The Titan Consortium

Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

“Okay, Mister, er…,” Phillip Richfield glanced at his monitor, “Rousseau, what’s the crisis? Is something wrong with the orbital elevator pump?”

Soren Rousseau, one of the many “facilitators” hired by The Greenhouse Gas Project, had only been on Titan for six months, and this was his first encounter with the Director of Operations. “No, Mr. Richfield.” He took a deep breath to calm himself down. “It’s more important than that. We need to shut the entire methane transfer operation down. Titan’s oceans contain an indigenous life form that the original survey team missed. We need to preserve their habitat.”

“Life form?” questioned Richfield. “You mean there are fish swimming in these oceans?”

“Uh, no sir. It’s more like proto-bacteria. Still, it’s the first case of extraterrestrial life ever detected. Their existence will revolutionize the field of exobiology.”

“Did it ever dawn on you that the bacteria are something that we introduced into Titan’s oceans?”

“Yes, sir. I had the chemistry department check some samples for polymerase chain reactions. There weren’t any, so their biochemistry doesn’t contain DNA. It can’t be Earth-based contamination.”

“Well, I say that it is Earth-based contamination. Son, let me explain the big picture to you. A hundred years ago, the sun entered a long-term phase where solar irradiance started steadily decreasing. If we didn’t do something to maintain the surface temperature of the Earth, it was going to turn into a giant snowball. The Greenhouse Gas Project was created to collect and deliver the equivalent of one trillion cubic feet of methane gas to the Earth every week in order to produce enough greenhouse gasses to sustain the average surface temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit. We’re already behind schedule, and you want me to shut down the project to save proto-bacteria. It’s not going to happen. There are billions of human lives are at stake. Now, get back to work.”

“With all due respect, Mister Richfield, I can’t in good conscience sit quietly while you destroy the greatest scientific discovery in history. You’re going to force me to go public.”

Richfield smiled. “Is that so? Well, I guess you haven’t read the fine print on your contract. Because it cost billions of dollars to transport and support the people on Titan, the government has given us extensive leeway pertaining to your ‘civil rights.’ As a consequence, we own you for five years. You have no say in the matter. So, effective immediately, you’re being reassigned to a survey mission in the Oort Cloud. Now, go pack up your personal effects, your shuttle will leave within the hour. And don’t think about using the radio, your privileges are revoked.” He pressed an intercom button. “Yukos, please have security escort Mister Rousseau to his quarters, and then to the shuttle bay. He’s going on special assignment.”

Two burley security guards came into Richfield’s office and forcibly carried Rousseau away, amid his vehement curses and threats. Richfield then called the Director of Transportation. “Mikhail, I need a favor. I’m sending a disgruntled employee on an extended survey mission. I need his shuttle pre-programmed to take him to the Oort Cloud. Also, you’ll need to disable his radio.”

“Sure thing, Phillip. I’ll take care of it myself. What’s your preference this time: reactor malfunction, carbon dioxide poisoning, decompression?”

“He’s a decent guy, Mikhail, but misguided. Let’s make it quick.”

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 : Ken McGrath

I’m taking my time, figuring it’s best to be patient. By letting him feel secure and safe he’ll never suspect what’s happening. Never realise that I’ve been slowly bleeding him dry all this time, running him to bodily ruin.

I read something once about the Matador’s of old Earth, something they used to do when bullfighting. During the show, when the bull was running by them through that coloured cape, they’d slice their blade along its back. Scouring it deep. Each bleeding furrow on its own wouldn’t do too much damage, but over the course of the bout they all added up. The bull never realised how much blood it was losing, slowing it down, weakening it and eventually leading to its death.

So like a Matador I fight against him playing the long game. I smile at him in the streets when we walk by each other. I lean over our common fence and between lung splitting coughs he talks to me about the strange weather we have on this still unfamiliar world. Not once does he realise that I’m continuously cutting long, deep slices in him.

And all the time he’ll never really know who I am. He thinks I’m just some old guy who made my fortune using family money to fund the wars back home, the wars which finally tore our old Mother Earth apart, driving us off planet to this new Terra we now call home. But it will never really be home to me because I have nothing here.

It was those wars that took my family, wiping them out quickly and ultimately. Gone in one final, fatal moment. But of course he’s going to die a lot slower than that. I’m planning on taking my time with him.

His company manufactured the bombs that obliterated a whole team of Safe Earth Aid Workers. All they were trying to do was help victims and without warning they were reduced to almost nothing. Little more than radiation dust blowing in the wind. Not even a handful was left of them for me to bury.

