Thursday, December 31, 2015

12/31/15

There will not be Time
By David K Scholes


At first it was only barely perceptible. A sense that everything around me had sped up a little. I wondered if someone had spiked my drink with a very mild dose of the slowtime drug.

Then it seemed the slowtime dose might have been much stronger as everything around me was moving alarmingly fast in relation to my own body movements. My own thought processes. Then things around me really took off, so to speak, and I started to realise that I had a problem. A problem that had nothing at all to do with slowtime or any other drug. My own perception of the passage of time was quite out of kilter with the mayhem surrounding me. As if there were two lanes of traffic and I was very much in the slow lane. The very slow lane.

The progression became exponential. From people around me moving very fast to their becoming a blur, to whole days lasting apparent seconds for me, to months passing in the blink of my eye, then years and decades and even centuries passing before me. The blurred outline of a constantly changing futuristic world becoming continually ever more futuristic spread out before me.

Early in this process I realised I was moving up through the well of time. There could be no other explanation. A part of me was terrified by this while the scientist in me was fascinated by the phenomenon.

* * *

The first serious attempt to help me came from the Time Authority after 2500 AD. A time arrestor was thrown across my projected time path by Time Police. I suppose a mundane analogy might have been highway police throwing out road spikes in order to stop a vehicle travelling at very high speed. For just a moment it looked like they might be successful. My rate of progress up through time was slowing dramatically. The Time Authority had even worked out a crude way to pass me a message. A permanently located, ultra long lasting 4 Dimensional electronic communication board existing in a broad time band and set up at my last known location.

Further up time two more attempts were made by the Time Authority to bring my headlong advance to a halt. Each failed. Following this I saw a message from the Time Authority. It read “Good bye, good luck, and god speed.” It gave me the shivers.

After this I received no more messages from the Time Authority and was not aware of any further attempts to halt my passage through time. For a part of my journey I felt very, very alone.

At some point well back in my past I had shed my physical human corporeal body. Now I was just a consciousness without physical or even energy form hurtling through time. I knew that my consciousness had been vastly expanded during my journey. Though I don’t know how. Still I was able to see and understand much more now.

* * *

Somewhen I failed to notice the birth and death of suns as these were happening too quickly. Though I was still able to bear witness to the birth and death of galaxies. Then I noticed that no more new Galaxies were appearing. That the Universe, the Multiverse even, was running down.

At this moment my consciousness gave thought to something that I now knew was more than merely a theoretical concept. Time’s End – or to use the more technical term - the End Time horizon. Though what might become of me when I reached that ultimate up time barrier I could not begin to imagine.

As the Multiverse continued to run down I realised I was now beyond saving by any of the great powers save, just perhaps, Time’s Guardian himself. He had never intervened in my predicament and a part of my consciousness wondered why.

Then finally I began to slow and slow dramatically in my advance up through the well of time. Ahead I could actually see the End Time horizon and I knew that even Time’s Guardian himself could not help me now. I knew, intuitively, that here in this place, that noble entity, his job done, no longer existed.

I was now long, long past loneliness and fear and a part of my current consciousness was actually even elated to be here at this last moment of time.

Yet why me? I wondered why me? Just as my consciousness impacted the End Time horizon.

Consciousness then departed me just as my physical corporeal body had departed me earlier.

Yet some non-conscious part of me sensed that I was not completely done for. That I still existed in some form on some level.

Then in this place beyond time a level of altered consciousness, returned for me and I saw a concerned, not unsympathetic face looking at me.

“We are starting up again,” he said “that’s how it all works, but you know that now. A few others will follow but you are the first to arrive. Apart from several inanimate objects that were more of a test run.”

I knew now exactly what he meant.

Looking around I saw that God had made just a small start.

Soon a new Multiverse would be aborning.


- - -
The author has published seven collections of speculative fiction short stories and two science fiction novellas (all on Amazon). He has been a regular contributor to the Antipodean SF and Beam Me Up Pod cast sci-fi sites and has also been published on a variety of other speculative fiction sites. He is currently working on a new science fiction novella.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

12/24/15

Night Before Zombiemas
By E.S. Wynn


I’ll never forget that light, that pulsing strobe of red and green as it lit up the snowy night sky like some tainted swarm of impossibly flying patrol cars. It was terrifying, eerie as it played among the blistering, pockmarked shadows clinging to the faces of the zombie mob, the shambling horde of eager corpses that yawned on into the night, moaning as they sought every sleeping body nestled snug in its bed, checked every house for survivors twice. My house was no different; they came in through the doors, the windows, the chimney. My only hope of escape was the second story, to climb out the window and onto the snow covered roof, to find up there some way to get down or get across to the next house before their prancing feet and pawing hands could find me.

