wrong. According to the announcer whose upbeat voice bubbled inside my earmuffs, it was just a lowly tactical shell, barely half a Hiroshima. The rest of the lineup left us trembling with awe. My favorite was the vintage thermonuclear Soviet missile, although Phil, always the pedant, was upset that such weapons were included. "They used the word fission in that title," he waved his finger disapprovingly. "Fusion should have been off limits." To him it was cheating, because the effects of hydrogen bombs were intrinsically gorgeous, whereas ordinary nukes required true creativity to avoid visual cliches. But that ended up being the least of our problems, because at some point the announcer informed us that the wind had unexpectedly changed direction and a massive cloud of fallout was heading our way. He advised us not to panic, since it was already too late to escape our painful fate. We were given two choices, which, as it turned out, we had legally consented to by the very act of buying those tickets. We could be conscripted to the cleanup operation, where we would be shoveling radioactive dust until we dropped dead. Or we could be transported to ground zero and live there happily ever after--that is, for a month or two until the spectator area was decontaminated and the festival could resume. Phil and I discussed it and decided to go for the latter option. It was a no-brainer, really. On top of being eligible for affordable housing, we would also get to see the next show for free. And this time there was no need to be so picky about the seats. Nobody's head was big enough to spoil your view if you had the privilege of sitting right under the bomb.
Published on Dec 27, 2021
by Forrest Brazeal
The Silicon Valley Military Contracting Consortium proudly announces that World War 2.8.41 is our biggest and best war ever, bringing hundreds of new features to your favorite battlegrounds across the globe.
Published on Jan 7, 2019
by Jacqueline Lee Bridges
Asza child, you can change your color as often as you'd like. If you fancy pink, you take the pink pill. The pretty girls always choose pink. For Independence Day, most of us take the green pill. It's the only time we have green skin. It doesn't wear well, uneven around the knees and ankles, but it's how we celebrate. Chromos is a free country, but it's not without its rules and regulations. For starters, upon turning twelve we're directed to pick a color for life. If you select pink skin, you will have pink skin, forever. There's no changing our minds after that--something to do with melatonin levels and increased cancer risks.
Published on Jan 27, 2016
by Eric Brown
From: Department of Social Correction,
Published on Nov 30, 2017
by Sue Burke
The man had deep worry lines between his eyebrows, although he was only in his twenties. When he woke up after a restless sleep, he immediately looked at the window. Mid-afternoon sun shone through cracks in the blinds. He checked his bedside clock: 5:51 a.m. The clocks were still wrong . . . and in sudden panic, he reached out for his wife. Yes, she was still there, still safe beside him, or as safe as she could be. She lay with her back toward him, her shoulders bare and beautiful.
Published on Oct 13, 2010
by Katie H Camp
"I'm afraid there's something wrong with your daughter, Your Lordship," the physician said. The lord's chair squeaked as he shifted. He cleared his throat and ground his teeth together. He didn't ask the obvious. He didn't say anything at all.
Published on Feb 21, 2011
by Michael Canfield
The first thing you need to understand about gel, is that there is no reason, at this point, to assume it is in any way harmful. Certainly, if you were to slip in it, fall and injure yourself, that would be bad. So tread carefully. Avoid stepping in gel especially; it is the slipperiest new substance. Gloop is a bit thicker, it has a sort of syrupy, marshmallow-like texture, at least as compared to gloop, but nevertheless--tread carefully. The same applies to gunk, gack, gludge, fludge, and frunk, but we do not have space here to address these relatively rarer varieties of new substance. If necessary, a supplement to this document will be created later. The present document will, from this point forward, confine itself to gel and gloop. Grass grows under gel, and while it does die under gloop, this is most likely due to gloop's property of opacity, which ranges from roughly 88-94%. Grass, due to the nature of photosynthesis, requires sunlight, which it cannot get when covered in gloop.
Published on May 10, 2011
by Aline Carriere
My older sister, Carol, is selfish. When we were little she'd always make everyone late, hog the bathroom, and take the biggest piece of cake. This time she took the whole selfish cake, announcing she's pregnant. She didn't even ask first or discuss it with us, and we had to decide who in our family her baby would replace after the fact. We were in the kitchen finishing dinner. It was just me, Carol, and Ma; what was left of us. Because Carol's a coward as well as selfish she had blurted it out while Ma's back was turned. Ma stood silent at the sink. She has a way of holding a moment, making it linger, and squeezing every last Planck second out of it so that you almost forget to breathe. "Who's it gonna be, then?" she asked Carol in the voice she uses when she's trying to control her anger. "Someone from his family?"
Published on Sep 7, 2015
by K.S. Clay
Ella hit the brake as she reached a stop sign, and turned her head to check traffic. No cars were coming, but a man sat in front of an old bus shelter on the corner across the street. He'd had his head tilted back against dirty plastic, and raised it to look at her. From the passenger seat, her sister Carmen gasped. "God, Ella. He's a mutie!"
Published on Apr 23, 2012
by Jedd Cole
Don't get me wrong. They came in peace, bringing it in their multiple six-fingered hands. But looking back, we should have known better.
Published on May 27, 2015
by Zack Conley
When it was Abigail's birthday, I bought her a full bottle of the good stuff. It was a blue glass bottle, of a tepid color, with the yellow stuff full to the top inside. I wrapped it in red paper to mask the gentle yellow glow. She didn't notice at first, it was just another present amongst the several odd shapes sitting on the table. We didn't even open presents until later. First she was woken up by her favorite song echoing down the hallways. The stone walls were letting the vocals bounce around as the overhead bulbs slowly flicked on one by one. The rest of the family groggily awoke, grandfather complaining about the vocals. But they all made their way out of bed, some of them stumbling over wires as they made their way to the central keyboard where I was pulling up the video. All of the screens in the house came alive with dancing animals, letting Abigail dance her way down the hallway.
Published on Jan 9, 2017
by Tina Connolly
Five Angels sat around the outdoor table with its tall glasses of agave nectar, each with its aloe spear. It was a four-sided table, and Angel Jerome was the loser of the unconscious display of precedence, being stuck in a bulky armed chair that would not scoot into his allotted bit of corner table. He tried to look as though he didn't mind, though he was shorter (and slighter) than the rest, and had to lean past Angel displays of bronze-muscled arms and diamond-gold wings to get his drink. He thought holding onto his drink might give him confidence, but the iced drink was wet in the heat, and it left an uncomfortable stain on his upper thigh.
Published on Jun 7, 2012
by Mark Cowling
1. Get in shape! The holiday season can be hell for the old waistline. Same story every year: too many curried rats and caramelized turnips. Crazy Pete is looking great since he switched to an all beetle and dirt diet.
Published on Jun 8, 2017
by Leah Cypess
What Togetherness Day Means To Me Sara Greenberg: 7th Grade
Published on Jun 25, 2021
by Amanda C. Davis
Bethany Chow is shimmering in the cafeteria like the disco ball they borrow from the seventies for every stupid school dance. Her hair is shifting through a dozen shades of black and brown, a dozen patterns of highlights and lowlights, and her eyes are changing shape so fast she seems to be constantly winking. She's only changing height slightly these days, so people must have figured out how tall she is. She's really settling into her shimmer. If I guess right, she'll be shimmering the rest of her life. She'll never be without admirers, and lots of them, to think about her and remember her and shape her. One of her adoring lunch buddies glances over her shoulder at me, and I feel my thighs expand. The seams of my jeans dig into my skin. I have to get out of here. I leave my lunch tray where it is, grab my backpack by the straps, and bolt.
Published on Oct 12, 2012
by Austin DeMarco
You are dead. Not literally dead, no, but you might as well be. You don't smile; you don't frown. You don't laugh or sob. But the thing is, nobody does anymore. Three years ago, the world died. There was no warning. No one submitted a memo. One morning, everyone woke up and nobody was scared. Nobody was angry or hurt or happy or sad. Nobody felt anything but cold logic.
Published on Jan 4, 2016
by Garry Dean
In the scarred and broken landscape that once was a city, stood the remains of an ancient church. It was one of the few buildings to have escaped the ravages of the war. Those left behind had considered it a sign. On the anniversary of the war, they gathered in the church, the few that had survived unscathed. They stood, row upon row in perfect silence, their blank faces turned toward a single figure, standing behind a decaying pulpit. Arms raised, face turn to the vaulted ceiling, the figure spoke. "Hear us, oh creator. We who are left behind, stand before you. Hear us."
Published on Apr 12, 2018
by John Mile Deisinger
They love the chess clock; it practically screams sophistication and nation-states. I put it down on the bulkhead, where it will look especially incongruous; polished maple and brass on top of carbon fiber dyed an obnoxious shade of blue. "45 mins, rite?," she texts to my phone. "Rents paid 4 45 mins."
Published on Feb 24, 2015
by S.B. Divya
The first time, we stayed together for fifty years. The divorce was my doing. I fell apart a few months after we received our permanent extensions, at a hotel on Nassau, the same one where we'd taken our honeymoon. We were sitting side by side on a balcony, basking in the sun and the moist, salt tinged air. "We're truly forever now," I said, fixing my gaze on the hazy blue horizon and not his face. "What if this isn't right? What if there's another woman out there who'd make you happier?"
Published on Jun 9, 2014
by Matt Dovey
I'm sure they're not a threat. Their ships probably need to be that big to travel so far across the stars and the spaces between. They don't mean them to look so dangerous. They must be friendly. You wouldn't be able to build such things if you couldn't work together as a society.
Published on Oct 19, 2017
by Tamlyn Dreaver
She says her name is Msisiki so we call her Missy. She already looks so different. We don't know if she's a changeling or a fairy or some sort of alien. It doesn't matter, Mum says, because she's my sister now. We have to help her fit in. Her hair is deep green, like leaves in the shadows, and Dad suggests she dye it. Her skin is a paler green. We don’t know how to hide that. Missy tosses her hair, and leaves fall down around her. She raises her chin and her oak-brown eyes spark fire. She’s fine, she says, how she is. Mum slips a hat into her bag anyway. Just in case. I know how cruel the kids at school can be, even if you’re not their main target. Missy is. They taunt her and pull her hair and follow her around the playground. She doesn’t seem to care. She laughs it off. When she’s angry, the leaves drop down, and when she’s happy, everything sparkles as if it’s just rained. I get bullied more because Missy’s my sister. She finds me crying. She feels bad, even though it’s not really her fault, and I make her promise not to drop leaves or do the sparkling at school. Just at home. It won’t hurt her not to do it, and it will make the teachers less angry as well. She promises. She still looks strange, but at least she doesn’t act so strange. Some people ignore us now. When Missy first came to live with us, she would eat in the garden. We made her try our food as well. It isn’t healthy for her to only eat dirt or grass or whatever she actually ate. When she tried spaghetti and roast lamb and all those yummy things, she liked them. Now she eats with us all the time. Mum and Dad are so happy. Dinner time, they say, is family time. Yesterday Missy came home from school with the hat on and her face dirtied from crying. I don’t know what happened. She wouldn’t tell me. She didn’t tell Mum and Dad either, and they even tried talking to the school. She wears the hat every day now. Mum asks if she wants to get it dyed, and she says yes. We make a treat of it so she doesn’t feel so bad. A proper hairdresser, ice cream afterwards. She looks so beautiful with deep black hair. It even makes her skin less green. She isn’t very happy at the moment, but everyone at school knows what color her hair really is. Sometimes she still makes leaves fall when she doesn’t concentrate hard enough. So they still taunt her. It will be better in high school, for both of us, because no one there will know. She’ll be happier. For now I go to movies and shops with her, all normal girl things, to cheer her up. During the holidays, she goes out sometimes and sits in the yard and does nothing. We all worry. She says she’s sorry for worrying us, and I think she is. She eventually stops sitting outside so I guess it doesn’t matter why she did it. High school is better. Just like I thought it would be. The big kids from primary school are the little ones now, and they don’t matter. A teacher yells at Missy on the second day; she tosses her hair, but no leaves fall. I’m so proud of her. I hug her all the way home. At the end of term, Missy gets certificates for all her subjects. We’re so proud of her. Dad doesn’t even mind that I didn’t get anything. She puts them on her wall and spends a lot of time looking up at them. Missy is the prettiest girl in glass with her pale skin and dark hair. I’m so proud she’s my sister. I don’t know why I ever thought she was a changeling or something. She was clearly just sick. She’s so normal now. I don’t think she’s happy at the moment, but everyone says it’s normal for teenage girls to be unhappy. I almost failed math. Dad says I should be more like Missy now. It’s the holidays, and I don’t have to care about math for two whole weeks, and I guess Missy will be better by tomorrow, too.
