Never Enough

Author : Mark Mance

I’m in my old car again. These things happen. You’re wondering what’s for lunch, and then–Bam! You’re already under, and cruising about.

I’m gunning it down Sunset Boulevard, and doing fishtails. I sure miss that car. Cars aren’t made like this anymore. Now they’re faster, lighter, and stocked with all kinds of crazy accessories.

“Open sun roof.”

Nothing happens. Oh yeah. Stupid. I push the button to open the sun roof. Wind immediately whips around inside. I haven’t felt this elated for a long time.

I have to hurry before I lose control. Distractions are common and this is my last Session. I just have see her again. I drive up to the house I had in college thinking she’d be there. Once inside things change. The layout’s different. That’s also common.


Two women are watching television. I’d almost forgotten those things. I remember when, No. Keep moving. I found her in the next room. Well, not exactly. On the bed a lump of covers, some pillows, and pile of clothes begin morphing into a sleeping figure —


“What is it?” she asks, yawning.

She props herself up. The blanket slides down a little and her features take time matching up. The eyes and hair color are the last to shift into recognition. A few auburn strands spill gracefully across her face. It’s her twenty years ago, sleepy and almost perfect. Her eyes are more vibrant, too silvery green. I sink slowly onto a couch across from her.


“Can I get you anything?” I ask too eagerly.

“You mean like the glass of water you said you’d have for me when I wake up?”

“Something like that. Hungry?”

“No. Again, what is it? Why are you staring like that?”

“Nothing. It’s just nice to see you.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You wouldn’t, Charlotte. This is it, though. I can’t keep doing this.”


“You and me. Here. Like this. It’s wrong,” I said. “We end up meeting other people.”

“I still don’t understand. Robbie, who are the women in the next room?” She shouldn’t have been aware of them, and I feel the test ending.

“The women in the other room are my future wife and sister in law.”

She looked confused, and then smiled.

We’re interrupted by a loud beeping noise. I feel like I’m being dredged up from some deep sea, and fumble for the ‘off’ switch. I remove the Dream-Lucid Armet, and take a deep breath. Twenty minutes just isn’t enough time, but I can’t conduct these tests on myself anymore.


Her smile hangs there for a second before vanishing into a fog of laboratory lights.

“Dim lights.”

“Sorry about the lights, Dr. Soneiro,” Marcus says sheepishly, “So, where did you go this time, back to your son’s graduation, or last summer’s trip to the Sea of Tranquility?”

I don’t answer. Instead, I drag myself off the bed, and go looking for some coffee.


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The Bolide Brothers

Author : Glenn Blakeslee

Outside Dad’s shop stood a steel one-hundred-twenty foot tall hyperboloid structure. My brother had his eye on it.

They say Delvin is a genius but he’s just my big brother. He’s weird, and skinny with piercings and tats. When he’s not making stuff he’s reading thick science books.

The structure was a water tank with ‘Arcada’ painted on the side in four-foot high letters. A slender column, fluted at the bottom, supported the tank. My brother had bartered for three hundred feet of superconducting tape, and it was his idea to wrap the water tank.

“This is just an experiment,” he said. “If we wrap the tank the steel should magnify the electromagnetic effect.”

“Why?” I asked as we cut the chain link fence surrounding the tank.

“We’re gonna get a meteorite,” he said, and grinned.

I pulled the backing off the tape as Delvin positioned it. I got a ladder from Dad’s shop and we wound the tape high around the column. The tank was illuminated, high above our heads, by spotlights pointed at the city’s name. By the time Delvin burnished the last of the tape and pulled the leads down the sun was rising. We grabbed the ladder, clipped the fence shut, and went home to sleep.


“Tonight’s the night, Punky,” Delvin said. It pissed me off when he called me Punky. “The Perseids will peak.”

After dark we pulled cable from Dad’s generator through the fence. “We can’t really grab a meteor,” Delvin said. “But we might deflect one outside of town.”

“Then what?” I asked.

“We find it, dig it up, and sell it for big bucks.”

We connected the tape to the cable’s terminal box, wrapped it with duct tape, and then sat outside the fence. At two in the morning the shower’s radiant was overhead, and I ran inside and fired up the generator. We waited, and then Delvin threw the switch.

