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"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.

Lights Always Shine Through

When Tracy S. Morris was four, she wrote her first story on the back of a newspaper in crayon, gave it to the postman along with an antique silver dollar from her grandmother's coin collection, and told him to give it to someone who would turn it into a book.

She's still waiting to hear back from that publisher.

You can find her, and the books she's published since at tracysmorris.com

The doctor had kind eyes behind his surgical mask. That was one thing I didn't expect. He held up a large needle and said in a voice that promised lollypops: "This
won't hurt."
He lied, of course.
The sub-dermal LEDs stung like fire ants when he pushed them under my skin.
If I didn't need the money, I'd never consider doing this. But then again, isn't that what everyone says?
They give me a special mask to block out the light while I sleep. But it presses so that I can't sleep anyway from the headache. Even if it fit, the light leaks in around
the edges.
I wonder how tired I'll get before I learn to cope.
Your time is no longer your own. You have to work when there is someone to see you.
It seems like there is always someone to see you. I used to be an introvert.
Once, we wore signs on our jackets. Eventually that became white noise, like the billboards and digital trucks.
It works better on skin.
I'm a bigger curiosity than what you streamed on TV last night. Why did I do this to myself? How far will I let this go?
The worst part is the clothing. The more lights we agree to, the less clothing we wear. It's not bad if you limit yourself to a window: A keyhole at the neck, a bared stomach.
I've heard of others, so covered that they can only wear a bathing suit, freezing to death. Their stiff corpses lay there on the street, still glowing with ads for soda and toothpaste, kids toys and luxury town homes. Until someone finally takes the bodies away.
I've heard that the glow never stops.
They say that less than a half-percent leave this job behind. Once you're a skinboard, that's all you're good for. It's not like you can hide what you were under layers. The
lights always shine through.
There's talk of new laws so that we can switch off the lights when we want to.
That would be nice.
The End
This story was first published on Thursday, June 25th, 2020

Author Comments

I wrote this story after I saw an LED billboard truck in traffic. This kind of advertisement strikes me (no pun intended) as a road hazard. But the advertising industry seems like it's more focused on parting people from their money than in the ethics of just how they achieve that parting, even if it does cause an accident or two.

So what happens if rolling light up moving vans stop being effective? Light-up tattoos seem like a possibility.

- Tracy S. Morris
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