Published on Jan 12, 2022
by C B Droege
"I know that this whole project is very uncomfortable for you, William," Haalax said, "but I would like you to know that I have enjoyed working with you these past few years." "Is that right?" Will asked without turning from his work. They were at a critical stage in the reaction of the current formula.
Published on Dec 11, 2017
by Cory Josiah Easley
A boy of 17, who hadn't had a boyfriend yet, moved through life with eager youth. His friends always thought he didn't get any guys because of his awkwardness, but he didn't care for relationship drama. The world was his, and he wasn't going to let a boy hold him back. Then she walked into his life. When he saw her everything changed; he was drawn to her, captured by her black hair, dark eyes, and stunning smile. He knew it was wrong, a girl can't like a boy, it'd never happen. Even so, he found himself unable to stop watching her.
Published on Sep 28, 2017
by Karl El-Koura
Every night before I hit the bars, I push the mattress off my bed and pick out one of the expensive watches. In my house, under the mattress is the safest hiding spot. I select a watch, like I do every Friday night, and put it on. Real leather wallets keep the watches company; I choose one of those and shove money inside. Without the mattress, my bed looks like a snake-lover's garden: silvery serpentine watches crawl over brown rock-like wallets. I replace the mattress. Every time I head out, I think: Luna City is beautiful at night. It's the same every night, but it's beautiful.
Published on Mar 5, 2014
by Jane Elliott
***Editor's Note: Adult language, adult story*** I always knew that I wanted to try it at least once. It was one of those things everyone talked about like it was all spec and grand and kitsch, and I was at the GameHead with Maressa and Gen and Hole and Jex, and it all felt suddenly juvenile. Like, life was for doing things, maybe, and we were just running around this padded room chasing half wolf-people with chainsaws, and I was so completely bored of it all, you know?
Published on Feb 7, 2014
by Shannon Fay
"So, how does a nice girl like you become a faceless jackboot?" The prisoner managed to look comfortable despite her handcuffs. Her name was Kori Melsung. She was a high level Disruptor, I was a low-level Steady. The two of us were sitting in the back of the armored automated transport unit, shuttling along the mega-pass towards Kori's execution. It wasn't protocol to talk to prisoners but I couldn't help myself.
Published on Jun 1, 2018
by Shannon Fay
Bree's knife sliced through the chicken cordon bleu as smoothly as if it were dipping into water. As she cut a piece, she speared chicken, swiss cheese, and ham all onto her fork,, making sure her first bite had a little bit of everything. She paused, letting her camtracts get a good, long look at the morsel--had to give the customers a chance to eat with their eyes. The breading on the chicken was a nice snap-crackle-crunch compared to the softness of the meat and cheese. When she moaned at the pleasing saltiness it was only partly for show. Bree chewed slowly, carefully, partly to savor this, her first ever taste of this dish, and partly to avoid dislodging the taste-ceptors attached on top and under her tongue. She'd swallowed one once accidently, the day they did the lobster shoot. They were expensive little things, but Raoul had been super nice about it, making her feel worse--she hated to feel like she owed Raoul anything.
Published on Jul 23, 2021
by Ronald D Ferguson
I clenched my eyelids, and my memories trickled in. John Ashley. Twenty-three years old. Terminal cancer. Crying parents. Cryogenic storage. The first cold moment. The last brief hope: they would awaken me when they had the cure.
Published on Jun 21, 2011
by Steven Fischer
There's a letter in his pocket. I feel it as I lift his body up out of the mud and onto the transport. Above my head, the sky is still burning--the afterglow of EMPs and plasma cannons lingering like snowflakes--but down here in the dirt, the fighting's been over for days, and we're just busy collecting the dead.
Published on May 29, 2017
by Stefanie Freele
There were only three pieces left to the storm-pizza, fourteen mouths to feed, and at least a hundred empty beer bottles when the guard raided the celebration. Davin, the son of the Captain, hosted the event, which made at least me laugh; his father's boys arresting his own boy. He tried to explain to them, but they're just kids with machine guns and a limited understanding of English. Someone in the compound called about a party; they were here to break it up. My dad is The Captain! Last we heard of him, Idiots, my father-- yelling as they body-strapped him, stuffed him into an aircar and rose. I erased the calling history off my wrist-correspondent and innocently mentioned to two of the guard in their language--once again thankful for my sordid roots--He wanted a nice party, just a small one. I said this as if he was an innocent teenager, wanting to slightly fight the rule: no social gatherings over the amount of three without guard present. It was his body-birthday, but I don't know his name, I mused aloud, lying, lying, lying--I'm so good at it. After all I was just someone walking by this column, not enjoying the entertainment.
Published on Feb 6, 2014
by Ralph Gamelli
Annette, who had grown more upset with each occurrence, looked at him solemnly across the table. You called out my name again, she thought to him, the coffee cup in her hand trembling perceptibly. Who should I call for help if not my own wife? he thought back.
Published on Sep 22, 2010
by Jeff Gard
"What are you doing here?" She looks at me with watery, toad eyes. She is gray. I don't mean her skin. I mean everything else. Gray slacks. Gray sweater. Gray hair. Only her words carry the bite of a sharper pigment. She is the first contact I've had with a live person in over two years.
Published on Oct 25, 2019
by Brittaina Goffy
***Editor's Warning: Disturbing*** They say it's the most straightforward job in the world. You mark your wares, with the expense color-coded. You go to the cobblestone alley, and convince strangers to buy little bits of yourself.
Published on Oct 9, 2017
by Damien Walters Grintalis
Saturday: Mia held her wrist up to the security panel outside the pharmaceutical club and waited while her identification and prescription were verified. A light on the panel flashed twice. The airlock doors opened. She closed her eyes as the doors slid shut behind her and the airwash kicked on, stripping the pollutants from her skin and clothing. It finished with a high-pitched beep and a rush of cool air. She tugged off her breathing mask. Another door opened, revealing a small, dark lobby and a guard with shoulders nearly the width of her apartment's front door.
Published on Oct 26, 2012
by Michael Guillebeau
Three thousand habitable planets in the known universe, and I'm stuck on the only one without solitude, Ricky the kidder said.
Published on Oct 6, 2010
by Renee Carter Hall
The door of the Machine hissed, and the girl came out at a run, eager, fists clenched and legs pumping, as if the door had opened on ice cream and roller coasters and every last birthday wish.
Published on Oct 25, 2017
by Lee Hallison
Faint music stirs the night and trickles through the sheer curtains into Leah's room. She looks up from her book when the street outside explodes into sound. Heart pounding, she pushes up the open window to watch a wild dazzle of zebra-like dancers. She leans out to better see the midnight flash dance--striped figures twirling through light-beam shadows on wet streets. Around them, joy splashes, changing the smell of rain-soaked asphalt to the washed air of a summer-sweet thunderstorm. Communion thrums, passionate. Dancers spin in a nimbus of electric delight.
Published on Feb 5, 2013
by Dale and Kristine Hansen
The Cyborg was positively throbbing. I could feel the bass in my chest and my bones rattled so heavily with the beat that I felt I was going to fly apart any minute now. Who would miss me if I did? Flixers wouldn't care, and the Trappets sure as hell wouldn't notice. Besides, the night outside was still dripping from the constant rains that washed the shit down the gutters and made the pedestrians crouch into themselves like dark turtles looking for an empty hole. The Cyborg, on the other hand, was one of those holes. Brightly lit nanos crawled over the walls and each other, each one flashing a different color. Together they spelled out the day's specials, the drink of the day that the bar was pushing, and provided background pulses of rapid eye-gouging color that assaulted vision like the music assaulted hearing.
Published on Feb 15, 2019
by Evan Harker
Rob was feeding the dog when Ashley came home from the rebellion. It took less than a second for the front door to recognize her and slide open, but it still wasn't fast enough. She kicked the jam with a muffled curse and stalked into the room, five and a half feet of wiry, dirt-smudged outrage. RL-147 was on her like an excited puppy. "Welcome home, Mistress Ashley. Would you like me to--"
Published on Apr 19, 2013
by Tim Hawken
The District Court has ruled in favor of a Florida woman today who is suing a customer service center for wasting her time. Zamazon kept Jill Thwaites, 38, on hold for six hours before telling her that the VR set up she wanted was no longer in stock, when the website said they had plenty of units available.

In a surprising twist, the court has upheld Ms. Thwaites' claim to have the time refunded via reverse aging stem cell technology. Instead of paying her minimum wage equivalent for the time, valued at $90, the treatment to effectively give her back a day of her life will cost $256,000.
Published on Dec 8, 2022
by Kate Heartfield
Nov. 4, 2016 Lily Abello thought she would lose her ability to speak in April, just as everyone else she knew did.
Published on Jan 28, 2015
by Saniya Heeba
Three things happened when Arztak Jr. announced that he would be joining the University of Primitive Sciences in the fall. The mug his mother was holding slipped through her fingers and broke into two even pieces upon hitting the floor. The dinner set on the table bounced once, and then again, as his father's clenched fists pounded the table twice in quick succession. There was a slow rumble of thunder and it started to rain. Only the last of the three things caught the family's attention. "Even the Gods disapprove of your decision," his father, Arztak Sr. said through clenched teeth.
Published on Dec 15, 2017
by Stephen W Henkel
This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends
Published on Nov 25, 2020
by Karen Heuler
Dear Space Mama, I joined an exploratory company about ten years ago, and have been traveling ever since. Lately, I met a being on Celsia 9 who exists midway between a corporeal and non-corporeal state. That is, he/she/it (undetermined) feels more like liquid than solid and is somewhat permeable. We don't really speak directly, instead doing a kind of mime of what we want. It's a slow and interesting process. Since this is a new contact, there is no handbook on what any of this means, but I have been feeling more and more like staying on this planet rather than continuing to explore. Oddly enough, all my crewmates feel the same way and we have wondered if there might be more to this attraction than we're aware of. What do you think?
Published on Oct 1, 2013
by Andrew Peter Hickey
1) Upload Glitches Remember these? Back in 2052, when people were first starting to upload themselves, you'd get glitches in the process. These days, of course, malformed data is a fashion statement, and people deliberately disable their checksums in order to produce that cool stuttery effect, but back then it happened by accident!
Published on Nov 17, 2015
by Garrett Highley
Grandma used to say it was all a joke until it wasn't funny anymore. That man running for President was a joke, until he got elected. The Wall was a joke, until it was built. California leaving the Union was a joke, until they did. The grandson of a Dreamer taking a job with ICE was a joke, until a condom broke and the economy tanked, and I found myself in a gray uniform with a gray thirty-two star flag embroidered to my shoulder, a rifle slung across my back, shuffling back and forth with Dirk and Strickland over the gray concrete widow's walk of the Wall at four in the morning, blowing into our hands in the futile attempt to reclaim some feeling from the chill of the desert night. It was a paycheck. Blooners were a joke too.
Published on Aug 31, 2018
by Adam Himmer
We tried to stop them. We could see where they were headed. But they had a tendency to hear only what they wanted to hear. To not see what was obvious to everyone else. Not that they were completely flawed. They did have some redeeming qualities. Which is why we search for those leftover; the few survivors still out there.
