Thursday, February 28, 2013


Last night in L.A.
By Robin Wyatt Dunn

She knew I was a killer the moment she laid eyes on me and I knew she was a tramp the moment I laid eyes on her.

“What’ll it be, sir?’ she asked, and I put a C-note on the bar and leaned in closer to her to whisper: “I need an incision, on my left thigh.”

“What?” she said.

“Just kidding,” I said. “I need some whiskey, please.”

The boys from the Beach Arcology rolled in then, and I dove for the table nearest me, throwing it forward and ducking behind it as smoothly as I could manage, grinning as their shotguns tore off the arm of the pretty looking lady who’d been sitting there a moment previous.

The beautiful belle dame behind the bar, the tramp with the darkest eyes I’d ever seen called out: “I’ve called the cops already – they’ll be here in five minutes!”

“That’s long enough,” snickered Foamy Joe of the Beach, and tossed a grenade right at me. Call me a coward: I ran, right back to the bar, catching the belle dame just as she was slipping down the trap door on the rope.

I was down after her, praying to the loa of the freeway, the Interstate I used to love, back when we had gas.

“Commerce used to be classy,” she said, as I climbed on the back of her horse, and gripped her smooth hips.

“Now we get reorganized every three weeks,” she said, spitting.

“You want to leave town?’ I said.

“Not yet,” she said. “We have to establish the radiation zone.”

“Fuck me.”

- -

Urban renewal is different in an era of accelerated atomic decay: the newest nukes have radioactive half-lives of only a few hours. Real estate on the west coast of North America went through the roof as soon as the first one was used in the field: Canadian lumber was the new gangbusters.

“How about Canada?” she shouted back at me.

Canada means village. Maybe I can be one of the het-men: rise early in the morning to sit outside the general store and live in the strange unfoundering assurance of community appeal. Like the cigar store Indian, sometimes killers work best when they attain motionlessness.

“Can we go on the dole?” I shouted back.

“I’d never respect you!”

“But I’d fuck you every night.”

“I could get a better offer!”

“I always wanted to be a lumberjack!” Would they take a man with a permanent colony of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in his thigh?

“Shut up and watch for drones!” she said.

We rode all through the night, me and the real estate scout who could call in nukes.

- - -

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Where The Heart Is
By David Edward Nell

At first I didn't take note of the shape navigating earthward from the clouds, my hands scraping off wood to mark the tenth stroke on a log. Ten was how many days I'd been on this island in solitude. Before then there was nothing, as though there never was a beginning.

I went towards the beach to get a better look. As the object grew I could dismiss it as a bird no longer, for its breadth began to cast nightfall. I retreated, warned by its croon. It rotated, breathing winds of fire, and negotiated something out its hind. Then, as quickly as it had come, it reversed its path. What remained, handed to the sands, was its legacy: a giant egg, where a crack soon formed and led to a halving. I gasped, agog at what had birthed. A woman. Her blush of hair fell like a waterfall over a strange, silver frock.

“Who are you?” I demanded with a stick.

“We're alike.” And when she spoke, I understood.

“Why do you set foot in my territory?”

She pointed up, and my tirade ended. “They, of the stars, have delivered, as they did you. We've been assigned a great role.”

“What are you saying? Who are they?”

“The gods. It's their wish that we repopulate their world.”

“Gods? They want us to be together?”


I fell at her feet, and she touched my head.

“Will you tell me more about the ones from the heavens?” I asked beside her face one night, adoring her dimples and stealing, light-blue eyes.

“If I was wiser,” Olina quipped.

“Yet you are. Please, do divulge something, anything.”

“They brought us and guard from the skies. That's all. When I arrived, you saw them, their flying machines. Their powers and capabilities are beyond our understanding.”
“Are they like us?” I asked.

She paused. “Not exactly. But, Larry,” she cupped my hand, “I've never actually met them.”

“It's so strange that you know so much, I so little.”

“You were chosen as well. For this you should be honored.” She forced her lips against mine.

“Can't you bring the washing?” she called from outside when the trees had begun shedding for a new season. She was beating our mattresses with thick bark, her dress ruffling with the fierce southeasterly. The swollenness of her belly was visible.

