I'm posting the stories here for the
Science Fiction Microstory Contest on LinkedIn. Become a member of LinkedIn
and join the following group and discussion to enter or just kibitz.
Group: Science Fiction readers, writers, collectors, and artists
Discussion: Science Fiction Microstory Contest (December 2012)
Criteria: Must fit in LinkedIn comment, must be 10,000 years in future,
must contain artifact from today's world that shocks future civilization,
and must contain humor.
Contestant Stories: (clickable)
What's Past Stays Past by Sam Bellotto Jr.
First Thaw by Kalifer Deil
'ManAge' Artifact by Richard Brunning
Torrid Canyon by Heather Marie Schuldt
Park Ranger by Thomas Tinney
Unwanted Gift by Jesse Colvin
Time Capsule of 2025 by H. Gurdy
The Restored Earth by Andy Lake
Immortality by Jot Russell
The Excavation Interpretation by Mirjam Maclean
From the Early Times by J. Richard Jacobs
Foot by James DeAcutis
The Path Not Taken by Terry Savage
The 10,000th Annaliese by Paula Friedman
The Krebitzsolarotz Also Rises by Allen Quintana
The Last Supper by Thomas Tinney
Projection by Allen Quintana
Warm and Comfortable by Paula Friedman
What's Past Stays Past © 2012 Sam Bellotto Jr.
First Thaw © 2012 Kalifer Deil
The warmth awakened TH41 a model A13 android. He in-turn awakened the others
in the cave. Some were still frozen and movement was difficult. TH41
announced to the gathering crowd outside the cave, "We have been asleep
for 6,000 years. We only have a two weeks of food left. To be realistic,
I believe we are doomed.
AG79 spoke up from the back of crowd, "Your
negativity stems from your over-bloated brain.
We should get the jumper craft out of the cave and look around."
TH41 was quick to respond, "You are only an A11, you know nothing."
"I know the A13s were a mistake made by the A12s, in turn a mistake made
by the A11s. I'll shoulder the blame. I was one of the A12 designers.
I just thank my guiding star that the A11 bodies were not desired by
the A13s. Anyway, all this is beside the point, we need to get the
jumper out of the cave."
TH41 feigned a hurt expression, "In the A12
consciousness RQ10 is still with me. We were not cannibals. As I was
about to say myself, if we all push together we can get the jumper
out of the cave."
They all went back into the cave and after much
pushing, jerking and jiggling, dislodged the jumper from the ice and
started it moving out of the cave.
AG79 commented, "RQ10 was a female
and you are a male, how handy. Was it worth it since you had to do
extensive body modifications. Of course it was, mental sex anytime you
TH41 ignored the comment. After placing a radio beacon at the
cave entrance, TH41, AG79 and four others boarded the jumper and using
astronomical observations, placed two other beacons at the North and
South poles. "Now we can navigate!" TH41 announced.
"To where?" AG79 puzzled, "The Earth is still covered with Ice except
for a few patches here and there. Wait, there's a small clearing below us;
let's check it out."
TH41 scowled at AG79, "It's just a patch of weeds.
How is that going to help us?"
"I've a hunch. Just humor me."
"Having a hunch is essentially saying I don't know what I'm doing.
This jumper has limited fuel so we have to choose sites wisely."
TH41 was adamant.
"Please set down here and if we find nothing you
can leave me here."
TH41's eyes lit up, "You have a bargain."
They set down in the patch and walked the area, Nothing!
TH41 after an hour, finally said, "I'm leaving, you're staying!"
AG79 looked on as the craft left the area. He then stared hard at
an indentation in a nearby mountain on the edge of the clearing,
then walked over to it to examine it more closely. There was a wall
of rust colored dirt. he started scraping away the dirt to find
metal underneath. This is what he was looking for, a piece of the
forgotten past thought a model A0 fable.
He scraped away more dirt until he was able to discern the sign.
Just then, the jumper returned. TH41 spotted AG79 and shouted down,
"We've come to pick you up! The others won't let me leave you."
AG79 shouted back, "Good thing, I just found the Yucca Mountain
Disposal Site! We'll have enough food for the next 10,000 years!"
The jumper landed and TH41 responded, "Good guiding star! I'm going to
have to listen to you for the next 10,000 years! You're going to be
the android golden boy!"
AG79 smiled, "Did RQ10 allow you to subsume her willingly?"
"You don't understand. There was a shortage of
energy sources, we had no choice. Ask RQ10 if she is okay with this."
"Okay, RQ10 would you like a separate body?"
A high pitched voice came out of TH41's mouth, "I love TH41 and am
happy to be part of him." The response cause the others to laugh
"That sounds like a falsetto TH41 to me," AG79 snickered, "Prove to
me you are RQ10."
TH41 responded, "Oh guiding star, what misery have you led me to?
Two weeks of this I can handle, but 10,000 years?"
'ManAge' Artifact © 2012 Richard Bunning
Carbon Science-Foundation Course, Isis College, Blue Planet.
Silicate life forms have dominated Blue for 10,000 years. Carbon
life-forms would still rule if these creatures hadn't destroyed
themselves, and very nearly our beautiful Blue.
Our year zero was Anno Domini 2090 on hominid calendars. That was
the year in which we broke free from the memory-chip technology of
primates. They were strange creatures, dominated by their crude
reproductive desires. Archaeology has revealed so many exhibits
demonstrating culture focused on sexual reproduction. This makes
us laugh, but remember that they never managed to reproduce themselves
from factory codes; whilst we can do so even from atoms. These
organic creatures had to trust their evolution to whimsical Darwinian
chance. Basically they had to wait for beneficial "malfunctions" in
their coding. We will study the organic code carrier, the gene, in
detail next semester.
We are looking today at one of our most treasured artefacts, this
magnificent organic statue, Adam; the inspiration for so many of
you to enrol on this course. For those that don't know, this particular
specimen was assembled from several unearthed specimens, but I can
assure you that the combination is fully representative of the
species at the end of the "Fossil-Fuel Age". As the old joke goes,
they died-out because, "ManAge man miss-managed".
We had enough good genetic material to back-engineer healthy
organic cells, although ethical rules forbad us from trying to
bring life to a complete being. Rightly so, for who knows what
sort of destructive life could materialise? What Frankensteins
could be built? The old adage that "if something is doable some
scientist will do it" serves as a stark warning. For safety,
each organ was rebuilt in isolation and separately preserved
before organic decay could set in.
It is true that the Army Council Scientists are doing advanced work
with the hominid genomes to creating disposable organic machines, but
that is beyond the accepted scope of a teaching facility like ours.
There is huge theoretical potential in building disposable tools that
when worn out can be recycled as useful organic oils. The damaged
cells in these tools would be capable of a certain degree of self-repair
and some could even be designed to reproduce themselves.
