Thursday, April 19, 2018

4/19/18

After the Fire
By Bruce Mundhenke


The fire that warms us here,
Was kindled long ago,
Gives us light and heat,
And burns both day and night,
And leads us on a journey,
Through both space and time,
And though it seems
To burn forever,
Some day this fire
Will cease,
And no more travel circuits,
Throughout space and time,
No longer burning in the night,
No longer sending light,
No life in its orbit,
And in the star filled night,
No one will remember,
How it once burned bright.


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Bruce Mundhenke writes poetry in Illinois, where he lives with his wife and their dog and cat. He has poems in Leaves of Ink, 1947 Journal, and many other online magazines and journals.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

4/12/18

Alien Judgement
By David K Scholes


“We got it wrong and an innocent man spent 15 years in a down time penal colony.” I was devastated.

“We all of us share some blame,” replied Tricia “The AI Judge, the human jury, the robotic investigators, the human prosecuting attorney and the cyborg defence attorney."

“He must be a very bitter man,” I added, stating the obvious. “How did they find out the truth after all this time?”

“The visiting Zrell higher law enforcement took it up as a cold case. Something about it disturbed them. They used time cameras to 3D video what actually happened. The Time Cameras cannot lie. An advance greater even than DNA techniques or the mind probe,” Tricia finished.

“They’ll give him the 15 years he lost?” I asked.

“Always,” responded Tricia. “They always do that, though the form in which it’s provided can vary.”

“No way he could be returned to the time when he was first incarcerated?” I offered hopefully.

“Even the Zrell can’t do that, you know that!” Tricia chided me. “Unacceptable interference in the time stream.”

“The full Zrell Judgement is down now, anyway. I’m bringing it up on my mind link right now.” Like me she was apprehensive.

I knew of course that it was an edict from which there existed no higher avenue of appeal on or off world.

“Well – let’s hear the best part of it first,” I tried to sound cheerful.

“He’ll be treated such that he can expect to live 15 years longer than he would have – through established age reduction techniques. Also the State will have to compensate him and his immediate family for 15 years of lost income." I pondered on that – it still seemed to be only partial compensation for all that time lost. Such as time lost with his loved ones – who couldn’t be given another 15 years.

“And the bad news, the other side of the equation?” I asked.

“All of us that were part of the bad decision will be held to account, to the extent that we are judged to have contributed to it. You know how strongly the Zrell feel about wrongful convictions. With them – a state apology alone just doesn’t cut it.”

“The AI Judge is disbarred,” Tricia continued. “Its emotion and judgement chips removed, and it is returned to mechanical administrative duties.” I wondered what they might have done if it was a human judge. “The cyborg defence attorney will be de-commissioned – it’s apparently made other mistakes. The robotic investigators have been put on administrative duties.”

And the humans?” I inquired. “The jury and the human prosecutor?”

Tricia’s response was deliberately slow as, having been on that jury, we both had a vested interest.

The lost 15 years are to be shared equally among the human jury, with the human prosecutor taking a greater penalty.

“Each juror will lose a year or so?” I already knew the answer.

Tricia nodded “a minor aging process – not so minor a process for the prosecutor.”

* * *

If the Zrell approach seemed unduly harsh, it had its desired consequences. Nowadays there were very few wrongful convictions.


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The author is a science fiction writer who has written more than 200 short stories.including eight collections of short stories and two novellas (all on Amazon). He has been published on the Antipodean SF, Beam Me Up Pod Cast, Farther Stars Than These, 365 Tomorrows, Bewildering Stories, the WiFiles sites and the former Golden Visions magazine. He is currently about half way through a new collection of science fiction short stories.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

4/5/18

Planet Extronia
By Thomas G Schmidt


"Can he be saved?"

The comment surprised the young doctor and he looked up from the operating table to see who was asking such a question. The older man dressed in a grey, three piece business suit was clearly out of place in the operating room. Who the hell was this guy?

"I don't know who you are or why you are here," replied Dr. Mark Stetman with a gruff reply. "But you need to be in a gown and wearing a mask if you are going to be in this room."

The man ignored the comment as he looked down at the badly injured man lying before him. Concern was present on his face as he looked directly over the open wound.

"I said you have to be gowned and wearing a mask to be in here!"

"I heard you the first time. No need to shout."

Stetman was on the verge of exploding when his young assistant tapped him on his shoulder. "It's OK Mark. He is allowed to be here."

"What??"

