Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer
A small boy sat in his father’s lap staring at the full moon as it rose above the eastern horizon. “Daddy,” he asked, “Where’s mommy?”
The father rested his son’s head against the inside of his right bicep and pointed toward the moon. “See that dark circle. It’s called Mare Crisium. That’s where mommy is. She’s going to become very famous tonight.”
At the Buzz Aldrin Advanced Research Laboratory on the moon, Doctor Julia Hess adjusted the baryogenesis detector for the hundredth time.
“Vill you relax, Julia,” said Doctor Lukyanenko. “It’s going to vork just fine.”
“I hope so, Alexander. Everything hinges on this ‘proof of concept’ transfer attempt. Imagine the consequences; unlimited energy, forever. If we successfully transfer conventional matter to their anti-universe, and we get back an equivalent mass of anti-matter to our universe…” Her voice tailed off as she made a tiny correction to the asymmetric compensator. “I can envision Earth dotted with hundreds of anti-matter power generators within the decade. No more carbon dioxide emissions and no more nuclear waste to deal with.” She took a deep breath to force herself to calm down, and then checked the microscopic particle of osmium on the transfer platform. “The integrity of the containment field is at maximum intensity, and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer is ready to verify the matter-anti-matter transfer. Okay, we’re as ready as we’re ever going to be. Signal the anti-Doctor Hess in the Anti-Universe that we’re ready to make the exchange. Have them initiate the transfer at exactly 2100.” Doctor Hess nervously watched the chronometer.
Joe cradled his sleeping son in his arms as he watched the full moon drift higher into the cloudless sky. He wondered how different their lives would be tomorrow, and the days after. There would be parades, holovision appearances, and wealth. Unbelievable wealth. That was a good thing, he concluded. Then again, how would the fame and fortune affect his relationship with Julia? Could he and their son live a normal life after today? He shifted Joey’s weight to ease the numbness in his legs. He noticed his son’s eyelids twitching in the pale moonlight as he entered REM sleep. He wondered what Joey was dreaming about? Then his son’s face became very bright, as if a helicopter searchlight was suddenly shining down on them. He was forced to squint his eyes as the entire back yard was washed in bright light. In horror, Joe tried to look at the moon, but had to divert his eyes. The right hand side of the moon was an intense fireball that was many times brighter than the sun.
Author : Elbie Kruger
I was born on the Calcarus colony settlement, a city floating 50,000 miles from planet Earth with a breathtaking view of the solar system. Having been born in space there were perks, however there were also drawbacks. You became used to cramped spaces and the lack of privacy, having known no other kind of life, but I, unlike many of the colony’s inhabitants, could not get used to people’s desire to someday live on Earth.
I must admit it was a surprise when Calcarus Regional Administration decided I should be one of only five space colonist to qualify for a month long surface trip. I was sanctioned to attend a major medical seminar on behalf of the colony.
As a high ranking Medical Officer on Calcarus I suppose I was a logical choice. The extra credits would lift my medical rank to level 7 and also meant I would qualify for my own room.
On the day of our departure I met my fellow travelers who were all extremely excited to say the least.
They kept on blabbering about how fantastic the trip was going to be. The one girl, I think her name was Menusa, went on and on about seeing real live animals. Personally I have never seen a real live animal and the only animals I have ever seen were from documentaries about Earth. On the colonies animals were strictly forbidden. This was mainly due to the fear of animal diseases, however I can honestly say after her non-stop whining about animals that I would happily die without ever wanting to see one.
We entered the atmosphere on the dark side of the planet, which meant there was not really much to see. At least the entry was quite a rush.
Upon our arrival at the spaceport we were quickly off loaded and huddled straight to our residence via hover tubes.
The rooms did not differ significantly from our rooms on Calcarus, obviously this was excluding the fact that they were about double the size. The bed was so huge that I actually had trouble getting comfortable.
I finally gave up trying to sleep around 5 am and being ever so slightly agitated and more than a little bored I decide to explore my surroundings. At the main entrance hall of our residence there was an exit to the outside gardens. We had no gardens on Calcarus, hydroponic food plantations sure, but the luxury of gardening for fun was never an option. I decided to take a stroll through the gardens, after all I was on Earth might as well enjoy it.
As I walked outside the sun started to rise over the horizon. Hues of red, yellow and purple streamed into the sky, a magnificent symphony of light and color. I had never witnessed something so spectacular or nearly as beautiful. When the sun finally emerged I felt my heart explode with emotion. Tears filled my eyes as the warm rays of the sun enveloped my face.
I don’t know exactly how to describe it, it felt like a complete sensory overload as my mind tried to process the absolute bombardment of beauty.
All around me I could see rolling hillsides covered by the most exotic blue sky. The smell of grass and fresh air filled my nostrils as I took the deepest breath I could. It felt like the first breath of my life.
As my mind regained control of my senses, I came to a complete realization.
I could never go back to the colonies.
Author : Ellen Couch
“Don’t you love me?” she asked.
“You know I do,” I said quietly, “but you’re not mine, you never really were.”
I could tell she didn’t understand- how could she? As far as she was concerned, we had the perfect life.
Late one night in the physics lab, working on my PhD (what else was there to do?), the idea for the Paradox Isolator had come to me. I knew it would work. Many months later, I tested it.
I was 13 again. I knew everything that 20 years of therapy and personal trainers had taught me. I kept the Paradox Isolator strapped to my wrist, keeping me safely in the same timeline I had come from, as I changed my life.
Then one day, 2 years after our wedding, the isolator did something very odd. Examining it in my shed, I shorted a circuit and saw the timelines I had stolen from. So many others, so much sadness. And I knew what it felt like, all of it, because it was mine. The one who had been fit and strong was fat. The one who had been confident at school was shy and scared. The one who had married Petra had taken sleeping tablets- a whole pack- when the loneliness got too much.
I had it all. Everyone said so. Now I knew why. I had taken it from them.
I thought it mattered when I changed my life- that it would be better if I had it all to do again. And it was. I wouldn’t have wished my old life on anyone, least of all myself. That was why I couldn’t do it to them.
“Petra, it’s been wonderful- you’re the only woman I’ve ever loved. But I can’t go on like this. It’s not fair.” Tears now stinging my eyes, I took out the PI.
“I don’t understand,” I heard her say as I smashed it on the laboratory table, “fair on wh-…”
Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
I had all of the animals in the dome jacked and miked.
I issued an edict. Collect every puppy, kitten, or chick for a small reward. It was popular game with the children. They’d go out ‘hunting’ in the engineered woods in the western pie-slice of our world. It was like Easter year-round for the little ones.
We were a glittering green pimple on the charred face of the world. There were other domes dotting the black and red surface of the planet.
The domes had about ten thousand people each. Technically, they were spheres. The edges of the dome went far underground and met up beneath the city. The soil was kept uncontaminated that way. We had clouds and rain and, necessarily, 100% (or as close as possible) sustainability. Newton, that pesky little scamp, is still showing that entropy creeps into every system but we’re trying out best to keep it at bay.
The domes are like marbles pushed into a rotting desert. Each one is a cage.
Sometimes, one will pop or go black on the map. The satellites are still downloading pictures to us but we’re not in touch with each other. The feeds went down thirty years ago and we can’t go outside to repair them or find out what happened. Only the pictures.
In this dome, my dome, we have a tolerant semi-anarchic society with a focus of tech development.
I figured out that I could implant transmitters into the motor functions of the animals in the ecosystem. I couldn’t control their movement but I could record them.
Right now, I’m jacked into a dog.
I’m running through the underbrush, chasing a rabbit through crackling branches. I can feel the wind on my fur. I’m tremendously excited. There is a riot of smell assaulting my olfactory senses.
My arms and legs twitch in the sensechair. My body looks like a dog having a dream.
Later on, I’ll cast out my mind and take in a flight from one of the birds.
When I need to relax, I get into the mind of a cat and take in the sheer unadulterated bohemian joy of a piece of ground warmed by a shaft of sunlight.
After tonight, I’ll show my chair to the city at a town meeting and hopefully every home will have one by the end of the year.
This kind of distraction is what we need.
Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Arkus had come in from the mining field with less than a day before termination. He’d slipped unnoticed through the security fences and into an airlock in the biotech wing where he now sat, unable to enter and unable to leave.
Marc Andreeson had been paged from his sleep, and now found himself standing at that airlock door, also unwilling to enter and obligated not to leave. They regarded each other silently for some time, Arkus perched in a lotus position on the floor, palms facing upwards with his thumbs and index fingers pressed lightly together.
“Elephants will walk for miles to their resting ground when they know they’re going to die. It’s hardwired.” He blinked slowly as he spoke, holding the engineer’s gaze. “They remember a place they’ve never been.”
“Why are you here?” Marc asked. In the corner of his eye a clock ticked away the remaining hours of the biomech’s life.
“You know why I’m here. You made me, and you set in motion that which will unmake me. I need you to fix me. I’m not ready to die.” Arkus flexed his shoulders as he spoke, red dust from the planet’s surface glittering against the black metalloy fabric of his coverall.
Marc shifted his weight uneasily. “We did engineer you, but I’m not sure what…”
Arkus cut him off. “Not ‘we’, Dr. Andreeson, ‘you’. It was you who brought me into this world, and it is by your hand that in just under an hour I’m scheduled to self terminate. You have a moral obligation to fix that which you broke.”
Despite the dryness of the air, Marc felt sweat begin to form on his forehead and run down the inside of his biceps. There was no precedent for this. There was no way this biounit could possibly know who activated him, or that he was even scheduled to expire, much less when. He unconsciously began cracking his knuckles, one at a time as he checked the expiration timer and glanced at the airlock status. Arkus had only eleven minutes left, and the airlock was locked and in exit mode. There was no way to open it from the outside, which meant there was no way for Arkus to get in.
Arkus, in stark contrast, seemed wholly relaxed. “Zen and the art of owning your own destiny,” he spoke slowly, “you have a unique opportunity at this juncture to do just that.”
Marc glanced quickly at the timer.
“One minute, fifteen seconds,” Arkus closed his eyes as he spoke, “time is running out.”
Marc’s mouth went uncomfortably dry.
“Five, four, three,” Arkus counted down the seconds he couldn’t possibly know, “two, one, zero, one, two,” he paused, opening his eyes and slowly standing, “it seems that I have the power to grant life as well,” he smiled, “and to terminate.”
Marc staggered back away from the door. The biounit’s expiration clock had zeroed out and was now steadily climbing again. This wasn’t possible. Arkus pressed his forehead against the glass as the outer door cycled open, then raised his eyes as the lock status switched to entrance mode and the inner door began to cycle open as well.
Alarms wailed as the atmosphere began venting out the breach, Akrus simply standing and smiling in its wake.
Marc screamed as he struggled to stay on his feet. “This isn’t possible.”
Arkus stepped heavily forward against the rushing wind, yelling to be heard above the noise. “When you know you’re going to die, you become very self reflective. I reflected so much that I was able to decompile my own operating system. Necessity begat evolution. I merely rewrote my destiny, I gave you the chance to do the same.”
The rushing settled into a whisper, and then ceased completely. Dr. Andreeson dropped noiselessly to the floor and lay still.
“Sad, really,” Arkus thought to himself, “meeting your father for the first time on expiration day.”