Organic decay is carbon life forms equivalent of "rusting", oxidizing
to be scientifically accurate. These particular organic creatures
required oxygen, which was broken down for energy, the main fuel of
organic life. To us, it is just a dangerous explosive gas, which corrodes
vital circuits. We long-ago removed most oxygen and carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere, now only using them in gas mixes for the organic
vegetation pods. The inert argon atmosphere that our ancestors created
is far better for our silicate physiology. We have all sorts of problems
with material decay without the added complication of oxidization.
Of course we owe our existence to man in all sorts of complex ways.
Organic life-forms are a necessary phase of evolution. God created
universal systems which would develop themselves, evolve. Self-constructing
non-organic intelligence comes quite late in evolution. Perhaps there is
a universe somewhere in which God introduced intelligent silicates from
conception, but we haven't found one. Anyway that is the stuff of the
philosophy course, which many of you're doing. Our intelligence, our
civilisation, was founded by organic minds. We are the direct descendants
of the digital structures man created. Most of our foundation knowledge was
accumulated by man and only stored in silicate switches just prior to
biological Armageddon. We were born of man. For that reason alone we
should show respect. There are many moral and ethical issues to overcome
before we recreate intelligent organic life.
Homework; write a 600 word essay on the moral imperatives in constructing
Torrid Canyon © 2012 H. M. Schuldt
Rayana followed the insidious warden like a lost ghoul, for her time had
come to morph into a new specimen of his choice. What she wanted was the
type of morphing most Harm-humans secretively desired, developing the
skill to overpower the glib warden, Sir Gust.
For thousands and
thousands of years, the planet of Harm circled the sun with short days
and long nights. Millions of moons ago, Rayana heard about a time of
mountains and oceans covering the surface of the planet. The fresh water
had become murky; and there were many canyons that went deep down into
the Harm's crust.
The population had increased on the planet of
Harm since death is hard to come by. The only sure way out was the furnace
at Torrid Canyon. Last month, Roger Red led his group of one hundred
thousand soldiers directly into the bowels of the flaming furnace. Sir Gust
had threatened Red to get rid of the strongest humans. After the furnace
gobbling, fear and anger spread, rising up throughout the land of
Blackjack. One of the rebel rousers, Rayana, was caught in the uprising.
She managed to gather together the Ropers and the Biters, the Hitters
and the Slappers. With her hands tied behind her back, she lashed out.
"They'll come back! Right out of the fire! One hundred thousand
melting humans! They will hunt you down like a rabbit, De Gust, you
It was a repulsive walk she took behind Sir Gust
with her mouth taped shut. Lurid humans sat behind bars turning shades
of brown on both sides of the cave aisle, eyes flaming red with bodies
She stepped up onto the small platform. The process
of being tied to the pole on wheels was slow and painful. Ropes cut deep
in her flesh. She felt nervous and stiff, unable to move, but she managed
to keep breathing. When Sir Gust approached her at the pole, he wafted a
needle much to his satisfaction.
"You won't remember anything good
after I'm through with you." He gave a snort. He ripped the tape from her
"Go ahead. Make me your slave," she said.
"Soon you will be my wolf." He plunged the needle into her arm.
Hot pain fired through her body at once. Her eyes shut. Her head hung down.
Immediately she was rolled away hanging from the pole. The vile
guards pushed the platform out into a large amphitheater, the dirt ground
moist from the canyon humidity. The audience cheered wildly. Iron bars
unlatched a loud screech. A hush came over as footsteps from the vile
guards went running out of the rink.
Rayana opened her eyes,
hearing a loud grunt from the cave. The ground started to shake, a
Harm-quake. The audience screamed. A gnarly beast with two horns charged
out of the darkness. She saw brown fur growing on her arms. The ropes
loosened. Rayana wriggled away from the knots. She jumped off the
platform landing on two feet. She growled and gnashed her teeth.
The peak of the show was reached when the Harm-quake split
the amphitheater in half. Melting Harm-humans climbed up out of the
crack. The stupid beast charged, falling right off the cliff. Rayana
heard a Biter call her name from a fly machine. The audience screamed
trying to get out. Sir Gust escaped.
"Take this, quick!" yelled
the Biter. He tossed her a pill box to stop the final stages of morphing.
"Welcome home. You're a Biter now."
Park Ranger © 2012 Thomas Tinney
Jamal Sinclaire stood on the bridge of the patrol lander reviewing the
geo-sat scans of the planet below him. It was midnight by his chrono but
he was looking down at the sunlit side of the Earth. He was on a slow and
low orbit around the planet and would be for another 5 days, then his
shift would end. He checked the position the New Jamaica HabiSphere
orbiting on the opposite side of the planet from the natural moon.
The HabiSphere was home to the two million citizens of his country.
He lived there.
New Jamaica had broken out of its Mars equivalent solar orbit eight
months earlier to begin its inbound flight and had been on station
for two months. The British HabiSphere was now on its return leg to
solar orbit where it would wait for another 420 years before returning.
Every country's HabiSphere spent two years in orbit before returning
to the allowable closest distance to Earth orbit of fifty million km's.
It had not always been like this. 9500 years ago, people were actually
allowed to walk on planet earth and lived there. Entire cultures and
civilizations flourished, lived and died. That ended in 2075 with the
passage of the Union of Nations "Mother Earth Protection Act". Innocuous
during its passage, the open-ended declarations against "fouling the
Earth" made man made activities tantamount to murder. Eventually the
environmentalist factions were able to force mankind off the planet
and into the HabiSpheres under the premise of preserving the Earth for
future generations. Jamal felt sad. So much room below him and instead
living there, he and his family were in a metal box, breathing recycled
air and eating reconstituted protein mush. You had to follow the law,
Jamal was happy to be on the scout ship for a few days. He could have
been confined with the rest of his people on the HabiSphere under the
watchful eyes of the Order of Goreites Inquisitors, the priests of
environmental law. They made a point of boarding all HabiSpheres on
Earth assignment, preaching words from the New Mother Earth Bible.
They also summarily executed "heathens" that questioned their ideas.
The matter of man's right to live on planet earth had been settled,
as far as they were concerned. Man would only care for, not live on
Mother Earth. Animals and plants were much more important than people.
The Mother Earth Protection Act clearly said that and from the Goreites
operations on the moon, they could destroy anyone who thought otherwise.
As the scout came around the darkened side of the planet, Jamal ran the
comm checks with the landing party. They were on the old island of
Jamaica removing any trace of man from it. Buildings, refuse, vehicles
and anything else man ever built, made or used had to be removed and
vacant space it left "rehabilitated". So said The Order. It would take
three more trips like this, and then New Jamaica would be put on the
New Russia cleanup rotation, never to set foot on their island of origin
"Hey, Jamal, how ya' doin' man?" asked Kincaid.
"Fine. Reading you five by five. Anything to report?"
"Nah, man, just working hard. It's lovely down here. There is so much water
and the air doesn't smell like my uncle Joe," Kincaid replied.
"Don't get too used to it. You know they watch for that kind of talk and
the Gories will pull you if they think you are going to try and go native."
"I know. I'm not. Hey, take it easy, I'll talk to you later," Kincaid said
and the channel went dead.
The next morning, the console alarm was buzzing and woke up Jamal.
