Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

My family made me a robot.

“Your sister needed your lungs!” my mother cried, when I ask about my body. “She needed so much.”

My sister and I were both in the crash, our hover cars smashed into a building three stories over street level. My sister and I plummeted down toward the spinning street, my breath got knocked out of me and my sisters screaming in my ears and then just a moment of intense, searing pain. Then I woke up a robot, all shiny, all new.

“Your sister was too young to become a robot,” my mother tells me. My father looks at the white floor. My sister is wrapped up beside me, only her lips showing through the white bandages.

“We had to sign the papers right away or they might have lost her.” My mother smiles, all teeth. “I think it’s in to be a robot, isn’t it dear?” She turned to my father, who looked away.

Maybe she was right. From what I saw on the feeds, only freaks wanted to be robots.

“We just thank God you are both alive.” My mother was still smiling.

My hands and legs looked human, but my head and trunk are just robotic shells, plastic space. I am smooth and I shine like a new appliance.

“They have a lot of experience making hands and feet, but your head and torso are just prototypes, military grade. You’re like a soldier, isn’t that exciting? Are you upset? Why aren’t you talking? Aren’t you glad your sister is alive?”

I look over at her bed, at her pink lips. Someone has placed a sticker of a butterfly on her bandages. It rises and falls with her breath.

“Yes,” I say, “I am glad.”

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Honest People

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

Joseph’s Grandfather knocked down the cabin door, and stood silhouetted in the blue morning light of Io. Inside, Joseph and Thomas and Betti and Lil lay sprawled over the king sized bed, naked. The room smelled like sex and sweet wine.

Joseph sat up in bed and Thomas squealed, pulling the covers off of Bettie and Lil to cover his naked body. Lil rolled out of bed and Betti rolled over, unaffected by the sudden noise.

“Granddad!” cried Joseph.

“Joseph Hieronymus Gabriel Nightingale Dashhound!” cried his Grandfather. “This is just as I suspected.” Josephs Grandfather, Bartholomew Rubin Sora Flashrim Dashhound, was tall and imposing, a man with a beard to his shoulders and a wide brimmed hat.

Around the corner of the door came Lil’s mother, wielding a laser rifle. “Lil!” she said, “I’m so ashamed of you. I didn’t want to believe that you and your husband were sleeping around, but here it is.” She shook her head, her brown curls bouncing. “Just wait till your father hears about this. You have shamed our family. ”

“Keep your head on Gretel,” said Bartholomew.

“What are you doing here, mom?” said Lil, standing, full naked and defiant in front of the two elders.

“Bartholomew told me that he saw you and Thomas coming up to the cabin night after night, and I didn’t believe him . . .I told him it was innocent.” She sobbed, her rifle shaking. “But now I feel so blind! So foolish!”

“We can do as we like,” said Lil, standing tall, her hands on her wide hips.

“Young woman, this is not Earth. This is the Dark Side of Io. I moved away from the cesspit Earth so that my family could live in a community with moral standards,” said Bartholomew. “You cannot just go fooling’ around here. Not after how hard we worked to make Io a moral place.”

Joseph finally found his voice. “What are you saying, Grandpa?”

“I’m saying that you aught to make an honest woman and man and woman out of these people!”

“But Grandpa!”

“I mean it!” said Bartholomew “I’ve already sent for the Pastor. She’s on her way up here to make it official.”

“But Mom!” said Lil “It didn’t mean anything. It was just for fun.”

“This was the first, time, I swear!” squealed Thomas, clutching the sheets. Betti had finally woken up and was clinging to Thomas’s waist, eyes on Gretel’s laser pistol.

“Don’t listen to them, Gretel,” said Bartholomew. “We’ve got to be strong. I know they’ve been at this for a while. I’ve seen them coming up here, night after night, with wine.”

“Wine doesn’t prove anything,” said Thomas.

“You think I need proof after seeing this?” said Gretel.

“I’m not ready to have a husband and second wife,” said Joseph. “I’m too young!”

“If you’re going to fool around like this then you aren’t too young,” said Bartholomew.

“You can’t force us to marry,” said Lil, crossing her arms over her considerable chest.

“Oh can’t I?” said Gretel, flicking a switch to power up the laser pistol “I think you’ll be getting married today, you all like it or not.”

“You’re going to need a bigger cabin Joseph,” said Thomas.

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Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

Doctor Yun was a bit of a flirt, which put Charlotte at ease. She cradled her left arm in her right hand. She was in pain, but years of larger pains had made this one seem inconsequential. Four children, three planned, one a surprise, skin grafts and organ surgeries had made her very familiar with pain of the body, and she handled it with relaxed ease.

“It’s a minor fracture,” said Doctor Yun. He touched a wall in the office and a picture of her insides flickering into existence. Charlotte had been in enough hospitals to see the fracture easily.

“Well, it doesn’t look that bad.” she said. “Might as well wrap it up and send me off.”

“”It’s not a bad break in itself,” said Doctor Yun, “but the bone itself is trouble,” he tapped the wall and the picture zoomed in. “If you see there, the bone has tiny fissures. It’s brittle and weak.” he tapped the wall again and her records sprung to the surface. “How did you say it broke?”

Charlotte shrugged her thin shoulders. “I picked up my bag to go to work and it just snapped.”

“It looks like this is original, am I correct? You never had this bone replaced?”

“No, but I did get the myto-surgery done about sixty years ago.”

“That regenerates muscles, not on bones.”

“Well then, no, I’ve never had this replaced.”

“It’s time then. The bone is two hundred and twelve years old. I’m surprised it lasted this long.”

“I’ve always had strong bones. Is getting this it replaced difficult?”

“Not at all. In fact, I could have it grown for you and ready in a week. We could replace it in the office.”

“Sounds good. Let’s schedule for next week.” Charlotte tapped the air, summoning her personal schedule to appear.

Doctor Yun flicked his fingers over the wall, and her long medical record scrolled in the air. “Charlotte, I think you may need to consult a lawyer before we replace your bone.”

“A lawyer? Why?” asked Charlotte.

“When you replace this bone, you will have replaced over 90% of your original body with new material. That will legally make you a new person.”

“That’s impossible, Doctor Yun. My brain was never replaced.”

“No, but I see there were implants, some stimulated re-growth, cloning and replacement of cells. Over time, we replaced quite a bit. It wasn’t all at once, of course, but overtime, you do not have the brain that you started life with, Charlotte.”

“Wait, are you saying the law will consider me dead?”

“Since over 90% of you will have been discarded, yes. Charlotte will be dead in the eyes of the law.”

“I am a contiguous person! I remember my childhood, I don’t-“

Doctor Yun touched her knee gently. “Charlotte, it’s not a judgment. All it means is that you need to make up a will stating that you will inherit what’s yours.”

“Oh, I hardly think that’s necessary. Who would claim my things?”

“Life is long, Charlotte. People change. I had a man in here who lost everything to his first born son. Make a will, for your own peace of mind.”

“So, essentially, my broken arm is willing my estate to the rest of me?”


Charlotte cradled her arm as she stood. “Alright, broken arm. Let’s you and me go see the family lawyer about my inheritance.”

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Wings of Drifted Snow, Eyes of Flame

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

Lucifer Morningstar stepped out of his sleek black starship and smiled a sharp smile into the barrel of a particle gun. There were twenty armed guards in the hanger, four on the balcony and the rest on the ground, all of them with their sights on his chest.

Lucifer raised his hands, his sharpened silver nails glinting. “I was told this was to be a peaceful exchange,” he said.

A woman in red walked through the line of guards. “It is. I don’t think that I can be blamed for taking precautions. Your reputation is. . .well known.”

