Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer
“I’m thinking of breeding,” Theo declairs.
Teressa ponders Theo’s statement as she slices with butch determinism a bite-sized cube from her Viti-Gel (containing 33.3% of all her daily dietary requirements). She stabs the gelatinous orange chunk with a silver skewer before speaking. “You must be joking, darling. No one’s Bred in a hundred span!”
“I know,” Theo bubbles enthusiastically, “It’s so retro!” The two burst into hysterics. Theo’s shrill giggle duels riotously with Teressa’s atonal nasal quacking.
Finally catching her breath, Teresa barks, “Seriously?”
“Seriously. I want to have a baby!” Theo’s grin is wide and capricious. “With you.”
Teressa freezes, still as a basalisk. Half-way from plate to mouth an incredulous cube of acme-food jiggles at the end of her utensile.
“Don’t be absurd. The very idea makes me nauseous.” Her skewer clatters resentfully to the table. “There’s an excellent reason why we don’t have babies anymore, Theo. Life’s better off without the hassle. Trust me. As a woman, I know.”
“Oh, really? When’s the last time you even saw a child?”
“The Tenders manage everything marvelously and I’m perfectly content to let them. They raised you and I, right? We turned out civiilized.”
“Civilized.” Theo spits the word.
“Well, in my case, anyway,” Teressa smirks. “But I don’t think they were very thorough with your psyche profile.”
“Theo, babies only distract us from persuing what we want in life. Just look at what humanity has accomplished since the Tenders took over the whole messy ordeal of reproduction. Everyone’s free to pursue their passions, unburdened by a – well, a parasite basically.”
“You’re so melodramatic, Teressa.”
“And you’re a genetic throwback, Theo!”
“I prefer neo-bohemian.”
“Theo, I’ve got more important things to do than play with children.”
“That may be our very problem!” Theo stabs his finger righteously into the air. “We never play, let alone with children. We don’t see new citizens until they’ve graduated – at sixteen! I’ve no idea what kids are like, but they must be fun. We used to spend so much time making them.”
“Because if we didn’t, we’d’ve died out long ago. But it’s different now. We have the Tenders.”
“That’s a good thing?” Theo queries dubiously.
“Look, if you want to start wiping your ass with your hand – like we used to – go ahead, but don’t drag me into another one of you’re hair-brained experiments with antiquated human behaviours.
“But – “
“Is this about sex?” Teressa blurts.
“Is your Companion functioning?”
“Yes, dear. It’s working fine.”
“Sure you don’t want an upgrade? A new model came out last week.”
“I was thinking of getting one for myself anyway. I’m sure we can swing a deal for two.”
Theo flares, “I don’t want a new sex-bot, Teressa! I want a child! With you. Our very own child to –“
“To do what, Theo? You don’t know the first thing about raising a child.”
“That’s the whole point – to not know! We know everything now. Or think we do. Pretty much anything anybody would care to know about is simply an implant away. But kids! Kids are a whole new mystery. Each one unique. What do the Tenders know that we don’t?”
“I am not having your child, Theo. End of discussion.”
Theo, slumps into his chair defeated, deflated and dejected, hope oozing from his bleeding heart. A thoughtful silence hangs over the table long enough for the wall ambience to shift from morning to afternoon décor.
Theo takes a plaintive sip of his nutrient tetrapack – – before asking, “What if all you wanted to be was a parent?”
Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer
At 12:01pm Greenwich Time every vid-screen worldwide is interrupted by a mysterious broadcast. Every program on every channel airs the same ominous figure shrouded in thick shadow. “Greeting citizens of Earth,” speaks the mystery man after a brief, enigmatic silence. World leaders are called away from meetings or roused from sleep to watch the pirated broadcast, unable to stop it. Eyes and ears all over the globe are fixed on their media outputs.
“For two hundred years my identity and purpose has been carefully hidden from you.” The speakers queer voice modulates with a frog-like intonation. “But the time has come to reveal myself and my intentions. As of yesterday, by your own terrestrial laws, I have legally purchased all property, water and mineral rights, corporations, manufacturing and processing plants, patents, law firms and banks. I presently own 95% of the planet and its resources. I am,” an alien face looms into the light, flat and featureless, “your new landlord.” A thin crimson slash cracks the smooth, ebony salamander skin – a twisted smile. Twin, black pearl-like eyes gleam with inscrutable intelligence. The world holds its breath.
“My name is B’nar Khaffri Sul-nikat. I am what you earth people would call an extra-terrestraial, though I’ve lived on this planet far longer than any of you. I am an explorer from a solar system far beyond your current ability to locate. Even from a thousand light years away I was attracted to the wondrous beauty of your home; it’s variety of life and plant species so unlike most worlds in the cosmos. If you only knew how truly rare this oasis of life was, you would not have become so careless in your treatment of it.
“For reasons uncountable I have come to love this planet as much as my own, which is why, after a thorough examination of your backward economics and outlandish international and corporate laws, it became clear that I could simply buy it from you.” The being laughs, a sound much like a wooden bat being dragged across metal bars.
“It is ironic how much your species values so-called ”precious” minerals and metals, how much importance you place on ownership and legal rights, how much faith you have in an economic system so easily corruptible and flawed. I say ironic because the gold, diamonds and petroleum you deem so ‘rare’ and cherish so highly are, in fact, as abundant as the stars. I have seen entire planets made of diamond, oceans of crude oil, moons with rivers of gold. Yet on these common, base elements you would hang your happiness at the tragic expence of the unique and glorious diversity of life your planet offers; a treasure far beyond monetary quantification. Your backward obsession with shiny things, however, made it simple for me to amass wealth sufficient enough to purchase, over time and with utmost discretion, those industries and resources which represent your present civilization.
“It is time to protect my investment before your destructive tendencies reach their inevitable, tragic end. As of this moment, all mining and manufacturing will cease, all borders are dissolved, all banks are closed. I will grant humanity one year to vacate the premises before my new tenants arrive.”
B’nar Khaffri Sul-nikat fades back into murky shadow.
“Please, do not attempt to resist. You’ll find the effort most unrewarding.”
The television screen goes blank. The radio broadcasts only static. Seven billion newly homeless humans stare unblinking into thin air, like a gambler who has lost everything on a single bet, unwilling to believe the outcome; beaten at their own game.
Author : Desmond Hussey, Staff Writer
wake screaming. where am i? body hurts… everywhere… spiders beneath my skin, crawling, biting. feel queazy. stomach’s spinning. so dim. can barely see. my arms. can’t move my arms. “What the f -…?” stay calm. focus… breath… in… out… in… out… in – what was that? shadows. something’s coming! blurry shapes. “Who are you? Why are you doing this?” an awful chittering sound. “Are you talking? Listen to me! Hey! Listen to – nonono don’t… aaaaaaahhh!”
wake again. scream in agony, rage, terror. alone. cold… so cold… still can’t move. side hurts… can’t see it. am i bleeding? blurred shapes come in-out of focus. walls of flesh. breathing, in… out… crimson light pulses through translucent veins… down curving corridors. a honeycomb of tunnels. movement. too fast. someone’s voice. “Kara? Is that you?” flash of steel. shes’screaming! “Kara, what’s happening? Stop hurting her. Stop it!” screaming stops. silence. too quiet. “Kara? Say something. Kara… Please. Say something… please… please…” my eyes burn with fury. “What did you do to her you sonofabitch? What did you do to my wife? I swear I’m gonna – aaaaaaaahh.!”
no strength. mouth like glue. eyes. too heavy. how long has it been? no pain. feel nothing. no cold. nothing. what’s that sound? who’s crying? “Emily? Emily, sweetheart? Is that you? Come to daddy. Emily? Who’s with you? Who’s hurting you?” shadows. too many arms. cold light. too bright. “Get away from her! Leave her alone!” muscles ripping, trying to reach. hands trapped in wall of flesh. a face looms. too many eyes. what’s that smell? tuna? “I’m gonna kill you! No! Don’t hurt her too! Look away, sweetheart.” no! not her eyes. “Look away, Emily. Don’t let them touch you…” her beautiful eyes. i love you… so sorry… couldn’t protect you. i –
don’t move a muscle when the shadow returns. eyes closed. wait. feel movement – left arm. free. right arm. free. stay limp. play possum. falling slowly. drifting. floating. wait. hook slices through left shoulder. don’t flinch. too numb to feel pain. wait. being pulled, floating horizontal… down a corridor? or up a shaft? pulsing lights. breathing walls. weightless. a drop of blood floats past. emily’s? kara’s? mine? ceiling/floor/walls? flash by quickly. a maze of tunnels. dizzy. feeling nauseous. spinning. stomach heaves but nothing comes out. stop moving. wicked chattering. the face!
now! swing hard. fist connects with sponge flesh. bird-like bones crack. the action pushes/throws me. feel a surface and push off with all my rage. a missile of revenge the color of fury… when it’s over i float within a swirling mist of quicksilver blood.
head clearing. see a glowing hole… beyond it our room! our bed! i’m dreaming. thank god. “Kara? Emily?” reach, crawl, hand over fist, pulling my rebellious body over sinuous walls toward that warm, familiar light. so close. i’m coming… can almost feel you…
“ – you’ll awaken at the sound of the bell in three… two… one…” A bell rings. “You’re safe and sound at the institute, Mr. Stewart.” Dr. Penrose smiles wearily at the distraught patient and turns to Police Inspector Cross, “Still nothing, I’m afraid. If you were hoping for a confession, or to know where the bodies are hidden, we won’t find out through hypnosis. He’s completely blocked all memory of murdering his family and has substituted this outrageous fantasy.”
“I see. Most unfortunate. One more question, doctor. In your professional opinion, is it possible to remove one’s own kidney?”
“Possible, I suppose,” Dr. Penrose muses gravely, “but highly unlikely. Why?”
“His is missing.”