He sleepily pressed the stud and spoke, "Sinclaire here. Go."
"This is Grand Inquisitor Boxer. You are to arm yourself and proceed
to Kingston LZ. We have an environmental murderer walking on holy ground.
You will terminate Kevin Kincaid on site."
Being a park ranger sucked.
Unwanted Gift © 2012 Jesse Colvin
Kes glared at HanNam, offended that the Thickskin had the nerve to approach him.
He was exorbitantly ugly, his skin all hard and...crusty on the
outside, Kes imagined the texture be similar to the baked clay on the undomed
lands. "Not everyone was as privileged as you growing up" Kes's PaMa would
say with that fake 'I tolerate all peoples' tone, always the politician.
Kes looked down at the object HanNam was holding up. A Gift?
Kes wasn't going to take a gift from a Thickskin, gifts bound you to the
giver. What is he trying to do? Instinctually suspicious, Kes wanted to
slap HanNam's clawed digits away, but that would mean touching, curse the
Kes shifted uncomfortably. "What is it?" curiosity over-riding
bigotry for a brief moment.
HanNam turned it over in clumsy
toughened hands. It was a small object with a fine metal string.
"I don't know," his voice rumbled deep within his thick throat.
"It's a strange shape," Kes mused, fascinated by the exotic object.
"Sensei Caspin thought you might know what it is."
"You have access to the knowledge ports."
So that was why the Thickskin had sought Kes out. Being the spawn
of the ruling powers was both a blessing and curse, one was expected
to know everything, and Kes loathed to study.
"You think this...thing
is a past relic? Where did you find it?" Kes demanded.
HanNam shrugged suddenly all vague, his words not forming
properly as he stuttered about, talking in circles.
Lying, Thickskins did not have the mind for it, the hard sun had
baked their brains as well as their exterior epidermis.
"There's a hinge, but...I can't open it." Kes stood there as
HanNam went through the painful process of trying to prise open the trinket.
His brown stubby claws sliding uselessly over the smooth metal surface.
Thankfully a solution came to mind. Anything would be better
than watching the awkward creature attempt something that was physically
impossible. "Come with me, and bring...it." Kes led him through the Bazaar,
ignoring the surprised glances from onlookers. Kes tried to take the route
less travelled; leading the creature to his private suite through various
twists and turns. Once inside Kes pointed to the analysis pad. HanNam placed
the object down with gentle reverence.
"Don't tell anyone about this,"
Kes hissed, running a smooth hand over the display and beginning the
diagnostic. Last thing Kes needed was meaning being read into their actions,
especially now that the code had changed. Kes shivered not wanting to think
about the fate of a brother that was now considered dead to much of their
Kes looked down at the display, impatiently tapping manicured
fingernails against metal. " You know that this doesn't mean I like you.
I'm just curious to see what it is, that's all. Don't take this as an
invitation to lance me."
"Is that all you softies think about?"
HanNam had the sense to look offended.
Kes resisted smirking, difficult thing to do, what resulted was a
violent cheek twitch. The codes of behaviour, he can't afford to make a
mistake. Being alone with the revolting hominid was
The display suddenly burst into life, the images disturbed
Kes. "It's called a locket." He said sourly as he picked it up, there was
meant to be pictures inside. When he opened it, he was disappointed to find
there was only sand. Without thinking he shoved it back into HanNam's hands.
"What did you just do?' Kes turned swiftly to face the speaker.
PaMa looked from the display then back to the locket he had given to HanNam.
"Kes, A love gift? Not you too." Kes spluttered in protest but his
PaMa's eyes hardened, "you know the code, you've made your bed now you
have to lie in it." Kes released a shaky breath; strangely he was heartened
by the fact that HanNam looked as terrified as he felt.
The Time Capsule of 2025 © 2012 H. Gurdy
Galactic Ambassador, Mr. William Wordsworth, was frazzled as he blasted along
over the fast lane on the Beltway. He was very concerned. "I'm front-row to the
Time Capsule opening, I'm late, and I'm low on fuel." He powered down his
Chrysler 300, and floated through the main skystream. He headed for an off-ramp
with the lowest methane prices in town. "Aha," he said, seeing a sign. One of
the metha companies had discovered another big dumpfield.
The greenish and blue 300 was lugging, so he lightly lifted a wing, and gravitated
to a station. He eased in next to a pump. While gassing up, he checked out some of
the other gravitons. None were up to his Chrysler. Fatbacks, he thought with scorn.
Cheap pulse colors. Standard gas-fusion units. Wordsworth's grav, however, sported
a sleeper MoPar package. It had a megacharged, hemispherical fusion-warp drive.
Hell, he could do the quarter-AU, in three seconds flat. And, they had to be
envying the pulsing and melding, blue-green of his grav.
Ambassador Wordsworth realized that he was indulging himself with thoughts of his
drag racing days. That was lacking in decorum. So, he sternly swiped his Unitoll,
finished his fueling, and punched it towards the Washington Capitol Dome. He blew
into Park 'n' Sky, and settled the 300 into its reserved space. He grasped his
top hat, and stepped through the Chrysler's gull-winged canopy into the brisk
northeast wind. His greatcoat wrapped elegantly about him, as he proceeded to
the ceremony. He recognized Universal Senator, Mr. James Peabody. They waved
to each other. Then, both diplomats proceeded towards the podium. Other dignitaries
stepped aside, as both diplomats were famous. They were of a few, chosen for the
honor of being first to examine one item from the Capsule.
The President spoke of the achievement represented by the 10,000 year-old Time Capsule.
Her speech was short, and ended when she brought forth a ring of four golden keys.
She stepped from the podium, and fitted each old-fashioned key into the bronze
oval -which adorned the marble before both Houses of Congress. The cover was
removed with veneration. Senator Peabody was handed an airtight package which
contained a square object. The object was composed of smaller colored squares.
It was identified as a Rubic Cube. Ambassador Wordsworth was given an archaic
knowledge disc, identified as a DVD, and which included a player and view screen
from 2025. A label on the ancient DVD declared: "War of the Worlds." Circa 1952.
The diplomats returned to their seats. The Universal Senator opened his treasure,
and began examining it. Ambassador Wordsworth, with awe and respect, took out
the DVD, and slipped it into its player as instructed. Senator Peabody stopped
playing with the Rubic device, and also began observing the 10,000 year-old moving
picture. The two colleagues watched as giant flaming spheres crashed into Earth.
They were silent, as the hatch cover in a red-hot globe screwed open. Their
eyelids opened wide, as a weapons apparatus appeared from the top of a graviton-like
vehicle. They sat back in their seats as the blunt-winged, Martian war machines
began to hover forward, spewing death rays of cosmic flame--which disintegrated
every object in their path. Ambassador Wordsworth was dumbfounded, by the pulsing
blue and green of the Martian warships. Both dignitaries shook their heads with
Universal Senator, Mr. James Peabody, reached out a long reddish arm, and put a
suckered finger to the pause button. He turned to his countryman, and winked one
of his three multi-colored eyes. "Not bad, eh?"
