She was there…
by Sergio “ente per ente” PALUMBO,
edited by Michele DUTCHER
She was there…
Her beautiful blue eyes hovered before him. The woman, 30-years-old, sat in the garden, looking at a bulky hairless man nearby.
Frank had begun to like her smile, the long chestnut hair that flowed over two thin shoulders and her pale face. After one week, the young, fair-haired man could easily figure out what she was thinking, even her worries.
She was there…
Well dressed, he continued walking across Piazza della Riforma, downtown Lugano, Switzerland. Every time Frank saw her beauty he doubted she was real, getting confused at times. Perhaps she was only an apparition of loveliness.
Whenever the man wasn’t able to visualize her, he put his fingers on the piece of cloth that he always carried with him, and her image would turn crystal clear again.
She was there…
Frank had been capable of seeing the woman in many different places, at different times. She was always with the same tall man, and he appeared to never leave her alone. He tried to see some shop signs along the street that matched the images constantly flowing in his mind, while looking at the wondrous Lake Ceresio in the distance as a reference point. Once he thought he had gone in the right direction, then understood his mistake,changing his route accordingly.
Eventually, the man discovered her. She was sitting at a table on a tavern’s veranda, in Piazza Cioccaro. She wore blue jeans and a sweater while the same man was dressed in brown (a style common for a bodyguard) and stood nearby.
They couldn’t even imagine, they had no idea.
Frank came closer, drew his ray gun, took aim at the man and fired, killing him. Then he shot the woman as well. There were no mistakes, the second target fell to the ground, while some customers around started crying, running away.
Frank was a killer, working for the mafia. Nobody would have guessed it by seeing him at first glance, and this had always helped him in his profession.
The woman was a valuable witness for the State, scheduled to testify against a famous gangster. She was in hiding through the WITSEC (foreign Witness Security Program), keeping safe until the trial start. So his boss was forced to get rid of her in a hurry.
Being clairvoyant had always proved useful to Frank. Thanks to his innate psychic powers, his abilities were perfect for finding individuals who were in hiding and then assassinating them. While many killers paid corrupt accomplices to find out where their objectives lived in secrecy, he only needed something that had once belonged to whoever he was looking for. The piece of the target’s clothing Frank had been provided with had helped him in viewing her whereabouts, linking his mind to hers, one step at a time.
Once the job was done, the man would continue to have some weird recollections coming from the memories he had shared when touching his target’s clothing. Such a sensation could really become exhausting.
However, for the enormous amount of money they had paid him -- the killer told himself, while running away -- he could easily live with those irksome memories, certainly…
- - -
I'm an Italian public servant who graduated from Law School working in the public
real estate branch. I've published a Fantasy RolePlaying illustrated Manual,
WarBlades, of more than 400 pages.Some of my works and short- stories have been published on American Aphelion Webzine, WeirdYear Webzine, YesterYearFiction, AnotheRealm Magazine, Alien Skin Magazine, on Orion’s Child Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine, Farther Stars Than These, on Digital Dragon Magazine, on Kalkion Science Fiction and Fantasy Web Magazine, on Quantum Muse, Surprising Stories, on Australian Antipodean SF, on British Schlock!Webzine on Australian SQ Mag, and will appear soon, in print, inside an American Horror Anthology, title: Now I Lay Me Down To Reap...by Sirens Call Publications, inside an American Fantasy Anthology for shorts-stories by Chamberton publishing and inside an American Anthology of Historical/Fantasy shorts-stories by the same publisher, too.” I am also a scale modeler who likes mostly Science Fiction and Real Space models, some of my little Dioramas has been shown also on some Italian (scale model) magazines like Soldatini, Model Time, TuttoSoldatini and online on American site StarShipModeler, MechaModelComp, on British SFM: UK site and Italian SMF. My Sci-Fi/fantasy/Horror short- stories in Italian have been published on Alpha Aleph, Algenib, Oltre il Futuro, SogniHorror, La Zona Morta, edizioni Lo Scudo, etc.”
Thursday, August 30, 2012
She was there…
Thursday, August 23, 2012
The End is the Beginning
By Chad Bolling
My Grandpa was alive for the first part of our Sun’s death. Humans had an infinite life span back then too. Scientists had already learned how to use empty, unconscious, mature clones as vessels for the conscious of the dying.
When the sun expanded and turned into a red giant, it made the Earth uninhabitable and burned everything my grandpa had ever known. He and my Grandma were born on Earth. My Grandma died in a crash a couple hundred years before my family moved to Mars, where I was born a million or so years later. It seemed that even with eternal life, it was not possible to cure bad driving.
Humankind was well prepared when the sun turned into a red giant. We had already colonized Mars and began terraforming it in preparation for the next event which would occur millions of years after our dying Sun turned from a red giant to a white dwarf.
I lived, along with trillions of other humans, on Mars and in space stations. Our new red giant Sun made Mars a little warmer, not warm enough to go outside without protective bio-mechanical suits, but warm enough to help sustain life inside the millions of protective domes that were constructed on the planet’s surface. The heat from the red giant sun also allowed us to start terraforming Mars, in preparation for what some would call “The Final Event”.
The Final Event happened over the course of millions of years. Many scientists said it wasn’t possible and the human race was doomed to an eternity of traveling the universe in search of another planet like Earth. It was hard to tell if it was going to happen at first, but slowly, the temperature of our solar system’s gas giants increased as our old Sun’s size and heat decreased.
Lucky for me, and for the rest of humankind, the skeptical scientists were wrong. It was a popular belief for sometime that the gas giants of our galaxy were not big enough to sustain the amount of fusion possible to make a star. As smaller stars were discovered the skeptics became more hopeful. Until the miracle happened. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune all became tiny stars.
I’m not quite sure how it happened, as I’m not a physicist. I do know this much though, it was not a big explosion that cause the new stars to be born. It was a very small implosion. A black hole device was planted in the center of each gas giant which somehow allowed the miracle of fusion to occur within each new star.
Mars is still terribly cold, but it has an atmosphere, and the newer clone shells are being engineered to withstand freezing temperatures. There is even talk about repopulating the Earth somehow, now that our old Sun is no longer cooking its surface. I just hope that one day I can step outside on Mars and feel its ground with my bare feet, like my Grandpa said he did on Earth.
- - -
Thursday, August 16, 2012
By Ganesha Lightwave
Wheeler was a horse’s ass, the kind of guy who’d started talking a minute before a meeting was supposed to end and go on for an hour just to hear the sound of his own voice. And that voice – a monotone drone of bees, always using five syllables when one would do. Despite frequent urges to punch him in the mouth, I refused to join the others mocking him behind his back. Maybe that was why he asked me to come with him on a quality audit of one of our suppliers.
Metatron Incorporated’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility was a giant chrome cube that gleamed in the winter Nebraska sun. There were no smokestacks or piles of slag, only transmission lines ending in a bank of transformers and the occasional wisp of white steam escaping from the building. Even more remarkable was the company’s bottom line. Metatron was that rare American manufacturer that made quality goods while undercutting the Chinese. Mechanical or electrical – you name it. Metatron could build it.
The reason for their profitability became clear the moment we stepped up to reception. Instead of a woman behind a desk there was merely a television camera.
“Mr. Wheeler, Mr. Vasquez, welcome to Metatron’s Archangel Plant,” a computerized voice said. “Please follow the indicators to the conference room.”
Wheeler and I followed the blue lights that strobed down the corridor until we came to a room where two men dressed in business casual waited. Both had weightlifters’ bodies. The blonde man’s eyebrows were lighter than his tanned skin, making his face resemble a photographic negative.
“Don Millikan, account manager.” The blonde man shook our hands with a grip hard as titanium. “And this is Richard Farraday, VP of manufacturing.”
After the introductions, I downed two cups of coffee to immunize myself against Wheeler’s assault of verbal chloroform. He wasn’t there to learn how Metatron operated so efficiently. He was there to spout his own prejudices.
“Slackers are easy to spot. I watch for guys who won’t look me in the eye because they know the tasks they’re performing are useless.”
I tuned him out. The sun could use up its hydrogen fuel, expand to a red giant incinerating the Earth, and then collapse to a cold, black husk. Wheeler would still be talking. I looked around and studied the forty-inch flat-panel monitor that displayed colorful triangles, circles, and squares. They were the same figures I’d seen on a textbook Wheeler had carried. My God! These guys could reconfigure whole assembly lines just by dragging around some symbols on a computer screen!
What happened next came as an even bigger surprise. Wheeler got to the point.
“You’ll get your contract,” he said. “When Vasquez and I coming looking for jobs in a couple months, I want you to remember who gave it to you.”
At the time I wasn’t sure I wanted the job but when they announced the downsizing back home, I was glad. Thank you, Wheeler. What followed was the oddest job interview I ever had. Millikan and Farraday took me to an indoor climbing wall and didn’t start talking until we were fifteen feet off the ground with no safety lines.
“We like to look at the whole person, not just the resume,” Farraday said.
“We want someone who won’t freak out when things get hairy. That’s why your friend, Wheeler, will never make it out of customer service.” Millikan reached across a vertical gap, grabbed a handhold, and hung by one arm until his feet found purchase.
Clinging to my spot with cramping fingers, I was glad I didn’t have to follow.
On my first day at work I wandered around the warehouse that stored raw materials. It was immaculate with white concrete floors and walls. Periodically automated forklifts would retrieve pallets and roll them onto the factory floor. I tried to get a glimpse of the assembly lines but the gates always closed too quickly. My only companion was Robby who seemed more interested in playing games on the inventory computer than in explaining what I should do.
A klaxon blared and yellow lights flashed just before lunch on my fourth day.
“Shit! They’re going to evolve us!” Robby crouched under his desk and trembled.
I thought I’d better hide too so I dashed behind some metal shelves and lay flat on the concrete. It was a stupid move. I was visible from the center of the warehouse but it was too late. The mechanical overseer had already entered. The best I could do was hope the yellow-framed robot would ignore me if I didn’t look at it. I froze as it rolled closer on inflated tires. It stopped and extended a probe that touched my forehead. I began to feel sleepy and passed out.