But I was not so lucky.

No sooner did I reach the slope of the roof than what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a brilliant light that stabbed down at me from the heavens, blinding and hot against my skin even as I threw my arms in front of my face. There was a whistle, a shout, a crack of a whip, and then in the haze I heard his voice, knew the terrible laugh of the one who had spurred on the zombie horde, the one whose whip drove them forward and into the sleeping streets, kept them hungry, eager for human flesh. I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick, vicious overlord of the northern skies.

There was no time, no choice– I ran, but quickly realized that running barefoot on a frosty, angled roof is no vision of sugar-plums. I lost my balance almost immediately, slid sideways and then spun on the curve of one foot right off the edge and into snowy infinity. The ground came up at me like a flash, tore open my leg and slashed up my hands. In an instant, I knew I was done for, could hear the horde as it closed in on me, hungry to taste the bruised and broken flesh that my fall had opened for them. Cruel, talon-like fingers reached toward me, and for a moment I saw my death, whole body stiffening, chilling with the harsh realization that I was about to die.

And then Mrs. Rosenschwartz appeared.

She came hurtling out of nowhere like a flash in the night, her blood-stained walker and gnashing dentures a vision of salvation, the swinging reusable shopping bag at her side crammed with goodies meant for the zombie horde. In one swift movement, she plunged one gnarled hand into the sack and tore loose a brown bottle whose white, plastic lid was no match for her porcelain chompers. I caught the twinkle in her eye as she bit free the cap and hurled the bottle into the mob, spraying countless numbers of the undead with a clear liquid that bit into their rotting flesh with foamy violence, dropping them in agonized heaps of writhing, screaming putridity.

“Here, take one, sonny.” She said suddenly, pressing one of the brown bottles into my hand with a grin. “Closest thing left on God’s green earth to holy water when it comes to these rotting punks!”

She didn’t wait for me to respond, just smiled that iridescent, be-dentured smile covered in the stains acquired in countless years of hard reps with a mug of coffee and a dedicated patience to the tutelage of a cigarette. In another instant, she was pushing her way back into the fray again, tossing bottles of the stuff right and left, draining each plastic carcass out upon the convulsing flesh of the risen dead. Awestruck and amazed, I looked at the label of the bottle, eyes wondering after the name of the magical liquid I clutched in my shivering hands. I found the name almost immediately. Hydrogen Peroxide.

I looked up in shock, saw the foaming carnage all around me. With a few well aimed tosses, old Mrs. Rosenschwartz had leveled the endless march of undead under a hail of writhing, bubbly torture whose burn fed upon the rot and disease inherent in every inch of corrupted flesh. Those zombies still under St. Nick’s control quivered in fear as Mrs. Rosenschwartz pulled another bottle of the magic liquid from her still bulging sack, but they soon lost even that speck of nerve and retreated like a host of holiday shoppers going home after Black Friday. St. Nick grumbled and hissed and gathered them all, then he hitched up his ship as his fiery engines gave a whistle and the whole horde flew away like the burning, rocket-powered down of a cyberpunk thistle.

But I swear that I heard him say as he roared out of sight;

I’ll get you next Christmas kid; you just got lucky tonight.


- - -
Santa Claus believed in E.S. Wynn when he was a child, but later found out that the man in the khaki shorts and loud hawaiian shirts that wrote novels on the wall on Christmas Eve for an offering of cheese danish and Doctor Pepper was actually just his father in disguise.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

12/17/15

Buck’s Brainstorm
By C.E. Gee (aka Chuck)


Buck picked his way past a garage full of cabinets, cardboard boxes, electronic gear, computers, piles of old books and magazines.

Buck bellied up to his work bench, flipped open the screen of a laptop, then heard a vehicle in the driveway. He opened the garage door.

Buck strolled up to the car just as Jerry climbed out.

“How you doing, man?” asked Jerry. “Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

“Been busy,” replied Buck, smiling at his old friend.

“What you working on?” asked Jerry.

The two men entered the garage; Buck closed the door, turned to Jerry, replied, “You’re not going to believe it.”