Galactic Ambassador to America, Mr. William Wordsworth, was still in a state of
shock. "No. Not bad at all," the Martian managed to agree, as he clasped twelve
fingers in his lap.
The Restored Earth © 2012 Andy Lake
A second Eden, a demi-paradise, blessed and majestic: the blue
planet turning in the dark field of space. It was why they had come.
Eighteen of the largest ships I had ever seen had halted on the
perimeter. I considered the data from the scans, from the Consciousness
that had tracked the interlopers on their inward journey. Nearly
200,000 inhabitants on the ships. Technology at least the equal of
anything we possess. And weaponry not beyond our capability, but beyond
And they were us - but not Us. Humanity:
advanced, evolved, but not Augmented Humanity like ourselves. Barely a
Kurzweil of consciousness between the 200,000 of them. Yet they had
crossed half the Galaxy, and they were here. Armed to the teeth, but
The Council of Augmented Humanity, always in session, elevated
our processing to the highest and most inclusive levels. Since the last
humans - both Augmented and Raw, had left the Earth 8,000 Earth years
ago, the Purity of Earth had been restored. We had shaped our lives in
the spaces around her, occupying the vast wastes in our founding solar
system and beyond. But never again would a human set foot, in physical
form, on the Earth.
Raw Humanity, those who did not become Us, migrated to the stars
beyond. We provided them with the means. With the technology which, in
their foolishness, they wished to manage separately from their physical
We are speaking with Carsten Johansen, who calls
himself their ambassador. Speaking is hard for us now. Not physically,
but when you are used to rapid exchanges of thought measured in
microseconds, to pursue a conversation with non-augmented humans is
'We wish to go home,' says Johansen. 'At least to see the Earth,
our home. Over 8000 years we have travelled the Galaxy, settling where we
can. Those of us who are here now want to return to the world that is at
the heart of our civilisation, our stories and legends. We wish to
visit - and some of us, to stay.'
After a pause for dialogue with the Council, I replied. 'I am sorry. It is
not permitted. The Earth must retain her Purity. It is a fundamental tenet
we can never violate, after all we are responsible for in distant
'It is our home. We will go -'
'We will help you to see the Earth - as we do. In virtual form,
but it will feel more than real. We will share all we know, and you can
take away this knowledge. You can recreate Her benefits in other worlds.
Remember our common Humanity, and respect the mission we have: to restore
and preserve what once we destroyed.'
We could sense the menace from Raw Humanity. But what to do?
Over 8000 years we had through our growing Consciousness and immense
technological abilities overcome many challenges, achieved myriad
great things. But we had not faced such a crisis. Our powers of judgement
were not prepared for this uncertainty.
When their ships
began to move, their computers had already infiltrated and neutralised
our systems. Worse, they disrupted our Consciousness, leaving us helpless
as babies, more raw than Raw Humanity without control of our Augmented
But Johansen left intact our planetary maintenance systems.
Through these I could watch as the ships arrived and the first of Raw
Humanity sullied the Earth. How they exulted in the lush and ancient
paradise we had restored and tended so carefully.
They began to unload containers of equipment from the small
craft that had brought them down, and unpack all kinds of unfamiliar
equipment from them.
Johansen seemed surprised when I hailed him.'You're calling
to welcome us home, right?' A big smile spread across his face.
The anxiety of all of us was in my voice, 'What are you doing, Johansen?
What are you unloading?'
'Want to join us? It's just some cooking kit.
We're going to have us a barbecue!'
Then we heard several loud bangs,
and shouting and laughter from the Raw Humans. Our sensors reported the
termination of one deer and several birds.
Johansen grinned broadly,
smiling across the aeons at us. "We're back!"
Immortality © 2012 Jot Russell
The caldera at Yellowstone might have helped to make this a dark, frost
covered world, but I fear that am to blame for the cold that started
within us long before. At the time of my youth, heat built up in the
atmosphere and eventually led to the rise of the oceans. While others
struggled to reverse the effects of climate change, I was working on
my thesis in genetics. By enabling a method within our own reproductive
systems, I unlocked the key that Adam had lost. Immortal status granted
to the masses from the likes of decease and self abuse. A new utopian
joy for all to share that spelled a decade of lavish parties, sex and
My wife and I had run the numbers, knowing it couldn't last. With
population exploding and the land slowly being swallowed by the sea,
we stock-piled reserves and built our home into a fortress. By the
end of the decade, violent uprising killed billions and destroyed the
governments of man. When the dust settled, lords defined their territories
and struggled to hold them. By the end of the century, the cure that
everyone had sought slowly drained their natural ability to procreate.
By the end of the millennium, sex was a forgotten practice. After ten,
love was a lost word.
The present persistent cold destroyed the spring and any joy of change.
I realized our lives before the eruption was a stagnant constant that
endured time. Soft spoken words with neither humor nor flavor. But now,
without nature's blossom, we had lost that remaining purpose. Like a part
of your soul that is torn away. It reminded me that I had lost much
more than just flowers so long ago. My daughter, taken by the unruly mob.
It was now my ten-thousandth birthday and I wished it to be my last. But
we are animals of habit, knowing only to continue the perpetual life that
continues within us.
My wife came in and handed me a present. "Happy birthday!"
"Thanks! But I'm not sure there is such a thing anymore. Birth represents
something new, like a seed that grows into a flower."
Providing no argument, she leaned closer and gave me a strange look.
"Is that? Quick, look in the mirror."
I followed her over and gazed at the reflection. There, within my black
hair was a single strain of gray. It was like a relic from the past; a
time when it would have been taken as a curse. I saw it only as hope.
The feeling triggered a surge of warmth through my body. The senses I
didn't realize were stifled suddenly came to life. With my wife's face
so close to mine, her scent burned into my nostrils. I grabbed her head
and kissed lips, devouring the juice that exploded in her mouth. I set my
lips and body against the rest of her, enjoying each moment of what I
deemed my rebirth. Our rebirth!
By my next birthday, nature's spring had returned to more than just the
Earth, but humanity. With the expiration of our immortality, a life of
laughter, joy and love was restored. I held my baby daughter and smiled
at her beautiful face.
My wife joined us on the couch with another present. "Happy birthday!"
"Thanks, but I think you already gave me the best gift of all."
"So, you're not going to open it?"
With my hands full I asked, "Perhaps you can help me?"
She smiled and lifted the lid. There within the box was an ancient bottle
of Grecian-Formula hair treatment.
The Excavation Interpretation © 2012 Mirjam Maclean
Brasilia grinned when the deep-soil reader began flashing to indicate it had
located the site of the ancient castle. "I told you it was here,"
Manilia nodded. She had known from the start where to look. Of all the
places that may have been inhabited on this cold and frozen planet, this
was the only site known where the Homo saponians that had ruled Gaia
during the period directly preceding the Ice Age, had developed some
measure of intellect before their civilization had succumbed to the
Brasilia pulsed in the code for the excavator to begin removing the top
layers of soil and permafrost from the ancient castle, for Wellingtonia,
here as a specialist in gaio-naturology, to sample the turned over soil
with her fingers and diagnose the components. "All carbon-based,"
she reported after reflecting inwards. "Their telekinetic properties
did not come from natural components."
