Exile on Bay Street

Author : Terri Monture

The three days leading up to the executions proceeded with great fanfare and celebration; by dusk on the third day, with the sun setting in purple ultraviolet through the polluted sky the people were in a state of frenzied orgiastic ecstasy. Drums were beaten, scrap metal pieces pounded together and the smell of cooking rat flesh filled the darkening air.

The captives were brought to the plaza in the shadow of the decaying bank towers. Tied to decrepit office chairs, their faces were bloodied with the traces of the ritual beatings. There were three old men and one terrified woman, her lips moving in prayer. “Slim pickings this time,” Draper mused to Marla, who was perched on the rim of an old crumbling statue. “They must be running out of the obvious ones.”

Marla spat and picked at her teeth with a filed-down rat bone. “Bout time,” she sneered. “Damn capitalists anyway.” She looked up into the radioactive sky. “Maybe it’ll rain. That would be nice.”

Draper shivered as the captives were displayed to the crowd, now screaming for their blood. “I think I’m getting sick again,” he said, feeling his guts cramp. The dysentery came in cycles for him. Some days were better than others, but it never went away. There was hardly any water left with the levels of the lake falling so drastically. He scanned the sky anxiously. Rain would make a difference; at least they had some filtering equipment.

Marla glanced at him. “I’ll go see if I can scavenge some penicillin,’ she offered. “There’s those pharmacies in Scarborough guarded by the Smiling Buddha guys, I know some of them.”

He shrugged, watching the executioners raise their truncheons and the crunch of skulls shattering. “That last batch was bad,” he said. “No point. Maybe if I don’t eat it will go away.” He wondered how long it would be before he had to crawl into the lobby of a looted office tower and shiver while every bit of fluid drained out of his body.

Marla said something but her words were lost beneath the howling of the crowd and the ecstatic outpouring of hate as the corpses were torn apart and bloody limbs displayed for them. Draper felt the first wave of heat as the fever started.

The howling of the mob reached a frenzied crescendo and people racing past him buffeted Draper. “Sorry,” he muttered, and then louder, feverish and sweating. “I’m sorry, I had to make a living…”

Marla reached down and steadied him with a firm grip on his shoulder. “Stop it,” she hissed. “No one needs to know what you did before the Collapse.” Several faces turned to look at him as he swayed precariously. “He’s cool,” she yelled. “It’s the dysentery.”

Draper saw only a blurred outline as a voice above him said, “You sure? He looks like a banker to me…” and he slipped out of Marla’s grasp.

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Warp Vortex

Author : Patricia Stewart, featured writer

Professor Murphy carefully reviewed the checklist of the Warp Vortex Generator. In a few minutes, it would be used in an attempt to divert a three kilometer asteroid from striking the Pacific Basin. This impact wasn’t going to be a “civilization destroyer,” but it was estimated that it would kill close to one billion people if it couldn’t be diverted.

The asteroid had been detected six months earlier by the Shoemaker Spacewatch Observatory in Arizona. A few days after its orbit was calculated, scientists from around the world gathered to determine the best method to alter its current path, but no satisfactory solution could be found. The asteroid wasn’t detected early enough to make any significant change to its orbit with the existing technology. That’s when Professor Murphy suggested using his experimental Warp Vortex. The prototype hadn’t actually been tested, but these were desperate times and they required desperate measures.

Murphy’s Warp Vortex had originally been proposed for space vessels. In theory, the generator would distort space-time in such a way that it would simulate a very large gravity well immediately in front of the ship. The ship would subsequently “fall” toward the vortex. However, since the generator was mounted to the ship, the Vortex would also advance. As a consequence, the ship would continue to fall faster and faster as it tried to drop into the ever advancing simulated gravity well. Later, when the Vortex was collapsed, the ship would maintain its forward velocity. Murphy’s current idea was to construct a massive Warp Vortex Generator on the surface of the Moon, at the Armstrong Lunar Base on the Kant Plateau. Then, as the asteroid shot past the Moon toward the Earth, he would generate a 200,000 kilometer wide space-time distortion that would cause the asteroid to whip around the centerline of the newly formed gravity well. When the Vortex was collapsed 30 seconds later, the asteroid would continue harmlessly into space.