Nothing happened at first. The generator labored and the tape hummed. The high sky overhead was streaked with meteors. Something nicked me, like a mosquito bite, and I heard a staccato sound, like hail on a cymbal.

“Nails!” Delvin said. He pushed me down, into the dirt.

I heard something like little thunder, and looked over to see the sheet metal on Dad’s shop flex and bow outwards. Metal screws popped out like rifle fire, and the cable began stretching toward the tank. I could hear thuds and screeches coming from all around us.

I was trying to crawl away when Delvin yelled over the din, “Look up!” I rolled over in time to see the top of the tank explode in a shower of sparks. Hot pieces of metal showered the ground, and I heard something explode in the sideyard of Dad’s shop. Delvin fumbled at the terminal, and a swash of cold water splashed over us, flooding the ground.

We recoiled as a shower of nails and screws and metal objects fell from the suddenly demagnetized structure of the tank.

“What now, Genius?” I asked Delvin.

“Grab the cable,” he said, “And run like hell.”

An hour later the sheriff was at our house.


The next morning, in the churned-up sideyard, Dad handed me a shovel. “Dig,” was all he said.

It was easy digging, but it still took me a few hours. By the end of the day I’d uncovered a twenty-four-pound meteorite. It was a beautiful iron-nickel specimen, its surface burnished and pitted by ablation, and run through with veins of what appeared to be gold.

We used the money to bail Delvin out of jail.


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Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

It began as a simple misunderstanding. The Liturgians were a social-insectoid race. When they negotiated with a graduate student from Cal-Arts, they assumed that she spoke for the entire huwoman hive. The concept of individuality was unfathomable to them. So when the student agreed to allow the Liturgians to mine ice from the Whitney Glacier, in exchange for a joy ride in their spaceship, they assumed that the entire Earth collective had agreed to the terms. Therefore, they happily gave her a quick tour of the inner solar system, then headed off to the glacier.

Alerted by LAX, the California National Guard scrambled two F-16 Falcons from the 144th Fighter Wing to intercept the “UFO.” They spotted the flying saucer as it was approaching the Whitney Glacier. Since they were not authorized to open fire, they established a containment pattern 10,000 feet above the landing site and waited for reinforcements. Next to arrive at the glacier were four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which hovered around the ship and illuminated it with searchlights. By the time the infantry units from the 40th Division arrived, the Liturgians had already excavated several tons of ice and were preparing to load it onto their spacecraft. When they noticed the solders approaching, they deployed their six phaser cannons and aimed them back toward their own ship, which was the universally accepted convention for receiving honored guest. However, the soldiers, not knowing the business end of a phaser cannon from the charging coil end, assumed that the aliens were preparing to attack. They preemptively opened fire, launching everything they had at the Liturgian ship. After the smoke cleared, the saucer was undamaged, and two of the four helicopters were flaming wrecks, having been shot down by friendly fire. The Liturgians were utterly confused by the turn of events, but decided not to respond until they better understood this bizarre behavior.

The following morning, the governor of California arrived at the landing site to take charge of the situation, since he had had personal experience with hostile extraterrestrials earlier in his career. He felt that this was clearly a misunderstanding that could be resolved with a non-confrontational face-to-face meeting. He approached the spacecraft alone, with his arms spread apart. Finally, the Liturgians concluded, a gesture that was unmistakable. The Queen of the Liturgians sauntered out of the spacecraft to feast on the obvious huwoman sacrifice. In Liturgians culture, after a battle, it was required that the leader of the losing hive offer her life in exchange for the lives of her offspring.

The governor smiled at the rhythmic clattering of the Queen’s six chitin legs on the hard surface of the ice. It reminded him of the banter between dueling tap dancers. When the Queen reached the governor she arched upward, perched on her four hind legs. From a height of over nine feet, her massive mandibles snapped downward and clipped off the governor’s head. In one fluid motion, her maxilla gathered in the severed head and guided it into her labium. The Queen bowed appropriately, and began to return to her ship. Almost instantly, the infantry opened fire again. The bullets ricocheted harmlessly off her personal force field. “What is it with these Earthlings?” she exclaimed after returning to the ship. “Can’t they make up their minds? They go from friendly, to aggressive, to surrender, to aggressive again. To hell with them. We’ll get the ice from one of the moons orbiting the largest gas giant. But before we leave this planet, we need to exterminate this hive. They cannot be permitted to swarm.”


