To Sleep, Perchance…

Author : Roi R. Czechvala

It was raining, it was always raining. It fell thick and oily. I sought refuge in a Food-a-Mat. I dropped a couple of bucks into the slot beside the little plastic door. It had once been clear, but now was clouded with age. I pulled out what was purported to be an egg salad sandwich, sloppily wrapped in cellophane.

I took a bite, considered swallowing, thought better of it, and spat it out. I got a cup of coffee. Well, it was brown anyway, and decided I could swallow that. Neon signs flashed outside the window, failing to impart a festive air to the wet, filthy, garbage strewn streets.

“Honey, time to get up.” My wife shook me awake, “I already showered. I thought you might want a few extra minutes sleep. You tossed and turned all night.”

“I’ve been having those dreams again. They’re so depressing.”

“Maybe I can cheer you up.” She dropped the towel, her long golden hair spilled down her shoulders. She laid down beside me. I ran my hand up her stomach. “Enough of that,” she teased, “you have to get ready. Check in with the med techs at work, you probably just need to have your serotonin levels altered.”

“Yes Dear,” I said, in mock exasperation. I gave her a gentle slap on that cute little ass of hers, and made my way to the bathroom.

“What setting Sir?”

“My settings, number three. Thank you Alfred.” I said to the shower. Lean always chided me about my politeness when it came to dealing with the household machinery, especially naming them. I guess I’m too sentimental, but hey, they’re polite to me, what does it hurt if I reply in kind. Hell, maybe the Animystics who scrounge money at the docking port are right, maybe machines do have feelings. I’m no theologian.

The scalding shower pounded on my back. Leaan said it hurt, but I found it soothing. Wakes you up in a hurry that’s for certain.

“Off please Alfred.”

“Scent, Sir?”

“Synmusk, thank you,” I read somewhere that this scent was actually procured from slaughtered animals centuries ago. Revolting.

I stepped out, and folded the bathroom back into the wall. Leaan was just pulling out the kitchen.

“Kof, “she asked holding up a mug.

“No Sweetheart, tea for me.” I always preferred tea. It had a natural flavour, and the plants were far more efficient at producing oxygen. The older folk said the synkof tasted just like the real thing, but how would they know? The oldest among them was maybe three hundred, and the plague hit more than four hundred years ago.

She placed a cup of tea and a plate of macrobiotic eggs and toast in front of me, and kissed me on the cheek. “I have to run. Doris is being transferred to the Ionian settlement, and we’re having a going away party before the work period begins. Bye love.” She hopped in the tube and was gone. She liked tubing to work, but I’m old fashioned. I like to drive in the sunshine.

I shoved the dishes in the `cycler, and headed to my car. I put my baby in drive and gently lifted into the morning sky. The sun felt good on my face.

“Sir, sir,” a hand shook me roughly. “If you’re not eating, you have to leave.”

I pulled the lead from behind my ear, and pocketed my Sony Dream Man. Reality congealed around me. I walked out into the oily rain.

It was raining. It was always raining.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows

Free Range Humans

Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

It was the free-range humans that Dorg liked best.

Those fatty, preservative-laced humans from the cage-farms were disgusting. They had most of their senses ironed off. Eyes, ears, and nose sealed shut for maximum docility. Their sense of taste and their frontal brain lobes were removed. They grew to unnatural sizes, pink fat squeezing through the little squares of their cages. Their slobbering mouth-holes became nothing more than intake valves.

Setting them free would do nothing. They didn’t have the muscles to move their own limbs or the higher brain functions needed to realize a need to escape.

They were pumped so full of antibiotics and preservatives and anti-coagulant that their blood was a dark purple.

When you got right down to it, Dorg had to admit there was a negligible difference in the taste of the meat but as a sentient conquering race, Dorg felt a responsibility to treat the food-source races with respect and dignity.

Let them reproduce the natural way instead of clone splicing. Let them run around in their grass habitats, laughing all the way to maturity until they’re led to the kill-cabins.

Dorg was in favour of the mental dampening so that the humans never learned language, math, or organizational skills. Dorg’s race couldn’t have rebellion. They’d learned their lesson there.

But the humans should at least be allowed to smell the ground, see the stars, and build up some tender, tasty muscle tone before they were taken.

