Science Fiction & Fantasy

IntheNightWood-Banner_Final_Lightspeed Oct 2018

Advertisement

Science Fiction

Standard Loneliness Package

Root canal is one fifty, give or take, depending on who’s doing it to you. A migraine is two hundred. Not that I get the money. The company gets it. What I get is twelve dollars an hour, plus reimbursement for painkillers. Not that they work. I feel pain for money. Other people’s pain. Physical, emotional, you name it.

Beachworld

FedShip ASN/29 fell out of the sky and crashed. After a while two men slipped from its cloven skull like brains. They walked a little way and then stood, helmets beneath their arms, and looked at where they had finished up. It was a beach in no need of an ocean—it was its own ocean, a sculpted sea of sand, a black-and-white-snapshot sea frozen forever in troughs and crests and more troughs and crests. Dunes.

The Taste of Starlight

Pelops wakes gasping and shivering inside the CryoPod. A thin layer of ice crystals coats his cheeks and hands, pricking at his exposed skin. Crackling and moaning, he raises hands to his eyes and pries their lids open, shedding ice shards like tears. The curving glass surface before him is cracked into a mass of spidery lines. Struggling to inhale the frozen air, he pushes against the glass. The door of the pod refuses to move. He is entombed.

The Taste of Starlight

Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man’s Back

(Boom!) That’s a little scientist joke, and the proper way to begin this. As for the purpose of my notebook, I’m uncertain. Perhaps to organize my thoughts and not to go insane.

Hindsight

Second Coming is docked two miles underground. She’s made of a collapsible, repulsion-attraction subatomic slurry that the astrophysicists are convinced will survive the gravitational anomaly called Black Betty. Yes, the ship will survive; it’s her human cargo that’s doomed.

Travelers

“Are we all ready, then?” Nikomastir asks. He has fashioned a crown of golden protopetaloids for himself and gleaming scarlet baubles dangle from his ears: the bright translucent shells of galgalids, strung on slender strands of pure gold. His long pale arms wave in the air as though he is conducting a symphony orchestra. “Our next destination is—” and he makes us wait for the announcement. And wait. And wait.

Amid the Words of War

Every few day-cycles, it receives hate-scented lace in anonymous packages. It opens the bland plastic envelope to pull one out, holding the delicate fragment between two forelimbs. Contemplating it before folding it again to put away in a drawer. Four drawers filled so far; the fifth is halfway there.

The Long Chase

2645, January. The war is over. The survivors are being rounded up and converted. In the inner solar system, those of my companions who survived the ferocity of the fighting have already been converted. But here at the very edge of the Oort Cloud, all things go slowly. It will be years, perhaps decades, before the victorious enemy come out here. But with the slow inevitability of gravity, like an outward wave of entropy, they will come.

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain

The usual fallacy is that, in every universe, many futures splay outward from any given moment. But in some universes, determinism runs backwards: given a universe’s state s at some time t, there are multiple previous states that may have resulted in s. In some universes, all possible pasts funnel toward a single fixed ending, Ω. If you are of millenarian bent, you might call Ω Armageddon. If you are of grammatical bent, you might call it punctuation on a cosmological scale. If you are a philosopher in such a universe, you might call Ω inevitable.

Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain

More Than the Sum of His Parts

21 August 2058. They say I am to keep a detailed record of my feelings, my perceptions, as I grow accustomed to the new parts. To that end, they gave me an apparatus that blind people use for writing, like a tablet with guide wires. It is somewhat awkward. But a recorder would be useless, since I will not have a mouth for some time, and I can’t type blind with only one hand.