Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Fiction

Fantasy

Bhatia, P.I.

It’s a few minutes before seven on a cold October evening and I’m just reaching into the bottom drawer of my desk for the Old Monk and my well-thumbed copy of The Big Sleep when I hear footsteps hurrying up the stairs. A new case, has to be. I sigh, give the drawer a regretful look and shut it again. I sit up, awaiting the knock. It never comes. Instead the door swings open, slamming into the wall, sending plaster chips flying everywhere. Then I see her standing in the doorway.

Science Fiction

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.

Fantasy

The Honest Fox, or, A Truth Shared is Not a Truth Lost

I have heard it on the rumors that when the tale-spinner’s guild gathers in its secret places, a full half of them are sworn to never tell the truth, and the other half to never tell a lie, even if it mean their life. Being one of that trade myself, I can tell you that that’s more or less the shape of it, and I tell you this so that you will know that the tale I tell you now is true, just as it happened and just as it was told to me, for I am one of the ones sworn to the truth.

Science Fiction

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.

Fantasy

How to Abandon Your Sourdough Starter: A Recipe for Disaster

First, three stolen months ago, scroll through fifteen hundred wistful words about a white woman’s transformative trip to Egypt before getting to the recipe. Only absorb every fourth sentence because your fingers keep straying to refresh Twitter. Soak up words like “nourish” and “sacred grains” and “fauna,” but mostly just stare at the pictures of bread swaddled in linen and tucked inside wicker baskets like baby Moseses, sailing between islands of polished lemons on stone countertops.

Science Fiction

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.”

Fantasy

When We Were Gods

Mriti moves the blitzer methodically over the tiles. Like everything the Mohars fashion, it is silent and sleek, made of crystal chrome. It sucks up dust, spills, blood, and bacteria in micro-seconds. These were the first gift from the Mohars. How delighted the Jaani had been, Mama clapping her hands, declaring it a workers’ revolution, welcoming the Mohars with handfuls of rice and marigolds. Only Neer had rolled her eyes and snapped her gum—

Science Fiction

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.

Fantasy

Not Creator, Nor Destroyer

Cotton. Lemon. Drone of bees. Your mother somewhere deep in the cool cave of the house. The sunlight spangling through the last dewdrops on the lilac bush. Everywhere, heat creeping into the edges of the day. Grass against the bare soles of your feet, a single stem of clover curled against the inside of your big toe. The wind shakes the sheets on the line. The cotton whispers. You run your tongue, rough with lemon juice, between your lips.

Science Fiction

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.