Dorg knew that he was in the minority. Dorg didn’t have the means to buy free-range all the time but he looked forward to the cycles when he had enough money to afford it. Until then, though, he was stuck eating the cheap stuff.

He sucked the flesh off of a fat human arm with his rasping lips and threw the bones back into the bucket of 20 that he’d ordered.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows

Sufficiently Advanced

Author : Sam Clough, Staff Writer

As the supports of Hall’s final prototype sank a half-centimetre into the soft earth, he breathed a sigh of relief.

After a moment’s perfect peace, one of the guide crystals under his seat exploded. Fragments scattered all over the clearing, and a splintered length about the size of Hall’s forearm punched straight through his thigh.

He screamed, and fainted. After an indeterminate time, he regained consciousness to find four people in heated discussion by his now-ruined contraption. The length of crystal was still embedded in his leg, pinning him to the seat: if he moved even a fraction, pain lanced through his body and the wound began to bleed. Hall groaned and gritted his teeth. They were ignoring him, bickering amongst themselves.

“My instruments detected his arrival – he’s mine by right.” The shorter of the men was wearing a white lab coat, with goggles pushed up on his head, and thick gloves.

“Don’t be tiresome, Sil,” one of the women replied. Her skin and eyes were midnight black, her hair and lips a shining silver. “You had the last two spacers, and he looks, what, twenty-third century? All that crystal. Definitely twenty-third. He’s just perfect for my latest expedition!”

“Delectable dark one, I believe you have your history all skewed. His crystals are incidental. Look at his clothing! He’s definitely from the hundred and twentieth.” The taller of the men was dressed in long robes of green and gold, and wore bright jewels in his hair.

“Shatter, Ratri, Sil: I propose we find an equitable way to settle this.” This was said by final member of the group, an almost transparent female. She touched each of her compatriots delicately on the shoulder, and turned towards Hall, who still winced in pain.

“You must choose, traveller,” she gazed at Hall, and he could see her breath move beneath her glassy skin, “You must pick to whom you would rather belong. This is the end of time, and you are trapped here: injured, with your magnificent time machine in pieces around you. Even if it still functioned, you would be unable to remain in the past.”

She approached, and touched the spear of crystal that pinned him to his seat. It vanished, and the wound in his leg closed up.

“My name is Tanelorn: enter my collection and you shall have companionship of the like you could not imagine – all the pleasures of life your origins denied you. Death and suffering are strangers to my domain.”

“I am Sil, the experimenter. To travel through time, you must be a man of science. I am the last true scientist – join me in my laboratories as an equal, not a pet. You will see the universe. You will see atoms dance for you: you will be able to pursue your research to whatever ends you choose!”

“I’m Lord Shatter, a humble student of history. So much has been lost throughout the ages: my life’s work is to assemble a complete history of our beloved planet. There is so much you could help me with – you must come and add the sum of your knowledge to my libraries, and be part of something greater than any one of us alone.”

“And I am Ratri, the traveller. My domain is the outer reaches: come with me to unbind yourself from the fetters of this world. With me, you’ll see the universe. Not Sil’s universe of physics and time, but the cosmos. We’ll visit world after world, see the wonders of the universe up close and personal. So what do you say?”


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows


Author : Jonah Lensher

The tunnel is long and dark; the smell of mould and must penetrate the darkness, the steady drip of water the only way to measure time as it unravels, unnoticed, past the weeks, years, and decades. Nothing breathing lives down here, there is no scampering of rats or creeping of insects; the tunnel is a silent tomb, sleeping in its eternal night.

The tunnel, and others like it, used to be part of an underground system, until they were abandoned overnight, many years ago, and they fell silent, gradually filling up with water, or succumbing to the gradual pressure from the land above. But this one remains, a silent, dead testament to those who carved it out of the bedrock.

Above them, in the once great city, Nature has started her own war of reclamation against the steel and glass jungle; bushes and vines grow unchecked on every surface, while small jungles have sprung up on corners and in parks. But still, nothing moves, there are no animals to prowl the deserted streets, no birds to fly in the empty sky. The city, like the tunnel, is a silent tomb.

