Thursday, March 29, 2018

3/29/18

Divine Rite
By C.E. Gee


Paul was almost finished with preparations for the next worship session. All the helmets had been cleaned, their interior pads sanitized, their transceivers checked.

At the door Paul salted the donation basket with coins and a few bills.

Recorded organ music softly sounded over the PA system. Incense and candles were burning at the altar, which was up on the dais.

As the first of his flock filed in, Paul checked the time. It was slightly over 20 minutes before the service began.

Members of his flock chatted with one another while waiting. A few filled paper cups with coffee drawn from the urn at one side of the chapel.

It wasn’t long before the pews filled. Paul was pleased.

In the nearest time zones preparations were taking place within similar chapels. Across Earth, in more distant time zones, night owls, early risers of the devout were preparing to participate in the service.

Exactly on time, Paul donned his helmet which immediately connected via high frequency (gigahertz), very low power, directed radio transmission to Paul’s brainbug implant. Paul was immediately seized by the glorious rapture of his spirit which became one with all those online.

Though the helmet blocked lesser sounds, Paul heard the ecstatic cries and moans and joyous laughter of his flock as they communed with the universal holy oneness. A female parishioner sobbed.

Paul, standing at the lectern, seized its sides to keep from falling, such was his ecstasy.

Soon, all began to voice in harmony the ancient, universal meditative chant, “Ommm. Ommmm. Ommmmm.”

After some time had passed, timers switched off the helmets.

Paul strode to the door.

As his flock filed out, Paul said to each one, “Namaste.”

All echoed his word.

When the chapel was empty, Paul closed the door, sat in a nearby pew, considered his destiny, wondered if it was chosen for him by God.

Paul wept.


- - -
Born near the peak of the post World War II baby boom (1947), C.E. "Chuck" Gee misspent his youth at various backwater locales within the states of Oregon and Alaska. During adulthood Chuck answered many callings, including logger, factory worker, infantryman (Vietnam war draftee), telecommunications technician, volunteer fireman and EMT, light show roady, businessperson, sysop (commercial BBS), webmaster. Retired from the telecommunications/electronics industries and also a disabled veteran, Chuck now writes Science Fiction.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

3/22/18

Frozen Eternity
By Cameron Bloomfield


The centuries pass but each time they wake me there is no cure. From my frozen slumber I am roused each time by people that grow further from resembling humans and they beg me to save their universe once again. I am Saviour and my price is only that you give me a little more time.
In 2176, I remove aggression from the human genome and the bombs finally stop. In 4721, I stop a virus that has wiped out whole moons. As our sun swallows planets, I find humanity new worlds and when the stars blink out I, and the other chosen immortals, create our own universe for humanity to rule over. Each awakening I am given a few more days of life, yet through the endless passage of years there is no cure for mortality and I am left to return to my dreamless ice.
The year is 207, in the latest calendar era. I stand under a sky of new constellations, in yet another new throne room for my pedestal. The cryogenically frozen line the wall behind me, all deemed a necessity for humanity’s survival like me. All dying, like me. A family of three stands below the dais, a crowned mother, a regal father, and a daughter who is a mere decade.
“Saviour,” says the mother with a bow. “We have found your cure, but for each remedy there is a new ailment.” Her hand entwines with the man’s, while the other squeezes her daughter’s shoulder. “I am selfish, the only life in peril is my own but I will trade you the eternity you seek for your wisdom.”
“Yes,” I drawl in ecstasy. Generations have passed like seconds in slumber, but finally I have reached my destination.
“My family wants me to sleep like you, but I am afraid I will never see them again. For our sake, please tell me if immortality is worth more than the life we have today?”
Memories as if from yesterday come. I promise my love I’ll see her soon and I’m frozen for the first time. My grandson wakes me, now an ancient man who was a mere boy in my time. He begs me to help in what was my third crisis and I manage to save us even through the grief of knowing that I’ll never see my beloved again. I sleep. I wake. A parade of cultures pass. The only constant is the rules of the universe and the fact I miss her.
I have her answer. “I would have gladly given eternity for a beautiful goodbye.”
They take my advice and the family breaks down, holding each other close in embraces that never want to be broken. It was not my goodbye, but I am glad they got the opportunity I never did. Maybe that has made my millenniums of sleep worth it, the pain of losing her worth enduring so another wouldn’t have to go through the same. Now, I feel I’m ready to rest forever.