“We’re ready, professor,” said an astrotechnician. “The asteroid will be in position in 10 seconds.” Ten seconds later, the computer initiated the Warp Vortex. The lunar base shook violently. Everybody was being tossed around, the lights flickered, and most of the bench-top equipment vibrated off the tables. The module walls groaned in protest, but remained air tight. After 30 seconds, the computer shut down the generator.

“Damn,” announced Murphy, “I didn’t expect there to be a moonquake. It’s lucky we weren’t killed. What’s the trajectory of the asteroid?”

“Tracking stations report that the asteroid is heading out of the ecliptic. It’s going to miss the Earth!” The lunar base erupted into spontaneous cheering and self-congratulatory hugs and handshakes. It wasn’t until one of the engineers, who wanted to look at the asteroid through the viewdome, realized that they had a serious problem. “Professor,” she yelled. “You need to look at this. The Earth is getting larger.”

“What?” The professor, and most of the staff, crammed into the viewdome, or looked out the bulbous wall ports. Sure enough, the Earth was twice its normal size, and growing larger. The professor staggered backward, and collapsed onto a lab stool. He steadied himself on a nearby table, as he brought his trembling left hand to his forehead. “Oops.”

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Birth Day

Author : Joyce Weber

I want to love them. Truly I do. But they keep shoving and pushing, wrangling around inside me till I want to rip my belly open and dump them out.

There is no peace with them crowding my body till they almost feel like they will ooze out the very pores of my skin.

“They are the future” I remind myself and wonder if any good can come of a future born in such tremulousness. Are they never still? Never quiet?

I long for how it once was. When my body was my own. When my brain was free of worrying about them. Do they have everything they need to grow strong? Am I doing all that I must do to ensure their optimal survival?

I shouldn’t doubt myself. I nourish them; I keep myself pure that they are untainted. All for them. Everything for them. My precious ones, my darlings, my bane, my torture.

I want them gone. I know it is an evil thing to contemplate. To just cast them away and forsake them. They will die without me. But I am so tired. I have been carrying them so very long. They can not survive with out me, not yet. I must be strong.

I must fulfill my duty to these, oh so treasured, lives, these demons that torment me with their movements and noise. Ever growing. Ever expanding. I feel like I will surely burst if I can’t get them out of me soon.

Why did there have to be so many of them? They keep growing. It is beyond what one such as I should have to bear. Surely my body was not designed for such a load. What if I perish from the weight of them? Wouldn’t it be better to cast some out so that the others could live?

I am not capable of such a decision. I will bare them, and deliver them into the life that awaits them or we shall all cease to exist together.

Darkness. Endless starless nights with no breath to make a sound. How wonderful that sounds. How like perfection. I will simply let us all slip into that forever sleep.

Wait! Something is changing, heavy, I feel so heavy. Like I am being crushed to earth with the massive weight of them. I am torn open and they pour out of me in a massive flood, tumbling over themselves to abandon me. Me, who tended their every need. Me, who they forsake with out a backwards glance.

Go! Go all of you! Run out to this new world. This new life. I will carry you across space no more. I am rid of you. Rid of your pushing and shoving and noise. I am free of you.

I feel so liberated, so light. I could fly without engines. I feel so. . . so empty.

Come back. Let me hold you again. I need you. I have no purpose without you. I am so lonely.

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Author : Sarah Klein

I sat in the dark doom of my living room, gazing absentmindedly at the television screen. They’d be drawing numbers in about two minutes. I knew my number wasn’t going to be called, but I had to watch all the others ones fly by to make sure. If I missed an announcement, I’d doubt myself until I found out.

“Tonight’s numbers are P32 to P105. If your number is in this category, please report to your nearest rocket station tomorrow morning. Once again, P32 to P105.”

I pulled out and fingered my crumpled, worn ticket, bearing the number Q204. Who was I fooling? I was an English student. The colony didn’t need English students. It needed the engineers, the biology majors, the young men capable of heavy labor. And what right had I to be angry? I wouldn’t be of much help. But something about picking and choosing who escaped with their life seemed wrong. It was half eugenics and half sheer cunning, devoid of all empathy and emotion. Well, that’s the government.