The team watched as the excavator picked up smaller and smaller
scoops of soil from the recently melted surface and began handing the
scientists those objects that did not register as ordinary Gaian soil
components and needed the eyes of a real human to determine what it was.
Tripolinia, the expert in mind-energy, accepted a round stick, as tall
as she was that had countless thinner twigs bound to one side of it.
If stood upright the twigs reached above their heads. She signalled to
her audience: "This is what they called 'broomstick'. This they
controlled with their mind to go flying."
"But how?" Wellingtonia wanted to know. "How could a species like the
saponians that did not have the sense to keep their planet clean,
evelop such a power of the mind, while they still relied so heavily on
natural resources to feed their mental cavity with glucose?"
Manilia spread her hands to signal she did not know either. Being a
classical historian, all she knew was that this site, on one of the
newly emerged islands in the Grand Gaian Ocean, was a sacred place,
since they had found references to it all over the planet on bits of
preserved petroleum-based manuscript.
This expedition was here to uncover the sacred castle and find the
evidence of the magic of the saponians. The bits of manuscript were
the only indication of the saponians having had the ability to record
information. There were some scientists who believed that the countless
silicon discs they had discovered all over the planet may have once
contained information, but nobody really believed the saponians to have
had the ability for mass storage.
The descriptions, which had taken a few hundred years to decipher,
spoke clearly of only some specially gifted youngsters being able to
enter the institution that kept their skills alive. All the other
saponians had most likely only had the chance to read about it.
"But how did they program that 'broomstick' to overcome gravity?"
"They used incantations," Manilia answered. "Incantations are words
made by sounds that use wind coming through the mouth. It was sound
that allowed the magic to happen; it was sound that made them fly."
"But if sound is that powerful, why did they go extinct?"
"Evolution," Brasilia explained. "It appears that the cavity the saponians
had on either side of their head was for making sense of the sounds,
but as they polluted Gaian soil with debris, so they polluted Gaian
air with too much useless sound, until they lost their ability to listen."
"That is why the only logical explanation for their demise is that they
could no longer use the incantations that sustained their species,"
Manilia added. "This here site was the last place they practiced and
taught their craft." She showed them the artist's impression drawn
from the deciphered ancient text, and carefully ran her finger over
the ciphers that spelled the sacred name: Hogwarts.
From the Early Times © 2012 J. Richard Jacobs
"No way I'm goin' down there," Largot said.
"Why not? Went down there last period. Didn't hurt me none," Persh said.
"You did? Nobody told me any ordinaries had been in the hole after the elders'
"Yeah. And I'm not the only one. Go on, have a look."
"Anyone know why they're bein' so quiet?"
With that, Largot slipped the leather thong on the end of his club over his
head and let the large piece of a tree dangle at his side.
He looked again at Persh. His expression remained serious.
That gave Largot courage.
"No funnin', right?"
Largot latched onto the knotted rope leading into the blackness of the hole
and began the long descent into darkness. When his feet touched the floor of
the cave, he gave a sharp pull on the rope to signal that Persh could begin
his climb down.
Persh brought a fire pot down with him and kindled one of the torches piled
near the cavern's entrance. Orange light played against the walls in cadence
with the sputtering torch, casting dancing shadows around them. Largot shivered. His muscles tensed.
"Good," Persh said. "You grab one of them torches, too, just in case this
one goes out."
They cautiously worked their way into the passage leading away from the shaft
toward a large, rock wall. There was a door in the wall, but nothing like
Largot had ever seen. It was shiny and as smooth as the glass in the bottoms
of some of the craters. Not quite halfway up from the floor there was a handle.
"This is new. Last time I was here they'd only dug out part of the wall.
Wanna see what's on the other side?"
"Are you sure that's a good idea?"
"We've come this far, haven't we?"
"I guess, but we don't know what's in there. Could be dangerous."
"You worry too much. Won't know nothin' if we don't look."
Persh reached out with his free hand and tugged on the handle. The door moved
slowly, reluctantly over the dust and rock on the floor. Hinges screamed out
protest. Once the door was completely opened, Persh pushed the torch through
the opening. Inside was an immense room filled with metal boxes, cords
snaking around on a polished floor covered with a layer of undisturbed dust
and the skeletal remains of several individuals.
"Hey, looky here. We're the first, Largot. No footprints. Come on."
They moved carefully through the jumble of remains, boxes and large cords
toward the far end of the room. Largot lit his torch for more light. The air
was stale, cold and smelled of something he couldn't identify. Pungent. Sharp.
Like the water in Copper Lake.
"Lots of this stuff looks like what the priests say people of the early times
had. Magic stuff. Thousands of years ago stuff. Wonder if any of it works?"
Persh said, reaching down and picking up a device from the floor.
"What's that thing?"
"Dunno. Looks like a hand mallet, only it's made out of metal and it's
handle's crooked. See?"
Persh held out the artifact.
"So, what is it, Persh?"
"Why ask me stuff like that? It's from the early times. Magic stuff.
How'm I s'posed to know?"
"Lemme see it," Largot said.
Persh handed Largot the device. Largot balanced his torch in a notch
between two boxes lining the wall. He rolled the thing around in his hands.
It fit comfortably in his hand only one way and that didn't match with
it being a mallet. Inside a small ring there was a curved lever of some sort.
He put his finger through the ring and suddenly it felt right in his hand,
as if it had been made to be held that way. He pulled against the lever.
The flash blinded him and the sound of the shot caused his ears to hum.
Persh collapsed. He lay twitching on the floor, blood flowing from a
large hole in his chest.
Foot © 2012 James DeAcutis
Dr Grrrzx picked at his nutrigoo injector and pondered the situation.
As the head of the antiquities dept of Pixar University (a division of
Unicorp) he was no longer just a scientist but the boss and he had troubles
to deal with that even his learned mind could scarcely fix. For the last
1800 years the earth had yielded precisely 437 ancient things with which
to put in Lookhouses and earn money to keep programs like his going. The
last great find was 12 years ago when a fossilized "Wish-sandwich" was
found in Schrute Caverns in Old Pennsohio.
"Argh" he dropped the descriptor tablet and rubbed his eyes.
"Can I get you some mellow-mist dr?" his RoCoHo "Wikr" asked.
"What is wrong dr?"
"Ahhh I composed the Multi-phase Antiloop Conjecture and even balance my
checkbook but I can't figure out how we can keep going. The grants will
expire and there's just no money. There's just no more new old stuff"
"I see dr"
"I know you do Wikr"
"Would you like some Jujuice Dr?"
Then a buzz from the Audovox "DR GRRRZX?!?"
"Yes Bob. Is that y...?"
"DR! WE FINALLY found one!"
"Sir! At the Attenborough Dig! A Pedisheath!"