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Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

Glass goes green when it gets to a certain thickness. The impurities gang up. It’s a great insulator. It’s why my entire suit of armour is made of it.

I have grill slits and air-holes drilled into the faceplate. The armour weighs close to seven tons because of its thickness but it’s light when I’m riding the storm.

I have a long, lightning-rod ponytail of white filaments flowing back from my topknot jack. It traces my motion behind me, luring electrons.

Ferroconduits in my giant glass boots keep me afloat on charged air. I skate the clouds. A Tesla Hammer is strapped to my back with miles of thin copper wire wrapped tightly around it to act as an energy sponge. The large crest of my royal station is bolted to the glass on my chest.

It’s electroplated with gold that had criss-crossed the rest of my armour over time, creeping like rust, gilding the stress fractures of my own magnetosphere.

I’m standing in a bruise of storm clouds over Arlington for this state’s latest coronation. There’s a bead in my ear telling me that in exactly eight minutes the clouds need to pulse, spread, break windows with the force of their thunder, and strike the palace’s rooftop lightning field sixteen hundred times. This will fill the standing royal prophecy.

The prophecy dictates that a State Monarch has to be ratified by the heavens when he or she ascends to the throne. Lightning must strike the rod-fields on top of that state capital’s royal house at the culmination of the acceptance speech.

It must be fulfilled in every coronation ceremony in every state. I have six more to do this year in other states. It’s my job to bring the lightning. It was my father’s job before me.

I hang in the clouds like a dangling string puppet. The clouds are amber and I’m a fly. In a minute I’ll speed-skate down and surf back up to shape this bank into a terrifying ridge that will remind the party below me of the safety of caves.

I’ll make the cloud bristle with whorls. I’ll bring the lightning heartbeat deep within her to a crescendo before lashing out at the building below.

I spread my arms.


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The Fragile Y

Author : Terri Monture

The funeral cortege rolled smoothly down the boulevard, the faces of the witnessing crowd somber and drawn in the grey light. It had stopped raining but was damp and cold. Amanda shivered and pulled Sylvia and Clarice closer into her body. “Mama, what is that?” asked Sylvia, her shrill little girl’s voice querulous as she pointed at the immense funeral bier, the sleek black coffin strewn with white flowers.

Amanda swallowed, licking her dry lips. “That’s your father,” she answered.

Sylvia, her youngest, looked up at her mother, uncomprehending. “What’s a father?” she asked, her huge blue eyes solemn.

Amanda looked at the massive coffin as it rolled on past. Women of all ages, all bearing the same stamp in their faces – the thin aquiline nose, the full lip, the elfin chin and black hair – all vaguely the same, all hunching their shoulders against the cold in the same fashion. Jacob Lastman – not so ironically named, as it turned out – had fathered them all. He had been the last fertile male left on the planet, his precious sperm the last viable option for the human race. And now he was dead.

There were only females left on the planet now, and their numbers were dwindling.

Amanda had born seven of his daughters in the age-old way, the lucky meeting of sperm to fertile egg, and provided countless ovum to the frantic attempts to preserve humanity. She was also probably one of the last women on the planet to have actually lain with a man, to know his weight upon her and feel the shuddering spasm that fathered her two eldest daughters until it was realized that he was becoming too old — and his heart too fragile — to withstand the rigours of normal fertilization. And after his final heart attack, all of their advanced technology unable to correct the last defects — they had wrung out every last precious drop of him and were even now impregnating the women who would carry the end of their species.

Amanda hugged her smallest child. “Do you remember the lesson yesterday, we watched the clips about how people are born.”

Sylvia looked confused but Clarice glanced up at her mother, her bright blue eyes narrowed in concentration. Amanda knew that glance — she had seen it in Jacob, seen it replicated a thousand, a hundred thousand times in the last twenty years. All that was left. “Oh yeah”, she chirped up. “I remember. It said that boys are extinct. Something about the fragile Y chromosome.”

Amanda nodded. “That’s right. Turns out the environment became too polluted for the Y chromosome to survive. The only male left could father children, but just girls.”

She glanced around the crowd, all of them related, all sisters. She remembered her own father only vaguely, and had never known any brothers. Her grandmother had told her stories of the old days, about inequality and domestic violence and something horrible called rape. All of that was over.

Women had decisively won the gender wars. But it was very lonely.


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