Thursday, December 27, 2012

12/27/12

A Sci-Fi Sleeping Beauty
By Frank Grigonis


A Queen gave birth to a baby daughter. She asked the fairies to the christening, but there was one she did not invite, for that fairy was also a witch. The fairy-witch came anyhow, passed the baby's cradle, and said aloud:

"When you are sixteen, you will prick your finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die!"

"No!" screamed the Queen, who ordered a good fairy to dispel the curse. But it could not be undone; for the best the good fairy could do was take away the curse’s deadliest power; so that now, on the day when the princess would injure her fair finger on a spindle, she would fall into a dreadfully deep sleep rather than die. .

The little Princess grew into a budding beauty, one who loved nothing better than wearing pretty dresses. The queen worked the seamstresses hard to keep her daughter happy. Of course she also arranged it so that the princess should be kept away from spinning wheels and spindles; the Queen even threatened anyone with death who would allow her daughter to catch sight of one.

But on the princess’ 16th birthday, a resentful, overworked servant coaxed the princess into the spinning room.

"What could that be?" the princess inquired as she beheld the spinning wheel.

"Have you never seen a one of these?" This is what I use to spin the loveliest yarn to make your beautiful dresses,” said the servant.

The princess, who was ever curious about all things pertaining to fashion, reached out to touch the pretty yarn and pricked her finger on the sharp spindle it was wrapped around. Then she dropped to the floor as though dead.

Hours later the Queen found her daughter deep in the throes of a sleep so deep, that no matter how hard she shook her daughter, the girl would not awaken. Wizards were summoned to her side, but they could do nothing. Finally, the good fairy was called, and the Queen said to her,

"It has happened. Can anything awaken my daughter now?”

"Only love," replied the fairy. "If a man of pure heart falls in love with her, he will awaken her!"

The queen was heartbroken. She had known and heard of many men, but none that could truly be called ‘pure of heart’.

"But will there ever be such a man?" sobbed the Queen. The sleeping Princess was taken to her room and laid on the bed. The good fairy considered the Queen’s words thoughtfully, for she too agreed that it could indeed be a very long time before a pure hearted man were to come upon the sleeping princess.

The queen’s sadness deepened. She could not bear the thought of life without her beloved daughter, so she bade the good fairy to cast a spell so that she, herself and everyone else who lived within the castle—knights, ministers, servants, cooks, and guards should also fall into a deep, deep sleep along with the sleeping princess.

“But then who will protect the castle and all within it?” asked the fairy.

After pondering that very questions for two full days and nights, the queen decreed that the good fairy should cast an additional spell: one which would create an enchanted bubble surrounding the castle and its grounds, a bubble that would make everything within it invisible and insubstantial-- except to a man of pure heart.

And the good fairy made it so.

Years passed. Within the bubble, even time itself had stopped, but outside--what centuries of change!

Warriors and explorers came and walked upon and even walked right through the castle, yet they neither saw nor felt it, for none were pure of heart.

And still more centuries elapsed.

Finally, after more than a million years had passed, and the lush forest beyond the castle grounds had become dry desert, a daring explorer carrying only hydration and sustenance pills dared to cross that desert by walking. This was something the people of his time did very little of.

When he came upon the castle, he was able to see it and the guards who slept just beyond its walls, for he was pure of heart.

For a fraction of a second, the explorer thought the castle was a mirage; then his intranet, implanted in his brain at birth, flooded his consciousness with images and many quants of information concerning knights, ministers, guards, cooks, royalty, wars, witches, fairies, and more about the Middle Ages.

He touched the castle walls, which had been well preserved by the bubble, and then he felt the warm hand of a sleeping guard. As he continued to explore and reflect upon the information revealed by his intranet, he felt great curiosity and pity for these early humans who lived in such a brutal and superstitious time, long before what the people of his age referred to as The Great Awakening.

