Thursday, August 27, 2015

8/27/15

The Time House
By David K Scholes


Earth: 2458 AD

“We’ve been invited to an evening meal at Dave’s place,” I said.
“Who?” enquired my wife Joy.
“Dave Rugendorf, Earth’s most experienced time traveller. The guy who won the Time Traveller of All Time award.”
“Oh him!” responded Joy “I’ll pass on that. I’ve heard some weird stories about that mansion of his.”

* * *

I went on my own. The whole country estate was a teleportation free zone so I had to utilise a crude electro-magnetic flyer to get there. How quaint! Just as well Joy didn’t come. Anything less than instantaneous travel tended to bore her and even worse make her physically sick.

* * *

It was a great sprawling mansion. Out past Romsey in the English countryside.

With just a little time travel under my belt I was always fascinated to be in the company of a professional. Especially the ultimate pro.

Being only a reporter for Time Travel magazine I assumed the evening would be low key. Yet the little group of guests also included Stewart Chapman, the Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Time, Rick Alvarez, Chief Investigator at the Time Authority and an alien who was introduced as a time travel expert.

Before the evening meal Dave gave us a tour of some rooms dedicated to Earth’s past. A tame affair until the last two rooms. One dedicated to the hey day of the Roman Empire and one to the hey day of the British Empire. They were so good that I wondered if we might be looking into actual viewing portals.

After the meal we took a tour of some of the “future” rooms.

The most advanced room for Earth was for 5585 AD. We all knew why there was nothing beyond this time frame. Then we were led through a succession of rooms relating to alien worlds further up time.

Then Dave led us towards a room that seemed to be at the very furthest extremity of his vast mansion. He was becoming progressively more animated as we approached the room.

“My pride and joy,” said Dave as he took us into the exceptionally large room. Confronting us, and I do mean confronting us, was the End Time Horizon. Not just time camera footage. We were looking straight at the real thing.

“It’s only a viewing portal,” offered Dave in response to Alvarez’s accusing look.
“It’s still not allowed,” reproved the Investigator “because of the up time barrier.”

Dave looked at his alien companion. “We have worked out a way around that up time constraint. Something that’s technically legal.”

Somehow the argument spoiled the whole magnificent moment of witnessing Time’s End.

* * *

On our return to the main entrance I was at a loss as to what Dave had been hoping to achieve during the evening. I suppose he wanted to impress us and get our seals of approval.

Rick Alvarez started to sum it up. “I think this place probably started out okay. A sprawling mansion containing rooms that accurately replicated aspects of certain past and future time periods. Then Dave increased the authenticity of some rooms with 3D images from his time cameras. That’s okay as long as the time pictures were from times and places he was authorised to go. It’s probably even okay if Dave sequestered souvenirs from other time periods. Provided the souvenirs are innocuous and from sometime on Earth.”

“Yet somewhere along the line,” Professor Chapman broke in “it just got out of hand. Viewing portals and maybe even actual portals were set up and it very much looks as if Dave has been to time periods he shouldn’t have. Lord knows what lies beyond the door in some of the alien rooms. I’m betting that some of them are beyond the up time barrier as well. All in all I’d say that this place is no longer just a physical place as such but has become inexorably interwoven into the time stream.”

“That’s it,” said Alvarez. “I’m closing this place down in the morning once I’ve consulted with the Time Commissioner.”
“Can you do that?” enquired Chapman “I mean is it physically possible to close down a place such as this has become?”

We looked around to confront Dave but he and the alien were gone and his staff didn’t know where.

* * *

True to his word Rick Alvarez arrived with a full squad from the Time Authority the next morning. With everyone from the Commissioner down. Professor Chapman and I were there as witnesses.

Except the mansion wasn’t there anymore. Not a trace of it. Not even any foundations, sewage or storm water drains.