“Try me,” challenged Jerry.

Buck pointed to a pair of plastic lawn chairs. “Maybe we should sit. My explanation might take some time.”

They sat. There came a moment of silence as Buck found his words.

Buck asked, “You familiar with the theory that nuclear fusion at the Sun’s core generates the Sun’s energy?”

“Sure.”

“Well that energy is spread out, goes from infrared to gamma rays and everything betwixt and between, maybe even beyond.”

Jerry shrugged a disinterested acknowledgement.

Buck declared, “The currently accepted theory about how fusion works in the Sun is fundamentally incorrect.”

Jerry nodded, said, “Go on.”

“My competing theory is all about cosmic rays, specifically gamma rays. The fusion at the Sun’s core doesn’t so much cause some gamma rays and such as much as it’s initiated by those rays.”

Jerry smirked as he asked, “So where do those cosmic rays come from?”

“Black holes.”

Jerry huffed, wagged his head in disbelief.
“Man,” Jerry said, “you’ve come up with some wacko ideas in your time, but this one takes the cake.”

With just a hint of condescension, Buck replied, “You’re familiar with the fact that galaxies have black holes within them, often at their centers?”

“Sure.”

“I’ll try to make this explanation as concise as possible.

"The black holes generate channels, channels through another dimension, channels to stars in their galaxy.

“Energy taken in by black holes is recycled out to the stars via these channels. Much the same way that experimenters on Earth try to start fusion reactions by using lasers, streams of cosmic rays causes fusion in suns.

“Civilizations more advanced than ours use these channels, hyperspace channels I call ‘em -- they use these channels for interstellar travel and also for communication.”

Jerry leaned forward, patted Buck on the knee, sat back in his chair, said, “Interesting theory. How you plan to prove it?”

“Already did.”

Buck stood, motioned for Jerry to follow, went to the work bench.

At the work bench, Buck asked, “You’ve noticed that parabolic antenna on my garage roof?”

“Sure.”

“I’ve motorized it,” said Buck. “You know, like in the old days when people in rural areas used electric motors to remotely rotate their TV antennas so as to home in on specific TV stations. In this case, my antenna automatically follows the Sun.“

There was a flat-screen television mounted on the wall above the workbench. As Buck switched on the television, he said, “My laptop’s USB port is fed by the roof’s antenna through a converter I built that takes downloaded signals from the antenna and converts them. I then use the laptop’s video out jack to feed the TV’s component video jack.”

Buck typed at the laptop’s keyboard for a moment, then said, “The people at SETI point their antennas away from the Sun because of interference. They should be pointing their antennas directly at the Sun.”

Buck pressed his laptop’s ENTER key; an image appeared on the television’s screen.

The image was that of a pond. Vegetation surrounding the pond was unfamiliar though obviously tropical in appearance. Two scorpion-like creatures wearing utility belts skittered into the field of view. The creatures moved on four legs, and they had four arms tipped with pincers –- pincers that were proportionally much smaller than pincers found on the scorpions of Earth.

The creatures backed up to the pond, lowered their tails into the water. They were very close to one another –- intertwined antenna.
“That’s it,” commented Buck. “They just sit there for a few minutes, then move off. Then, two more scorpions, or whatever they are, they repeat the scene. Then, two more. This goes on all the time until their sun sets.”

Buck poked at the laptop’s number pad a few times, hit the ENTER key.

Another image flashed to life.

A large insect was surrounded by a mob of smaller insects. The insects resembled outsized locusts but had humanoid heads. The smaller insects took turns mating with the large insect.

Buck said, “I suspect they got those heads by deliberate DNA mixing with another species.

Buck changed channels again –- and again and again and again. Each channel displayed mating practices of aliens.

Finally, Buck said, “There are many thousands of these channels. I’ve yet to discern any logical purpose that’s served by them. Perhaps they’re instructional? Or maybe they’re similar to our wildlife documentaries?”

Jerry laughed, clapped his friend on the shoulder while saying, “Man, I’ve known you for a long, long time. You’re the most intelligent person I’ve ever been around. But you know, like many of your ilk, you sometimes don’t see the obvious.”

To Buck’s questioning look, Jerry continued, “This incredible interstellar communications system is just like our Internet. No doubt, advanced beings built it with perfectly logical and practical intentions. But once their general public got involved with it, it’s become filled with porn.”