Then he ventured within the castle itself and continued to explore there until finally he came upon the rosy-cheeked princess herself, still sleeping on her bed surrounded by what were to him the strangest flowers he’d ever seen. He gazed in wonder at them, then at her; but he could not feel anything like love for such a primitive-looking creature, so he walked on, and the princess and all the people of the castle slept forever after.


- - -
Frank Grigonis teaches high school English. He hopes that one day someone will use one of his stories as the basis for a successful film. Should that occur, he'll be in a much better position to help the helpless and vanquish the vicious.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12/20/12

DRIFTING THROUGH ETERNITY
By Mark Slade


Love loss eyes burned into the minds of the heartless living in the blood stained streets. Streets that harbor synthetic bodies that prey on humans who have nowhere else to go but live in the camps. The nights are hard, rigid behind a sheet of glass. Walls of concrete surround them keeping them separated from the rich that abuse their power. Once in awhile the rich make their way to the camps and purchase a disgraced human for pure entertainment.

Such as the case with Archel and his wife Frema. They've bought everything from fruit from an actual farm(punishable by death if caught eating natural foods) to buying a human slave.


What they next purchased was a Zeitigo ball. A silver round funnel kept in one's pocket, and at any given moment at parties, it captures the person's DNA matter and transports them across three universes before sputtering out and transporting them back to their previous location.


And Calder Lewis was a man who drifted.

Nothing more. Nothing less.

He started drifting a few months ago, on August eighteenth, 1908.

Calder had been speaking with his friend on that faithful day in his house at tea time, when Dr. Gallow had informed Calder he had invented a pill that could take him through different dimensions.

Of course Calder didn't believe him. So his friend took one such pill from a snuff box and gave it to Calder. Gallow did admit a problem could arise as being splintered off into different selves through time, even as completely different people.

“Take it,” Dr. Gallow said. “Go on. Don't be afraid.”

“I'm not afraid,” Calder looked at him, scouring. “I'm just cautious.”

“Well, Calder, my good man. Swallow the pill. If nothing happens, you've lost nothing.”

“If anything happens?” Calder smiled slightly. “I'll take exact and precious revenge upon you.”

“If you wish.” Dr. Gallow shrugged.


So, Calder swallowed the pill.

Archel and Frema nearly jumped out of their skins. A strange man in Victorian garb just appeared. Out of thin air. Calder looked around. Freema was holding a silver ball in her hands and the thing was spinning in circles in the palm of her hand. The slave girl standing beside Calder was blond and completely naked. He wasn't just amused, he was uproariously beside himself. Calder liked what he saw.

Archel on the other hand, thought he was having a flashback from a root disease a friend of his persuaded him to digest years ago while at DNA sculpting school. So Archel jumped to his feet, growling like a mad dog and rushed toward Calder with a very large machete he'd used on the last human he'd purchased.

Calder grabbed the slave girl's hand and squeezed it hard. Both of them screamed and disappeared

“Just as I said,” Dr. Gallow sipping from his cup. “Nothing happened at all.”

“If nothing happened, Gallow. Then who is this naked girl standing beside me?” Calder had a Cheshire cat grin on his face.


Dr. Gallow dropped his cup, the china splintered in several pieces. He stood up, mumbled under his breath. He cleared his throat, straightened his clothes. “Well, young lady,” Dr. Gallow sat back down. “As my colleague asked, Who are you?”

It took her a few seconds, but she managed to speak. Quietly. “My name is Calder Lewis.”


- - -
I live in Williamsburg, VA with my wife and daughter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12/13/12

Somewhere
By David Edward Nell


When I first arrived, I was twelve. I awoke to find myself at the onset of a well-lit tunnel, trapped, my limbs throttled. And so were the hundreds at my fore, perched inside transparent pods atop some sort of railway line--like a rollercoaster of the vulnerable. Like slaves.

Were we being held against our will? It seemed that way. Then again, I was just a kid with an imagination. Truthfully, I was clueless, my memories blanked out.

