Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Flash Fiction

Science Fiction

Before the Haze Devours You

If time can stop, this is how it feels. 01:32:03 PLSS WARNING: Abnormal temperature detected in EMU. Yunuen was born to be trapped in this moment. She has been looking at the same alert in her helmet’s heads-up display for a perpetual instant that has become her whole existence. One billion kilometers away from home, she lies in the purgatory that is the red glow of this warning message. In front of her eyes, these petrified uppercase letters have lost all their meaning. Time does not exist anymore.

Science Fiction

No Lies Detected

Boy was lying on the table when I put the power drill to his head and pulled the trigger. It was just about sundown. Crickets already talking. Motor whirred, but the screw didn’t rotate. In the candlelight, Boy looked up at me, not blinking at all. “Are you finished?” “Be still,” I told him. The chuck was stuck, so I turned it till I heard a click. Then, holding my breath, I kept my hands real steady as I drove the screw in all the way.

Fantasy

How to Become an Ancestor

First, die. The girl had fulfilled that initial requirement, though not willingly. And yet she found herself on the side of a block of rowhouses surrounded by five or six faces, both familiar and unfamiliar. A graffitied kingdom of the slain. The girl had achieved a royalty she never aspired to in life. And it was boring. Boring to preside over a North Philadelphia courtyard.

Science Fiction

Motherhood

Hello Senator. Thank you for returning my call. I’m so glad to speak to you at last. Yes, I did say in my message that this is a matter of life-or-death. It is. Absolutely. Oh, no—you misunderstand, sir. It’s not your life that’s threatened. It’s the life of a child. The life of your unborn child, in fact. First, congratulations are in order. I understand that Julia Banks, your former intern, informed you that she is pregnant. I believe that was just over a month ago. She’s just entering the second trimester.

Science Fiction

Moonboys

You ask how my brother died on the moon that day, but that’s the wrong question. Ask instead what he spelled with his bootprints when we first stepped down from the platform. Ask instead the one song he listened to, the whole flight there. Ask why he wanted me there instead of Jess, his wife. It’s because we used to pretend the backyard at night was the moon. That we were astronauts. That gravity was different.

Science Fiction

Four-Point Affective Calibration

Of course I can be angry. But I wear a headscarf. The moment I’m angry, you put me in your mental box labeled “TERRORIST” in neat, tidy small capitals. You store me under “Potential Danger” in the warehouse of your mind. When I cross the parking lot to the grocery store, sometimes people hit the gas, not the brakes. And this is a university town, supposedly liberal—or is it? I’m not a Muslim, but it’s not like most people around here can spot the difference.

Science Fiction

This Is for You

There was one girl I really liked in school when I returned to Earth, but it took me three months to say hello. I wasn’t good with human beings. We’d just gotten back from Pitipek (a red-dwarf star system “just left” of Tau Ceti, as the joke goes). My father had been stationed there for two years with the TU’s Planetary Safety Agency, and living with the slow, enigmatic, bipedal Pitipeki—especially in one of their villages, and under those endless clouds—tends to make you lose your people skills.

Fantasy

The Stone Lover

When word came that the king had died, Kyros began packing his tools. Agathon had been a fine patron, commissioning statues and friezes for his capital’s many temples and his own palace, but his wife had no reputation for piety or art. He was surprised, then, when one of her pages delivered a scroll requesting his services.

Science Fiction

Dinosaur Killers

Another rock fell today. Jaurez, on 54b. Pretty sure that’s who it was. Maybe. Didn’t talk much during the daily vidcalls, brown eyes peering out from beneath his shaggy black hair, floating every which way in zee-g. Supposed to keep it short, but company regs don’t apply. Not anymore. His kids were on Croia Hab. Partner too. Three of thousands, now just clouds of matter joining all the other debris.

Science Fiction

An Offertory to Our Drowned Gods

The bodies floating on the streets look fuller than Johnnyboy feels. They are pink and bloated, like the click-flash tourists who once inhaled the spirits of their cities. No one talks about the drownings, but Johnnyboy’s father sometimes puts his hands together and whispers to the newly baptized. The water carries sound much faster, he says, this is why no one has secrets any more. The tide brings in so many things: keyboards, used condoms, crucifixes, textbooks. The tide is how Johnnyboy finds a name—a faded basketball jersey, the number seven, Johnnyboy in purple lettering.