Buck’s mouth fell open. He gaped at the screen, exclaimed, “Good grief! I believe you’re right!”

Buck snorted, shook his head. “Let’s go get a beer. I need one.”


- - -
Chuck has answered many callings: logger, factory worker, Vietnam infantryman,, telecommunications technician, volunteer fireman and EMT, light show roady, businessperson, sysop, webmaster. Retired and a disabled vet, Chuck now writes.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

12/10/15

The Sound of Your Voice
By John C Adams


Dear Mrs Smith,

I have been passed your case file by our Complaints Manager. I am the Managing Director of Farewell Experiences Inc and I hope I’ll be able to answer your enquiries to your satisfaction. I have also sent a copy of this letter to your attorney, as you requested.

First of all, let me say from everyone at the company how sorry we were to hear of your sad loss. Please allow me to extend our deepest sympathies to you and to your family. I understand that you and your husband had three children and I wish all of you the very best at this difficult time.

I am aware that some of your enquiries relate to how we obtain the data upon which we base our Family Goodbye Premium Service. I’m sure you will appreciate that this is confidential and that the algorithm that generates the data for the service is trademarked and forms the backbone of Farewell Experiences Inc’s stockmarket valuation. I can say in generic terms that the algorithm can process up to sixty billion gigabytes of data in only a few seconds. Together with the access we’ve negotiated to the national chain of hospitals where your husband died, this algorithm enables us to capture the last thoughts of the recently deceased. Over the last twenty years, Farewell Experiences Inc has helped over one million grieving families to feel that they have shared the last thoughts of their loved one and to treasure the final words and sentiments of their family members forever.

In response to your suggestions that we are harassing vulnerable patients, let me reassure you that your late husband had signed up to the service of his own free will before he was diagnosed with cancer. In fact, checking his initial contract I notice that he signed up on the eve of his first marriage almost thirty years ago and paid a lifetime subscription at this point. When he married for the second time, I note from our Quality Assurance Checksheet, he updated the next of kin section and opted to have you, as his widow, receive the final message in preference to his ex-wife.

I have spoken at length to the Director at Our Sisters of Mercy Hospital here in the city. He in turn has questioned the nurses and the consultant who were on duty that day in the Intensive Care ward. They all confirm that, in accordance with our standard procedures, your husband’s mind data was gathered promptly and that, just before he lost consciousness for the last time, the hospital’s Farewell Experiences Inc representative checked with him that he wished to go ahead and use the service.

After your husband died, his mind data was uploaded to our server here at our head offices. Your husband’s last message to you was extracted from the enormous quantity of data obtained. It was processed in accordance with our standard procedures. It was also cross-checked with our files by a member of our Quality Assurance Team. I understand that, due to a particularly cold snap around the time your husband died, our team was somewhat overloaded and, unusually, some of our processing was outsourced to another company. As a result, certain of our Quality Assurance benchmarks appear not to have been followed in your husband’s case. In particular, I regret to say, the standard process of checking that the name of the intended recipient matched those of the next of kin appears to have been omitted.

In the decades we have been offering this product we have never previously, to my knowledge, delivered a message to a second wife intended for a first. Let me say again how very sorry I am at the distress this failure on our part caused you. I have reviewed our contracts with the outsourcing provider, Quickly Does It.Com, and intend to ensure that we do not use them again.

If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

James T Sidewinder
Managing Director
Farewell Experiences Inc


- - -
John C Adams is a trainee submissions reader with Albedo One magazine. She was longlisted for the Aeon Award in 2012 and 2013. You can read more of her short fiction in forthcoming anthologies from Horrified Press or for free at her website.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

12/3/15

Packed For Jack
By David Castlewitz



The old lady sat alone in the departure lounge, two suitcases at her feet. When she slipped off her shoes, Sam Jamieson saw holes in her dark stockings. A malformed big toenail poked through the cotton.
Sam stood close to the curved window looking down at the lounge, one hand on a cold railing. Those behind and beside him were workers on break and a few who'd slipped away from their assignments to watch the old lady.
"Is anyone going to help her?" Sam said to the men and women who'd gathered to gawk.
"You've got to do it, Sam."
He looked sideways at the curly haired young woman who'd spoken and now joined him at the railing. He remembered her pert demeanor, and all those blonde curls, as well as the lively gray eyes. But not her name. Lately, names escaped him. Too many years, he told himself. Soon, he'd be like that old lady in the empty lounge.
"Lynn," the young woman said. "Housekeeping. Red pod."
"Of course." Sam took hold of her extended hand. "You just got that promotion, right?" He remembered the dossier he'd reviewed. He recalled her employee number. Lynn, he repeated to himself, hoping he'd remember the name.
"We met at last month's banquet," Lynn said. "But I know you meet so many people. Must be hard to keep us all straight."
"Yes." He realized he'd muttered the word, so he tried to find something more to say. Like what? The population's whittling away, so new faces shouldn't be so hard to remember; new names shouldn't be difficult to recall. Most had come here as children. Some as babies. Lynn, he imagined from the look of her, must've been one of those noisy toddlers rushing through the gangways of the long range star cruiser that brought everyone here.
"Why aren't you at work?" Sam asked.
Lynn grinned. Such straight teeth. Bred that way? She shrugged and said, "Everyone's been talking about her. All day."
"Has it been that long?" Sam gazed at the old woman. Older than he. By ten or more years. A heavyset, elderly lady with a life's worth of possessions packed in those two gray bags at her feet.
"Don't turn me into the president," Lynn said, and smiled again.
"I think the president knows," Sam quipped. He looked at the throng behind them in the observation room, which had been designed for families to watch for newcomers or see off departing guests and family.
But no one ever arrived and no one ever left.
"Who's going to tell her?" Lynn asked.
"I guess that's the president's job," Sam said with a sigh. My job. To tell her about reality. Pull her mind from the limbo to which it had gone, as all minds seem to go... eventually.
He walked to the exit. Took the stairs. Not two or three at a time. This job wasn't something he wanted to do. But the old lady, like all the colonists, was his responsibility. Everything fell on his narrow shoulders. Lynn's promotion. Her cleaning crew's efficiency. His wife's comfort. The quality of the monthly banquets. The tempo and meaning of his quarterly speeches.
Everything.
Including this old lady with her bags packed.
He walked into the vast lounge. So empty and so unused. That saddened him. He strode across the tiled floor, footsteps heavy and loud. When he reached the woman sitting so patiently in the curvy comfortable chair near the big windows, he stopped, his hands behind his back.
"You shouldn't be here."
"I'm all packed and waiting for Jack," she said, lifting her round, wrinkled face.
Sam didn't ask, Who's Jack? What did it matter? A dead husband? A dead son.
The old lady said, "Jack's going back with me."
"What pod're you from?"
"Utah. Blue."
Sam nodded. One of the first pods they'd put up while the colonists lived in close quarters in the cruiser.
"I'm going back," the old lady said.
Sam looked away, so she wouldn't see how sad he'd become. He looked at the barren landscape beyond the big windows. This terminal and its lounge had been built when the colony was young and they'd hoped they were the forerunners of more settlers to come.
But no ships arrived. The cruiser that brought them failed to lift off and the crew that should've returned to Earth became just so many more pioneers.
No ships ever came from Earth. No messages, either. No one knew why.
"I don't want to hurt your feelings," the old lady said, "but I don't like it here. I want to go back. Jack said we could if I wanted to."
Sam nodded. "Jack was your husband?"
"Lover. We ran away together. Imagine that."
Must've been a hundred Earth years ago, Sam thought. His gaze shifted from the barren world beyond the lounge, a world they'd tried to make worth mining and exploiting; he looked at the old woman with tears on her sunken cheeks. Then he looked at the people in the observation deck, many of them standing with Lynn at the railing.
They cried as well. Like the old lady, they wanted to go home, too, Sam thought.
He extended his hand. Maybe the best thing to do was the worst he could do. He had the power.
He walked the old lady to the airlock. He key-code-opened the door. "Jack'll be along pretty soon," he said, and shut the door, leaving the smiling old woman and her packed bags on the other side of the thick glass. She waved to him and he unsealed the outer door, exposing the old woman to the airless world outside. She gasped, eyes wide, still with a smile on her bloodless lips, hands gripping her packed bags on either side of her.
When Sam walked across the lounge, the people in the observation deck applauded and cheered.


- - -
After a long and successful career as a software developer and technical architect, I have turned to my first love: SF and fantasy. I have published several stories in Weirdyear, Farther Stars Than These, Fast Forward Festival, Encounters and other online as well as print magazines. Search the web and you’ll even find some of my earlier military history articles. My longer work can be found at
https://www.amazon.com/author/davidcastlewitz


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