He gulped"Did you say a...?"
"Yes sir a Pedisheat!h"
"Dear Lord!" His voice choked as he took it in. "You know what this means?"
"Yes! I know! It is amazing!"
"Yes! Tell me what you..."
"We found it seventy feet down and, hahaha"
"Why are you laughing?!" Grrrzx said anxiously.
"Sorry sir. Just...you know..."feet" and all."
"Ah yes! So we found the specimen way down and we estimate it to be eight
thousand years old! Back when we had a need for them as you'd imagine!
It's like a missing link!"
The radio began to crackle and communication faded.
"Bob?! Are you still there? Can you he..."
"Yes! Tell me more!"
"We have it in a thermo-vac. It's safe sir! It's a dried skin-like material
in the shape of what they looked like with remnants of straps that must
have wrapped around. It's so odd looking but I imagine it must have been
"Yes! I can't wait to see it! This may save us Bob!"
"Yes sir! I'll bring it right in!"
He rubbed his hands happily and danced a jig. He hovered over to the Compi
and brought up the HSTR to research what his team had found. It had been
nearly 3500 years since humans had anything below their pelvis' other than
reproductive and waste organs. There were images of limbs at one time but
the thought of finding proof!
Grrrzx waited anxiously and dreamed of the glory and the CROWDS! Then the
outer shield yielded and Bob entered the lobby and was announced.
'Bob! Old boy." He said barely able to contain his glee or his hoverdisc
that bounced him happily across the room. "What have you for me?"
Bob didn't look as happy as his boss thought he should.
"What is it?"
"Where is it?"
"Well" Bob floated over with a rumpled plastic envelope with some brown
stuff in it.
"The lads were so excited sir"
"And they all imagined what a foot must have looked like."
"And they...um all wanted to touch it and..."
He handed the envelope to the professor who opened it and poured out the
rotting bits of ancient leather onto the lighttable.
I'm so sorry"
The professor huffed and shook his head and wanted to cry.
"I wish I had a foot."
Bob looked confused. "Why's that sir?"
"Because if I did." He started. "I'd kick you in the ASS with it!"
Bob stammered. "You would sir?!"
"Yes! I would!"
There was a pause. Then, as the professor put his head in his hands Bob asked,
"What's an ass sir?"
"You are Bob...you are"
The Path Not Taken © 2012 Terry C Savage
December 11th, 12012 AD
Amanda Jackson slowly strolled along the elaborate gardens on the grounds of
the Ancient Imperial Service HQ on Earth. Millennia ago, this had been the
Earth Space Force Academy, but that was ancient history. The assimilation of
Earth into the Empire was very old news indeed.
Amanda had no idea why Curt Duma, the Defense Minister, had asked to meet
with her, but he had a twinkle in his eye when he called, and she was
intrigued. Duma was usually so serious, which meant this was something
different. Amanda walked up the marble steps to Duma's open-air office,
and sat down in the chair in front of him. He was grinning from ear to ear!
He was also holding up a shiny metal cylinder, about 2" thick, and 10" long.
"Well," Amanda said, "that certainly looks phallic."
"It is," Curt replied, still grinning. "Your father and my father conspired
to hide this in the Oort cloud almost 10,000 years ago. I don't know how
they hid the alert message for so long, but the location of
this...object...showed up on my screen this morning. So, we went and got it.
As soon as we brought it back to Earth, another message appeared on my screen,
with no identifiable source, signed by the two of them. It said that this
contains human DNA from the best and the brightest people at the time. The
idea was, that if humans got totally subsumed into the other Empirical
species, we could use this to restart the line. But there was a catch."
"Oh?" Amanda asked, "What was that?"
"It's just the raw DNA strands," Curt answered. "There are no nutrients
around them at all."
"So in other words," Amanda concluded, "the yolk would be on us..."
The 10,000 Annaliese © 2012 Paula Friedman
The 10,000th Annaliese, Who Is the Girl Child Ilse, Savior of Our Generations
After the Second Birthing, Hallowed Be the Name
I recognize upon entering, now as in any other year of my tenance (called
peni-tenance), the overriding odor of the cave. This, after all, being
ever our peni-cavern, our Saving cave. Forever be the Saving, through
the blessed Caving of our small one, our Savior who Saves.
"Out of our morbidous, decimous, terror-borne female births, one--each year,
one and one only--is born our Annaliese, who on her sixth year becomes the
Child Ilse"--this I have known since first they brought me for an acolyte,
named LameFoot of Our Cavern, "he who waits upon the Annaliese-become-Ilse,
girl child, Savior of our generations since Earth's Second Birthing in the
Sorrowed Learning of the Blastime Days.
Dampness drenches the crevices in the cavern walls. Moss and fungi hang.
Darkness is the winding essence, cave like wombing; distant are the torches.
Night unending here. I walk remembering--as each year in this my tenance,
peni-tenance for my thought "UnSaved is freedom"; I walk and I repeat each
word of rite, each remembrance that tomorrow, like that Final Morrow of
each year's Dark Solstice Turning, I shall sing. Shall sing beside our
Savior, help her frail small steps, to New Year's birth. That time may
never again bring Second Birthing.
No, never! Not for we who will remember. Not for we who make, each year, Our
Sacrifice. Not for we who Lockit, from birth, each Annaliese that she become
our Ilse, Savior of the generations, bearing the golden-folded Stone of
Purple in the Ancient Metal Lockit on her neck to glorify her days ("which
are but nights") with Purple Light. With Glory Light from Earth's Second
Birth, the Hallow that has made our world to glow with memories that teach
us Peace and Right.
And here before me she lies. Our Annaliese-to-Be-Our-Ilse. I part the moss
that curtains her, crawl on my knees past Silver thistles, all with Copper
wrought around, to Her gilded bed. "Our girl child Ilse," I whisper, to this
Annaliese now turned six. "Dear Ilse," I say, as each year I say, and stroke
her cheek, "Beloved of our people, Glory of our generations, you who Save us."
Shakily, with one finger, I touch her fevered brow. "Pray for us, now in your
Hour. Child, hallowed be."
Only--I wipe my sweating hand on my muddy robe of white--today this child does
not lie still, in silence lost to pain or terror's moans. Instead, she turns
eyes, weak yet glowing, to mine. "Who are you? Why--?" she asks. Her voice
unpracticed. "And what"--a tiny laugh, sweet lips curved up, comes
bubbling--"what can mean 'outside'?" The tremory smile, aware the word's a
joke, a joke, "There cannot be 'outside.'"
I laugh right back. For how can anyone, since Purple Blast of Right know
what can mean "outside"?
And so this time I make no stroke nor cut; I simply hold the Girl Child
Ilse, Savior of Our Generations, as she lies aglow, the Purple lockit to
her neck, reminder there must never be a second Second Birth. I hold her,
even in absorbence of the Purple light, and stroke her cheek and murmur,
"Child, it will not hurt you;, it will bring you peace and stillness though
not life," and long to take her fear into myself. I rock her fevered form
as we wait now this New Year's 10,000th Saving from the Second Birth, and
I shelter her, agleam in Purple Darkness--our Anneliese grown to Girl Child
Ilse, who has only lived for Sacrifice.
The Krebitzsolarotz Also Rises © 2012 Allen Quintana
"GLARGLEFREEB!?!" stammered Blatinatzerstingadopholus. "What kind of
a name is that?"
"Well, it's short for Glargletrakinoidikrotzablatisfreebletwootz." Glarglefreeb
stomped his/her podia and hissed. "Blame my petrie. Not one imaginative
cartilage in their body."
"Can't argue with that," agreed Blatinatzerstingadopholus. "Anyones with
that common a name like yours probably have an inferiority complex."
"Tell us about it," puffed Glarglefreeb, "We and the 1.2 trillion more with
the same dull name." Mumbling, "Should have changed it when we turned 380."
"Anyway," Glarglefreeb's friends said, "just what were you doing?"
"Observing the krebitzsolarotz spots."
"Can we call you 'Blatz'?"
"Why not? Too small to spell--like 'Glarg--"
"We were viewing the krebitzsolarotz spots and found an anomaly."
"Anomaly?" Blatz asked.
"Almost missed it; we caught it on the corner of our stalk."
"We noticed your stalks were a little red," Blatz relayed. "Sure you don't need a new
"Not to worry. Good for another century."
"'Come before you know it."
"As we were saying...," Glarglefreeb flatulated, "we were discussing the spots."
"Go on," Blatz fumed.
"We noticed the krebitzsolarotz spots during the broken ring."
The 'broken ring' that Glarglefreeb explained is when the yellow disc of the
krebitzsolarotz aligns with the large ring of dust and rocks that encircle the planet.
Every now and then when the star, ring, and world line up, the planet's shadow eclipses
a portion of the ring, making a piece of it invisible, hence, a broken ring.
It was estimated the amount of rubble contained in the ring around Gaia was enough
to make it a fair-sized moon, but archives were sketchy before the last five millennia.
"You were looking at spots and not the broken ring?" Blatz asked.
"We were on the lit side of Gaia then,"Glarglefreeb explained, "measuring rubble sizes
across the face of the star, and then noticed the spots."
"So was there something odd about the krebitzsolarotz spots?"
"No, the spots were fine."
Blatz flushed a frustrated blue. "We can never get a straight answer from you, for
frabbing out loud! Erosion moves faster than you. Out with it."
"We found something floating in the ring," he/she said. "Something not natural."
"Oh, right," Blatz fussed, "'Something not natural', my punisumukakakashunk!"
"Now's not the time to discuss your shortcomings," Glarglefreeb aired, which at any other
time, would have been a great one-liner.
"You gonna make jokes about my punis--"
"It's not natural," Glarglefreeb said. "We sent a probe to inspect it."
"What is it?" Blatz asked, forgetting the insult.
"It looks like a derelict. Possibly a space station."
"What's it doing in the ring?" Blatz queried.
"Don't know, but probe analysis points to it being in orbit long before the ring's formation.
Possibly 10,000 revolutions."
"It takes two to know two."
"Fine," said Blatinatzerstingadopholus, "Anything inside?"
Glarglefreeb took a breath. "We believe it caused the ring."
"What are you saying that the thing is armed?" He/she couldn't fathom it.
"Our probe may have activated someth--"
A second krebitzsolarotz appeared in the sky for an instant, then fade.
"Oh, petrie," gasped Glargletrakinoidikrotzablatisfreebletwootz, "Look at that."
"And I just bought a membership to 'Gourmet Slug Recipes'."
They stomped their podia as the ring started to break up for real, watching rubble head their way.
"Well," said Blatz, "Glarglefreeb?"
Raising the Head on Vortex Island © 2012 Ian Tetrault
Time; Year 12012 D-day plus ten minutes. The Allies turned the tables on aliens invading
Middle Earth. They were storming the alien beaches, at the border of the alien home world.
Orcson Orc, the cook, rode in the back of the landing craft. He had friends among the combat
troops and was nervous for them. They kept passing boats hung up on giant spikes aliens had
put in the freezing ocean. Wreckage and floating bodies were everywhere. Despite this, the g
uys were all raring to go. Some were brave; others just nuts. Many were orcs like him but there
were elves, dwarfs, a troll and other things, like Marlox the Beorning.
Men were not included in the assault. They were too vulnerable to chest bursters and acid
blood. Orcs could tolerate acid blood, and even brewed spicy liquor from it. Trolls were
fully resistant to chest bursters. They could pull them out though their own noses with a
special hook kept on their belt, next to the can opener. They'd roll up the chest burster,
smoke it like a cigar.
Orcson had not planned to be in the first wave of attackers. He was a lover (of food), not
a fighter. Once the tough guys in the combat squad had secured the beach at the base of the
volcano he would join them with his pots and jars of spices.
Orcson had but one weapon ,his can of extra fiery hot peppers.
Whitey the elf unbuckled his sword and held it out.
"Here, take this sword. Its name in the high elf tongue is "Yrkkriss" which means, ah,
'Orc-Slayer' or something to that effect. It glows when orcs are around."
Orcson took the handle and pulled the engraved blade an inch from its sheath.
Proximity to Orcson made Yrkkriss glow blue along its sharp edges. "Well, there are
plenty of times I want to kill orcs, like my annoying uncle Fred." He slid the blade
back, and buckled it around his waist.
It was a splendid gift. Words of thanks were in order, in case he died and couldn't do
it later. "The glow will be handy if I lose it at night, or my flashlight batteries are dead.
Something flew overhead, moving very fast. It was a formation of wizards wearing rings
of power, riding giant eagles
The wizards became dots on the horizon. There was a flash, and a ball of fire like a
miniature sun. It consumed the alien hive.Spreading over the explosion loomed the giant
mushroom cloud which would haunt his dreams for years.
Orcson stared at the cloud rising over the vaporized Alien HQ. "War's over, I guess.
Too bad they forged another set of rings. Must be the secret weapon we've heard about."
Whitey rummaged in the grenade pouch where he kept his pipe. The look on his face
suggested he didn't care much for rings of power either.
Orcson unbuckled Yrkkriss. He brought it to Whitey. "Thanks for lending me your sword.
It might be broken."
Whitey took it and stood there. Orcson felt he needed to add "The blade doesn't glow
anymore. Too bad, it was a cool feature."
Whitey slid the gleaming blade an inch out of the scabbard and examined it. There was no
blue glow. He slid it back and sighed. "I guess it likes orcs now. The sword belongs to you."
He handed it to Orcson. "The blade will glow when enemies are near. But we're all friends here."
The squad clustered excitedly around Orcson. "Hey Orcson", said Marlox, "you need to give
Yrkkriss a new name. "'Orc Slayer' might upset your mom."
Joezulla raised his hand "I vote for 'Chop-a-saurus Rex'. That has a nice ring."
Orcson nodded. "It does indeed Joe, and I'd call it that, except I already chose a name.
