Bio Bill

Author : B.York, Staff Writer

“I guess you found me. I just wonder what’s keeping you from cutting me open to find out how I do it.”

The doctor sitting in front of him adjusted his glasses and smiled, trying to remain reasonable with the locked up felon before him. The white room they were in with the standard mirror left no illusions for the man being held there today. His eyes were a soft brown, his hair thinning and his stubble overgrown. No special features, no distinguishing marks or habits.

The doctor clicked his pen, “So, Mr. Fieldman-“

“Call me Bill. No one calls me Mister.”

“All right, Bill. So before we begin let me tell you that we’re not going to cut you open. We just want to ask a few questions just to make sure and then we’ll run some tests.”

“Tests. Right.”

“How long have you known how to do it?”

“For a while. Listen, it’s not knowing how, it’s kind of automatic for me. It’s like seeing a smudge on a kids face and pointing at them and going ‘Hey kid, you got some shit on your face'”

The doctor smirked, “Bill if we’re going to get you out of here, we’ll need to be more precise. Fewer metaphors. Can you remember the first time?”

“Right. Less emotions and humor. I’ve hated doctors all my life. They told my mother she had something she didn’t. I knew because of the thing… so when I was old enough I found the bullshit ones and I roughed them up a bit. Oh, you mean the first time I did the thing? Middle school. Some kid with a runny nose and a cold.”

“How does it work? Do you feel anything when it occurs? Any numbness or even pain?”

“Naw, I just let it happen. Sometimes I shake their hand or just give’m a slap on the shoulder but I think it happens before that. I can see it happening. I feel bad and worse until the moment I do it and it doesn’t take much. It’s like giving in.”

“A few more quest-“

“So, did you tell your wife?”

“Excuse me?”

Bill pointed to the ring on the doctor’s finger, “You’re married. I was just wondering if you told your wife that you had it. It’s kind of a big deal.”

“I never… wait, what are you talking about?”

Bill sighed and turned his head looking at the mirror, “Nothing you need to worry about anymore. So, you were going to ask me another bullshit question?”

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Good Help

Author : Benjamin Fischer

“So you’re a butler.”

Xero repressed the urge to roll his eyes and sigh. The woman across the aisle on the maglev had seen his replicant’s sigil, a broad tattoo of the symbol for Gemini on the back of his left hand. She’d also seen his impeccable dress and the parcel he’d retrieved from the spaceport. She’d put two and two together and now she wanted to talk.

“I am an executive,” he replied, setting down the display screen for his book.

“Which is another word for butler,” the woman said.

Xero would have slapped her if she hadn’t reeked of money, but the ostentatious garnish on her purple dress suggested it was straight off some Euro runway.

“You are new to Luna, ma’am?” he asked her.

“Why–yes,” she said. “You can tell.”

“I pick up on such things,” Xero said.

“Like a good butler would,” said the woman. “So, he cloned himself to get out of doing the household chores? You Lunies amaze me.”

“Yes, I do the chores,” nodded Xero, ignoring the slight. “But our relationship is much more than that of a servant and master. I manage his economic interests and his wives when he is traveling or indisposed.”

“Wives? In the plural?”


“Hmm,” she snorted. “The casual polygamy of this place still astounds me.”

“Oh, they get along,” said Xero. “Never bored for company.”

“I’ll bet.”

“You’ll bet what, ma’am?” asked Xero, even though he knew.

She leaned in.

“So in the dark,” she said, blushing, “can they tell that you’re not him?”

Xero chuckled.

“I’m his executive, ma’am.”

“But do you–do you, you know?” the woman asked.

“From time to time.”

“And what about him?” she asked.

“Not his taste,” Xero said, and then seeing the continued color in the woman’s face:

“Sometimes when I’m with them,” he said, “he will watch.”

That shut her up for a moment and Xero almost got back to reading the latest chapter of his favorite serial when she piped up again.

“How large is your household?” she asked.

“About average for Copernicus,” he replied.

“What’s average?” she asked.

Xero set aside his book’s diamond case.

“Two of us, the three wives, the pool girl, the plumber, the gardener, five different Intelligences, two sponsored children, and maybe three entertainers on contract. That’s everyone who lives in the quarters, at least,” he said.