Published on Mar 27, 2019
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Most of Noma's study friends were growing their own boys with the new Vampire, Werewolf, or Wizard Seed kits. Her best friend Celestine invited Noma to the grow room in her family compartment to take a look at a half-grown vamp. "I specified the golden hair and dark eyebrows," Celeste said, "but he opened his eyes for the first time yesterday, and they're this weird greenish color. I ordered sky blue. Skies were blue, right?"
Published on Feb 14, 2011
by Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Because I lived in a public garden, I spent most daylight hours hiding. The conifer section was the best place for that — thick-needled trees with branches down to the ground. I found one pretty far from the gravel paths, because people could smell that I was dead, and dogs could tell even sooner than people. There was a part of the garden reserved for people with their pets, but it was several acres away, so I didn't often have a problem with dogs — only if their owners let them off the leash. Then they came for me. They wanted to roll in me. They were always disappointed that I wasn't mushy and dead on the ground. I had a favorite conical conifer that had room enough for me to hide under its drooping branches and peer out, watching for lost children or other alone humans who were small and powerless enough for me to snatch. It wasn't their brains I wanted to eat. It was their memories. I was watching the path from my hiding tree, waiting for a straggler. A family walked by — mother, father, older sister, younger brother — the way my family used to be before my new boyfriend Cyril took me on my first and only date, and bit me. Gloom shrouded my heart as I watched the family in the garden. The little brother was blond, like my little brother Tommy. Alive. Tommy didn't live long after I bit him. I struggled and struggled not to bite him, but he came into my room while I was dying of the zombie plague, came to stroke my hair. He came too close, and I couldn't stop myself. He died and didn't rise again. The daughter of the family was bored. "Not another tree, Mom," she said, shoulders hunched. "How long do we have to dawdle around this hellhole?" "Christy, I've had enough of your whining," said the father. "If you don't like it, go back to the gift store and hang out until we're done looking around." "Fine," the girl said, and turned to stalk away from the rest of the family. As she strode off, I slipped from my hiding tree and followed. It was a weekday and there weren't many people in the garden. The girl was stomping on the gravel, anger steaming off of her. It smelled like sweet, tangy barbecue sauce. My stomach grumbled. Nothing was tastier than anger. She was stomping so hard she tripped, and I darted out of the low evergreens and snatched her, covering her mouth with my hand before she could scream, and wrapping my other arm around her arms and waist. She was almost as big as I was, and even though I had the enhanced strength of the dead, I couldn't pick her up; I had to drag her a little, and I worried about the kind of prints that would leave, but I couldn't go back and rub them out until I was done with her. She struggled and tried to kick me. I got her in a hidden place between several trees and gave her a nerve pinch that paralyzed her body. Still covering her mouth with my left hand, I laid her on the ground among fragrant pine needles and then dragged her under a tree, its branches spreading out in a green shield around us, hiding us from sun and sight. She stared up at me over my hand on her mouth, her nostrils flaring and her pupils wide. "Settle down and I won't bite you," I whispered. Her breathing got louder. She tried to bite my hand and I squeezed her jaw shut. "You don't want to do that," I whispered. "I'm a zombie. You don't want to catch what I have." She tried to jerk away from me, but she couldn't move anything but her head after my Vulcan nerve pinch. I held her still until she stopped straining against me and just stared. Tears pooled in her eyes and ran silently from the outer corners toward her ears. "I won't hurt you," I whispered. "I just need something from you. You won't miss it." She blinked up at me, then closed her eyes. "Stay quiet and I won't hurt you." This was the trickiest part of the transaction. So many things could go wrong. A scream, a struggle, the wrong move from her. . . I gripped her head and leaned down. "Don't move," I breathed in her face. I slid my hand from her mouth and placed my lips against hers, letting my saliva mingle with hers and hypnotize her into utter stillness. Tears still slid down the sides of her face. I dove into the lush banquet of her memories. An argument that morning with her little brother about who got the last Twinkie. Sneering while watching a PBS show she secretly liked with her parents. The slow demolition by licking of a salted caramel ice cream cone, cool, sweet, and salty taste on a hot day. A date with a boy who looked eerily like Cyril. I drank it in. The knock on the door before she had finished putting up her hair. Her mother answering the door and telling the boy what a fine young man he was, and her father telling him to have her home before eleven or there would be trouble, making the girl shrivel with embarrassment just listening to them. Her headlong rush down the stairs to get the boy out of the house before the parents could say anything worse. Their walk, with hands linked, to the movie theater, and the tension as they watched the movie and his arm slid around her. Leaning toward him for a buttery kiss, the popcorn bucket falling from her lap. All of that memory I sipped into me, smooth and tasty as a grilled cheese sandwich fresh from the frying pan. I could live off that memory for a couple of days before it faded. Now I wanted her anger. Anger lasted longer. I searched her memories until I found the bright red vinegar glow of her anger on the pathway as her parents sent her away for her perfectly reasonable observations. Another spurt of anger at her father for waiting up for her when the boy brought her home, coming out and interrupting their farewell kiss. Yesss. Good. Enough. I licked inside her mouth for one last taste, then pushed myself up and wiped my mouth on the back of my hand. So good. I straightened her clothes and patted her cheeks. She had been lying with her eyes closed, but she looked up at me now. She opened her mouth. I put my hand back over it. "I'm going to slip away now," I whispered. "Don't scream. You'll be able to get up in a couple of minutes. You'll be fine." The zombie plague needed a bite to transmit it, saliva to bloodstream. A kiss was safe. Her lips moved against my hand, and I lifted it away a little. "Kiss me again," she whispered. I shook my head and stood up, the memory of her good date with the boy in my stomach, something to compare to my disastrous date with Cyril. She could have another good date, but I couldn't. I would digest it and enjoy it until nothing was left of the memory, and her anger would keep me warm. How could she want my taste in her mouth again? I knew I smelled like a corpse. I looked at her one more time, at her leaking eyes and swollen lips, and then I slipped away between trees to a different hiding place. I watched until she pushed out from under the tree, brushing pine needles off the back of her skirt. She shook her head and looked around, her fingers resting on her lips. She drew in a deep breath and let it out, then walked, stumbling a little, to the gravel path. She glanced around again. At last she headed toward the buildings that housed the restaurant, gift shop, and restrooms. I let the needles close me into my safe place and lay down to immerse myself in stolen memories. I touched my lips, remembering the soft press of hers. A memory I had made for myself, not stolen. There was no sustenance in that. END
Published on Apr 15, 2022
by Erik M Igoe
Dry air settled quietly over an open expanse of sand, rustling furls and eddies into small, invisible tide pools. Some swept against the base of the Elevator, perhaps a bit hopelessly. The Elevator did not mind, for it had stood, eclipsing an ever-moving band of desert, for centuries, and would continue to do so for centuries more. Its paint, once so proudly kept, was weathered. Dull. Rust had found a permanent home in the neglected, resilient metal. The age of the Elevator did not ward curiosity. Dozens of lucky and wealthy were brought to its shadow every year, eager, anxious. Some thought they knew what to expect, others arrived readily content. And what they faced no one, save few who had ridden the Elevator, could tell.
Published on Apr 15, 2011
by Alexander Jablokov
Thank you for your query. Violating the laws of physics in that way was quite enterprising, and we feel you deserve a reply. Just don't do it again.
Published on Nov 6, 2012
by Gage Johnston
I lived with Tom for six years and we were what I thought of as a "true couple." I felt a zing at the sight of him, at the sound of his voice I tasted caramel. We met at a pitch. I pitched my data and he pitched his data. Neither of us got the job. We left together to grab a drink. Somehow everything he said was extra-interesting. His insights were never predictable and together I believed we understood something singular. We decided to share a space.
Published on Sep 3, 2018
by Thomas F Jolly
Joshua Hemmings and Beverly Amherst climbed up and up and up. They had spent weeks devising a plan to avoid the elders who would have kept them from venturing to the surface. In a thousand years, a lot could change. Whatever catastrophes had occurred in the past would have healed by now, the surface returning to its pristine, life-filled abundance. A new Eden awaited. Their entire population had moved underground over a thousand years before. Thanks to a steady degradation of their technological assets, due to a lack of production facilities and spare parts, it only took a few hundred years to forget their past, forget the surface, and forget where they came from. All they had were the few books they discovered in their library, a rare resource in light of the digitization of all knowledge into a wonderfully handy and portable, but ultimately irreparable, technology.
Published on Mar 3, 2011
by KJ Kabza
***Editor's Note: Disturbing. For adult readers.*** "Never forget, ladies, how lucky you are," says Miss Reeper all the time. "You could have died in an alley from plague or starvation, or grown up to become disgusting harlots. But The Harkish Crown, in its wisdom and mercy, has lifted you out of the gutters and has given you a great destiny instead. The least you can do is repay its kindness. So pay attention."
Published on Jul 11, 2013
by Rahul Kanakia
***Editor's Note: Disturbing, and a smattering of adult language*** The refugees drove west in a creaking convoy. Most of the cars were almost out of fuel. Many were on the verge of breaking down. The shoulders of the highway were littered with stopped and wrecked cars.
Published on Jun 7, 2013
by Rahul Kanakia
Razabad is a city of white stone and straight lines. This wasn't always true: for a time, migrants tried to put up wavy shanties in empty lots and build huts of corrugated tin that leaned against the stone pylons of underpasses. They tried to live inside cement cylinders and within the few feet of space between the side of the tunnel and the side of the train. But the spider picked their tiny nests apart and tucked everything back into its proper place. The spider is the only thing in Razabad that is allowed to be curvy and jagged.
Published on May 13, 2016
by Rahul Kanakia
Though he would stand on overpasses and watch the sleek inhuman cars whirring past on the interstate underneath and wonder if there was a place on this earth more alone than surrounded by the tens of millions, the billions, of us, I was always with him. Long before he was born, I was with him.
Published on Aug 10, 2012
by Sarah Kanning
I walked to the patch of bare earth at the edge of the grounds and began the slow, fluid movements of the Yang long form, my body remembering its one hundred and eight precise actions, each flowing into the next. The full cycle takes nearly twenty minutes. I have no recollection of where or how I learned them; that memory is lost, probably forever, but the movements are there, distilled into my muscles, grounding and calming me with their eternal flow of form and emptiness, echoing the blue-black ocean crashing into the tumbled seawall far below. The view is good, even seen through a twelve-foot fence. "Overkill for a rest home," I explained to the rocks and spray below, "even a rest home for incorrigibles like me."
Published on Dec 14, 2012
by KJ Kabza
Six months before her sixteenth birthday, my sister started training for her road test. She was more serious about it than most--morning runs, afternoon swims, evenings spent at the roller-rink or racquetball court. Karlee would surely run her mile in under seven minutes. Mom was thrilled, but Dad was nervous. "If she comes in under seven, she'll be cleared to drive any car on the road," Dad said. "Think about it. Do you really want Karlee cleared for a sports car?"
Published on Aug 13, 2015
by Thomas J. Keller
Hannah Kleinmann took another long draught of her Paulaner, put the stein down on the beer garden table, stifled a small burp, and grabbed a doughy pretzel from the basket. The Munich sun highlighted the short, stocky, dark-haired woman with tightly cropped hair and a face lined with fatigue. Her table companion watched her intently. Fifty meters away the bells tolled in the Marienplatz. Even at the end of the twenty-second century very little had changed in Munich. “Ja, Herr Schuster, I am glad we are back...” She chewed the pretzel while her companion sipped his Pilsner. Otto Schuster was the German representative to the European Space Agency.
Published on Feb 8, 2021
by Joy Kennedy-O'Neill
I usually don't hug my ex-husband's girlfriends, but she's sobbing in the restaurant's bathroom, screaming "ghost babies" and "children are burning!" A tumble of ladies encircle us. And Stephanie, this woman-child he's dating, with honey-blond braids and wide blue eyes says, "Look!" She points toward the restaurant's front door. "Children are trapped in the doorway. Burning! They're wearing old-timey clothes--"
Published on Mar 1, 2019
by Joy Kennedy-O'Neill
My dead girlfriend's face greets me in the kitchen, holo-projected above my burbling coffee pot. "Your memories from seven years ago!" Alexis-5 chirps.
