Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

I looked at the dashboard with a mounting fear.

The mutiny had gone off and turned messy. The company pilots had been killed when we blew the cockpit door. We’d had to execute our hostages. The airlock was empty now and their inside-out, frozen corpses goggled wide-eyed thirty AUs behind us.

In the not-here of throughspace, I could imagine the feel of passing wind rattling the portholes. I could almost feel the gentle slap of the ocean against the hull even though we were galaxies away from any planet with an ocean. There was nothing, of course, but the silent dimensionless void outside of the windows.

The temperature gauges said that it was both way above and way below tolerable in the vacuum outside. There were other contradictory readings. It was all that I could read.

No one had really mapped throughspace. It got us from place to place but ships that had applied the brakes had either exploded or disappeared entirely. We had to settle for what our instruments told us as we rocketed through.

We knew how to manipulate doors in and out of it but the real essence of what we were traveling through in throughspace was a mystery. Much like gravity in the old days. It could be measured and predicted but the ‘why’ of it was always elusive.

We were halfway through the trip and we had another sixteen hours to go before arrival in hostile territory. We might be able to bluff our way through a patrol or two but once the word gets out, we won’t be able to hide. We’d never be able to stand up to a full search, either. If we got boarded, there would be a firefight.

So here I was. We’d won the fight, struggling up from the prison deck and into the crew quarters. We were vagabonds now, treasonous savages who had killed their captors. Our entire reason for living right now was flight from the enemy and the finding of a safe haven.

All good except for one thing. Pilots spoke a different language than us. They had a verbal shorthand that had developed over time into its own separate dialect. I never really understood why until now.

Several hundred buttons, brightly lit with a Christmas tree rainbow of colours, stared up at me. There were dials, switches, slots, and knobs. A library of discs and glow-cards were stacked on either side.

There was no main stick or pedals.

The pilots in our holding cell, the ones on our side, they had been killed in the mutiny.

No one was left on our victorious team that had the ability to pilot a ship. One wrong button could make the ship try to stop or turn and kill all of us. We had no choice but to hope that the ship was on some sort of autopilot and that we’d be able to do some trial and error guesswork once we got through to other end.

The pictograms and symbols on the dashboard were alien and unintelligible. We could just as easily open a hailing frequency as we could fire a missile pulse if we started pressing the buttons randomly.

From below decks, I heard cheering and carousing. I dreaded taking the subleaders aside and telling them the news.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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Author : Andy Bolt

Senator Bigfoot sat at the top of the Eiffel Tower daintily sipping espresso from one of Café au Francais’ literally bottomless vortex glasses. His massive, gorilla-derived nostrils inhaled the artificially addictive coffee smell, and he smiled to himself as Jenny stepped out of the spacebender and glided toward his table. He liked Jenny. The multicolored nanolights in her flowing blond hair sparkled with hypnotic blinkery. She hummed low and smooth, her pitch-perfect artificial larynx set to a calypso love song. The lowjack pheromones pumping out of Jenny’s pores didn’t affect bigfeet, but Senator Bigfoot thought Jenny was pretty anyway. Not just because she had been engineered to be pretty either, but because she really was. (Although Senator Bigfoot had an I.Q. of 220, his silverback genes granted him a simplicity of thought that made him more contented than most.)

“Hello, Jenny!” he called to her.

He caught her eye, and a wild swirl of rainbow pigments cascaded through her irises.

“Big!” Jenny’s mech-wings fluttered with delight, and she half-flew the remaining twenty meters to the table. “I’ve missed you!” she sang, kissing his leathered cheek. “Congratulations, Mr. Senator!”

“I’ve missed you, too. Sit, sit.”

Jenny smiled and swished and sat, still humming. “Green tea,” she trilled to the overexcited waiter. “So does this make you the first senator from Mythlabs?” Senator Bigfoot smiled as her loose silky coat almost swallowed her up.

“No,” he responded. “You’re forgetting Senator Gremlin.”

“Oh! Yeah, yeah. He got asked to leave, though, right?”

“Sort of. He was asked to holocommute. He kept making everything malfunction. But how have you been?”

“Alright. Being a siren is fun, most of the time. I get to sing a lot. That part’s nice. But all the boys try to sleep with you, and women hate you. It seems a bit artificial because of all that. Everything happens without me really doing anything.”

The waiter, a jumpy young man in a jumpy smart suit, whizzed up to Jenny with a glass of green tea and a walnut sized diamond.

“Here’s your tea,” he said. “May I have the honor of being your eternal love slave?”

“Not right now,” Jenny laughed, patting his shoulder. “But thank you for the tea.”