“That’s average?” asked the woman.

“Mmm, yes, ma’am. About average.”

“Everyone lives like that?”

“No, but the option is always there,” said Xero.

“But that must be expensive-”

“Twelve adults and Intelligences, ma’am. We all pull our weight.”

The woman shook her head.

“Absurd,” she said.

“Maybe,” Xero said, “but it’s damn good fun.”

The woman snorted.

Xero glanced at his darkened book. He sighed and opened his mouth anyway.

“In the Concourse Level, ma’am. There’s a club called Young’s.”

She raised an eyebrow at him, not understanding.

“When your husband starts looking,” he said. “You might as well begin with the best.”

“What?” she said.

“It’s what you’re worried about, isn’t it?” said Xero. “Getting replaced.”

“Jim would never-”

“Ma’am,” Xero said, grinning, “I’m sure he’s thinking of you as well–he’s probably already getting an executive of his own.”

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Fiat Undo

Author : Luis Barjo

“It’s not a scam,” Robin explains as he plugs the cloning tank into the wall. “It just grows in there for a few hours and, when it’s ready, just hop right in. They proved it, man, they proved it with science and we’re gonna be rich.”

Picture a hallway with an infinite number of unmarked doors. Well, it took a few years to get there and a few more to find someone willing or capable of conversation. And, would you believe it, the very second we did, a couple of scientists became millionaires. Whoever is out there wants what we know, and knows plenty we don’t; all we had to do was ask.

I’m sitting here memorizing equations. I just have to run them in my head at the right time, with some provided variables, and I’m back on terra firma. At least that’s what the box claims. You can find these kits anywhere: a few hundred dollars, an empty basement and a friend a big brain and balls to match and you’re an official member of the TransGalactic Couriers.

“How’re you coming along with those numbers?” Robin is busy plugging what seems to be a large gas canister into the tank. That little box on the side, the one the outer controls are wired into, shocks the gases just the right way. Amino acids turn into DNA turn into a functional body. Sure, it’s practical immortality in a sense, but after the novelty wore off no one bothered. This isn’t the most exciting of galaxies.

“I’d be a little better if you’d shut the hell up for five minutes. Why am I the one going through all this trouble again?”

“Because I flunked Holonomic Calculus more times than I could count. In fact, I think you were the only one in that class that made any sense of that blackboard after two weeks.”

When he’s right, he’s right. I read over the documents I need to ferry; they compute out into a series of equations that become the variables to the one I’ve memorized. You’re not supposed to remember anything when you come back, when you wake up in that homunculus body the tank is welding together out of thin air. Thanks to the calculus, I’ll remember a few numbers. Feed them into some more equations and we’ve got a chunk of data TGC will pay a bundle for. Sounds easy enough, right?

“Okay. It’s all set. You remember what to do, right?”

I sit down on the stool. Behind me is a foot-thick slab of concrete. Beneath, some bunched-up plastic sheeting. If this goes well we’ll rent out somewhere with a drain next time. I inhale deeply and try to remember: they’ve done this a million times before. It’s perfectly safe and more than worth the money. It’s just like a photo booth.

Robin aims the revolver dead at my third eye chakra.

“Feelin’ lucky, punk?”

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Meteorological Engineering

Author : Kathy Kachelries, Staff Writer

Eric Hayton was not happy. In fact, his unhappiness was palpable: it could be seen in the four empty coffee cups on his desk, in the disgust with which he regarded his wall of monitors, and mostly, in the overfilled ash tray positioned on the corner of his desk. Smoking was illegal in the colony, but if he didn’t get this weather bug sorted out, he would have bigger things to worry about than a misdemeanor fine.

Almost a century ago, the first wave of emigrants suffered through perfectly stable weather. Although the colonists were expected to enjoy a sempiternal spring, the lack of seasons only reminded them that their world was artificial. The Monarch system, written a decade later, swept the programming awards and was immediately put into use. It projected the weather for an entire imagined planet, then used the colony’s temperature and humidity controls to match the weather for a hypothetical longitude and latitude. Because it was self-reliant, the only people who studied it were eccentric techno-anachronists and third year programming students. Even Eric, the colony’s chief meteorologist, hadn’t read the output in years. It was stable. Reliable. There had never been problems before.