I lumbered over with a load of freshly wet garments before something joined the sand. The round device I was furrowing my brows at didn't belong. In curiosity, I picked it up and went to slide my hand over a button.

“Don't touch that,” Olina ran and startled me, snagging it away.

“What is it?” I asked.


“How can it be nothing?”

“Just promise you'll never touch it.”

“I don't even know what it is.” I laughed, incredulous.

She blurted out, “It's theirs. It summons them and their ships.”

“What? This signals for the gods?”


“So you have met them?”


“Now I'm confused. How did you get that, then?”

Olina fumed and hugged the load off me. “Larry, enough. I have a headache.”

“Many moons ago I saw a woman, and again last night,” I said. “In dreams, I mean.”

“My arrival was foretold, then?” Olina replied, cradling our first-born. “The gods entered your dreams, it seems.”

“Maybe. You're so different, though. Your face...”

She looked away.

“My mind must be elsewhere to remind of a nonexistent past, but why?”

“We're both adapting to a new world. Even I dream the same oddities. The imagination is strong, dreams symbolic of reality.”

“True, but it feels like something's missing.” I begged, “Olina, you know you can share everything with me. And I'm not trying to make you upset but--”


“Will you spare a truth?”

“Don't I normally, Larry?”

“It's like you're always keeping secrets.”

She turned, betrayed. “Has your trust gone? I'm your wife.”


“Promise you won't leave me.” Her arm tugged me into her embrace. “Do you love me?”

“Yes. I...I do.”

One morning, my half dozen children were assembled in our hut, shaking me to my feet.

“What's wrong?” I asked.

“Mama's in the air. Come see,” my oldest urged and pulled me into the briney winter, and she hid behind.

My hand went to my mouth. The ship was back, blaring that familiar mechanical tune and inciting nature's abandon. My wife descended a ladder, climbing out the ship's posterior.

“Olina!” I bellowed. “What are you doing there?”

She saw us, froze. Promptly, the ship roared into the ozone, and then it was just her guilt.

“It's nothing to worry over, kiddies,” she tried to convince our frightened children. She looked at me, frowning as if I was at fault. “Shouldn't they be sleeping, Larry?”

“Go back to bed,” I told them. They did so, and then we were alone. “Explain what just happened.”

“The remote you weren't supposed to know about--I used it. This was really important, Larry. Believe me.”

“Tell me what they look like.”

“They're light. Pure...light beings,” she said, stumbling.

I held her shoulders. “Tell me why you kept this a secret.”

“I'm dying.” She showed me an unusual tube of paste. “They gave this. It's supposed to rid of the cancer.”

“Oh, Olina.”

I listened to her heart's farewell. “I'm so sorry. All these years I never told you I love you. I've been stubborn.”

Olina brushed my hair, a matching grey. “Larry, I love you, you know that. And I'm sorry, too.”
“What for? You're the mother of my sons and daughters. Don't apologize.”
“Thing is, I lied,” she sniveled. “About everything. What I did was horrible. But you have to understand that it was a matter of survival.”

I leaned back in my chair. “We're so old, Olina. Does it matter at this point?”

“To me it does.”

“Let it out, then, if you must.”

“I took you from your world, Larry. I programmed you. There's--”

While she continued, I closed my eyes and let our best memories overwhelm what she was admitting.

“--no gods, just me. Nuralia, my world, got wiped out. And I saw what was left, saw what the sun was doing to it, to our galaxy, because...because I was what you would deem an astronaut, and I was in space, assigned with a mission. Repairing a beacon, laying the foundation of a colony. We knew it was coming, just didn't have time. It wasn't supposed to happen so soon. It just...” Her face was a mask of tears.

“Olina--” I rubbed my forehead.

“I was all that was left. When I found your world, your kind who were so similar, I chose you, Larry. And I'm so sorry. There you had a life, a partner.”


“Larry, I'm sorry.” Then we both had to fight the sorrow.

“No,” my hand took hers, “don't. That was another life. I care about you, our children.”

She put the device into my palm, and smiled her last. “Your choice now, Larry.”

I held my children close, watching the waves take the device. “Where's home?”

“Home is here,” they agreed.