Senator Bigfoot shifted uncomfortably. He glanced out the longview window at a flock of three-legged Samjoko swooping and diving over Ulsan. Their bioluminescent flesh-mesh made them glow like bright little suns.

“Jenny-“ he started.

“Yes, Big?”

“Will you marry me?”

Jenny stared at him for a long minute, steam drifting around her cheeks and turning them pink.

“Yes,” she said. “I think I will.”

Senator Bigfoot smiled. In the longview, a Cherokee rain dancer shimmied, the kinetically fueled barometric sliders in his hands and feet producing a light summer mist in southern Oklahoma. Jenny giggled.

“It’s a silly world, Senator Bigfoot.”

“Yeah,” he replied.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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Caution, Adults at Play

Author : Jennifer C. Brown aka Laieanna

Mary passed the town’s graveyard, her eye on the mobile facility parked in an empty lot. The line trailing out from the small trailer door was already thirty deep, but a rush of people was only a few steps behind her.

Linda turned to give Mary a big smile after Aaron had nodded to her approaching. “Mary, you came early!”

“Yeah, I figured I’d get a jump on the line this year.”

“Understandable. I think the older we get the less this holds our interest. Can’t stand on these feeble legs as long as the young ones.” She laughed at her own apparent joke that Mary didn’t get.

Aaron leaned forward and gave Mary a wave, “Hey Mary. Did you decide on something this year or are you going with of the usuals?”

“The usual, I guess. Maybe a vampire or witch.”

Aaron nodded again. “Don and I have a bet going. He’s going to be a werewolf, and I’ll be a hunter. The money is all ready to be wired to the winner in two days. I can’t wait till I take him down and his hard earned cash will be paying for my spot,” he jabbed a thumb towards the graveyard, “which I hope not to use for years to come.”

“You should already have one prepaid,” Linda huffed. “You guys are boring. I’m going for something different, like…”

“You won’t believe what Johnny said to me,” Stacy interrupted, panting as she jogged up to her friends, cutting the line. “Says he read in a book that Halloween used to be for kids.” The group stared incredulously. “Seriously! Said kids would dress up and go from house to house asking for candy. He wanted to go out tonight.”

Linda crossed her arms. “I would never let my child out on Halloween. With all the freaks running around, the last thing you want is a child outside a safe zone.”

Confused, Mary shook her head slightly. “Why would they need to ask strangers for candy? We give them tons of candy on Halloween. It’s traditional.”

“Besides, no one is at home on Halloween. And there’s no way the guards will open a safe zone during the holiday,” said Aaron.

“I know,” Stacy sighed. “I tried to make him understand that Halloween was for adults, that he had to wait till he was eighteen. He cried, saying we were doing it all wrong. I can’t get him to understand that it’s not safe.”

Three kids, just barely legal for the holiday, walked passed the group, chatting about the demons and psycho killers they were going to be that year while rubbing the spot a needle had penetrated in their arm. The change was already showing on their bare skin and one girl squealed in excitement when she looked at it.

“First timers,” Linda snorted.

“They’ll be dead before midnight,” Aaron said.

“So what are you turning in to this year, Linda?” Mary asked, remembering she had been cut off earlier.

“A princess.”

Stacy laughed, “Oh geez, you’ll be mauled by any number of people in town if you’re turning in to that.”

“Not really keeping to tradition,” Mary said.

“That’s where you guys are wrong.” Linda had a sly grin on her face. “I’ll be a crazed princess, having been locked in a tower for years with no real contact. I even have an axe and knife at home, all sharpened and ready to take someone down. I won’t be right in the head tonight. You guys will be safer if you stay away.”

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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The Cave Witch

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

The witch is bony, skeletal, his spine in a permanent curve. His liver spotted hands tap on his rubber console, fast like shuffling cards. He cackles with glee, casting his code-spells. The only light in his little cave under the mountain is the luminescent blue screen that glows on his wrinkled face.

He dives through the world that exists in tanks above his mountain, looking in though his screen, like a peeping tom with a tiny window. In the clean, silver facility at the top of the mountain bodies hang motionless in giant tanks filled with a gel that applies gentle pressure from all sides.

His daughter tried to get him to join her in the dream world. She called it a more perfect alternative. He knew what it really was: a prison. He pokes at his handheld device and initiates a program that gives everyone with red hair lice. Cackling, the witch puts down his handheld and toddles over to his larder. He will have to go out soon, set some traps or try to scavenge canned food.

Outside his cave, there is a moan. The witch walks outside, leaning on his stick. Naked, sprawled among the rocks is a young man. He is covered with a thin layer of grit stuck to goo that is stuck to flesh. His fingers are bloody and his long stringy hair is matted to his face. The young man looks up at the witch.