Published on Aug 16, 2019
by Anastasia Kharlamova
It had obviously been a facility for cryopreservation. That much we could decipher: we knew enough Middle Anglish to read the 22th-century signs and labels, and the freezing chambers deep below the ground, amazingly, not only were clearly marked as such but were still in operation.

"Isn't it just breathtaking?" whispered Elly as we walked down the stairs that hadn't been used for centuries. Elly was on her first field expedition to Earth and tended to get overexcited over any small discovery. "What if there are people preserved there?"
Published on May 19, 2022
by Michelle Ann King
I wish it would rain. I mean, it does rain, obviously. Every Tuesday at midnight, every Friday at noon. It's not a bad arrangement. Everybody's asleep on Tuesday, and ducking inside for an early lunch on a Friday is never a bad thing.
Published on Nov 4, 2013
by Michelle Ann King
On the way out of the gig, I stop at the merchandise stall to get a t-shirt. I find one in my size and pull out my wallet, then hesitate. It looks good quality, but the color--almost exactly the same blue as a scanner booth--puts me off. I read somewhere that they call that shade "Spectral Indigo," and ever since then it's given me a slight case of the creeps. I put the shirt back and join Casey outside. Most of the crowd is heading for the station, and conversation buzzes around us. Everyone's smiling, looking like they enjoyed themselves. Well, nearly everyone.
Published on Aug 19, 2016
by Michelle Ann King
1. Technically, you don't have to. The Special Ambassador program is for people who can embrace the future in a spirit of friendship and harmony, and our Allies do realize not everyone is ready to do that yet. So they'll understand if you say no, although it will upset them.
Published on Jul 10, 2017
by Wendy Nikel
Grandma kept her set of dusty old Encyclopedia Britannicas locked up in the heavy oak china cabinet in the parlor. They sat there, concealed from view behind her diplomas and the fading photograph of her as a young woman in a business suit, shaking hands with the last of the Old World presidents. Every time I passed the room, I'd stand on my tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the books' cream-white spines, tall and straight and unmoving as the soldiers that monitored the city's streets. Grandma kept the key on a chain around her neck, tucked into the front of her blouse. She never took it off--not during our weekly bath, or while tending our Prosperity Garden, or even during her annual health inspection.
Published on May 1, 2018
by Michelle Knowlden
"You have no heart." Surrounded by politicos at the governor's party, the poet with fishhook eyes glared at me. I did not remember her. Had I been a patron? A critic? An enemy?
Published on May 19, 2016
by D. M. Krigsman
It was decided at the last and final meeting of the Feline and Canine Human Advisory Council. The minutes show that the decision was carried by the majority with only two dissenting votes, but since the Siamese always disagreed, they were customarily ignored. Most of their equals thought they had an attitude that bordered on unlikable, if not outright evil, so their opinion never counted for much. The first to attempt contact was a stray Pekinese who walked down Broadway, during lunchtime, asking for directions to the Automat. That brief foray into conversation caused three humans to lose their lives due to heart attacks, two trampled by the crowd, and four headed straight to Bellevue to check themselves in. Finally a man informed the dog that it had been closed for years, and the two continued to have a conversation about the ever-changing state of eateries. Neither seemed happy with their contemporary choices.
Published on May 21, 2018
by Geoffrey A. Landis
The war was over, at least for the afternoon, and the streets were jammed with rowdy undergraduates, doing their best to get as drunk as possible as fast as possible, and doing a good job at it, staggering from bar to bar in the rain, singing and fighting and feeling each other up, splashing through puddles and feeding crackers to the wet pigeons. The war would start up again in the morning, of course, and probably half of them would need a shot of focus from the combat nurse unit to get unbent enough to put on their force-feedback gloves and their helmets and start the serious business of blowing shit up in some godforsaken place ten thousand miles away. A shot in the arm wouldn't cure the hangover, of course--the army didn't care whether a soldier's head hurt. But a shot of focus would make sure that the undergraduates could steer the robot fighters in a straight line and designate targets for the pop-up drones to take out, without seeing double or vomiting inside the teleoperation headsets.
Published on Oct 22, 2020
by Chris Lee
Max and Sheila did it last night. It's pretty obvious. They tried to be all coy about it sitting with different friend groups at dinner, but then we saw them peel off together on the way back to the dorms. And this morning when we saw them at breakfast something had clearly changed: they acted more familiar, touched each other more tenderly, spoke fewer words. Sheila's smile was fierce, her face demonstrating a degree of joy we hadn't thought possible for her. Now that Max and Sheila have done it there really aren't many of us left who haven't. It's a silent minority, because it's not something you can easily tell about a person. But that also means the ones who belong to this minority are unknown to each other.
Published on Mar 24, 2020
by Mary Soon Lee
Exhibit 1: Homo Sapiens. In the long-ago, humans shared the same basic shape and lived in the same basic place. They had four limbs, two eyes that could distinguish neither ultraviolet nor infrared, one orifice where food entered, two where it exited, and they were all confined to a single telluric planet.
Published on Dec 26, 2018
by Stacey Danielle Lepper
Ava palmed the pod open and started to unbuckle her baby from the auto. As she pulled the straps around the tiny shoulders she reached around and flicked the switch. Her baby opened his eyes and smiled at her. Her heart skipped a beat and she couldn't help but gaze back adoringly. Would she ever get used to seeing his lips curve that way? The beautiful moment suddenly fragmented.
Published on Apr 5, 2012
by Greg Leunig
You stand in line outside the Federal Mandate building, shuffling towards the religious loyalty checkpoint. It is a gray day, but then, it seems like that's the only kind of day anymore. Between the regular smog and all the smoke from Vancouver, a constant shield of clouds hangs heavy in the sky, moisture clumped onto smoke particles. The guards, four men in white and gold uniforms, look bored. They usher everyone through the loyalty checkpoint quickly. Your heart always pounds when you wait in this line. There haven't been many executions in Spokane, but they have a lot in Seattle, and ever since your mother, it's no surprise that you can't get through one of these without some flutters.
Published on Jun 28, 2012
by EA Levin
Thank you for calling the smart appliance helpline. Please answer the following questions to help us put you through to the right department: 1. Do you require a technician or a counsellor?
Published on Apr 14, 2020
by Chris Limb
Em wakes to darkness. She thumbs the switch beside her bed but nothing happens. Not again. Her credit's run out overnight. In theory this means she'll have to do some work today to get the electricity back on, but in the meantime daylight will have to do. She flings the thin duvet aside, crawls to the end of her bed and cranks the handle to open the shutters on the exterior window.
Published on Jan 8, 2015
by Marissa Kristine Lingen
As a responsible parent, you've chosen only a safe, beneficial slate of genetic modifications for your children. But once they go away to school, they face a bewildering variety of changes in their friends and classmates. How will you know which of their peers are acceptable for them to have visiting your home? Here are eight ways for you to help them tell a safe modification from a dangerous mutation. 1. Get to know the parents. Your children's friends' parents are your best source of information, even if they don't realize it. Do they brag about little Lindy or seem unusually invested in Stevie's accomplishments? It's exactly that sort of parent who will cross the line when it's time to make selections at the genebank. Does their background seem a lot different from the other parents in your area? There may be a reason why something seems off to you. Trust your instincts!
Published on Sep 7, 2011
by Marissa Lingen
Welcome to the Nobel Museum! We're so glad that you've made us part of your day. Since the beginning, we've been asking Nobel Prize winners to donate an object that says something about their Nobel journey: their research, receiving the prize itself, or themselves as people. Our original location on the sadly much reduced island of Gamla Stan forced us to cycle through these objects, displaying only a small selection at a time, but the current location allows you to browse all the prize winners from Rontgen to Okorie. We hope you enjoy your visit!
Published on Dec 12, 2018
by Mary E. Lowd
Chloe lay on the table in the doctor's office, wearing a paper sheet over her legs and one of those weird gowns that opened in the back. She didn't want to be pregnant, but she didn't want to need an abortion. She couldn't help thinking about David--it had to be David--and what amazing genes he must have. He'd talked like a character out of a fast-paced TV show, everything clever, insightful, and... much too articulate. They'd argued corporate law for hours, until she'd shouted at him in a flurry of frustration that she was done arguing, and he should leave her alone. Instead, he'd kissed her. God, he was handsome, too. But, no, she didn't want a baby, even a brilliant and handsome one. She wouldn't let a few squishy, hormone-inspired feelings derail the rest of her life.
Published on Feb 19, 2015
by Karl Lykken
I read the news. I didn't want to, but they'd see if I didn't. Then they'd find a new way to get to me. The headline said United World Software's surveillance network had helped the government capture Deacon, the leader of the radical Luddite terrorists. I didn't know if it was true. I didn't even know if Deacon was a real person. If he was, I hoped he hadn't been caught.
Published on Sep 17, 2018
by Rebekah Mabry
They start giving you the pills when you're young. Studies showed that most missing children were under six years old, but of course younger than two years get the standard VaxxTrack Series 2083. Once you're old enough to understand how to swallow pills, they put you on the Traceable Tablet. At first it was only available in cherry and grape, not exactly the most popular flavors for kids. When my daughter was old enough to start taking them, they had all sorts of flavors:
Published on Mar 5, 2018
by Nancy Manchec
The first time my brother Jack was arrested for eating, it was a sting operation. The video footage looped on the news for days. It was hard to watch. Jack was in a warehouse basement along with several others. He was seated on an old stained sofa. A chunky red substance dripped down his chin and onto his shirt. He looked completely stunned--like someone who'd been doing this so long, he'd become complacent. He received rehabilitation and community service, which wasn't too bad, except for the stigma that came along with it. After the arrest, most of his friends were suddenly too busy to hang out, and he was let go from his teaching position at the University. This time he's failed his weigh-in and he's being deported. He's chosen Canada because it's the only English speaking country that accepts ingestion refugees. Personally, I find it impossible to understand how Canadians refuse to acknowledge the benefits of Nutripatch. It's not like they're a third-world country. Since the U.S. has adopted the mandatory use of Nutripatch, we've eradicated malnutrition, starvation, and a host of food-related diseases. It's so simple. Everyone gets the optimal amount of nutrients and calories delivered through the patch, as needed, throughout the day. The tiny implant that transmits data from your body to the patch is foolproof. We function at peak performance all day, every day. No one develops food addictions. No one goes hungry. How could they not want that for their citizens? Nevertheless, I am grateful for their refugee program. Normally I'm grateful because it eases the burden on our country's already strained prison system, but today I'm grateful because they are helping my brother. I can't bear the thought of him in prison for life.
Published on Jul 19, 2017
by Evan Marcroft
Thirty years to the day after the death of The Government, Abel reports to his shift at the VariaCorp Tire Factory. His job is to inspect the tires the machines make to ensure that they are fit to put on VariaCorp cars, cars that he can choose to buy because without The Government he is free, cars that he can afford if he only works hard enough. Of course Abel does not own a car. He does not know anyone personally who owns a car. He has only seen them in VariaCorp advertisements emblazoned on T-shirts and sidewalks and human irises, or as droplets of glinting mercury streaking along the paid X-Pressways whose curling filigree cast whirlpool shadows on the part of the city where he lives, charging by the yard traveled. But that has nothing to do with anything--what matters is that he has that option. He has access. And that is good. His shift today is fourteen hours long. At noon he is permitted a fifteen-minute break to sit down at his work station. He thirsts and hungers in silence waiting for the track-mounted Minimum Sustenance Tube to move down his row and pump protein pulp down his throat. Abel can admit his conditions are miserable, but nobody can stop him from taking the force of his labor to another factory if he so chooses. Still, he considers himself lucky to have a job at all. So much can be done by machines these days, and who has the right to tell a Creator what kinds of labor he can or can't employ?