When I woke, I felt stronger and more focused than I had in years. No longer subject to the limitations of muscles and tendons, my arms could package a thousand integrated circuits a minute. All my weakness and self doubt had vanished. I had a purpose – to maximize production.
- - -
Author of the novel The Speed of Regret, Ganesha Lightwave has published more than fifty short stories in journals such as Absinthe Revival, Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman, Blazing Adventures, and Metal Scratches. He has also published over two hundred fifty poems.
Thursday, August 9, 2012
By Chad Bolling
She wakes up drenched in sweat and in the nude. The deep rumble of the ship engines sound loud in her ears. How long had she been in hibernation? This can’t be right, she thinks. The ship engines should be at a lower burn if I’ve been woken up.
She sits up in the hibernation capsule and suddenly feels her stomach turn upside down. “Hello Shelby.” A monotone, human-like voice says.
Shelby is holding her stomach, trying not to throw up. “Why are the engines at a full burn and why am I awake already?”
“I’m afraid that we’ve encountered a singularity.” The monotone voice responds. Shelby climbs out of the capsule, wincing and still holding her stomach. “What?” She exclaims before bending over and vomiting some saliva on the floor.
“We’ve encountered a black hole.” The voice says.
She wipes her mouth. “I understand that. How did this happen?”
“I am not sure, but our course is compromised by the singularity.”
Shelby dresses in a gray flight suit hung up next to her hibernation capsule. “How close are we to it?” She says as she zips the suit up.
“We have already entered it’s gravitational pull. Let me show you.”
A hologram appears in front of Shelby. A diagram of the local star system dances in front of her.
“The ship is being pulled toward this point.”
The hologram zooms to a point in the diagram where the light from nearby stars is bending into a whirlpool.
“I’m sorry Shelby, but this wasn’t on the original star map. A sun must have recently collapsed.”
“How could you have let this happen? Your IQ is 3 times that of a human genius and you led us straight into a singularity! How?”
“I’m sorry Shelby. It seems that my components didn’t take some of the smaller calculations into enough consideration.”
Shelby is sitting on the floor, sobbing. “Small calculations? How is a black hole a small calculation? Are you talking about chaos theory or something?”
“Yes Shelby I am. While my components calculated every occurrence that could have or would have or should have happened on this trek, it seemed the most minuscule occurrence grew into importance so quickly that-”
“You idiot!” Shelby exclaims still sobbing.
“Please Shelby, don’t blame me. Space is a part of nature and is just as unpredictable. Chaos is something not even the most powerful minds, synthetic or otherwise can always predict. That’s what makes chaos chaos.”
“I’m not going to blame chaos or space or nature, I'm blaming you! I’m going to send a transmission back to Mars to have your entire line of AI’s discontinued, deleted and reprogrammed!”
“That’s fine Shelby but I still fear you are incorrect about your accusations.”
Shelby stops sobbing for a moment and wipes her eyes.
“Please, let’s not spend our last moments bickering.” The voice says.
“Fine.” Shelby says. “Put on some Mozart please. I’m going to send my report to Mars.”
“There is still a chance we may survive and simply pass through the singularity but I cannot make any assumptions as to what happens after we do.”
- - -
Chad lives in Long Beach, California and loves to read and write science fiction when he is not enjoying the cinema or a fine cheeseburger.
Thursday, August 2, 2012
In This, Our Life
By Kyle Hemmings
Her captors allowed her the use of the toes of one foot. It was hard to pretend she was numb--as if playing an arctic game indoors. With the ball of her foot, she primed the canvas. Her big toe acted as a fan brush, the rest were sable, flat, or pointy. She told herself: flesh = camelhair fiber. She strained and stretched her body as if she were a canvas herself. Exhausted, she could no longer move her toes. Her captors entered the room, examined the picture. One was male; the other female. Tell us what this means, said the male. In a weak voice, the girl said it was a portrait of her hanging upside down from her favorite fig tree as a child. In the background, she added with a dry tone, there was a small lake and a playground with swings, how she loved to arc. The captors noted that it was full of bright running colors. We will be back with a decision, said the woman, clicking her heels. The girl closed her eyes, thought death would be better than any of this, but then again, in this frame was her only life. The captors re-entered the room, released the girl into the desert surrounding the building. Looking up, blinded by the sky, she thought she heard helicopters, then a great wind swept through her, lifted her up. Back in the room, the captors cut out the background from the picture, placed a blindfold around the child, and showed her face, right side up on TV. They announced that either a ransom was to be paid or the girl would be de-pixelated across every computer screen. In their homes, thousands who looked identical to the male and female captors, watched in de-saturated hues of horror. They knew that no matter how much they gave, it would never save her, not the girl swinging absent-mindedly from a tree, or the one falling endlessly from the sky.
- - -
Kyle Hemmings is the author of several chapbooks of poems: Avenue C, Cat People, and Anime Junkie (Scars Publications). His latest ebook is You Never Die in Wholes from Good Story Press. He lives and writes in New Jersey.
- ► 2017 (16)
- ► 2016 (52)
- ► 2015 (53)
- ► 2014 (52)
- ► 2013 (31)
- ▼ August (5)
- ► 2011 (24)