“Please,” he says, squinting at the sun.

“Fish plopped out of the tank?” The witch cackles.

The young man’s face falls on the ground. “I . . . came to study with you.”

“Script kitty.” He cackles at his own joke but stops as he realizes he is the only one laughing. Laughing on his own never felt lonely, but with someone else, his jokes are flat. He looks at the blood under the nails of the young man. “How did you get down the mountain?”

“I crawled. I’m, I can’t . . . “ The young man faints.

The witch drags the naked, gooey man inside and pours water on his face. The young man wakes up sputtering.

“I’m calling your factory bots,” says the witch, his fingers flicking over the handheld.

“No! Please,” the young man begs. “I know that you can hack into the world. I want to learn from you, here, in the real world. I want to understand the magic of code.” The young man shivers. “I crawled here. I want to make code dance.”

The witch sat in front of the young man. “You are too weak.”

“I know,” said the young man.

“You could never survive on your own out here,” muttered the witch.

“I’m willing to learn,” said the young man. “Teach me.”

The witch raised a bushy eyebrow. “You are also very naked.”

“No one knows the code anymore. Someone has to learn, for the good of our community. If something should truly break, someone needs to know how to fix it. Help me.”

The witch crossed his arms and looked at his console. One button, and the bots would come to collect the lost naked man and dump him right back into his virtual world. The witch put down the console and spread a blanket over the young man.

“What’s you’re name, boy?”


“Jeff, tomorrow we start by finding food. Also, never say you will make code “dance” again, or I will bash your toes with a heavy rock.”

“Yes Master,” said Jeff, smiling as he fell into a heavy sleep.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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Crowbar Subtlety

Author : Sam Clough, Staff Writer

I work on Opingtu. Two-and-a-bit AUs from civilisation, on a good day.

Lee thrust the crowbar into my hands, and set off down the corridor at a run. I swore, and ran after him. Me and Lee were as thick as thieves — always had been. Started when we were twelve, I think. Talking of thieves — that’s what Lee did with his spare time. Stole stuff. How he found merchandise to steal inside this godforsaken hollow rock and how he got it out are mysteries I never had the urge to plumb. I supposed he had a day job, too, and that’s how come he’d managed to follow me out here. It just never seemed to come up in conversation.

I was in slightly better shape than him, so caught up with him before he got too far from where I had been sitting. He had a second crowbar in a thin bag strapped across his back.

“What the hell?” I demanded, glaring at him. He just glanced back, and put on a new burst of speed. We raced by surprised faces and angry officers. Lee ignored them, and thus, so did I.

He led me into the prisoners sector.

We stopped by a door marked ‘512’. Lee punched a long sequence into the pad by the doorframe. The door itself didn’t have a handle — for security reasons, apparently — but after Lee had entered the code, it obligingly slid into the wall. He pushed me inside. Faintly, in the distance, I could hear running feet.

Once inside, the door slid shut, and the lights came on. The room held six stasis caskets. The ambient temperature had to be about ten degrees higher than the corridor — stasis support gear isn’t exactly environmentally friendly.

Behind me, Lee slapped the red panel next to the door. The steel-on-steel sound of the bolts grinding into position was perceptible. Once the door had stopped vibrating, he smashed the control panel with the end of his crowbar, gave it a twist, then jerked a tangle of wires out of the wall.

Such an action caused the door’s emergency subsystem to cut in. Which was designed to engage an additional lock, then shut down. Security reasons. It was a prison door, after all.

He pointed to the casket labelled with a roughly painted ‘Three’.

“Break it open.”

I stared at him. He stared back.

“In for a penny.” He shrugged.

“Remind me to kill you later.”

Our crowbars punctured the cheap aluminium of the outer casing, and we hauled it apart. It split open like an oversized drinks can. The coolant sheath beneath it was tough plastic, but we made short work of it.

Soon, me and Lee were standing in a rapidly-expanding puddle of light blue liquid, staring down at one of the prisoners.

The guy in the canister was just coming around, the effect of the stasis field interrupted. His face contorted as the pains hit: only then did I recognise him.

“Everyone said he was dead…”

Johnny Rukopashka got slowly his feet, and took the crowbar from Lee. It looked like a toy in his hands. He bared his metal teeth, and clapped Lee on the back. His claws left a tear in Lee’s shirt.

Johnny was a pirate. A gangster. Or more precisely, Johnny was eight feet of graft muscle and metal. Johnny had been declared dead, but his very — vibrant — presence convinced me that he certainly wasn’t amongst the deceased.

“This a rock, boys?

“Yeah. Opingtu.”

“No dreck. Now boys, you’re going to help me take over.”

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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