I got off planet as soon as I could after that. Cashing in my bonds and life policies, looking for a new place to run and hide, to be alone with my grief. I assumed a new identity and buried that pain inside, lashing out at myself in anger but never brave enough to end it all. I wanted no-one to know what I carried in my heart, didn’t want them talking in hushed whispers anytime this widower walked near by, this one time great chemist now reduced to nothing. I told them I was from old money and they accepted my almost cloistered existence, putting it down to snobbery.

So imagine my surprise when I found out he’d purchased the plot next to mine. Imagine how difficult it was for me to not lash out immediately, instead calming myself and formulating a plan.

So now, with a steady supply of homegrown germs, I’m bringing him slowly into a world filled of pestilence, where his defences are slowing over time, causing his organs to fail one by one. It’s not a quick process by any means but I’m a patient man. He’ll rot slowly while still alive, his body becoming a mausoleum with what’s left of his blackened soul trapped screaming inside and none of their medical advances will be able to rescue him. I’ll see to that.

This is my revenge.

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

Dark Side of the Sun

Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Featured Writer

Klaxons screamed inside the ship as she plunged into the Sun. The three crew members on the main flight deck were violently shaken in their couches. Their Kevlar straps strained under the onslaught.

“We’re entering the upper photosphere.” That statement could not have been heard above the painful noise had it not been for the bone conductive communicators implanted in their parietal bones.

“What’s the hull temperature,” commander Stanislaw asked.

No reply came.

“Damnit, what’s the reading,” he barked.

“Sorry Mik, my mistake. There are no readings, nothing is working back here. The way I see it, is that when our skin gets a nice brown crispy texture, we’ll know the hull’s been breached..”

“Thanks for that bit of optimism Al. Isn’t anything working?” Mikhail Stanislaw, mission commander, was amazed at how calm the guys seemed despite their impending death.

“I have nothing on my screens Cap,” replied mission specialist Beth Svoboda, “But it sure as hell is getting warm in here.” The sound of her shaking voice coupled with the rumble of the ship reminded Mik of talking with his mother as a boy while the train they rode rumbled across the tracks into Moscow.

A horrendous wrenching noise tore through the cockpit. Al Dane was the first to identify the crash. “Sounds like we just lost the colony pod. There go three hundred people who won’t ‘Enjoy Paradise in the Off World Colonies,’” he finished mimicking the now familiar mantra of the omnipresent emigration ads.

“At least they won’t feel anything. Lucky bastards. Straight from cryo to crispy in two seconds or less, or your next cremation is free.” Beth remarked in her sing song voice.

“It will be the same for us right?” The first quaver of concern was evident in Al’s voice. “”We’ll go painlessly right?”

Mik answered without emotion, heedless or unaware of his comrades fears. “Never fear, ours is a sturdy craft. She can take temperatures far higher than the pod. No my friend, I fear that our end will not come so quickly. The heat will continue to build until we are literally boiled in our own fluids. Then we shall slowly be dry roasted. After that, all that  remains will be three piles of anhydrous powder left to be borne upon the solar winds.”

“Hey, I didn’t sign up for this. I’m nothing more than a glorified bus driver. Who’s idea was it to loop the Sun instead of Jupiter.” Al’s voice was reaching a sharp crescendo.

“Relax,” said Beth in her slow calming voice, “It doesn’t matter. There’s nothing we can do. It will all be over soon. Look at it this way, in a hundred years, who’s going to care?

The ship, if it were possible, seemed to rock more violently. “Well, looks as if this is it. Das vidanya everybody.”

“See you on the other side,” piped in Beth cheerfully.

“Gaack,” said Al.

The craft shook so violently, it felt as if she would b torn apart. Kevlar straps did break. The few instruments that weren’t built into the ship became deadly missiles

And as quickly as it had begun it ceased. No noise, no sense of motion, nothing.

Nobody spoke for what seemed an eternity. Al broke the silence. “So, this is it?”

“Apparently,” Beth responded.

“It’s not so bad.” He sat in thoughtful silence for a moment. “Hey, remember those Orange Julius stands they had when we were kids?”

“Yeah, what about them?” An almost dreamlike mask had descended upon Beth’s features.

“I Think I’m gonna get me one.”

“Hey Al?”

“Yeah Mik.”

“Get me one too.”

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 Scar in the Universe

Author : Matthew Edwin Terry

Everything that is, everything that was, is destined for vacuity. It is the undeniable future of all existence. It is the predetermined course of all cognitive dominions. As the many galactic commonwealths before, stretching and grasping at the furthest ethereal gastric cloud with it’s invaluable clustered masses, something so pessimistically grand to the empire is only ever realized on an individual level, akin to our own sense of mortality.