The young blonde anesthesiologist nodded her head toward another man in the operating room who was also wearing a grey suit. "He is allowed to be here as well."

"What is going on Jenn?"

The anesthesiologist looked at the men in grey for guidance on what to say. "Tell him," replied the man in the three piece suit. "He needs to understand how serious this situation is."

The second man nodded his head in agreement and simply replied "tell him Cera".

Stetman turned to the woman he knew as "Jennifer Dawson", perplexed about what was going on. Jennifer Dawson in turn lowered her mask while considering what exactly to tell the human.

"Mark, we are not what you think we are. We are not from here but rather from a planet that your scientific communities call "U-879R" just outside this solar system."

Stetman was tiring of the game and wanted to get back to the critical surgery which was being interrupted by this nonsense.

"Jenn, this is not a game. This man needs surgery and he needs it right now. I am calling for security to remove all of you immediately." And with that, Stetman reached for the intercom.

"Sorry Mark," replied Cera. "We cannot allow that." And with that comment, the intercom system went dead along with all the lights in the room except for the ones immediate over the operating table.

Stetman was confused about how the electric power outage only was affecting certain areas of the operating room. The intercom was clearly out but all of the lights over the operating table and all of the critical instruments at the table were still fully powered. What the hell was going on?

"Jenn?"

"Mark, my name is actually Cera. But feel free to call me Jenn if you like. The man on the right is Xavier and the man on the left is Gutar. We are Extrons from the planet Extronia, what you know as U-879R."

"Yeah," replied Stetman. "And I am the Dalai Lama."

"Not funny Mark. We know that your Dalai Lama lives in a region on this planet called Tibet. You are in fact Mark Stetman. A magna cum laude graduate of the Johns Hopkins Medical School as well as the best cardiovascular surgeon in North America. And your mission today is to save this man from the gunshot wound he sustained this morning. He is critical to us and to your planet."

“Critical for what?”

Cera paused for a second before replying. “We cannot tell you. Just accept that you need to save him.”

“Why me?”

Cera smiled. “Because Mark, you are the most skilled surgeon available for this type of wound. And because his bleeding has to be stopped within the next 30 minutes.”

The man known as Xavier interrupted. “23 minutes Cera. Time is short.”

Cera nodded and then turned to Stetman. “Will you help us?”

Stetman was still not sure he wanted to believe this crazy, cockamamie story. But he did agree with part of it. The man was bleeding excessively and that bleeding had to be stopped. Quickly.

“I need a surgical assistant to help with the bleeding.”

Cera replied. “I can do that.”

“That’s not your training.”

“Mark, my training is broad and covers that type of assistance.”

“OK. Whatever. I need the clamp on the right and for you Jenn, er Cera, to apply pressure at the wound near the right coronary artery.”

“Got it.”

“Good. Steady, constant pressure. Yes, like that.”

The men in grey moved back from the operating table while continuing to watch over the surgery. The fate of the injured man was in the hands of Mark Stetman and the Extronian medical assistant known as Cera.

Stetman worked quickly as time was now critical. With skill and perhaps a little luck, the Johns Hopkins trained surgeon was able to seal the wound and stopped the bleeding in less than 20 minutes. Stetman sighed with exhaustion as he closed the man’s incision. He hoped that in his rush that he had not made any errors.

“Done.”

“Excellent,” replied the man named Xavier. “You don’t know how important this surgery has been.”

“Yes, I don’t know. When will you tell?”

Cera smiled as she replied. “All we can tell you is that it impacts your planet’s future. You are not allowed to know more than that.”

Mark looked puzzled as the three visitors started to fade. “Wait, wait. Where are you going?”

“Look after him Mark,” replied Cera as her image disappeared from his sight. “He is important.” And with that, the three visitors were gone.

Stetman looked around the room but all that was left was the man on the operating table. And then, the room lights came back on as Stetman heard a voice over the intercom.

“Mark, Mark please report your status.”

Stetman spoke into the intercom. “Gary, we are done in here. The patient is stable and can be moved into recovery.”

“What happened? The intercom went dead and we didn’t hear from you for over 15 minutes.”

Stetman didn’t know what to say in reply.


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Tom Schmidt is a Chemical Engineer working in medical diagnostics in upstate New York. He has had a variety of short stories published in the past on websites such as www.short-story.me, www.fartherstars.com, www.short-humour.org.uk and www.overmydeadbody.com. He is currently working on the “Paul Garigan Crime Mysteries”, a collection of short stories centered around a Malibu based police detective which he hopes to publish in the future.


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