Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fantasy

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Mike and Jessie were walking in the park. The trees high above their heads stretched to touch each other, their leaves letting only the tiniest slivers of light through. Mike watched the freckles of light spot Jessie’s brown face, her shirt, her arms. He tried to snub them out with his fingers. It was a long day for them. They’d spent a few hours walking around the park, just talking. About old dreams and new ones, black riots and urban decay, the secrets of their hearts and the mysteries of the universe.

Science Fiction

Her Monster, Whom She Loved

Ammuya birthed five hundred gods, followed by a monster. That was her first mistake. The gods tormented the monster because they feared it. They bound it inside a black hole, and the monster’s hatred seethed. Eventually the monster raged so fiercely he escaped the event horizon. Then he hunted down his siblings, one by one. On a silent desert planet, Ammuya cried for her children.

Fantasy

A Compendium of Architecture and the Science of Building

By the time he returned home after all his years of wandering, Magnus Diarisso had come to prefer a fire burning on cold days rather than the elaborate hypocaust system that heated the mage house. The sound of wood settling, sparks popping, and ashes sighing helped him relax. He told his nephew the mansa, the powerful cold mage who was head of Four Moons House, that he did not want to live in the main house with its comings and goings and the children’s chatter.

Science Fiction

The Atonement Path

To think we used to put young criminals in jail. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to eavesdrop. Or should I say eaveswatch? What is the comparable term for using one’s visual sense in a surreptitious fashion? Dining establishments are a superb venue for such observations. But it is true, no? What good could their example do if they were shut away from public view? Ah. I am being rude. My name is Andrew Blankenship. Esquire, in the interest of completeness.

Fantasy

Scavenge, Rustic Hounds!

The creatures come out at night, while we’re asleep. My husband says they are harmless. “Probably mice,” he says. “They’re not harmless,” I tell him. “They are very much not harmless,” I say. “They’re gathering information on us. They’re looking through our things, examining our lives, deciding if we are good or if we are not.” “That’s ridiculous,” my husband says. “They’re singling us out. Deciding which ones to take away.”

Science Fiction

A Bond as Deep as Starlit Seas

Don’t sell her. The thought rises like a tide in the back of Jeri’s mind, where she’s spent three Nikutan launch cycles struggling to contain it. It leaves her breathless, drowning in guilt, and trying to hide it from the krosuta-whitened stare of the Henza abbess. This is Cleo, not a load of ore. This will break her. And how could it not break her? She’s a lumbering old Juno-class cargo beast, poor Cleo, one of the earliest models.

Fantasy

Wild Bill’s Last Stand

Wild Bill “The Buck” Williams rode into town for a drink, but he stayed for the pretty boys. He was as mean as they said but not so tall: a lean, hard man with a rocky face and a broad mustache, slicked at both sides from a tin of fat he kept in a satchel round his waist. That first night he broke a man’s jaw for cheating him at poker. I didn’t just hear the story, I saw it—how Wild Bill clocked the fucker upside the face, emptied the last of his drink, and knocked out half the man’s teeth with his mug.

Science Fiction

Greetings, Humanity! Welcome To Your Choice Of Species!

Hello, there! If you have received this telepathic mailing, you are a member of the species currently self-designated Homo sapiens, as evolved on the planet locally known as Earth, orbiting the sun locally known, for some reason that escapes us, as Sol. Most of your kind is already aware of the legal proceedings just completed in Session 3,975,216.7b of the Exalted High Tribunal of the Interstellar Commission on the Minimum Standards for Worthiness of Indigenous Cultures.

Science Fiction

Waterbirds

Constable Kershaw has not uttered any overrides, nor issued a warrant to access her memory logs, but Celia understands nonetheless that she is expected to stay, to sit and answer his questions like a suspect. It surprises her, this treatment. Like she’s human. “Are you chilly, Constable? Shall I light the fire?” “Yeah, all right,” he says, removing his hat and settling into the armchair her employer always favours. Favoured.

Fantasy

A Song of Home, the Organ Grinds

The monkeys are white-faced capuchins. Small things, their lean, black-furred bodies stand in stark contrast to the white tufts of their faces and shoulders. The Russians have cannons that can blast an airship apart in ten minutes and armored steam knights called kolotar, but of the many dangers I face on a warship a mile above the Black Sea, I fear the monkeys I tend most.
“Do not tarry,” a man whispers behind me. “They eat meat as well, boy.”