“You know what I think?” offered Professor Chapman. “I think this is all too big for us – I think this mansion exists in some appropriate local form in all those time periods for which there were rooms in the mansion here. All those other mansions in those other times have just had one of their rooms permanently closed. Of course it’s only a theory of mine,” he added “and as you all know I have some pretty outlandish theories.”

We didn’t race to disagree with him. As the foremost Earth academic authority on time travel, Stewie Chapman’s “theories” tended to be better than most of his competitors facts.


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I have written over 140 speculative fiction short stories many of which appear in my six published collections of speculative fiction short stories and two published science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). I have been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and the Beam Me Up Pod cast sci-fi sites and have also been published on Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories and the former Golden Visions magazine. I am working on a new anthology of short sci-fi stories and also a “Human Hunter” series for the Beam Me Up Pod Cast site.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

8/20/15

Zeta Vaucouleurs Triangulum 10k(602)-39e (Concolir)
By E.S. Wynn (on Zero Dusk)


When you cross back into flat reality from the tides and swirling violence of between-space, you find yourself sliding immediately into orbit around a world that shines yellow and green, its surface cut and scarred by rough rivers of glassy black. From orbit, it looks alive, looks like one of those rare worlds in the endless sea of galaxies upon which an ecosystem has taken hold, evolved to colonize almost every inch of surface within its reach. A mote-probe sent on into the atmosphere turns up something else almost immediately, though – high concentrations of sulfur and chlorine in the thick air. Volcanic particulates, and even before your tiny sensor suite can reach the surface, it becomes clear that the gleaming shades of yellow and green aren't evidence of life at all – they're rivers of peridot and other precious shades of olivine, all long ago solidified and polished to shining by the carving hands of vicious winds laden with grains of fine, cutting sand. More recent rivers of rough, black basalt divide the gemstone glaciers in wide ribbons, some still cooling, still steaming, still breathing streamers of hydrochloric acid into the heavy, poisonous air.

Riding the tiny wings of your mote-probe over the surface, you chase a glassy river of peridot so clear that you can almost imagine you can see the core of the little world through it, that among the bubbles and lines of trapped air deep within, there are flickers of the planet's inner fire, violent and churning. When you cross into another plain of cinder and char, you follow it until the rushing, buffeting winds lead you to an active vent, and then you ride the thermals cast off by that fountaining firestorm exploding out of the world's turbulent depths, ride them into the dusty clouds of the upper atmosphere. Setting your mote-probe to return under its own power, you wait for it to dock with your ship before you turn again, spin up your ship's phasedrive and drop back into the rush and wail of between-space. Bound for other stars, other points of interest in the endless cosmos around you, you make a notation on the world, upload it to the database, silently reflect on what you've seen.



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E.S. Wynn is the author of over fifty books in print. Explore more alien worlds on Zero Dusk.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

8/13/15

Schrodinger's Polydactyls
By Janet Shell Anderson


My client ripped her husband’s underwear to shreds with a sharpened Civil War cavalry sword, then set the house on fire.

It’s Friday night, and I’ve had a call from West O Street. She’s in jail for arson. To her, that’s nothing. Although her husband wasn’t home during the alleged underwear destruction and fire starting, he’s let her know their cats, major issues in their upcoming divorce, are going to die as soon as he returns from Berkeley.

He’s a particle physicist. She was a dancer at The Foxy Lady.

I’m an attorney. It’s the first rainy night in about a hundred years in Lincoln, Nebraska, after a polar vortex winter both hideous and dry. She’s hysterical about the animals. I can’t get her out of the lockup, so I have to drive to 178th Street and get the cats, Ernest and Nick Adams, before he gets back and does away with them.

Ernest and Nick Adams?

I had a hellish day already arguing with a sweet old divorce attorney in Saline County over some kind of Pampered Chef kitchenware. We may have a two-day trial over it.