I couldn't recall a thing at the time, only that I really needed mom and dad, and my cranium was being met with a whistling nuisance. My calls withered against the enveloping glass. I saw movement in the other pods, heads bobbing and panicking. I was able to accost the full breadth of my surroundings, noticing the extent of the passage, where a white blip was stuck in limbo.

Then my eyes were torched to a rumple from the intensifying ceiling lights. Soon they became glowing strings, smudges. There was a motorized wane and I was plunged forward. The ricochet mechanism took us on a dizzying voyage, one I thought would never end, and not even shutting my eyes could prevent the ensuing retching urges.

We were swallowed into a scopious iron vault of pneumatic magnificence. Leaden clatters echoed across this clockwork of machinery that knew no bounds. Above, miniature suns blitzed the troposphere from four different directions in timely orchestration, omitting sulphur odors and barbed residues of disintegrating light. They raced upwards through a circular yawp stamped on a domed ceiling, where daylight refractions injected pearly brilliance. It was madness; both daunting and magnificent at once.

I saw anchors branch inward, toward us. My pod was rattled. There was a noisy, metallic collision. Each conveyance was whisked off to the left in flawless synchronicity, clunked on an adamantine surface of an immeasurable port. There was a hive of the uniformed on hand. It was a diligent, bustling pandemonium of adults. They appeared to be organizing and instructing, intent on something. I felt warmer in their presence, yet was still hesitant.

My jaw dropped even further at what I saw next. There were lightweight triangular barges the likes of which surpassed any fabrication I had ever seen. These shiny axillary wonderments, like voltaic kites, were sleek and lithe and windowless, unfeasible to the human eye. Some blazed into the open air at such great speeds, evolving into luminosity mid-flight, that the inaudible, harmonized nature of their launches was absurd by traditional rhetoric.

I became so emotional--frightened, mostly--that my grimacing cheeks were pinched by the mesh of my ensnarement. As if I had bawled so hard that my tear ducts were null, I was now unable to weep.

The glass slid downward. I was released from captivity, along with everyone else. There were people on their knees, people trembling and expressing their gratitude and speaking of what used to be of their homes. I waited where I was, then two men carefully guided me under their arms, and when I felt their gentle touch, I knew they meant no harm. When I saw the other adults hugging these patrons, I was relieved and had my bad thoughts put to rest. I murmured to someone on my right, “Please, my daddy, mommy--where are they?”

And then I saw them in the crowd. And I heard them weeping tuneless songs of joyous denial. I dropped into their open arms and cried. I didn't want to let go.

The men directed us to their flying ships. They told us it was time to stop mourning the old world and start anew. Back then I didn't understand.

We neared one as large as a house, in awe of its glimmering astral oscillations which emitted no heat. It was possible to reach out and feel white curls tickle and overlay one's flesh. They told us to stand beneath the underside of a glowing ventral tube. It would lead us in, they said.

My unbelieving laugh was returned by my parents. We closed our eyes and were absorbed into the ship's shelter. Immediately, we found ourselves standing in a mechanical roundness.

The pilot pulled a lever. The entire middle circumference retracted like a window, and the metallic wall was now transparent, revealing luminescent balls launching upwards past visibility. It was a planetarium of sorts. White curls of smoke rippled in front of the window in deafening veracity, signalling ignition and making us cower. We lifted off.

I saw my parents embrace, and then they brought me into their cuddle. We all clasped our ears against the vacuum noise. The iron walls and scenery descended.

The ship zoomed into the hewing shimmers of a blue-green sky that hammered us with blankets of heat. The station's domed, silvery vastitude could be discerned from above, clandestinely engraved into the maw of a sprawling jungle endless and indiscriminate in horizon. The soaring tropical trees went with the ship's gusts. Other ships zipped past and became bullets, angling, disappearing into the ozone. A licking cannonball of orange energy was fixed against the marine expanse--the sun, but even closer than before. I drowsily basked in its radiance, this intoxicating, otherworldly awe belching yellow harmonies that were absorbed into my frigidity. Warmer, even, than the sun I knew before.

My face was pressed against the window, agape. Everything was different. My parents were as silent as I.

