Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Science Fiction

Advice from the Civil Temporal Defense League

Do: Be Aware of Strangers Who Ask You What Day It It. Be Aware of Strangers Who Ask You What Year It Is. Be Aware of Stunned Looking Strangers Who Murmur “Mom?” in The Squeeze-In Diner When You Stop By After School For a Chocolate Malt, Though Clearly You Have Never Given Birth to Them or to Anyone At All, Thank You Very Much. Be Aware of Strangers Wearing Clothing, Footwear, or Accessories That Seem Just A Few Years Out of Fashion or Incongruent With the Season, Climate, or Weather Forecast, or Perhaps Not Gender Appropriate Because No Woman Needs to Wear Trousers Anyway.

The Historiography of Loss

I didn’t expect the trailer to feel so small and that some of the blood would still be wet. But I must have expected some blood because I cuffed my jeans before going in. And I didn’t expect the cats would have come back—a window was open, its screen clawed loose. I didn’t expect how they pawed through the blood. Dotting the counters with their small footprints. I didn’t expect the trailer to feel so densely packed—a family had lived here, a mother, a father, a twelve-year-old son, and all of their stuff.

Parables of Infinity

There were better workers aboard the Great Ship. Virtuous entities with proven resumes reaching back across the aeons. But the timetable was inflexible, the circumstances brutal. Seventeen hours, six minutes, and two breaths. The job had to be completed within that impossible span, beginning now. Now. The client was among the weakest citizens of the galaxy, reasonably healthy one moment, and in the next, passing out of life. What wasn’t a home and wasn’t a shell had to be rebuilt from scratch. If the client perished, nobody was paid.

An Exegesis of the Socioreligious Ramifications of the Collection of Peribi

One day when all of humanity is gone and the old Earth rolls through the dark all alone, a day will come when it is chanced upon by some intrepid visitors from another, more respectable planet—a planet whose denizens did not see fit to destroy themselves as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Those visitors will descend upon the steaming hot void and may ask themselves, may ask each other, what happened. They will roam across the deep and, no doubt very soon in their journey, will discover what they will take to be obvious signs of recent habitation.

The Heaven That They Never Knew

Ginger clings to the skin of Heaven, wrapped in deep, cold vacuum. She’s a speck in the void and her breath trembles inside her helmet. No sound in space. So she breathes. She has to stay grounded, keep her thoughts from shaking and drifting to hostile sensors. Heaven’s skin is a smooth, shimmering membrane enclosing the angelships. Heaven: a bubble the size of a small moon, seeded with egg-like metallic beings that chew and swallow and reap. Locusts with a taste for spirits; nothing holy in those devourers.

Lyceum

She has to pretend she cares about the children, but she doesn’t. When Aiden died, all other children became a kind of enemy, a reminder, a series of fortresses to which she was not allowed entrance but was forced to lay siege day after day—through friends and their children, relatives and their children, strangers on the street and neighborhood kids populating her physical routines: shopping, solitary strolls in the park, moments stolen at her favorite café.

NeuNet

“I’m going to have to stay a week longer,” was the first thing Laura said. No hellos or how-are-yous, just straight to the point. Silence. Or at least, a silence overlaid onto a landscape of background murmurs. Laura was probably calling from the office.

“Matty, did you hear me? I have to extend my trip.”

Matthew looked down at the dark spot on the front of his shirt. He’d read somewhere that applesauce didn’t stain. “I heard you.”

Bad Code

Jacob’s stomach is still fizzy from the rickety elevator, but holding his dad’s hand is keeping him steady. Uncle Rolly answers in his usual sweatpants and bath robe, looks from Jacob’s dad down to Jacob and back again, like confirming they’re them. When they are, he hooks his chin for them to follow him into his musty apartment, with the magazines and computer parts stacked up to the ceiling, all of it teetering but never falling.

Plausible Realities, Improbable Dreams

The multiverse broke last week. Broke is perhaps the wrong word. More accurate would be performed a state-change or found new equilibrium, but tell that to Catalina Chang, who has been popping aspirin like M&Ms ever since last Thursday, 5:54 PM, when the Unspecified Incident in the Lab superimposed all versions of reality together like a flaky scallion pancake. Aspirin still exists. So do coffee and antidepressant commercials, except on alternate Tuesdays, except when they don’t exist at all.

Cale and Stardust Battle the Mud Gobblers of Hudson Valley

Cale squirted a zigzag of avocado paste on his toast as the mud gobbler floated down the river. The mud gobbler was, thankfully, chewing on the other side of the river today. Mud gobbler is what Cale called them, although Stardust preferred dirt whale. “Fucking dirt whale,” Stardust said, walking up to the kitchen window. “I’d like to gut it like a fish!” Stardust’s belly was getting big now, swelling like a whale itself.