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I'm a salesman planning to move to Japan in the near future to increase my skillset (and more importantly find some great ideas for stories). I'm soon to be published in 600 Second Saga.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

3/15/18

A ROBOT’S RANSOM
By Carl Perrin


I heard a strange noise in the kitchen. Mr. Fitz told me later that a human being would have gone to investigate. But I was not programmed to do that so I just stayed where I was, sitting on a chair in the bedroom.

I heard footsteps coming through the living room and a rough, gravelly voice said: “There ain’t nothin’ here worth takin’. That TV is a piece of junk.”

A high-pitched male voice answered, “We might as well check out the bedroom before we go.”

The two of them walked in. First a short, hunched-shouldered man with practically no neck. His hair was cut close to his skull. He looked like a gnome. The other man seemed tall at first, but I realized that he was so thin that he looked taller than he was. He had a scar down his right cheek.

Scarface looked at me and said, “This must be Old Man Fitzpatrick’s robot companion.”

“I don’t think that’s gonna do us no good,” the gnome said.

“That’s cause you don’t use your head, dummy. We can hold it for ransom.”

“We can’t get much ransom from Old Man Fitzpatrick, can we?”

“We can get some. These old guys love their robot companions.”

The gnome shrugged. “I don’t know, Francis.”

Scarface turned on him. “I told you not to call me that!” he snapped.

“Sorry, Frank. I slipped.”

“Well, grab his feet. I’ll take his shoulders. We better get out of here before Old Man Fitzpatrick gets back.”

So they picked me up and headed out the back door. Of course I could have stopped them, but I hadn’t been programmed to do that. And one of the first things a robot learns when he is registered is the golden rule: never hurt a human being.

I’m not that heavy, but they were moving awkwardly as they moved from the back yard to the alley. “You don’t have to carry me,” I said. “I can walk.”

The gnome went, “Yikes!” and dropped my feet. “The thing talked!”

Francis let go of my shoulders and I stood up. “Yes, I can walk and I can talk. So where are you taking me?”

“Oh, ah, we’re just taking you on a little vacation. It must be about time you had a vacation, isn’t it?” Francis tried to smile, but you could tell he didn’t mean it. “Don’t pay any attention to the dummy here.” He gestured at the gnome. “He’s afraid of his own shadow.”

In a few minutes we crossed a lawn littered with trash to enter a frame apartment building. On the second floor Francis unlocked the door to let us in. Francis invited me to sit with them at plastic table in the small kitchen. The gnome said, “I’ll find some paper to write a ransom note.”

Francis turned to the gnome and said, “Geeze, you’re even dumber than I thought you were. You don’t write a ransom note.”

“Well, how do you let them know about the ransom and stuff?” The gnome’s face twisted in despair.

“You cut the words out of a newspaper and paste them into the note. That way the cops can’t analyze your handwriting and prove that you wrote the note.”

For the next hour they toiled with the message, cutting words out of an old magazine and pasting them onto the paper. When they were finished, Francis said to me, “I’m going to have to chain you to something. I’m afraid you’d get lost if you went out by yourself.” We went into the bedroom, and he chained me by the ankle to a heavy chest. I didn’t tell him that I wouldn’t be likely to get lost because I had a built-in GPS. The two men left, and I sat on the floor by the chest.

About a half an hour later I heard a sharp knock on the door, and a loud voice called, “Open up! Police!”

“I’ll be right with you,” I yelled back. I lifted the chest so I could free my ankle. Before I could do anything else, the police crashed through the door with raised pistols. “Where are they?” one of the policemen asked.

“They’ve gone to deliver the ransom note,” I answered.

The other cop went back into the hallway. “It’s okay. You can come in.”

Mr. Fitz ran into the room and put his arms around me. “My dear friend, Rupert,” he said. “I’m so happy to see that you’re all right. They didn’t hurt you, did they?”