The pilot turned from his controls and said, “Welcome to New Earth.”

***

That was the last I'd see of these heroes and their ships. Today, I tell of their legend, how they saved humanity. Today, we survive. All three thousand of us.

***


- - -
A software developer by day, David Edward Nell writes speculative fiction in his limited spare time from Cape Town, South Africa. Some of his works will soon be published in The Dark Side of the Womb, Dark Edifice, Twisted Dreams, and Cynic Online.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

12/6/12

Prison 134B
By Chad Bolling


Gill was pretending to sleep in a windowless prison cell inside Prison 134B. He was normal looking except for the long scar running across the top of his head where no hair would grow. 

After getting out of bed and stretching, Gill lathered grease all over his body. He covered his body the best he could with the grease, making sure to get every part. 

Gill moved carefully and quickly through the paralyzing laser beams that were his prison cell door. He fell to the ground immediately after passing through the beams. Gasping for air, Gill could barely move.

The kitchen grease worked! Gill thought. I’m still conscious! A little out of it but not completely. He quietly thanked the inmate who had told him the trick of covering oneself with kitchen oil to dampen the effect of the paralyzing beams.

Get up Gill! Get up! For a moment he dreamed about the freedom he would have once he was back in society. No more paralyzing beams for doors, no more bots following him around and abusing him...the daydream brought him to his feet and he staggered forward, careful not to disturb the sleeping inmates. No room for others on this jailbreak, he thought. They will only slow me down. 

As he walked quickly and quietly down the hall he noticed none of the smaller, flying camera bots had arrived to track him. Where are they? He thought. Must be my lucky day. They are probably busy with something else. Gill took off in a full sprint, or as fast a sprint as he could manage. His body still felt weak from the beams.

Gill reached a windowed elevator door, the only way in or out of his block. He crouched under the window. He pulled out a plastic shank from his pants and cut his hand then held it up to the window. This should do the trick, he thought. Medical bot on the way. The door opened and Gill readied his shank, hiding behind the doorway, but nothing was there.  

Had the bots just opened the door by accident? Where was the easily subduable medical bot coming to heal his nasty gash? He walked cautiously into the elevator, wrapping his hand with a piece of clothing to stop the bleeding. 

Once inside the elevator Gill took off his greasy clothing reveling another layer of cleaner clothes that he had on underneath. He wiped the grease off his hands the best he could, then braced his back against a corner of the elevator and propped his legs against the other side. He pushed himself up in the corner of the room with his legs while getting extra leverage with his arms.

After Gill shimmied up to the top of the elevator, he prized open a panel in the ceiling of the elevator when the elevator moved downwards. The movement made Gill fall to the floor.

What is going on here? The elevator stopped and opened. In front of him, down a white colored hallway was a door marked: 

EXIT TO SHIPPING 

Perfect.

Gill paused before going down the hall. Why is this so easy? I’m right where I need to be. It’s like the Bots are luring me down here like a rabbit in a fox hole. Oh, to hell with it! After being locked up on and off for half a century, I don’t care if it’s too good to be true! Gill smiled to himself as he ran down the hall. He arrived to the door and thrust it open-

A blast of air sent Gill flying out the door. He closed his eyes, fearing what was on the other side of the door. He faintly heard alarms sounding in the distance for a second, but then all sound had stopped quickly after. He felt freezing cold and he couldn’t breathe or feel the ground beneath his feet. Finally he opened his eyes to look around. Gill saw Prison 134B’s shipping yard for the first time, where bots tirelessly unloaded shipments of supplies from shuttles. He saw a windowless building covering the surface of an astroid floating in the middle of outer space. That’s why they didn’t care if I tried to escape. Space is the real prison. As Gill’s senses began to dull from the lack of air before he saw a swarm of small bots surrounding him. He blacked out. 

Gill woke up in a windowless prison cell lying on a metal bed inside Prison 134B.


- - -
Chad lives in Long Beach, California and loves to read and write science fiction when he isn't studying for a degree in Biochemistry.


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