“Listen to my heart’s rhythm again my dear, for the organ which pulses blood into this soul is cursed to live a minuscule length.” He said. The woman beside him, his lover, could only weep for her own future. Somber eyes and the ashen tinge of their skins were visible in the placid room. The inflection of torn emotions and the imaginative embrace of hypocrisies was in the air, from wall to wall, floor to ceiling. It was silent. The pressure of their regrets, and of each others tapering care was heavy set on their minds and hearts. It dulled them to a stupor, the feeling of intense thought with not one astir. It was exerting to comfort the other now. The man sat up on the mattress.

“Let’s turn on the light. I’d like to see you.” He told her, his eyes fixed on her hair. He was trying to find the pieces of character in her that he did not see every ordinary day, he was trying to look at her with a new vitality. It was too stressful, he looked downward.

“It’s…it’s too b-bright out there to turn on a light.” She responded, wiping some of the lukewarm moisture from beneath her large amber eyes. The ground shook lightly. She looked at him, wishing she’d wanted his warmth. In a moment that seemed too real, and too spontaneous to be a product of their drawn out amours, he took her hand. Around the bed, in the dim blue light he lead her to the adjoining corridor. Their feet were cool on the wooden floor. They stood in front of the long rectangular window, side by side, the grip of his hand loosing. The glass pane was perspiring and bits of steam slipped from it’s surface.

The sun was no more. Where it had been there was a scar, a deep, magnificent yellow tear that split the purple sky in utmost evasiveness. It’s pointed spires extended farther than the eye could see. Elsewhere the last eight minutes of this planet had already passed, and the audience was already submerged in oblivion. The dirty barren surface beneath the star’s wrath in front of them was more beautiful. The light illuminated the sand and rocks, giving a red aura to an otherwise brown terrain. He saw that she was already watching him, and when he returned her gaze he did not have to try to find what he loved in her. It was clear. Every organic morsel of her inculpable being meant as much, and had as much complexity as this star system. They learned what it meant to be human, in the final seconds of their existence.

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 : Ryon Moody

A knock at the door caused Gerald to drop the book he was perusing. Carefully keeping out of sight of the large bay windows that fronted the house, he looked through the peep hole. A thin, older man in a disheveled herringbone sport-coat was standing there with a bundle of books under one arm, smiling kindly.

“Good morning, can I help you?” Gerald said as he opened the door, though it came out as “Good mornaaaaHAHaaaAHHurgg!” as the old man shoved a stun gun into his neck.

He felt as if he had only been out momentarily, and a quick glance at the Armstrong unit’s HUD embedded in his iris confirmed it. Thank god that wasn’t damaged, he thought. Gerald made to stand up, but found he’d been tightly bound to his sturdy kitchen chair.

A quick look around the studio found the old man sitting opposite him in a threadbare sweater, the old sport coat now draped over the back of the other half of the set. He was sipping on the tea Gerald had prepared earlier.

“Who are you, an anti-transference activist?” Gerald said.

“They sound like a rough bunch,” the old man said in amusement.

“Well, if you’re not, why else would you tie me up? Rather roughly I might add.”

“In the current time, young men still learn to tie knots in the Boy Scouts,” the old man said, then added with a wistful face “though fewer do these days than in my time as a boy.”

Gerald didn’t notice the man’s pained expression for his had gained a bit of pallor. Current time. The worst thing that could happen to a transference subject, exposure. “Who are you?” he asked, this time with as fierce a stare as he could manage.

“Nobody in particular. I teach Quantum Mechanics at the local college.” He took another sip. “This is quite excellent, did you bring it with you?”

“No, that’s not possible,” Gerald replied, realizing this man wasn’t going to be fooled by fast talking. “Do you work for the continental government? How did you find me?”

“No, no, I’ve been searching on my own for quite some time now.”

“For me?”

“Now, now, don’t be so vain. I developed a method several years ago for spotting people like you.”


“Appearance, mannerisms, language structure. Good work on the latter, your English is nearly perfect.”

“Thanks,” Gerald said offhand. “Well, what do you want to know? Just so you know, you can’t travel like I can, the device is biologically implanted.”

“That makes sense,” the man said, setting his now-empty cup on the table. “However, I simply need next week’s Powerball numbers.”

Gerald stared at him for a moment. “Lottery numbers.” The man nodded. “I know the history of the next thousand years, and you want lottery numbers.”

“I won’t keep all the winnings, just enough to get by,” the old man said, getting to his feet, then added with another wrinkly smile, “comfortably of course.”

“Oh, of course,” Gerald said as he rolled his eyes.

“Scout’s honor,” the man said, holding up his right hand.


“Yes, really. Out of curiosity, what is the name of the device?”

“Uh, the Armstrong Unit. It’s named for the foundation that developed it a few hundred years ago, or, from now.”

“Care to guess my last name?” the man said with a smile.

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