Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

The Tale of Jaja and Canti

Seated on the balcony of the house across the street is a man. He is slumped in his chair and has remained unmoving for several hours. The tattered frays of his agbada spreads about his person like an old sailcloth, snapping in the wind. His equally tattered hat is positioned on his head such that you cannot see his face. He has maintained this position for nigh on a day (which is much, much longer than you think). If you think him dead, then you’ll be wrong; if you think him alive, well . . .

Science Fiction

City of Refuge

The world was ending, but Royal Parker still had to go through the motions of a job interview. He knew as soon as he sat down across from the manager—in his ridiculous red-and-white striped shirt and paper hat—that he wasn’t getting the job. Despite the assurances from the Liberation Investment Support Cooperative, the corporate entity controlling the state’s infrastructure, jobs were scarce. He hated that even part of him wanted this person’s approval.

Fantasy

Ancestries

In the beginning were the ancestors, gods of earth who breathed the air and walked in flesh. Their backs were straight and their temples tall. We carved the ancestors from the scented wood, before the fire and the poison water took them, too. We rubbed ebony-stained oil on their braided hair and placed them on the altars with the first harvest, the nuts and the fresh fruit. None would eat before the ancestors were fed, for it was through their blood and toil we emerged from the dark sea to be.

Science Fiction

Now You Feel It

Rivera had been weaving dreamscapes at Ibsen Spa for twelve hours when a new videolog came in, a back-of-the-neck buzz. Two blinks opened the message: Urgent work, it said, followed by a telephone number. Rivera had been about to go home, but this message changed everything. Finally, after a whole year gone: a new job. Here at Ibsen Spa, the work was easy, with no risk of being stuck in the vicious aftermath of mind-manipulation; but neither did the Spa offer any chance of exercising skill or talent.

Fantasy

Now You See Me

Good art changes you. And that was the point, right? That’s what the social media ad that caught my attention wanted me to believe: Our Shoes: You couldn’t understand our struggle . . . Until now. I had read the line over and over again during a rare downtime in the on-call room and was still mesmerized by it when Danny messaged our Allies 4 Life group. I got three tix to that new BLM exhibit in Brooklyn. Who’s rolling?

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.

Fantasy

Amber Dark and Sickly Sweet

Talia sat at the edge of Eliza’s bed, her hands clasped. She was new—so was I, but she was newer. I went to her, and stroked her head, careful to avoid the honeycomb on her brow. “Daughters.” Mother Anam’s face was twisted when she came back from searching the rest of our rooms, her shoes clicking on the hard, pocked floor. It always seemed to us that she was disappointed that we hadn’t broken a rule, that she couldn’t punish us.

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

Shock of Birth

“They didn’t believe me,” I said. “They didn’t believe that I wasn’t supposed to be here—that I woke up wrong.” I lost track of time again. My attention shifted toward the floor, drawn to a crack in the tile. It was causing quite a ruckus in my mind. The cup of tea I was holding had long gone cold, the light in the room growing dim. Sometime, a long time ago, someone dropped something heavy on the tile, and it was never the same.

Science Fiction

A Smell of Jet Fuel

We met on the 107th floor of the South Tower. She was standing in quiet contemplation, watching fire spread through the building across the plaza, smoke and paper billowing out into that baby blue sky. I was nursing a thunderous hangover, neglecting my tour group, which had all gone to the southern side of the observation deck to watch the second plane’s approach. She wasn’t supposed to be here.