Judging by the two feet of snow outside of Eric’s window, there was a first time for everything.

“Linz, can you put on another pot?” he called as he gnawed on the end of his stylus. He’d run out of cigarettes a few hours ago and run out of sleep twenty hours before that, but for now, his coffee reserves were holding. It was his responsibility to track down the bug, but introducing new code to the Monarch system was dangerous. Sure, he could stop the snowfall with a few keystrokes, but since the simulation built upon itself, one clumsy move could cause floods and droughts for centuries to come.

“After this round,” Eric’s daughter called from the other room. Through her headphones, he could hear the muffled sounds of her video game. When Lindsay appeared with a fresh mug of coffee, he gestured to the largest monitor and a tap of his stylus froze the code in place.

“You see anything there?”

“I don’t know,” she said. “It’s self-correcting though, right? It should work out the kinks in a week or so,”

“We don’t have a week or so,” Eric said. He picked up the mug. “Everything’s shut down. The whole colony’s snowed in.”

Lindsay shrugged uneasily. “We only started learning Monarch this semester,” she reminded. “I barely know anything. Are you sure you didn’t leave yourself logged in at a public terminal?”

Eric shook his head. “Aside from the computers at City Hall, his is the only machine wired in to the sim.”

“I guess it’s just a natural bug, then.” Lindsay wrapped her arms around Eric, giving him a quick hug before turning back to the living room. “Good luck,” she added.

Lindsay closed the door behind her and pulled on her headset as she dropped onto the sofa.

“I’ve only got time for one more run,” a static-laced voice said. “We’ve got to finish tomorrow’s codework.”

“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Lindsay said,with a glance to the closed door. “School should be cancelled for at least another week.”

“I feel bad saying it,” another guildmate grunted, “but we’re damn lucky this bug happened when it did. Gives us some time to catch up with that guild on Reki 5.”

Lindsay’s avatar joined the rest of her guild at the digital battleground. “Let’s show them what we’re made of.”

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Oedi's Opus

Author : Tim Hatton

The black is total.

Oedi’s life is devoid of light and endlessly deep.

Only stars prick the canvas. He stares at them, each in turn, for entire shifts. He finds it odd to realize that what he is looking at has moved from that spot eons before the light reaches his eyes.

Silence is the most common media.

Long stretches separate the use of his ears. Sound becomes painful.

His maintenance sentence was called “lenient” by the magistrate. He was dropped off on the station equipped with nothing but the clothes he was given and a thin instruction manual.

The only assurances he has of the functionality of his mind are the rare, random explosions that emanate from the Solar Span Gate. Exiting ships burst from it in a fanfare of sound. The pent up energy that held open the sub-space passage is unleashed as a fantastic show of swirling color. Reds shrouded in orange present a flame in the night, while yellow tickles the edge. Greens sprout healthy beside the warmth, soaking up the blues while they live. Surrounding it all indigo fades to violet, their soft transition back to space. No wavelength is neglected.

Every so often, one of these craft will dock with his prison and inject food and water. The rest fire up their electro-magnetic generators upon exit and gracefully glide away, propelled by their own polarized force field. The gift of their colorful arrival spent, they wander away from Oedi without acknowledgement.

His presence on this revolving maintenance deck is decidedly unnecessary. Computers regulate the day to day functioning of the Gate. Oedi is an overseer – a strange irony for a convict. In the rare event that the system is unable to repair its own malfunctions, Oedi does it. The rest of his life is spent idle. Nutrient paste is administered every eight hours. Water is available any time, but only four liters every twenty hours. The water is Oedi’s favorite. Sometimes he tries to cup it in his hands.

Oedi’s face is a gauze of pigment-deprived wax. His eyes are consumed by pupils, and in their black voids, his existence is mirrored. Life on the deck is permanent, but this situation has taken something from Oedi that he did not mind relinquishing. Oedi will die here, and that reality, coupled with the doldrums of his experience, has erased all fear of death. In his dreams, his mind melts with the blackness of space and his body fuels the light reactions that dance magnificently from the Gate.

For now, he resumes his examination of the stars – always staring at those things that are no longer there.

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