Author : Jacob Lothyan
“It’s an old family story. A mystery, really. Or was. I just know it meant a lot to my dad, his dad, and so on. That’s the only reason I held on to it.
“So it goes, my great great-grandfather worked at the Santa Fe Depot in Leavenworth—first city of Kansas, you know? He worked there until the day they closed the line. He passed on shortly thereafter. He loved that station. Loved the trains. Practically ran the place before all was said and done.
“They had these storage lockers there, for packages that were sent ahead, or left behind. A few months before the line was to be shut down, my great great-grandfather took an ad out in the paper. Wanted to tell anyone who had things in the lockers they would lose their stuff if it wasn’t claimed. Well, the day came and went, the trains stopped coming, the line closed. Only one locker went unclaimed. It contained an old telegraph that was never picked up, put there for safekeeping.”
Lou laid the yellowed, tattered paper on the slick, glossy table top. Several men leaned over to examine it. It read, simply:
dear terrance matthews [STOP]
the apparatus does not travel [STOP]
The men stared wide-eyed and slack-jawed. Lou delicately retrieved the paper, causing several of the men to gasp, folded it lightly, and slid it back into its protective case.
“My great great-grandfather, he tried to find Terrance Matthews. He went to the police station and they told him he did everything he should have. They told him he could trash the telegraph. He asked if he could keep it. They said yes.
“Now, in time since, my family has done a lot of work on this letter. It became somewhat of a project. Terrance Matthews, other than the Terrance Matthews you all know, he was a great man. He pioneered much of the technology and science that led to commercial air travel. Space travel, even. He had his fingers in every single technological advance in his time. He made himself a small fortune. Funny thing is, most of his fortune was spent trying to keep his name out of the headlines. Quite successfully, too. He was more of a legend, a myth, than a man.
“We couldn’t find anything about his early life, though. Not even a birth certificate. Nothing.
“It was a mystery. Until yesterday morning. I read this.”
Lou laid his personal data device—a thin flat card—on the table. The table auto-synced with the card and quickly populated the tabletop with a task menu. “News,” said Lou. The table responded, filling its entire length and width with the days top news stories. “Previous day,” said Lou. The headlines and dates shifted. “A-1,” said Lou. One of the many stories expanded to include full text and photos. The headline read, Terrance Matthews to Attempt Time-Travel.
“It sort of all made sense after that. Gave me goose chills and everything. Hundreds of years my family has been on this. And I cracked it.
“Funny thing, though. Airplanes pretty much put the trains, the depot lockers, out of business. Figure a smart guy like that would of thought of that.
“Anyway, I want to warn him myself. Terrance Matthews, that is.”
The men standing around the table all looked sickly pale. Some of them had tears welling in their eyes. Others just looked afraid. One of them, shaking slightly in the hands, mumbled, “But he traveled this morning.”
Author : Jacob Lothyan
The strobe effect of the cherries in my rear window made me instantly nauseous. All uniforms made me nervous these days. Now I had one walking up the side of my car, and I couldn’t help feeling suspect. I rolled down the window before he arrived, holding my Global Citizen ID at the ready.
He snatched away my ID, taking a cursory glance before stuffing it in his bulky breast pocket. Despite a pitch black, moonless night, he wore large, round shades that were impenetrable. In a flat tone he asked, “Do you know why I pulled you over tonight?”
I hadn’t considered this prior to his asking. Why did he pull me over? I assumed he saw the guilt I felt, but that is no reason to pull somebody over, not even during times like these. Was I speeding? Is my taillight out? Did I swerve? “No,” I blurted, more in answer to my own questions than his.
He smirked and leaned in until his face was on level with my own. Still smirking, he started tapping the frame of his shades. I shook my head in response, not immediately understanding what he was attempting to insinuate. As I shook my head, I felt my own glasses move against my temples, I felt them shift on the bridge of my nose, and my heart sank. The uniform grinned wider and nodded. “Step out of the vehicle.” As I got out of the car, he asked, “Do you have a prescription,”
If I lied, he would know. “No,” I confessed. I felt like crying.