“No, I’m fine. It’s a good thing they didn’t know I could send you an email just by talking and give you the coordinates of this place for the police.”

A few minutes later Francis and the gnome came back to find the police waiting for them. They both seemed quite puzzled by the turn of events.


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Carl Perrin started writing when he was in high school. His short stories have appeared in The Mountain Laurel, Northern New England Review, Kennebec, Short-Story.Me, Mad Swirl, and CommuterLit among others.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

3/8/18

THE HUNTER
By Chila Woychik


The day was dead. I’d killed it—routinely and without flinching—like I did every day, every single day that thrust itself upon me like a gigolo set on draining off life. There it lay, the day, exhausted, behind me, a memory of pulses and feelings and at least one mistake, probably more. I jabbed at the fire, added a log.

Adago used to be home, but not any longer—I had left, and my landscape became volcanoes silhouetted against a yellow-grey horizon. Ash puffed under my feet with each forward step, and me scrounging for enough water to stay alive.

A fire was spreading through a forest not far from where I camped. The crackling alerted me while I slept; it was the combination of crackling and high-pitched screams. I watched the trees burn, spear in hand, ready for whatever ran toward me, away from the flames. I got three giant beetles out of it, and a centipede the size of a python. I took them to the drop-off point one at a time, and worked till dusk.

Whenever I got paid, I’d go back to Adago and buy ammunition. It wasn’t good to be without ammo there; the hunter quickly became the hunted—the predator, the prey. I’d outlived most hunters in that dag-forsaken land; made a few enemies. I know how to use a gun.

I really don’t care what they call me anymore: butcher, baker, bug-steak maker. Who’s to say the crunchy carapace I lanced and dragged for miles wasn’t worth it? They who ate its contents and lived? Used its remains to make shelter or medicine?

No, they looked at their fat little children and thanked me. Their fat little children with their spider-hair clothes. If only they knew…

“Tane, bring us more scorpions; higher prices paid.”

“Tane, some government official’s wife wants a caterpillar rug.” A caterpillar rug, for gosh sake.

“When can you get those fire ants, Tane? We hear they’re great marinated and batter-fried.”

And Tane, while you’re at it, will you lasso the Whale Star and drag it down to us too? We want a night light to comfort us while we sleep on our soft-pillowed beds.

Sure, I’ll lasso them a star, just as soon as justice has been done. And when all the idiots wise up and realize what’s happening there, the corruption of one group and the misplaced trust of another. But why worry about that when they can sit in their staterooms and circle their planet? Their staterooms with private bars and movies, games. Or sit in their protected cities under the sea, the children close by while their mama watches—while their beautiful mama watches, with her beautiful blue eyes and silken brown hair …

Why would they worry? We were the hunters; we found the good deals for them. They knew they could count on us to keep the food coming, the food for their healthy fat children, the food for their beautiful mama . . . in their staterooms . . .


- - -
Chila Woychik has recent bylines in journals such as Portland Review, Stonecoast, and Tahoma Literary. She was awarded the 2017 Loren Eiseley Creative Nonfiction Award and the 2016 Linda Julian Creative Nonfiction Award. Currently, she edits the Eastern Iowa Review.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

3/1/18

ON A HOSTILE PLANET
By John Grey


Heat doesn't just happen,
it invades,
on this planet where
the sun summers year round
from burnt-grass plains
to steamy oceans.

It's like hell
and the cone of an active volcano
all in one,
feels like molten lava on a good day.
We're all cloistered here
in a dome of phony cool air
while outside
land bubbles and boils,
air whips welts into mountains.

We have windows
thick as the skin
of nuclear reactors
for an up close vista
of the local reality:
dust storms,
sunsets that just deliver more sun,
creatures mostly of the brawling kind.
Strange it is
what the folks safe back on Earth
just have to know.

It's a wonder these walls don't melt,
the ceiling liquefy,
we souls within
turn to molten crap.
For temperature's the enemy here.
It would like nothing more
than to get its devil's hands on us.

For the outside reckons it could use
our flesh, our bones, our blood
for its own searing purposes.
From its viewpoint,
every day we are not dead
is wasted on us.


- - -
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Leading Edge, Poetry East and Midwest Quarterly.


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