Bryan, my ex, a horse trainer, has been on the cell calling me, wanting to tell me the trouble he is having with Trista, who is in love with him. Trista is a show rider, blond, young, with breasts like melons. Bryan says he is not in love with her. He thinks because I do divorce, I can get rid of her for him. I can’t even get rid of him.

Rescuing cats seems like a better idea.

“Molly,” Bryan calls again. “She says I don’t understand her; I am too manipulative.” He’s thinking melons, I suspect. I try to talk him into coming with me. He won’t. I’m in this alone.

It pours all the way to 178th Street. I find keys where my client hid them, enter the dark house, see no cats, only a large, square metal box squatting in the living room. The box switches on and hums. I don’t like it at all.

Bryan calls on my cell, updates me on the stress he’s feeling. I ask what kind of metal box switches on, hums.

“A bomb,” he says, and goes on about Trista.

Firemen would have noticed a bomb. The rain increases; a bolt of lightning shoots over an orchard.

“Kitty, kitty.” Two of them, boys, she said. One blue, which is really a gray one, one cream, which is actually orange. Big guys. Long haired. Very gentle. Polydactyls. With extra thumbs. Ernest is orange, I think. I find two cat carriers near the kitchen pantry, smell the scorch from the fire in the three-car garage.

Maybe the cats are dead.

They are so wonderful, she said. My babies. Can open anything.

I wonder if they have opened Mr. Wizard’s box there in the living room. The husband said he would not accept the authority of the Court. He told Judge Elliott in a personal call to her chambers she had no authority over him. She already hates him. She would never admit it. This will be quite a case. We will probably even get custody of the humming metal box.

I turn on lights, hear mewing. The cats are somewhere around. My ex calls again.

“Have you ever heard of Schrodinger’s Cat?” he shouts. Thunder crashes.

“No.”

“Get out of there, Molly. Trista said something about weird physics. On the History Channel. Schrodinger’s cat. A box. She’s googling it. If you get inside, you can be alive and dead at the same time.”

“Right.” I am not listening to one more word about Schrodinger, whoever he is, his cats, the History Channel or Trista.
The box hums; cats cry. They sound like babies. The storm picks up intensity, and I wonder if we could already be in tornado weather. It’s chilly and late for it, but, still. It’s Nebraska.

I hear sirens. I call my ex. “Are we in a tornado watch?”

“Trista’s calling. Hold on.”

The box hums. It looks much bigger. A tree branch comes down with a sharp crack. Lightning turns the world electric blue.

“Bryan, are you there?”

Silence.

“Bryan?”

A fat, furry body rolls into my lap; thumbed feet pat my face. Tuna breath, and the thing just purrs and purrs. Another just as huge tucks itself under my chin, and they are both humming. I am in a box with two enormous, furry, multi-toed, thumbed cats. Rough tongues wash my hands. They are glad I’m with them.

“Bryan. I’m in something. I’m with the cats.”

Nothing.

The wind dies down; rain patters on the sidewalks, the burned garage. The cats are pressed body to body with me, humming, but I don’t smell tuna anymore, or them. I smell the green, wonderful, wet April smell, turned earth, spring bulbs, new grass, the heaven smell of saturation, fecundity. Better than Pampered Chef, better than cutting underwear to ribbons, better than rage, revenge, darkness, fury, death, that sweet, rich scent we know from our first breath—-life itself.

How do I get out of Schrodinger’s box?


- - -
Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Micro Prize in 2011, I have been published in 365 Tomorrows, Four Square Universe, Daily Science Fiction, Vestal Review, decomP, FRIGG, Cease Cows, Grey Sparrow, Black Heart Magazine, and others. I write flash fiction and am an attorney.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

8/6/15

Doch'
By Erika Kocher


Sirens screech from the intercoms as people run through the corridors. A person pushes me into a wall before running through a door. The metal wall rubs against my back as I lower myself down and pull my knees towards my chest. The hall shakes as an automated voice comes over the intercom.

“Ядерная реакция неустойчивая,” says the voice. “Весь персонал делает ваш путь к близко челноку избежания.”

Yeah, because everybody in this tank has NO idea that the reactor is having a meltdown. Maybe they think the sirens and lights are for Boris’s birthday. The sirens eventually stop, leaving just the lights to tell people about the incident.

“Hey, young pup,” says Boris. He sits down next to me and leans his head back against the cold wall.

“I guess the saying ‘speak of the Devil and he shall appear’ is real after all,” I say.

He bumps his elbow into my arm a little too hard as he starts laughing as loud as he can. “Please, if anyone is the demon around here it’s you, little missy.”

More people run down the hall yelling about their experiments that they are trying to save, and that manages to halt the laughter. Boris reaches into his lab coat and pulls out a carton of cigarettes and his zippo lighter. He takes out and lights it quickly, taking a large breath of the smoke. After a few smaller puffs he takes the cigarette out of his mouth and holds it out for me to take.

“I already told you, I don’t smoke,” I say.

His face softens and he looks me in the eyes. “I don’t think it’ll matter for much longer,” he says. “Besides, the young should try just about everything at least once in their life.”

I look into his eyes as well and I see the same sadness that he had when he got the letter about his wife and kid back in the homeland. I grab the cigarette and place it between my lips before taking a large breath in. I start to cough viciously as the smoke burns and clogs my lungs. A few rough pats on my back help to get the remaining smoke out.

“Sorry, doch’,” he says. “Should of told you not to inhale on your first try.” He rubs my back until the coughing subsides and I can breathe normally again.

“Well, now you know the exact reason I didn’t want to try smoking,” I say.

He just laughs and says, “Like you could have known it would have been that bad.”

“How exactly do you know that I didn’t expect it?” I ask.

He smiles at me before saying, “Then you wouldn’t have inhaled.”

I open my mouth to try and argue with him, but he, actually, is right. So I just end up crossing my arms and pouting. He just laughs and ruffles my hair like how he always does.

Suddenly, a sound, similar to the pop of a champagne bottle, resounds from down the corridor. A small stream of salt water comes running quickly down the hall to where we are sitting. The water is freezing cold as it hits our feet and legs and I instinctively pull myself into a small ball to try and get away from the water, but it continues to flow into my side. Boris wraps his warm arm around my shoulders and pulls me over and onto his lap, leaving him to get the full force of the water.

“Oy, you never did tell me your story,” he says.

“Story?” I ask.

“Yeah, the story of how an American teenage girl got on board a Russian submarine,”he says. “I’d wager it’s a good one.” He has that cheerful face that always reminds me of a child asking for candy.

“Long story short,” I say. “Young genius, blah, blah, abusive parents, blah, blah, ran from the country, blah, blah, got picked up by a Russian University, blah, blah and, voila, the youngest American engineer to work for ‘Mother Russia’. That good enough for you?”

His eyes are very wide as he looks at me. “Yeah, I would think that is good enough.”

More popping noises echo throughout the hall and more water rushes into us until our legs are submerged and the water begins rising even higher. We hug each other tighter as the salt water soaks us both.

I am shivering so much that I have a hard time getting my words out. “I h-had a q-question too,” I say.

“W-what would t-that be?” he asks. He is shaking just as hard a I am.

“W-why do you K-keep c-calling me d-doch’?” I ask. “What d-does it m-mean?” The water has risen up to our chest and it makes talking even more difficult that before.

He looks me in the eyes the best that he can. “I-it means, d-daughter,” he says.

I look at him silently before I turn my waist and hug him around his shoulders. He returns the hug and squeezes around my torso as the water reaches the tops of our necks.

“Thank you,” we both say. The water rushes up and over heads sending us into the cold, dark abyss waiting for us.


- - -
Erika is an aspiring novelist who is working to get her Creative Writing degree. She wants to become a full time novelist but is happy to be writing any stories or poetry that someone in the world will enjoy.


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