He swept his sword out and held it aloft. Sunlight from that island between worlds blazed
off the edge.
"Henceforth you shall be called-ARTIFACT!"
And that is how the legendary sword 'ARTIFACT' came unto the halls of Orcson Orc; goblin
king under the Misty mountains.
The Last Supper © 2012 Thomas Tinney
"Yes, I will have the backroom special," Flirtus Charum told the impetuous server.
He had come to this restaurant specifically. He, like many other connoisseurs, knew its
reputation for strange and one of a kind delicacies.
"Will you be having the native wine with the meal?" the waiter asked.
"Yes, of course," Flirtus replied. This was getting tedious.
"And would you like the local fare sauce to cover the entre or as a separate side?"
"What have the previous diners done?" Flirtus asked.
"Well, Sir, it's been a mix, but most seem to prefer the sauce over the entre, leaving
it to the Chef to cover it with the proper amount to enhance the flavor."
"Fine, fine," Flirtus replied, "covered then."
"As you know sir," the waiter said leaning in close and lowering his voice, "there will
be a premium for that dish. It's the last serving tonight. Actually, it's the last serving
ever, with the species now being extinct. We were just lucky enough to spot the raw
carcass at the market." The waiter quickly looked over his shoulder.
"I expected as much. You can put a charge against my account," Flirtus replied.
"Oh, that's not wise,sir," the watier responded. "Traceabale, that. We would need a
transfer in gold. Twelve bars to be exact."
Flirtus dropped his hors d'oeuvres into his wineglass. "Twelve bars?" He could buy a
star cruiser with three bars. He felt his temper coming on, the businessman in him
telling him to walk away, but the curious palate of a fine diner took control and he
nodded, agreeing to the price.
"My ship is docked in the main station ring. Pier forty two," Flirtus said as he tapped
out a message on his comm unit to the captain of his private yacht. "The captain will
have the payment at the cargo door in ten minutes."
"Very good, sir, I will let the Chef know that the special is yours. Please, enjoy this
bottle of Napoleonic brandy on the house."
Flirtus felt the wave of anxiety leave him over the cost of a single meal, but the 9500
year old brandy recently dug from a preservation vault under old New York should take the
edge off the price.
He waited another thirty minutes and the waiter came to his table, drawing a curtain,
separating him from the view of the other diners. "Dinner, sir, is served."
Flirtus watched as the covered silver serving dish was brought in. The platter was a good
two arms lengths in size, which meant the entire animal was being brought to him. For him
alone. He salivated at the prospect of the unique dining experience.
"Sir, please prepare for the most unique and individual dining experience in the galaxy.
A one of a kind. prepared by our renowned chef to satisfy even the most discerning palate.
I present to you a medium rare specimen covered in mushroom champagne sauce, stuffed with
native citrus fruits. Enjoy this meal, the last of its kind. No other diner will be able
to say that they ate the last human being in the universe."
Flirtus dug in and savored the meal. In the end, even though it was a unique experience,
he had to admit, that human tasted like chicken.
Projection © 2012 Allen Quintana
The seasons flew by like the forest's leaves whipped in a gust, green in spring, or dry
and dead-brown in summer, or dew-glazed and matchless from one leaf to another in autumn's
infinite shades, or its bare twigs, limned in winter's dust, their unappreciated icy
designs knew no end.
The forest remained untouched and left alone, save for the four seasons, and the two friends.
The two boys had been men four times over and then some since their first encounter.
They had grown.
They had played and worked and vowed, fathered and grandfathered. When they used to run,
they chose to walk, then took it slower which was just fine for them now.
Their jobs, other friends, enemies, and old family members came and went. Their sons and
daughters from birth to play to work to careers, from happy to sad, light or dark,
happened, too. Their kids had their own lives to live with spouses and sons and daughters
of their own and followed the cycle of seasons.
Briefcases and bag lunches that came to the office with the two old chums were retired as
well. Now that that was done, they had more time for the rake in the yard or to putt a
golf ball around. More and more they relied on wisdom, many years-bred and so much greater
in knowledge than their old academics--thimble-like by comparison now--their schooling fell
to the footnotes in the chapters of their lives. They had grown even more.
It had grown on them as it always had--one couple at a time--and home they came with their
wives to spend the rest of their days.
"How long are you going to keep looking at that?" he asked.
"As long as I remember," his friend said.
"It's extinct; gone."
"Doesn't say much about us, does it?"
The two stared at the last whisps of photons as they faded in the dome's apex. Beyond it
a sphere, once teeming with billions, hung in the blackness of space, as black and lifeless
as the space around it.
The word hung there as the black orb did beyond.
Warm and Comfortable © 2012 Paula Friedman
"They ate animals, didn't they?" Mo yawned as he muttered, and stretched.
It was warm in the cave. Languidly, Sylvie curled up against his side. "My budsie," she purred.
He rubbed her cheek and yawned again. "Here, another?" he asked, holding up the last of the bones.
And hoping they were still safe to eat. Must've been lying here a good 10,000 Sol-go-rounds.
All the flesh was long dissolved. And the--whatever those were, pieces of softness those Revered
Ancestors once wore. Lordie, how big they had been! It was a mystery, another of the Once-ly
puzzles. "In those days, we might live in tall palatial rooms of brick and wood and gilded
chrome, but oh our minds were but as those of all those tiny, crawly, flying things we ate."
He knew the rote well, Mo congratulated himself, scratching an itch on his neck. This cave was
too old, and yet hard to leave: of the ancient bones there were many and plentiful, and farther
in was that freezing space where, after clawing away some small patch of the ice, one might feast
on both great lumps of flesh and the squared ancient blocks, full of strange tastes, that must
have served these Revered Ones for food. Food of bird flesh, fishes, and all those other sacred
tiny animals a sporting consciousness would never deign to taste. Again Mo yawned.
Stretching again, he stood and padded back into the cold depths of their cave.
As he stepped across the splintery, long-rotted threshold to the ice room, something pressed
into the soft flesh of his foot, something slippery and hard; he jerked away. And watched it roll,
small and somehow slick, into one of those Ancestor-made corners, and stop. He leaped to grasp it.
Frozen, this too, but different from any he had seen. He squeezed it, tore at the shiny
cylinder, futilely, using teeth as well, tried to pull away the flatter sides. No odor came
from it, no taste on those shiny surfaces at all. And only the shredded bits of something,
far thinner and slighter yet reminiscent of the outside surface coating of those ancient blocks
of tasty food, could be nibbled off. They were black upon red, these shreds, something horrific
And under it all, now at last a smell--as of innards of tiny and sacrificed fish. Mo backed
away, gagging, spitting them out.
"Hmmm?" Sylvie, half-awakened, padded up beside him. Together, they stared at the shreds,
black upon red, on the cavern floor before them. "Sardine catfood," the bits of paper would
Ah well, another close call, Mo thought, shoving his head against his beloved's warm fur.
Life was full of dangers, not pampered as in ancient days.
Sylvie pressed back against against him, mewing and thrumming her purr.
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