The meteor showers get worse daily. The garden was dead long ago, and the back porch is littered with holes. If a heavy rain comes, I’ll have to get the pots and pans out for the dining room. Every day I wake up and expect to walk outside and see the small town I live in utterly decimated. Somehow, it’s still here – the corner market, the joggers, the yellow daffodils. It could all be leveled and destroyed in ten minutes of heavy meteor fall. And so it will be, soon.

How strange that the heavens should decide to fall now. For years and years, experiments had been done in space; rockets sent this way, robots sent that way. And considering we’d already blown up quite a bit, it was strange that this imminent destruction hadn’t come sooner. When we had devastated Earth to its current, barely-livable status, we had to go for the cosmos. Being a romantic, I had always hesitated to actually believe that it was in human nature to be destructive. But what else could explain what was happening? Minute by minute, the universe came crashing down around us, and it was all our fault.

When they get to the English students, we’ll be mostly gone. When they get to the English students, they’ll extract us from piles of rubble – helicopters lifting us up by our lanky arms to the sky. When they get to the English students, we’ll be in a drunken stupor – wrapped in pages of Shakespeare, surrendering ourselves up to the sun.

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Human Proof

Author : J.R.Blackwell, Staff Writer

When I was eleven, I tried to kill myself after seeing an old movie. In the film, a man cut his wrists with bits of mirror and then held them under steaming hot water. At his funeral, people piled flowers on his grave. Everything in the film was grey but that pile of flowers.

I thought it looked so cool.

I was eleven and an only child. I never had so much as a dog to play with. My mother was working on a Doctorate in French film of the early 2020’s and didn’t have a lot of time for me. I tried to break my mirror in my room, but pounding on it did nothing except slam the back of my dresser against the wall. The noise caused my mom to come upstairs.

“Why are you making this racket?” She asked, smoking her cancer-free strawberry cigarettes.

“Just exercising.” I said. Behind my mirror, the plaster was starting to crumble.

“Are you trying to break your dresser?” She laughed, crossing her arms in front of her. My mother looked a lot like a chicken, skinny legs and beady eyes. “Good luck, the thing is child-proof, wail on it all you want.”

Everything in my room was childproofed. Even when I went to stab myself by running and jumping, stomach first, on my bedpost, it just turned to foam and bent beneath me. If I was going to kill myself, I needed some adult tools. I went to the kitchen, where my mother kept all the kitchen implements she bought and never used. There was a block of knives in the kitchen, and I brought out the largest one and scraped it across my palm. It flickered blue and spoke in a friendly, female voice.

“Oops! Be more careful when you are cutting!” it said. When I moved it across my flesh, it was soft as cotton. I threw it on the floor.

I don’t think I wanted to die out of any morbid curiosity or self-hatred. I think I just wanted to be raised by my Grandmother. Grandma Loretta had lived with mom and I until she died at the age of ninety-three. I was eight years old when she died. I remember mother saying that she wasn’t gone, just sleeping until she could wake up again on the Network.

She was one of the first people to get her consciousness uploaded into the Network. When she was alive, she would play dolls or blocks or immersion games with me. I would always win our games. Grandma Loretta never seemed hurt or angry that a child won playing against her. She would just giggle, putting a winkled hand over her pocked face. Later I learned that this was due to dementia, her organic mind slipping away. When she was uploaded, she chastised my mother for keeping her in the organic body for so long.

I thought that if I died, I might get flowers thrown at me and then Grandma Loretta would raise me on the Network. Grandma Loretta seemed to have lots of free time. She was always going to parties, making experimental art environments, and conducting science experiments. When I sent her voice messages on the Network she would get back to me in seconds.

“Things move faster here,” she would say. On the Network, she had built her own virtual house with large white pillars and flowering ivy. She sent me pictures of the place that she had built with her new boyfriend. The pictures of the both of them almost looked real, just a little too perfect, a little too smooth. I knew if I died, I could go live with them, where things moved faster.

I drank every cleaning fluid in the house, but all I got were hiccups.
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