Suddenly down below, light pierces the tunnel, a lancing beam of light that is soon swallowed whole by the darkness. Soon more join the first, and the sound of footsteps and crunching gravel echo down the walls. Gradually a group comes into view, backlit by the light from an electric lantern as they make their way down the empty, dead miles of the tunnel. Invisible to the human ear, brief, unnecessarily whispered conversations carry out over the airwaves, their participants hushed by the dead silence around them and the haunting, cathedral like ambience of the tunnel.

“-We shouldn’t be here-” This comes from a figure in the back, it’s hunched figure and nervous hands betraying anxiety, even through the thick plastic of the suit. The replay comes from the figure leading the way, “-We’ll do our duty-” the scowl that is hidden by the polarized visor obvious in the tone of voice. Suddenly a third voice chimes in,

“-We’re here-” it says simply, and one of the figures points to a ladder rising up into the gloom.

One by one the suited figures climb the ladder, gingerly placing each glove and boot, any cut or rip in the suit could prove fatal. They emerge in another tunnel, this one lit from above by light filtering in through drains and open manholes. They climb another ladder, and exit onto a wide-open boulevard, staring at the desolate scene around them.

“-Just think-” One of the voices says, “-We’re the first people to set foot here for what? 80 years?” the other voices mumble in agreement, too dumbstruck to say anything more, until a second voice speaks up,

“-What did they used to call this place? Noo Yawk?”


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows

The Impact

Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

The twelve scientists stationed at the Scobee Moon-Base listened intently as the Earth-based support team updated them on the recently discovered Levy-Takanotoshi asteroid. The asteroid was a previously unknown Centaurs Class object that had its orbit perturbed by one of the gas giants. Unfortunately, it wasn’t discovered until well after periapsis. Now that it had rounded the sun, it was streaking toward the Earth at almost 20 miles per second. Astronomers calculated that it would strike the Earth in fourteen days. They were currently uncertain about how much damage the impact would cause, but they knew there was nothing they could do to divert it. The support team also reported that there was not enough time to refit and launch the Crew Exchange Vehicle before the impact. In other words, the twelve scientists would be trapped on the moon for a long, long time, depending on the extent of the damage caused by the asteroid.

Two weeks later, the twelve scientists gathered at the observation ports. The dark landscape of the moon’s night-phase was partially illuminated by the light reflected by the nearly “full Earth,” which floated motionless approximately 60 degrees above the horizon. On schedule, the asteroid came into view as it skirted past the moon and headed toward its rendezvous with Earth. It took over three hours for the asteroid to cross the gap between the moon and the Earth. The scientists took turns at the telescope watching the eight mile long, potato shaped rock slowly tumble toward the Earth. When it impacted the western coast of Africa, there was a full minute of blinding light as the asteroid vaporized itself, along with billions of tons of the Earth’s crust. Like a stone tossed into a stagnant pond, an expanding ring of compressed atmosphere raced outward from the impact site at supersonic speed. An incredible plume of dust and debris was blasted into the upper atmosphere; some of it continuing into interplanetary space. As the Earth rotated above them, the scientists watched in stunned silence as the sunset terminator slowly traversed the impact site, plummeting Africa into the relative darkness of night. From the moon, a glowing red cauldron of boiling rock, more than a hundred miles in diameter, could still be seen through the column of dust spewing from the cataclysmic scar on the Mauritanian coast. A few hours later, the impact site rotated beyond the eastern horizon. The only visible evidence of the disaster was an eerie crescent shaped red glow reflecting off of the dust particles that were spreading across the exosphere.

After a sleepless “night,” the scientists gathered again at the observation ports to watch Africa rotate over Earth’s western horizon. But there was nothing to see. The thick clouds blanketed the African continent, and much of the Atlantic Ocean. There was only a churning “cloud mountain” marking the site of the impact, as dust and debris continued billowing upward.

The scientists hadn’t received a transmission from Earth since the global atmospheric shock wave had coalesced in the South Pacific Ocean, near Australia. As the hours passed, the thickening dust clouds began to obscure the tsunami swept eastern coast of the United States. North America had a faint orange hue as fires raged across the continent. The twelve scientists solemnly accepted the unenviable fact that the possibility of rescue was non-existent. As they looked up at Earth, they each tried to memorize the familiar land formations of their decimated homeworld, because each of them knew that for the foreseeable future, there would be nothing else to look at but an impenetrable layer of gray clouds.


Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows