The doctor congratulates them. The baby is human, and healthy. Richard is on her instantly, bruising her shoulders with his joy, planting kisses on her forehead and neck and face. His—their—fortune is the five-month-old smudge in the grain of the sonogram, soft-boned and quivering and reassuringly feather-free. It’s been six long years: Years of cajoling, years of trying, years of navigating the risks. Now they are here.
As part of our People of Colo(u)r Destroy Science Fiction! special issue, we opened up Lightspeed to flash fiction for just the third time. The flash fiction section was guest-edited by critically acclaimed writer Berit Ellingsen. Half of the flash selections are available online, while the other half are exclusive to the print/ebook edition.
Three days ago, Paul had thrown Mary onto the kitchen floor and kicked her everywhere except her face. For the first two days, the only time she left her bed was to go to the bathroom, drops of clotted blood from her insides deposited like coins in the toilet bowl. On the third day, high on oxycodone, Mary dreamed about the lucha libre. She hadn’t thought about wrestling since she’d left Mexico, but the hallucination was as bright and sharp as grief.
The row of horseless vehicles moved slowly along Kensington High Street. The green translucent leaves of Kensington Garden were colored red by the setting sun. The day had been unusually hot for this time of the year. Workers headed homewards now that the diminishing daylight no longer made it sensible to continue working. The row of horseless vehicles had come to a standstill.
Els wondered again if she should start recording her final words. If she could start recording her final words. There was cold, and then there was cold, and the Tolstar was cold. Dun had shut off every heating system that wasn’t absolutely needed to keep systems running outside of the main control room, and even that he left cold enough to let ice crystals form.
In 1978, NASA astrophysicist Donald J. Kessler predicted that the quantity of artificial satellites orbiting Earth would reach a critical limit, after which collisions became inevitable. One satellite would strike another at the dangerous speeds of Earth orbit—seven, eight kilometers per second—and the two would break into hundreds of pieces. These pieces would in turn collide with other satellites, generating a chain reaction of impact and debris.
I was serving in Baxon just north of Hescher, guard-dogging a queue of first responders heading into the riot zones, and John caught my eye. Her beard caught my eye. Some troublemaker flaunting the rules, I thought, or a guy sneaking in under cover of audacity, thinking the Womens Volunteer Corps was a good place to get laid. If that was the case, he was looking to get roughed up, and it was my job to oblige.
When they inform you the birth will take place on a mutually acceptable research vessel, you nod and smile as if it was your choice all along. Because smiling and nodding is what you’ve been doing since the beginning. Because this is bigger than you. Because at least this way it feels like you’re being honored and feted instead of herded and controlled. Mr. Kagawa, courteous and diplomatic by profession, does his best to make it all seem like a request.
They got Becker out in eight minutes flat, left the bodies on the sand for whatever scavengers the Sixth Extinction hadn’t yet managed to kill off. Munsin hauled her into the Sikorsky and tried to yank the augments manually, right on the spot; Wingman swung and locked and went hot in the pants-pissing half-second before its threat-recognition macros, booted late to the party, calmed it down.