“Glasses,” he demanded, extending an open hand.
I sheepishly pulled the glasses away from my face and handed them over. He tucked them into his breast pocket with my ID. “Don’t blink,” he ordered, pulling an optometer from his utility belt.
I stared blankly forward as the laser passed over both of my eyes. After just a few seconds, the optometer beeped. “Yup,” he taunted, as if the optometer merely confirmed his suspicions. “Mild presbyopia. Certainly not enough to require glasses for driving.”
“Officer—” I pleaded.
I was cut off by the uniform speaking over his com. “Unit 1276. Suspect detained for a possible 451. Stand by.”
The com answered back, “10-4. Standing by.”
“Where are they?” the uniform inquired. “This will be a lot easier if you cooperate.”
He was right about that. It was just so hard to get any these days, let alone the gems I was holding. Still, I conceded. “The door panel,” I whispered, motioning with my head.
The uniform appraised the door for only a second before ripping the panel clean off, spilling Vonnegut, Asimov, and Bradbury all over the damp concrete. He kicked them into the middle of the road as if he was a child playing with a banana slug that otherwise repulsed him. “Come over here,” he snapped.
I arrived to find the uniform holding out a bottle of lighter fluid and a match. “You know what you have to do,” he scolded. I took the fluid and match reluctantly. I was crying before I had fully saturated the first novel. As I dropped the lit match onto the pile, I began sobbing and fell to my knees.
The uniform grabbed my ID and glasses from his breast pocket. He threw the ID down into my lap. “Next time you won’t be so lucky,” he warned, the fire dancing menacingly in his shades. I heard my reading glasses crunch within his fist. The glass fell like a powdery snow, the frames a twisted, empty skeleton.
Author : Garrick Sherman
Jack peered through his neighbor’s window at the poisonous brown planet below. Behind him the party rolled on in a soft murmur. He looked out the wide domed roof at a blanket of stars, then back to the globe below.
A hand brushed against his shoulder. Nicole stood beside him, gorgeous in her green and blue cocktail dress. “Are you alright, Jack?” she asked him.
“Yes. I’m sorry.”
She searched his face. “Sam will be fine, you know.”
“I know. I just worry.”
“It’s a great thing he’s doing, Jack, and he’ll be safe. Without people like Sam, we wouldn’t have glass to drink out of.” She clinked her glass into his and took a sip of wine, smiling. “Or the parts of my new necklace.”
Jack turned his gaze to the necklace he had just given his wife. It was made of petrified wood with an iron charm, gathered from the surface by others like his son. It had cost him a hefty sum, but Nicole was worth it. He returned her smile and gave her a kiss.
“Besides, after a year in a bunker down there, he’ll appreciate life in orbit all the more,” she said.
Jack nodded. “I’m sorry, honey, you’re right,” he replied. “I guess I just don’t really feel like mingling right now. Would you be very mad if I headed home?”
Nicole smiled softly at her husband. “Okay. Don’t forget to send the pod back over when you get there.”
“I love you,” Jack said, and gave her another kiss.
“I love you, too.” Jack walked to the hatch where their pod was parked. He ducked inside, and a moment later Nicole watched through the window as the pod glided toward their home.
When Jack was out of sight, she looked down at the barren brown Earth and sighed. She took another sip of wine, then turned from the view of the planet and blended back into the party.
Author : Jennifer C. Brown aka Laieanna
“I can’t believe we’re referencing pop culture to actually get a look at the universe,” said Megan. She flipped another page of her palm size book. “I mean anything we anticipate coming down is probably in this thing.” Her purple painted nail chipped when she smacked her fingers against the hard surface of the cover.
Ryan heard all the important words but ignored the frustration. He was people watching only the term had to be extended with the arrival of a new neighbor. An Excalbian was ambling around the yard, touching rocks that decorated the outer edges while a group of guys moved large boxes in the small home sitting a distance from the street. Ryan poked Megan in the side of her arm.