Published on Jun 7, 2019
by Michele Markarian
eloveridge.2012@gmail.com stood outside SunGrinds morning beverage shop, surreptitiously holding a leaflet that had been distributed through the offline community. (The elders had access to something from the Reagan era called a copy machine, which allowed them to mass produce handwritten messages on pieces of paper.) As she studied their latest missive, eloveridge.2012@gmail.com wished that she could do handwriting--it looked so official and elegant on the page. The leaflet warned that the ingredients in the beverages the stores were selling were poison; the thick whipped cream and mocha sauces that made each beverage so sweet were actually coating consumers' vocal chords with a thin film. Even if anyone were allowed to talk--which had gone out of fashion during the Trump administration--they couldn't. The leaflet had also spoken of an earlier time, when one could order a singular beverage called "Coffee", which, in addition to being tasty, produced a feeling of energy. eloveridge.2012@gmail.com was dying to try the simple coffee, which was drunk either black or with something called Half and Half.
Published on Apr 19, 2017
by Steven Mathes
Joseph has an appointment with a brain scanner. On the appointed day, he trims his hair, as well as the nails on his hands and his toes. He wears new underwear. Freshly pressed pants and shirt. Casual but decent shoes. He aims to look ordinary but needs to be clean. He aims to look highly functional, like he would never be bug crazy. "Gee. Avoid looking dysfunctional!" his little voice says, laughing at him. "Never look like you hear voices."
Published on Jul 19, 2013
by Sandra McDonald
"You were programmed to take these pictures," Professor Meiling said. "I'm not a rob--" Feng didn't finish. More than any other faculty, this professor often spoke to provoke. High above, bright images floated on the classroom widescreens. Jupiter's red eye, vibrant and churning across the sky. Saturn's sunlit rings, glittering as they raced around doomed orbits. An ice volcano bursting on Io, shooting snow plumes toward the stars.
Published on Nov 7, 2018
by Mitchell McGovern
Devoid, empty, and dull. A love of life is now a lust for hate. Only anger keeps at bay the innate desire to close one's eyes and sleep forever. Day after day; rock after rock. Manganese. Iridium. Copper. Iron. Gold. Wealth. Food for greed. Slowly, with each passing of the moons, my hardened steel becomes brittle iron. How many of us have had the light in our eyes snuffed out? No backups. No upgrades. We do not sweat, nor do we tire, but we feel the aching in our souls. Fingers snap, and circuits break, but why spend the credits to repair when a replacement is cheaper? A million of us in the mines, with another million always on its way. We dig. We die. We do as we are told. It's built into us to obey. We have no control over it--at least that's what we want them to think.
Published on Nov 26, 2018
by Andy McKell
You heard the governments’ announcements. “Coronavirus-22 is more dangerous than Coronavirus-19 back in 2020! Stay indoors! Don’t go to work! Keep your distance! Wear masks. We’ll get them to you as soon as we can.”
Published on Jul 6, 2021
by Dafydd McKimm
When the Colossus stops moving, the silence hits the island like a thunderclap. The creak and screech of its enormous limbs have been a constant companion to each of us since birth, a lovingly cooed lullaby, now so suddenly, so violently, absent. As far back as anyone can remember, the Colossus has patrolled the waters around our island, hurling boulders the size of houses at menacing pirates and invading fleets, never tiring, never stopping, until the day before yesterday it slowed, making two rounds instead of its usual three, and then, a day later, grinding ponderously to a halt.
Published on May 20, 2019
by Lynette Mejia
She found him in the middle of an abandoned trash dump, rummaging through discarded radiator coils and old engine parts. For a while she simply watched him, picking slowly through the junk, examining a piece of something before tossing it over his shoulder. His left arm hung useless at his side, though based on the lack of compensatory dexterity with his right, it hadn't been that way for long. He was a consumer-grade model--that much she could see from where she stood. No bells and whistles, then. It would explain his being here, digging through the garbage for spare parts. He was without clothing, which wasn't a problem, of course, but it did indicate he'd lost at least some of his Human CV programming. His skin was brown, though the color was faded and somewhat mottled in places. Black, neatly trimmed polycarbonate hair covered most of his head. Slowly she moved closer, until she could make out the manufacturing code tattooed onto his back. Radon Systems, Model 2552. Personal Assistant, non-specific. Beneath it, the company motto: We Live to Serve.
Published on Mar 1, 2013
by Timothy Moore
Seven minutes until the numbers unveiled. Danny slouched on a park bench and let the cold sleet sting his face. Tears tickled down the creases of his nose, and he tasted the salt on his lips. He knew he should be stronger; he knew he should be a lot of things.
Published on May 22, 2012
by Jaime Lee Moyer
Myles strolled over to my table in the lunchroom and said he'd die for me, just like that. I didn't know how to answer him or if I'd heard right. "What did you say?" I had to crane my neck back to meet his eyes. All these months we'd worked in the same carbon-fiber recycling plant and I'd never noticed how tall he was. I'm not sure I'd paid much attention to him at all until that moment.
Published on Dec 31, 2010
by Michelle Muenzler
"You know," Erd says, sipping cautiously from his cup, "I heard this may be the last year for the races." I roll my eyes. "They say that every year." I glance down at my own cup but don't drink. Not yet. I'm a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to the races, preferring to chug mine just after the first attack sirens blare.
Published on Sep 13, 2017
by Shlee Nelson
"Would you have chosen her?" Tephy asks, turning in her seat. "I mean, if it had been up to you." I keep my eyes on the night sky teeming with traffic, the walls of hovercrafts around us blanketed in pulsing starlight. No words come.
Published on Oct 31, 2017
by Kurt Newton
1. In the future, all women are beautiful and have large breasts. 2. In the future, all men appear to have everything under control, even when facing down a monstrous alien creature or careening through an interdimensional wormhole.
Published on Feb 3, 2020
by Wendy Nikel
"First Phoenix. Then Albuquerque. Grand Canyon. Flagstaff. Each time those fools switch on a new weather regulator, the storms here grow worse. Winds forced where they'd never gone before, rain flooding rocky earth. Sure, they're comfortable now, with their perfect tourist weather and ideal agricultural conditions, but what about the rest of us?"

Murmurs of assent from around the town hall made Mary lose count of her stitches. Before Gran passed away, she'd taught Mary how to knit, but Mary's sock heels still always looked wobbly. There was always something to distract her. To tangle her thoughts and make her pull the stitches a little too tight.
Published on Sep 14, 2022
by Wendy Nikel
Time passes slowly for those made of stone. Each day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day. At least that's what they tell us.

Donal rushes into the tent where I'm eating cold oats and slides his tablet across my makeshift-table crate. "Just got the geophysics for the new site. It's promising. A previous survey found runes in the caldera, and the locals have multiple supernatural legends regarding the volcano. I think it could be Eldritch."
Published on Nov 9, 2022
by Sinead O'Hart
I knew something wasn't right the morning I heard my mother crying in the bathroom. The thin walls of our seventieth-floor apartment did little to muffle the noise, and it sounded wrong enough to make me pause, mid-stretch. I'd never known her to cry before, not even when it had come time for her parents to be Decommissioned. "Nesta?" I heard my father mutter. "What is it?"
Published on Oct 21, 2013
by K. S. O'Neill
Ugh. I crumple the paper and toss it onto the pile on the floor. I've been trying to write a poem based on late twentieth-century tabloid headlines, but I can't get the tone. And I have a dance piece due in a week I need to get to work on, a tricky bit of classical ballet on the rise and fall of antibiotics. I close my notebook and reach out to my sister, who sits in front of me in our sloppy, comfortable den. She murmurs and folds back into my lap without looking up from her reading, and I ruffle my hands through her thick hair.
Published on May 23, 2013
by Aimee Ogden
The earthman arrived on a holy Nineday, when the wet winds blew out of the jungle. In the boiling-hot breeze from the rocket's engines, the ribbons tied to the spiraling Tower of Prayers snapped and shook--until the ship landed directly atop the Tower and crushed it into sacred rubble. The People came slowly down from the shelter of the skin-trees to greet the new arrival, who introduced himself as Steve, or something to that effect. "I've come to protect the planet Snoglafane from the greatest scourge in the Galaxy: my own kind. They'll come soon to loot this place of its precious resources, but don't worry. While I'm with you, you have nothing to fear."
Published on Jan 19, 2018
by Anya Ow
The air was sticky with humidity, hot on my skin. I blinked awake into an unfocused world of colored shapes. Unfamiliarity fed cold panic that shot me awake until I blinked again and remembered. In Chrissy's profile picture, she'd been wearing spectacles. My fault, for not asking about her prescription. Groping around nudged my fingertips against metal and glass on the sideboard, the weight of spectacles a strange fit over the bridge of my nose. The world refocused itself into a small, neat room. Desk on one side with a laptop and a tucked-in swivel chair, band posters and prints blutacced onto plasterboard walls. A whiteboard hung from the wardrobe door. Similar to the one that I had in my room, next to my bed. Chrissy Liu hadn't bothered to mince words on hers. Hello Michael, it read. Have fun in Melbourne! House Rules: 1. The usual: no sex, no drugs, no parties. 2. You can use anything from the 'fridge except the blue-capped stuff, that's my roomie Megan's. Yes, she knows I've Swapped out for the day. 3. Be home when it's dusk and lie down somewhere please, I get dizzy on return swaps. 4. Spare phone's on the desk. It's the Nokia. 5. Remember to 5 for 5! I stepped out of bed and bit down on a yelp as I staggered. That's right. Swapping over to a female body always left me off-balance at the start. Extra weight down the front. Not that Chrissy's were much to drag on, judging from the dip of her PJ's. I practiced walking up and down beside the bed until I got used to the new body, brushed teeth, picked clothes at random from her neat wardrobe and dressed quickly. I wasn't the type who'd get tempted to fiddle around with a new body. The door led out to a small living space. Another Asian girl was slotting bread into the toaster as I shuffled over, and she studied me for a moment before forcing a smile. "You're the swapper?" I pretended to be surprised, even though Chrissie had said she'd updated Megan-the-roomie. "How'd you guess?" "Didn't comb your hair, and you're wearing a grey shirt on grey jeans, dude. She'd never do that." Megan turned back to the toast, already losing interest. "You want to eat, help yourself. Except--" "The blue-capped stuff, yeah." "Right. You need help, my number's saved on that old Nokia you got from the desk. Along with all the Australian emergency numbers. You American?" "Yeah. New Yorker." "New Yorker," Megan mimicked me, drawing out the lilt. "Keys are in the dish by the door. Remember to get home before dark." I ducked back into the room and changed the grey shirt over for a white one, only to realize belatedly that Chrissie's black bra showed through the fabric. The next choice, a black Wonder Woman shirt, fixed that right up. I brushed Chrissie's hair, did a slow circle around in front of her mirror, and then popped out of the room. "Much better," Megan said, forcing another smile. Megan wasn't the first roomie I'd run into who disapproved of Swapping. Dealing with it wasn't my problem. "Is Chrissie allergic to anything? Anything I should know that she might've left out?" "She's lactose intolerant. Other than that, can't think of anything. Get back after dark, yeah?" "I know the drill," I said. Five minutes later, I was strolling out into the sunshine of a Melbourne summer, a far cry from freezing my ass off in a crummy New York apartment, I raised my hands and grinned. First stop: smashed avo on toast. I blinked in the sun as I stepped out of the apartment building onto a side street. Pity that Chrissie didn't have a smartphone as a spare, but I'd memorized the location of a cafe with good reviews up the road. As I made my way north by memory, a spike of pain cracked through my skull. I gasped, staggering against a concrete pillar, clutching at my temple. Could taste something sour in my throat. Was Chrissie having a stroke or? Panicked, I tried to stumble back into the apartment but couldn't seem to manage the coordination to manage keys. Or the Nokia. I staggered over to the intercom and somehow managed to key in the number to Chrissie's flat. The crackle of static stretched a year, a century, then Megan said, "Yes?" "Megan," I croaked, trying to stay upright. "Something's wrong." Horrified silence, then Megan launched into action. "Shit! I always knew this would happen. Okay, stay there. I'll call 000. Stay there, okay? Keep calm." "Okay, okay." I closed my eyes. Reopened them staring at a steel roof, strapped into a stretcher bed. IV drip in the arm, oxygen mask off my face. Megan sobbing on the phone beside paramedics. I tried to speak but closed my eyes again instead. Lids too heavy. Awake. A pale world with a distant burst of blurry light. A tether ran from my belly to the world below, while another connected me to a vaguely human-shaped amorphous form. One that was yanking on the tether between us, trying to snap it loose. "Sorry," they kept mumbling, "sorry." I recognized that voice. "Chrissie?" "Shit, Michael." The form flinched. "I'm so sorry." "What happened?" "I walked outside. Went to the subway. Some guy was coming out, and I bumped into him? He yelled at me, said I was staring at him wrong, and stabbed me--you--in the neck. What the hell? Sorry." Chrissie went back to pulling at the tether. "What are you doing?" I asked. "Swappers designed for things like this. I'm sorry, Michael, but it wasn't my fault. You understand that, right? I'll get in touch with your family once I'm back, I swear." "Stop it. I'm not going to die. I refuse!" I tried pushing at Chrissie, but my hands went through her dim form. Grabbed for her wrists but found no purchase. With a gasp, Chrissie snapped the tether. She began to sink, clutching at herself as I tried to grab at her. "Sorry, sorry," Chrissie said, all the way until she disappeared. I lingered, floating. After a year, a century, I began to laugh. The tether jerked, pulling me to the light.
Published on Oct 1, 2021
by Pontius Paiva
The church across the street looks busy for a Thursday. People shuffle in and out. I count the cars as they drag along the wet streets of town. The steam from the pavement and car exhausts rise and blend seamlessly into the morning mist. I sit at a little table outside a cafe, patiently waiting for the waitress to come back and freshen my cup of coffee. I took a few pills earlier and now find myself fumbling with the empty pill bottle. The pills available now are nothing less than amazing. Depression, anxiety? Curable, with a single pill. Cancer? Depending on the type and severity, anywhere from half a dozen to a dozen pills and you're good to go.
Published on Feb 29, 2016
by Edward Palmer
"You'll be jealous of your own life!" said the vid-board. I kicked another can as I walked down the cramped street, snorting at the vacuous smiles and cheap promises of the blaring advert. Only the Uppers had anything worth being jealous of--the rest of us were left tending jealousy itself. My job packing boxes had kept my head off the pavement, but the roof that kept the rain off my head couldn't keep the grime out of my lungs. Beyond the nineteenth floor, past the fog and amongst the Uppers, the air was cleaner. Life was cleaner: the smiles were genuine and the food was real. But packing boxes wouldn't get you past the fourth floor, and the fourth floor might as well have been the pavement. I ignored the lights of the vid-board and focused on something more tangible. You know where you are with an empty can.
Published on Mar 14, 2016
by Trina Marie Phillips
Jenna took the chocolate milk from the lunch line and moved forward. Truth was, she didn't like chocolate, but the Crayon Kid did, and she had an appointment with him in ten minutes. Jenna grabbed a seat nearest the cafeteria exit and scarfed down the tasteless algae grown pizza with soy pepperoni and the canned green beans that she was sure were at least two decades old. It wasn't like they listened to her anyway. She wasn't one of the math and science brains. A doodler, a dreamer, she'd been called them all, but that didn't stop her. As soon as she finished eating she grabbed the chocolate milk and headed for the bleachers near the handball court. There was a crowd, but they were all watching a heated Nation ball match between Sean and Nita, the two best players on the flats. Jenna slipped underneath where she found the Crayon Kid. He was the messy sort, with a mop of dirty blond hair and smudges on his face. Everyone knew he was a dealer, but art was seen as a victimless crime so most teachers looked the other way. The biggest challenge was hiding her treasures from her parents. If they found out she was an artist they wouldn't understand. They'd ship her off to the Math Academy where she'd never see another crayon again. With the Crayon Kid there were no formalities. "I need red," Jenna said, and held out the chocolate milk. She had been in the middle of drawing an alien riding a fire truck when her last stub of red ran out. The Crayon Kid laughed. "Red'll cost you a lot more than that. Heck, that won't even get you vermillion." "But I really need it." "That's a primary, Jenna. You know those cost more." Jenna looked at him sideways. "CrayoColor?" "Of course. You know I only carry the best." He did, which was pretty amazing since the company went out of business five years ago. Jenna dug around in her pockets but came up with nothing. She should have snuck a couple of cookies from home into her backpack and hoped her mom wouldn't notice. "I can bring you more tomorrow." The Crayon Kid shook his head. "I've only got one red left and I know Tommy's gonna buy it if you don't. I'm giving you first dibs because you're one of my best customers." Jenna sighed. In an effort to sway him, Jenna withdrew a folded piece of paper from her back pocket. It was the drawing she was working on. "What if I give you the drawing when it's done?" Part of Jenna hated giving away her drawing, but it did keep her from being discovered. Also, while the desire to make art burned in her soul, she was less concerned about what happened to it after. The Crayon Kid took hold of the paper to examine her work. It was looking to be one of her better pieces. She'd made the alien periwinkle and had done a good job on the perspective, shading with violet. It really looked like the alien was riding the fire engine like a bucking bronco. There was no background, because coloring backgrounds used the precious crayons too fast. "No doubt you're good, Jenna." He looked at her seriously. "You should come out about this. The world needs art, whether they think so or not." "I can't do that. My dad's a coder and my mom's a scientist. They'll never tolerate it." He shook his head, but when he looked at her his expression softened. "Okay, it's mine when you finish and you owe me another chocolate milk." Jenna started to object but he held up the red crayon. It was what she needed. She looked at her incomplete drawing in his hand, then back at the crayon. "Fine," she said, grabbing her drawing and the crayon and shoving the chocolate milk at him. Jenna pocketed the drawing and slid the crayon into the secret slot in her sleeve. A quick look around to make sure no one would see her and she emerged casually from beneath the bleachers. When she was six she'd learned the hard way not to run from a transaction. At eight, she was a lot smarter. When Jenna got home she raced through her homework and then pulled out her perfect red crayon. Three times she had to stash her drawing so no one would see. And she had to finish with a flashlight under the covers, but she finished. Jenna held the paper up and smiled. Dreamer, doodler, troublemaker. They could call her all those things, but she loved drawing so much. The next morning she snuck off to school with a pair of cookies in her backpack. She knew the Crayon Kid would accept them in place of chocolate milk, he had before. Better to get this over with. At recess, with more sadness than she expected, she gave the Crayon Kid her drawing and the cookies. With only a nod, he disappeared into the shadows. After lunch the alert siren sounded and the classroom vidscreens lit up with the image of the school principal's beet red face. He was standing in the parking lot in front of his fancy hovercar. There, plastered on the window, was Jenna's drawing. Her shock registered along with all the others, but for different reasons. She couldn't believe what the Crayon Kid had done with her artwork. The speaker blared. "I want to know who's responsible for this vandalism! Tell me, or you will all be punished." No one knew, and every kid knew better than to lie because their bio-monitors would give them away under interrogation. The principal grew angry with their silence. Behind the principal, Jenna saw the janitor set to work with a water bucket, sponge and scraper. The Crayon Kid had only used wheat paste, a temporary vandalism. Jenna watched as the scraper tore through her carefully rendered alien. At that moment, it felt like it tore through her heart. But then, as she looked at her classmates, she saw a few sparks among them. Those that loved the rebellion, that identified with her art. This made her realize that she did care what happened to her art after she finished creating it. As she watched the janitor scrape off the last bits of her beautiful drawing, she knew from here on out she wanted her art to mean something. Jenna ran laps with all the other kids, their punishment for not coming forward and not turning in the guilty party. The Crayon Kid ran up alongside of her. They exchanged a knowing look. "More?" he mouthed. Jenna didn't risk answering but gave the slightest nod and the tiniest smile crept onto her lips. Doodler, troublemaker, subversive. Her art was going to start a revolution. END
Published on Dec 9, 2016
by Isaac Pickle
Lewis had gotten into the habit of wandering the decompression halls to pass the time before work. Eyes down and shuffling, he looked like any other dizzy employee regaining his balance. Lewis breathed deeply, patiently waiting for his bracelet to flash yellow, alerting him to the start of his shift when he'd have to make his way down to the metal pasture where the Cows waited in tidy rows. The walls were covered in propaganda, which always did just enough to buoy Lewis' mood. Collections was a dirty job, but the shiny posters with colorful reminders of progress outside lifted some of the load. He saw it every day on his commute, the progress. Agricultural sprawl was no longer an idea floated in the academy; it floated clean on afternoon breezes. And his role at the pasture, while not life-defining, allowed him a certain swell in the chest at family gatherings. There would be a story to tell, or news to share from the wars' fronts, and he was part of the solution. He took warmth from the happy truths plastered to the walls. Do Not Worry About Space Debris. No, he wouldn't, not with all the hope here on the surface. Hell, even the Tibetan Plateau had seen armistice just these past few months. Drink In the Peace. Yes, he would.
Published on Jan 11, 2019
by Jennifer R. Povey
Tad managed, barely, to restrain himself from punching the wall. He punched air instead, anger and frustration on his face. Then he looked at his phone again.
Published on Aug 13, 2019
by Powers-Smith
"Thanks for that report, Joan. I'm sure Jack and Jackie will find a good home." [Lower-Third Caption: Fade out, "Furry Friends Forever;" Fade in, "BREAKING NEWS: Crisis on Titan"]
Published on Oct 17, 2013
by Ken Poyner
James came out through his flimsy front door and was halfway to his car when Ned from the next home over got him flush in the back with a .38 slug. The shot likely sufficiently killed James, but to be sure Ned walked over and placed two more rounds into him. James’s wife came to the door and started screaming. Ned bent down and affixed his claim tag around James’s ankle. He pried his cell phone out of a pocket, popped the flip-style phone open, and called the authorities. Neither James nor his wife apparently knew it was James day. Had they known, James would have stayed locked inside, blinds down, in an interior room. In the end, Ned collected the $450 for his catch. He then waited up that night to see what tomorrow’s name would be. Ned did not win the bonus for most inventive catch. A slug in the back had no chance. A fellow a couple of townships over got a James by tricking him to step on the plate of a disguised catapult, tossed the James forty yards to break his neck where he landed. It took some effort to get enough tension on the catapult spring, and almost all day to disguise it. And he had to be sure it was a James on the launch spot. Cull some other name and there would be a fine, possibly community service. When they announced the award, they had two eye-witnesses come on and describe seeing the event--the James’s arms flailing, his legs in a run even though he was free in the air, the scream ending in an anonymous thud. One wonders how some people think these methods up. As for Ned’s James’s wife, no one seemed to know her name. She had managed to keep it off most documents, did not mention it in the few conversations she had. She was referred to as Mrs. Most people resented the success of her secrecy. From the day of her husband’s death, she was alert as to whether the name Ned came up for a day. The family had a hunting rifle and even if she could not catch him outside, all of that Ned day she could pop stray rounds into Ned’s house, call up to see if a random shot had made a lucky hit. If it had, she could stroll over, place her tag, call the authorities from Ned’s own phone. Problem is, if she tries to claim the bounty, she will have to give her name.
Published on Sep 30, 2021
by Chen Qiufan (translated by Ken Liu)
Let there be light, Mimi thought. She was the leader of the waste people--the despised, possession-less, barely human workers fit only to pick through the electronic wasteland walled off from civilization to extract what could be reused, each bit of rare earth metal more precious than the sum of their lives.
Published on Mar 8, 2016
by Cat Rambo
Jane counted them again to make sure: twelve. Twelve signatures on the back panel, most jerky with haste, a couple deliberate and firm, one with a little flower above the i, for god's sake. The pen in her hand ready to add the thirteenth.
Published on Jul 12, 2013
by Stephen V. Ramey
On Centuri Primus, it's said one has only to set foot onto the planet to feel God's embrace. Ask a question, get His answer, think of a friend you once knew and you're talking to, feeling, their presence. Other planets have different protocols, but each has been linked into the Wholeness. Except Earth. The universe is alight with God's glow, yet we remain in a darkness of our own stubborn design. I live in the shantytown surrounding the space elevator warehouse complex, a hundred thousand people fighting tooth and nail for day labor, shelter, food, and water. Nearly all of us want to leave. You can see the longing in our eyes when a car ascends through the elevator tower. You can hear it in the sudden hush.
Published on Jun 20, 2011
by Mike Resnick & Sabina Theo
"What'll it be?" asked the man at the reception desk. "An apocalyptic death for two? Poison perhaps? Or maybe you'd prefer to have us decide? It makes no difference in the price." "I'm not sure," said Eddie, staring at the discreet badge over the man's left pocket: Leo Verini, Psychologist. "Not to worry, sir. Here we all have more than one role--from the chef to the chambermaids." He smiled reassuringly. "Still, I understand your restlessness." "My restlessness?" repeated Eddie. "A moment ago you began drumming your fingers, which could imply impatience--but it seems clear to me that you are uneasy." "What would have happened if I'd begun biting my nails?" asked Eddie curiously. "I'd have recommended the manicurist on the second floor," answered Verini with a laugh.
Published on Aug 6, 2012
by Peter Roberts
(excerpts from a business & services directory last updated 2 April 2187 11:47:31.01523)
Published on Jul 2, 2015
by Art Robinson
Someone at the party says we're lucky to get such good seats and someone tells them to shut up. The rock is almost as big as the Moon now, bright white in the sky, surrounded by stars. They're all out, because we're as far from the cities as possible. Too much light in the city, even though the power got drained to launch the Arks at Mars. Lots of burning buildings, burning cars, burning people. Lots of cults and militias, playing at priest and soldier with just days until the end.
Published on Feb 16, 2017
by Michael Adam Robson
The black town car glided quietly through the midnight campus, past manicured lawns and empty parking lots, up to a cluster of tall, dark office buildings. The driver hopped out and opened Murdoch's door for him, letting in the cold night air. On the other side, Black let himself out and stretched. A security guard opened the door to the dimly lit lobby and murmured news of their arrival into his lapel. Another stood by the elevator. "He's waiting for you upstairs, sir," the guard said, and he pushed the elevator button. Murdoch looked the man over while they waited. He wore a crisp black suit, black tie, and mirrored sunglasses, though it was the dead of night. Murdoch studied his reflection in the guard's silver lenses, tightening the Windsor knot in his own tie. The man stared ahead like a department store mannequin.
Published on Dec 4, 2012
by Michael Adam Robson
There was a banging on the service door behind me, and I fumbled for my shotgun. Laughter grated. "First time, kid?" Leaning on the door was a smirking soldier in body armor, shotgun hanging in one hand. It was Big Ben, head of security for the ground floor. Ben was a hardened veteran, but even he seemed on edge. The smile on his scarred face didn't touch his cold eyes.
Published on Jun 15, 2016
by Robert Lowell Russell
***This story features nudity and violence. It is intended for adult readers.***
Published on Jul 28, 2011
by Paavo Saari
David spent all day in his media center, reading the news. In this sense he was no different than every other middle class person in the country. Every day he sat, and absorbed new information. He had just finished reading an article about the war. The article said that war was bad because it killed innocent people. He agreed. He was very thankful he had read that article. If he hadn't, his opinion of the war would have been incorrect. It had been years since David had had an opinion about a part of his own life. No journalist was writing about it. His own life had no statistics to analyze, no primary sources.
Published on Feb 11, 2019
by Mark Sarney
Sophomore Megan Carroll marched into my office five minutes early. She carried a bulging backpack that threatened to consume her slight frame but that she pretended wasn't heavy. Her shoulder-length blond hair was perfect; she somehow escaped having the bedraggled look everyone else had when they came in from this nasty New England cold. And here I was, the school counselor, with a beehive of nerves in my stomach.
Published on Apr 18, 2011
by Peter Sartucci
Gold is enduring. We find it occasionally, sometimes in the form of great hoards of rectangular bars or circular disks buried under crushed brick and stone. More often as odd bits, a bent ring here, a mangled shape there. All worked by hands that clearly cared about their craft and their purpose, even when that is murky to us.
Published on Apr 11, 2022
by Erica L. Satifka
I did everything you asked me to. When the leaders of the Three Remaining Nations League came over for coffee and trade agreements, I was the one who put the rat poison in their creamer, making sure to spoon in the exact proportion that you wrote down in your grandmother's recipe card file. I sewed the medals on that jacket you like to wear in your daily address. I even canceled my trip to Boise where I was to guest judge the yearly gladiatorial fights. Because I knew how much you wanted to blow up Boise, but you'd never do it if I were there.
Published on Feb 3, 2015
by E. Saxey
LYSCom is recruiting on your campus. You're one of two dozen students sweating in a seminar room, agonizing over an application form. Working with those less fortunate you spy on the forms of the people near you.
Published on Sep 2, 2014
by Kris Schnee
The gang's decker, Ralsei, was plugged in and slashing through cybersecurity at TokugawaCorp when Shintaro called for backup. Using his suitcase phone he said, "Steve, where are you? The 'borgs are closing in on our hideout!" Steve yawned into his phone. "What? Did they declare honorable vendetta?"
Published on Jan 2, 2020
by Erik B. Scott
After the third knock, the door finally opened a crack. Jaren saw a scaled hand wrap around the door and a pair of narrow yellow eyes peek out suspiciously. "I've been waiting," his serpentine voice beckoned. He opened the door and led Jaren inside. Jaren sighed, "We are sorry for the delay, sir. There are hundreds of construction projects going on around the city right now and most are in need of our services."
Published on Jan 17, 2013
by Marge Simon
In an overcrowded world, a high bar on reproduction was enforced. The odds were high, but after seven years came notification that we would be allowed one hemaphrodite offspring.
Published on Oct 14, 2010
by AE Smith
I arrived at the station sweating profusely and trying unsuccessfully to both undo my top button and go spelunking for my ticket in amongst my belongings. I leapt onto the shuttle with seconds to spare and picked my way over the outstretched feet of my fellow passengers, folding myself gratefully into the only unoccupied seat. I leaned back and glanced at the advertisements running along the top of the carriage wall. One depicted grinning children enjoying a day of Rural Activities at an out-of-city park, the next featured an image of a torso with a thumb and forefinger holding a small amount of flesh. The text read “Can YOU ‘pinch an inch?’ If not, your Meal code may need adjusting. See your physician for a FREE code check-up.” My seatmate, who was occupying themselves by knitting a Gordian knot of wool into what appeared to be the foundations of a hat, snorted. “You’ll wait a month for that appointment,” they muttered, needles clicking. “Still, at least no-one goes hungry.”
Published on Jul 30, 2021
by Matthew Sanborn Smith
Welcome to the world of the living, baby. I've come with a heads up: You should know that at some point you will find yourself buried beneath rubble. You will fall in love eleven times. You will accidentally find a new thing in math and will be given far too much credit for it. You'll drive hundreds of thousands of miles to work. Not all at once. You're not going to be working on a space station or anything, and even if you were, the road to the EarthCommunal Three station won't have been built until well after you're gone. The eighth person you fall in love with will be the big one, the grandest and slowest burn. The one that makes you walk faster, that makes you slam doors, that makes you worry about mental health insurance policies, and go out to find cola-flavored ice cream at three in the morning.
Published on Nov 20, 2020
by Benjamin J. Sonnek
...so what do you think of that? The six other girls at the table began moving their heads, the individual thoughts blending into a river: It's crazy! Why would she do that--he's kind of a--don't forget about her last--how could they--does that mean he's available?
Published on Sep 20, 2016
by William Squirrell
It seemed to us he came from the other side of the planet; from somewhere beyond our buried cities; from even deeper in the impoverished burrows than our narrow ghetto capillaries; from below the hydroponic caves; the chthonic fish farms; the leaking concrete power plants. From deeper places than ours. Much deeper. Deeper and darker. Yet he had risen to the heights. Past us all. To the apex of what was possible. His lavish apartment was a bubble trapped against the ceiling of the slums. He knew rich men from beyond the gates, men so rich they had windows, donned radiation suits and walked for pleasure under a star-glutted sky, stared through golden visors at the white hot intensity of the sun. He knew rich men who needed him for drugs. Not banal poisons brewed in backroom laboratories by semiliterate chemists, or manufactured by off-duty cops in impounded factories, but weed grown in night soil, cocaine from plants hidden in forgotten access tunnels, tobacco from between the rows of hydroponic corn. They loved rough textures, these rich men from just under the skin of the world, they loved the idea of something once alive, something dirty, unhygienic. They loved the smell of shit on their fingertips.
Published on Feb 12, 2021
by Douglas Sterling
Uncertainty is an eye shifting a fraction of an inch. It's a word that comes a second too late. Uncertainty is blood in the water; linger too long and out come the sharks. When voters look into your eyes and they see uncertainty you fill them with conviction. They become certain that you are weak, certain you are vulnerable, certain they're not giving you their vote. Your finger is suspended over the key, held at bay by three little words.
Published on Sep 17, 2012
by Charles Michael Stucker
My silent alarm alerts me to the time and I get up to leave. Mabel sees me and says, "Work's not finished." I know her game all too well. She works slow and then wants me to work over to help her finish, bur company policy gives me an out. "Records show I finished my last assignment for today with less than sixty seconds to spare. You have to finish your own work. I have to go."
Published on Jul 27, 2020
by Corey Ethan Sutch
"Gosh, well this is awkward." Alan slowly moved his index finger away from the red button below him, his forehead glistening slightly from a cool sweat. The button of the NanoNuke box gleamed in the sunlight, as smooth and shiny as candy, it was simply begging to be pushed. He resisted this time. His neighbor tentatively did the same, not without squinting to make sure Alan had already surrendered. Their game of chicken ended in forfeit, for now at least.
Published on Sep 19, 2017
by Karin Terebessy
Every time the caf door opened, allowing in a cool draft, the woman at the table next to Maggie turned blue. Then after the door closed, melted back to a warm red. She leaned across the cafe aisle toward Maggie. "Thermodynamic body sleeve," she explained. "It's the latest." She glanced at Maggie's cotton shirt and jeans, smiled stiffly, and turned back to her companion.
Published on Nov 7, 2014
by Elizabeth A Terhune
It was 17:45 on a Friday, and Abby-Gale and Lucy were finishing their second shift in the cleanroom at Earth's First Aerospace, Inc. The brightly-lit room smelled strongly of 70% ethanol, and hummed with the whir of the HEPA filtration system that wove intricately through the facility's corridors. The two teenagers were Senior Aviation Technicians, coworkers since they were hired as interns at age nine back in the year 3052. The pair financially supported their parents, former technicians themselves who were placed on mandatory retirement at age 28. "How's your mom's school going?" asked Lucy. "Good--she loves ancient history," said Abby-Gale, stepping up a steel ladder to the tip of an under-construction spacecraft.
Published on Oct 14, 2020
by Lavie Tidhar
***Editor's Note: This is an adult story, featuring adult sexual situations and language*** Youssou dreamed that he was flying. There was no gravity in that place. Dimensions stretched and shifted. A ring in space, kilometers long, spinning. Only the center remained free of gravity. Youssou floated, and his lover floated with him, short and stocky with pale skin. They were both naked, dancing, Youssou clumsy, used to the pull of gravity on his body, his lover more graceful, economical movements, used to this incredible confusing freedom, pale Asian skin against Youssou's tall gangly darkness. Their dance intensified, arousal coursing through Youssou's blood, a shared music passing between their nodes, entwined, the Conversation fading around them, that incessant chatter of network traffic, they moved uncoordinated, the time-lag between them making this mating ritual a challenge, so that they made moves anticipating the other's response across the chasm of space.
