Bugaboo

“This place is a dump,” Headley muttered, for what must have been the thousandth time. Foxworth rolled her eyes. “Of course it’s a dump. It’s our job. If it wasn’t a dump, we wouldn’t be here.” “Yeah, I know,” Headley replied, “But look at this…

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Conquest

Foolishly, my people thought the alien ships were asteroids on a collision course. We launched our most deadly weapons into the sky, which exploded harmlessly off the liquid hull of the invaders, raining poison onto our world. Dust flakes on my head as I walked to the…

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Who Forever Belongs To

The yard sale was one of those haphazard affairs, full of the kind of junk that no one in their right mind would actually take, damaged or torn or merely out of the realms of taste altogether. This is a powerful camouflage for the good stuff, and any experienced…

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Normal

There was nothing special about Ming, nothing unique. She had no exceptional talents, no carefully-kept secrets, no inventive thoughts, no special intelligence. She liked to go to parties and shop for clothes and wanted to be a good mother someday. Her face was…

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Patchers

Talia looked out over the cacophonous melee of engineers in the warehouse. Each of them bustled about; porcupines of fused wiring and welding tools. It made her so proud. A rapid metallic pounding announced the arrival of a messenger. “Take it easy, Dobs. What ya got…

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Temporal Dissonance

“Yesterday,” Jason said, “I killed Marilyn Monroe.” “Right.” “No, I mean it. I really did.” “I believe you,” Thomas said, in a noncommittal tone. It worked like this: Jason was lying, or Jason was not lying. Lying /= not lying. He hadn’t been in the complex for…

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Curse

“We’ve had a problem with the cursing, haven’t we, dear?” Mr. Olivestone said, handing an iced tea to his wife. Helen Olivestone took it with a slight smile, but didn’t drink from it until she meticulously removed every drop of condensation from the glass with a…

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Saving Throw

“You can’t have a ray gun,” Jolie said as she dragged her pen across Jake’s sheet. “They didn’t even exist back then.” “My character invented the ray gun,” Jake clarified, and Tim snickered. “What? Somebody had to invent them.” Above the terradome in Jolie’s…

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Checking Out

“Any personal belongings you’ll need accommodated in your craft, Mr. Mercer?” “Nope.” John shook his head at the distribution agent before him. “No baggage.” It was John Mercer’s last day on Earth. He’d lived here for thirty-eight years, give or take…

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Late

In the full body cycle Linda’s chest burned, sweat slipping into her eyebrows. She could feel their eyes on her, the children watching the old woman strain. The lines of her skin betrayed her. Generations blended, their cells dividing perfectly, making exact copies,…

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Favor Fishing

Malcolm should have been thinking about shrimp, but he was thinking about Sumitra’s smile instead. He hated himself for it, but he was almost glad for the leak in the shrimp pond, since it gave him an excuse to call her. And Sumitra’s voice was well worth the cost of…

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Because We Can

The officer approached, hands clasped behind his back, staring unabashedly at the young astronaut, raising his slender brow in cynical awareness of the situation. He reached across the stark white table and clicked the record button on the small tape recorder. His…

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Licensed

Slug eased himself onto the barstool, a lazy grin on his face. His hair had been professionally tussled that evening, and with his new hologreather jacket, he was confident in his irresistibility. “Start me up a tab, barkeep,” Slug said, withdrawing his credit…

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Toy Store

“What I want to know, really, is where we are.” Lee was aggravated, partly at himself, for following Jason’s directions, and partly at Jason, for being a dick. “Where we are my friend, is in grave danger.” Lee looked around. “We are in grave danger in a toy store?”…

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Space Ghost

Radiation Levels: Acceptable. “Okay, lads, we’re good. Let’s not mosh this up, right?” Lars, encased in a plastisteel suit, stepped his near-weightless form through the breached opening of the hull. The three stripes indicative of a mission commander on his right…

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The Spindle

They are not awake. They have been asleep for days, years. They lie sprawled across train platforms, clutching cellphones, notebooks, and mp3 players. Their hearts barely beat, drowsy with decreased metabolism. Their fingernails have grown long, curling under. They…

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Ambrosia

“Oh my God. Peter, you didn’t.” Peter smirked at his wife’s gaping stare. “You bet I did,” he told her smugly. “Nothing’s too good for our anniversary.” “It looks fabulous.” Beatrice’s eyes shone as she ran a finger over the plastic wrap,…

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Built To Last

Her hands were starting to look like lobster claws. She said she wasn’t going to go all the way, and wiggled the smaller claw to show it was still opposable. She said she liked the little teeth, though, and squeezed my arm too hard. She laughed at the little…

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