“Ow, you prick!” She called out looking at him. Her eyes shifted to where he was pointing. “At least you know what you’re getting,” she said watching the rock monster for awhile then looking back into her book. “Not like those Elaseans that pretty much look like us. Did you hear the females are put on some kind of house arrest by the government to make sure they don’t really have a mind controlling drug in their body? The guys are a bit dickish, but fine.”
“Not everything in that old show is true. The creator had visions but made some embellishments for entertainment purposes. Like them.” Ryan nodded back towards the Excalbian as they passed it’s house. “They don’t shape shift. I think everything could shape shift in that series, but that just seems impossible.”
“And you don’t think that thing itself is impossible?” She looked at him incredulously. “Minarans proved their powers and now they all have high paying jobs in hospitals. I think they’re more important than a doctor.”
“Yeah, but some base their whole lives here on what the tv show said about them. Look at the Orion women. They’re all dancing in strip clubs cause of one thing in the show.”
Megan snorted and closed her book. “They’re probably making more than the Minarans.”
Glancing back at the Excalbian, Roger said, “It’s still amazing that a man could see into the far off future and create a tv show about it, filling in the blanks as he pleased.”
“Now they’re all finding their way to our world instead of us finding theirs. I wonder what the appeal is about Earth. They all seem to settle here, at least for a little while.”
“I think we’ve been pretty gracious and things have gone very smoothly. Well, except for the Tribbles incident.”
“Iconic episode and we couldn’t learn from it,” huffed Megan.
Roger rubbed his hands together, grinning. “I’m excited to see who…err what else moved in around here. I heard it might be a Tellarite or even an Andorian.”
“Of all the aliens in this book, why aren’t the most known ones coming to our planet?” Subconsciously, Megan reopened her book.
“Ask and ye shall receive,” Roger whispered. He jabbed her again. “Look who’s coming out of the building over there.”
She looked, annoyed despite the prospect. Stepping outside the main entrance of a three story, brick apartment complex was a six foot three, half bald, brow ridged male with a Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts, and a pair of black sandals. He tossed his car keys into the air while whistling and strolling to a shiny blue El Camino. Megan sighed. “That’s not a Klingon. John works at the surfboard shop on the beach. He’s all about surfing. Nice guy, but has a real bad birth defect going on there.”
Author : Rosa King
It’s the fifth day and she still hasn’t given up. She sits just outside the range of the station defenses and she watches.
I look out of the window and shiver despite the warm fug of the laboratory. “She knows.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Tom says. “It has no way of knowing what’s in here. You’re imagining things.” He catches sight of my hand where it cradles my still flat belly and sneers, and I wonder what I ever saw in him. “You’re anthropomorphizing. It’s a low level life form and there’s no way it will miss one egg from fifteen.”
“She knows,” I insist. “Look at her. She knows we have it.”
Tom throws down his data module and stalks away, leaving me to stare out of the window and face her.
The creature gets up in a ripple of iridescent scale and walks away, graceful on her six delicate legs. She disappears into the cover of the yellow bushes, so similar to our own but subtly different.
My other hand steals to my abdomen unbidden, and I stare at the space where she was and wait.
The alarm buzzes and Tom runs to the main console and swears. “Something just hit the back wall. How did it get past the defenses?” He moves to the airlock and the suits and guns, preparing to check the damage.
I stay where I am and, sure enough, she comes back and sits right where she was before and stares at me.
My chest tightens as I face her golden slotted eyes and I try to force down the lump rising in my chest. “I’m so sorry,” I whisper, and I know that she wouldn’t care if she knew. Not as long as we have her baby. Something flutters under my heart and it feels as though my own child knows my shame.
I turn and look at the yellow egg, nestled in its bed of native sand sealed within a protective atmosphere. It glows red-gold in the warmth of the heat lamps and I watch it shift under my gaze as the baby tests its tiny world, waiting to see its mother when it wakes. Except it won’t, because we stole it. I wrap my arms around my abdomen and hate myself a little bit more.
She’ll be back tomorrow, and I’ll have to face her again, the same way that I have to face her every day until Tom decides that we have enough samples and we return to Earth with our stolen treasure.
I don’t think I can do this job anymore.