“I would hope it should be, Ms. Tirelle,” said Lucifer, holding out his hand. She ignored it. Lucifer laughed. “You want to get down to business? Very well, give him back. “

Ms. Tirelle shook her head. “No, not until you give us Annabelle.”

“Annabelle died on Earth.” Lucifer spread out his arms. “Her mind was scanned, judged and given to me for punishment. She was found to have quite a lot of sins on her soul.” He grinned, his teeth like knives. “Most of her sins were of a sexual nature.”

The woman’s brow furrowed. “She’s not yours to judge Lucifer. She is a legal citizen of the planet Taurus. Unless you want the United Planets pulling down the walls of Hell, you’ll let us have Annabelle.”

“I’m sorry, the united government of Earth, Heaven and Hell, doesn’t acknowledge life on other planets.” Lucifer shrugged his slim shoulders. “But you have found our weakness, Ms. Tirelle. I know very well that you aren’t from the United Planets. If you were, you wouldn’t have resorted to kidnapping.”

“I could destroy you and your ship right now,” she said, hands clenched.

“You could, yes, but then you’d be killing your dear Annabelle as well. She’s on my ship.” Lucifer held up a hand. “If anyone makes an aggressive move against me, the ship will blow and there won’t be a shred of DNA left to rebuild Annabelle.”

“Then you do intend to make the trade.”

“I’ve always intended to make the trade, Ms. Tirelle, but I have to see him first.”

Ms. Tirelle nodded. “Very well,” she said and motioned with her fingers. A black coffin floated toward them. The top was slit with clear glass, under which Lucifer could see the olive skin, golden hair and snowdrift wings of the Archangel Gabriel.

“Open it.” said Lucifer. Ms Tirelle pressed her hands on the top of the coffin and it opened with a soft hiss. Gabriel inhaled sharply. His eyes were like flames, gold and orange.

“Morningstar,” He said. “I knew you were behind this treachery.” Gabriel took Lucifer’s hand and pressed it against his cheek. Their flesh sizzled against one another. “I knew it.”

Lucifer leaned into the coffin, his face close to the archangel. There was a flash of a long black tongue, a whispered word, Gabriel’s eyes closed.

Lucifer snapped his pale fingers and an imp came out of his starship, leading a woman in white robes with chains around her hands and neck. Lucifer picked a key from under his shirt and handed it to Ms. Tirelle. The key was hot to the touch.

“She’s yours,” he said.

Lucifer lifted Gabriel into his arms. The Angel’s wings brushed the grated floor.

“What are you going to tell him?” Asked Ms. Tirelle. “After all he’s seen, you cannot deny our existence.”

“He’ll be told it was a test of faith.”

“You’ll lie to him.”

“I’m the Prince of lies, Ms. Tirelle, it’s what I do.”

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And now and now and now

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

We, the immortals, the brazen, renewing life, we never stop changing, not for ourselves, not for each other. The universe unfolds and we cannot stop it. The language changes and I change and you changed too. And now I’m remembering the old sounds, the half silent aspirated p’s the sounds that disappeared as things changed again and again and then, yes, again. And now this is what we wear. And now this. And now we are naked and now we wear high necks and then low. And the style rolls on. Things change, not like seasons but like stars, rolling in ever changing patterns across the sky.

And at one time, I knew you. I knew you plugged in and turned on and online and on board and we were new and flying through a world we made. And then it was too many people and then starships and then colony worlds and long travel and long sleeps and new places. We watched from our ships as those spiders changed the planet underneath us, terraforming from red to green and blue, the sunset colors of the planet turning into a new spring. Then we landed and worked the land and came down from our heights like angels come mortal. We starved and worked and prayed to new skies but we were still, we were still us, come down, unplugged, logged off, turned off, and then you turned off for good. And I followed you.

This is the last great adventure, you said, It’s the last one. I want to go to gently into this night, this nothing. And I said no. And you said this is change. This is change. All must change.

But I cling to the underside of creation, on a new world, feeling old, desperate against the change that leaves me without you.

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