- - -
David Edward Nell writes speculative fiction in his limited spare time from Cape Town, South Africa. Visit him at

Thursday, February 14, 2013


By Brent Rankin

It’s amazing that Mankind has learned to travel faster than light. Or so they claimed when I signed on for this project. Sit back and the craft will do the work for you.

“Communicate with us as to what’s going on.”

Physics. Someone should have read the book.

I was catapulted off the surface of the moon in 2022, hitting a g-rate of Mach 40. So fast, in Earth’s gravity, I would have become soup. In space, so fast I could see no stars. The little spots of light were past me before I could become aware.

.”Let us know what you are feeling.” 2120.

I read the tachometer (that’s what THEY called it). 85% up to the speed of light.

“Are you there?”

“Yeah, where else?” 2257.

“How…do you feel?”

Hitting 90% the speed of light, it becomes…quiet. Peaceful.


My Response: “Can you hear me?”

Their Reply: “Yes.. (nothing).

No motion, no movement, no sound. No colors. 97% the speed of light.

Goddamn scientists. They’ve read a book…yeah. If I travel forward at X velocity, and send a message back at –X velocity. Well, X-X = ?

100% speed of light and I’m still traveling. Radio waves travel the speed of light in a

vacuum. I’m going this way, sending messages back that way…

Back and…forth…


The En…

- - -
"It's what writers do."

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Heavy Petting in 2212
By Frank Grigonis

"That's the prettiest one I've ever seen! Can I touch it?" exclaimed the stunning coed as she approached the kiosk.
"Of course," said Manto, admiring her blue eyes and caramel-hued complexion, a popular DNA pairing option in the year 2212. He motioned for her to sit down on the recycled plastic chair next to him.
"This must be the most realistic creature at this science fair," chirped Manta, fixing her blue eyes directly onto his, "Why, it's without a doubt the most realistic bio-bot I've ever seen," she added while stroking its long, sleek, black fur.
"She's not a bio-bot," said Manto, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Oh, she must be a clone then."
"Yes, of a creature that lived before the Great War." He extended his hand to share in the petting.
"She must have cost a fortune," said Manta.
"Fortunately, my father has one of those," said Manto smugly as he let his hand "accidently" brush against hers. Her smile went up a notch.
"Were they all…killed in the war?" she inquired.
"Uh…soon after."
"What do you mean?" asked Manta thoughtfully. Manto’s instincts told him not to elaborate, and when Manta closed her eyes, he knew he didn’t have to be the bearer of bad news to such a beauty because she was accessing her intranet for the answer. Instantly Manta was there, over a hundred years in the past, virtually seeing the mushroom clouds, smelling the burning flesh, touching what felt like her own swollen, blotchy skin. Panoramas of hungry bands of survivors passed before her inner eye, survivors who had no choice but to eat anything they could kill, including each other.
Her face grew more and more pale as she took in as much as she could take, then Manta opened her eyes.
"I understand now," she said, quickly recovering her composure. It wasn't the first horror she had virtually experienced while researching history.
"Even so," she added, "I would hate to be that desperate to even think of…hurting one of these beautiful and valuable creatures."
"They weren’t very valuable then…financially; I mean, people had trouble giving them away sometimes; and, if they couldn’t find homes for them--"
"O—WHAT THE?!" exclaimed Manta, jerking her dainty hand away from the creature.
Manto started to laugh but then stopped himself. "It’s ok. Nothing's wrong," he said in a soothing tone of voice.
"But what's it doing?"
"It’s purring. It means she likes you," said Manto reassuringly.
"Purr…ing," said Manta, savoring the strange word. The creature looked up at Manta and mesmerized her with the beauty of its green eyes, which to her looked eerily like the eyes of a Teddy Bear--an archaic toy she'd once researched on her intranet.
"Will they ever sequence more of these purring creatures?" she inquired.
"I'm sure they will, and, over time, the prices will go down, then—"
"Then maybe I can have one…someday?" she asked.
"Maybe sooner than you think," said Manto, "accidentally" brushing his hand against hers.

- - -
Frank Grigonis would likely be considered just another superfluous bio-unit by the rulers of this aching Earth. He doesn't agree and can be reached at or friended on Facebook:!/frank.grigonis

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