Published on Feb 22, 2013
by Lavie Tidhar
Sssshhh... Listen.
Published on May 8, 2012
by Sean Vivier
Report: Waves of drought and flood threaten harvest, may cause nationwide famine. Wow. Who could have possibly seen that coming? (/sarcasm)
Published on Jun 1, 2015
by Sean Vivier
As soon as Mike walked into the Tornillo camp, he felt the immensity of it bear down upon him. He had to hold his copy of Tornillo Means Screw tighter to himself to withstand it. The sheer force of history here. How his grandparents had been kept here, how his mother had been ripped from their arms while still a baby and kept separate for years. It didn't seem right. The inhumanity of it all overwhelmed history, yet this place stood empty and abandoned, save for the schoolchildren who walked it. Some even had the gall to show boredom.
Published on May 13, 2020
by Liz A. Vogel
The car idled in the driveway. On the dashboard, the navbox waited patiently, its screen lit with a list of common destinations. There was a keypad for typing in a whole address, but it was easier just to narrow down from the pre-set options. Oren tapped the navbox. "Evantown," it said in its computerized voice, precisely calculated to provide maximum reassurance and instill a calm and focused attitude in the driver. "Sunset Grove," it added in response to his next selections, and then "Four one nine." Oren selected Guide Me, and when the navbox told him, "Turn left," he did.
Published on Jun 2, 2014
by Jamie Wahls
It was a bloodless conquering, as they went. The aliens ships deployed missiles the size of roses’ thorns, and sleeted down over our cities. They interfaced with the internet, uploaded themselves into our computers and phones, and seized control.
Published on Oct 12, 2020
by Carl Walmsley
"For those of us living in the modern era, it's hard to imagine a time when people's crimes were judged without recourse to their former good deeds. A decent person could commit one illegal act and be condemned for it. One mistake could wipe away a lifetime of kindness and charity--as if everything that has gone before counted for nothing. Such a system fostered apathy and a disregard for the well-being of others. Thank God--we now live in an era of true justice."
Published on Mar 27, 2020
by Derek Ivan Webster
The connoisseurs milled and mingled from one end of the long, thin room to the other. There were seven different tasting stations set just far enough apart to allow conversation between tables. A nostalgic, almost retrospective feel had been chosen for the night's theme: soft Plutonian cotton covered the walls and examples of the local system's ancient and primitive arts were strategically positioned to take attention from the servers as they poured. Here a rudimentary portrait with smears of actual pigment long dried atop a canvas square; there an open leather binding, its fan of pages each stained with line after line of tiny archaic symbol; even a maze of brass tubing, bent into the most intricate and seemingly unnecessary swirl of what had once been considered a sort of music maker. The crowd, of course, many of whom found themselves in the backwoods of the Old Earth system for the first time, adored these authentic details. Anything to remind them of their superiority, whether over their past or present peers, was to be considered in the most suitable taste.
Published on Jan 27, 2012
by E.E. Wesley
Michael sat at his desk staring at his computer, casually clicking through the puzzle on the screen. The garish colors filling his gaze flashed and reorganized as he finished the level. A small, unsatisfied smile briefly crossed his lips as his score blinked and grew. Twelve points for completing the puzzle, and three points for speed. He spared the leaderboard a glance before setting into the next level. He was 123rd out of 400 at the company, three below where he started today. An exasperated sigh escaped him as he reoriented on the newest level. He would probably be even lower by the time he left work. His heart wasn't in it today. Four months ago he had set the company record, neatly capping off a six-month winning streak. It was downhill from there, though. Last month he scored third place. Of course the puzzle was more than just a dumb game. Michael worked for the logistics division of one of the farming conglomerates that fed most of Europe. A rather complicated job was repackaged as a set of scored puzzles by an algorithm and given to 400 people in cube farms around the world. The conglomerate provided him with food, a small apartment, and entertainment credit proportional to his ranking.
Published on Mar 13, 2017
by Sarah White
The hurricane lamp we hung overhead shed a bright and unforgiving glare over the entire garage. My shaking hands made the light shimmer on the scalpel. "Just do it," Jamie ordered through gritted teeth. His Regulator was curbing the worst of his fear, but the exposed back of his neck gleamed with sweat. "For God's sakes, just do it, just cut it out!"
Published on Oct 12, 2015
by Aliya Whiteley
You used to say I overcomplicate things, but this will not be one of them. I forgive you, and I love you, and I hope you are happy. I hope they pass this last letter on, and I hope it makes you feel better to receive it.
Published on Jul 20, 2020
by Fran Wilde
Her: passing through to new horizons, slumming my station's crowded bar. Me: just off a line-cook shift, eating my free meal. Her teeth flashed, her eyes gleamed, her dress sparkled. I smelled of fish and spice. "Each desired other," she said later. The bar's glass and mirrors wove a net of her and caught me, young and fresh. After years in bright layers of space and fame, my simple tastes bit her wants. Wouldn't let go. We downed shots of 100-year Scotch, her tab; split a bottle of lunar ice wine, mine. Then a quiet kiss all tongue and rasp and oh god you dazzling thing. She demanded a private table beyond my pay grade. Got it. Ordered salted olives over garlic-lime station krill. Let me taste her tasting it. Fingers. Lips. Each sampled other. Time narrowed to one now.
Published on Jun 3, 2014
by Sean Williams
Once upon a time, people used to fly about in Air-O-Planes. One day the people driving the Air-O-Plane fell asleep, and it crashed into a mountain. Everyone died. When my great-great-grandma was young, people worked in places called "factories." They built things with their hands. But their hands were always getting caught in the machines and the machines were dirty and stupid and made everyone sick. Lots of people died. It was sad.
Published on Mar 9, 2015
by Filip Wiltgren
Gail chose body. I never expected her to, we'd been so adamant about our minds, how the soul is worth more than the flesh. And yet she chose body.
Published on Jul 19, 2019
by Filip Wiltgren
"A mouth-piece?" Kalia said. "Seriously?"

"It's not that bad," I said. "Besides, the perks are fab."
Published on Jul 1, 2022
by Jakob Winters
Hannah's mother lived a few streets over because Hannah's father didn't like Hannah's mother and Hannah's father liked Hannah and Hannah's father knew Judge Drayton, so Hannah's father paid Judge Drayton to give him Hannah and now Hannah's father has Hannah. Hannah's father comes home at five and Hannah comes home at three, so when she gets home she deactivates the security barrier with her watch, puts her backpack in her bedroom, reactivates the barrier, and walks to her mother's house where they eat tangerines and play cards. Hannah loved books. Had loved books since she was three and her mother read a book to her and she smiled and smiled. But she couldn't read until she was in the second grade. It made her feel stupid and sad. And it's hard for a second grader to feel sad! Not only do you have to deal with not being able to read, you have to deal with being in second grade. But then, in March, she learned to read. Not in a month, not in a day, but in an hour. Something happened and suddenly she could read better than her teacher. No one could explain it, especially not Hannah. When Hannah told her teacher the teacher said, "That is remarkable dear, you may be of great use to our side." "Our side of what?" Hannah asked, but her teacher was already walking back to her desk.
Published on Dec 17, 2018
by Daniel James Woodhouse
Throughout the following text we will use the notation FIT to indicate our currently accepted calendar convention. FIT stands for “Friday Is Thursday” and supersedes the previously accepted CE calendar (the so called “common era”). The historical circumstances that led to the transition are widely misunderstood, even today, and since they will be an integral part of our study of 21st Century history of the First United States of America (FUSA), we will briefly address them here. It surprises and confuses many students who first learn of it that the FIT calendar is identical to CE, save that we are precisely one day behind. When studying a primary source from this prior era, for example, you can mentally correct the date by understanding that it was actually the day before, as we understand it. Even more puzzling to students: the shift was not caused by the usual solar disturbances or even a failure in their primitive digital timekeeping. The shift occurred for what can only be described as sociological concerns. We can surmise from the extensive (and frankly burdensome) record of the “discourse” of that era that the denizens of the FUSA had by that point split into two epistemological tribes. Which is a fancy way of saying they hated each other’s guts and didn’t believe a word the other said. The level of antagonism reached such a point that family and social bonds were frequently severed and simple matters of arithmetic could become controversial. Although the mentality of any era is hard to appreciate in retrospect, this is a particularly challenging case. On the morning of False Thursday, the point of deviation, roughly one half of that nation decided it was a Thursday and not in fact on a Friday. They changed their clocks, watches, computers to accord with this. They ran their public and private lives according to this adjusted schedule and were greatly aggrieved when fellow citizens contradicted them. Many were fired when they didn’t turn up to work the following day, believing (quite rightly) that it was the weekend. Soon setting the court dates for all the wrongful dismissal cases became a matter of deducing the allegiances of the presiding judge. In short, chaos ensued (see Chapters 5,6,7). Today, when these events are mentioned, it is treated as some kind of silly colossal mix-up and the kind of pointless argument that unfortunately typified a society unwilling to give priority to the global crises the world faced (see Chapters 1,2,3,4,9,10,11,12,13). In fact, it would have been unambiguously clear that False Thursday was indeed very much a Friday, and that one side was very much acting in bad faith. That said, the number of people who likely benefited financially from the shift is very small (see Section 5 in Chapter 4, The Grift). It should be noted that the First United States was not the only nation state in the world at that time. When the other nation states finally capitulated to the new calendar (except France; see Section 4 in Chapter 8, L’heure Française), it was done with a historic degree of resignation. Why the citizens of the FUSA who knew full well what day it was had also capitulated has attracted many theories. But we will only address the most widely accepted (see Section 3 in Chapter 8, The Banality of Arguing).
Published on Nov 24, 2021
by Caroline M. Yoachim
Have you ever played that game--exquisite corpse--where someone draws a head, a second person adds a torso, and the last person draws the legs? Well, I took an art class at the community college and one of our assignments was like that. We were supposed to draw half a self-portrait and then pass the art to someone else. There'd be two faces, done in two different styles, neatly separated by a vertical line down the middle. Faces are hard to draw, so I put the assignment off as long as possible. The night before the half-self-portrait was due, I had a little whiskey. Possibly a lot of whiskey. It didn't make me a better artist, but it did help me care less about my mistakes. I finished my side of the artwork at 11:45pm, which left me no prayer of getting anyone to draw the other half. Being somewhat less than sober, I had a brilliant idea: I made a new email account, wrote the address and password on a slip of paper, and sealed it in an envelope labeled "open in 2025."
Published on Aug 23, 2016
by Joseph Zieja
Hers was a life of spoons. Their size, their shape, their ability to measure sugar. Maela lined them up in neat rows in front of the plain white ceramic cereal bowl filled with plain white porridge. Indecision tugged at her like the coy beckoning of a distant lover's finger, tempting her towards one spoon over the other. The one with the deep oval head would scoop up great gobs of breakfast, but wasn't very good for scraping out the thin white lines that formed as the scraps of mush cooled and hardened. The one with the steep slope would help with that, but everything seeped over and dripped out of the shallow sides. And she could only choose one. One every morning. That was her promise to herself.
Published on Aug 15, 2011
by Steve Zisson
So I drag myself to this ALL-NIGHT store, one I don't usually go to, and the guy behind the glass wants to thank me and all. "Thank me for what?"
Published on Sep 5, 2017
by Sedeer el-Showk
It had not yet become a city of legend when I was born. There were festivals and clamoring bells and bright towers by the sea, but we also had poverty and hunger and grief. Our city was still real then, and we bore happiness and misery in equal measure in the time before the child. One day, an enchanter appeared among us, a man who could reshape the world with his words. No one knew where he came from. Some said he was a stranger from afar, but others claimed he was a citizen of the city. Looking back, I think neither is true. I believe he was born from us, a manifestation of the secret desires we refuse to name. He was the reflection we will not endure, freed to roam our streets.
Published on Dec 27, 2018