Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

Marie-Christine looked into her mirror at her naked adolescent body, flat and slender. There were parts she was disappointed in and parts that pleased her. She was careful not to stare too long, her parents were sure to be watching her visual feed for abnormal behavior.

She was happy that she no longer had to monitor her words. For a whole year now, she had been free of the blasted chip that meant that she had to watch her mouth. The Children’s Rights Amendment 2112 had banned the use of audio monitoring in children because it restricted free speech and impeded the development of the independent thought, a resource and necessity for a citizen of a democratic society. For Marie-Christine, it meant that she could now curse, and that older kids would talk to her.

Marie-Christine went through all the motions of going to bed; she carefully laid her clothes for the next day on her desk. She counted the steps from her window to her bed, and from her bed to her desk. Crawling into bed, closing her eyes, she fought off the soft pull of sleep. After twenty minutes, she heard a tapping on her window, and she got out of bed, her eyes still closed. She opened the window and leaned out, groping the air with her hands.

When her hands touched leather, she squealed with delight. “Dean!”

“Hush kid, just cause your parents can’t see what you’re doing, doesn’t mean they can’t hear you from the bedroom.”

She smiled “Don’t worry about them, they sleep in a depro-tank.” Dean’s breath smelled like peppers. She could hear him clambering through the window. He was handsome, olive skin and high cheekbones, dark brows, blank white eyes. After Amendment 2112 passed Dean became very popular. All the kids wanted to learn how from him how to get around without their eyes. Dean didn’t mind the attention, but Marie-Christine knew that he only had ears for her. She was the only girl who liked him before the Amendment. No matter how many girls wanted Dean at their windows, Marie-Christine was the only one who would find him there.

They said that his blindness was cause by an act of tech terror, the insane scientists who claimed that the current political moralist was stalling technological development. Sometimes their acts would create seven armed musical geniuses, and sometimes blinded children.

“Stay still.” he said softly, and wrapped a soft cloth over her eyes. She touched her face, now she was really a sleepwalker. “It’s just in case you open your eyes by accident.”

“This is so weird.’ she said, excitedly. “Um, not that there is anything wrong with not seeing.”

Dean grabbed her hands and guided them to his face. He was smiling. “Come on good girl, lets go out tonight.”

She put on her clothes, and found Deans hand in the darkness behind the blindfold. Together they crawled out the window to the cool night, the strange streets, brave in their blindness.

People stared at the rebel children, the sleepwalkers, but the children couldn’t see them.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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Dark Water

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

“When the Surface became too crowded, Man had already hollowed out great caves in the crust of the Earth, mined for metals with which to build his towers. It was simple for those who desired space to move downwards, found the first cities of the UnderEarth.”

-Excerpt from The Laws of the UnderEarth

Testimony of Arla, The Insane

Eleanor was burning, her pelvis felt blistering to touch. Her breath came out wet and hot, like steam from a kettle. She stumbled forward in the darkness, one hand on her swollen belly, the other clutching the cave wall

Eleanor thought again of turning back, of the hospital of Under Shanghai, it’s doctors clad in sunflower yellow. Then she felt the Fury, like before, that wash of emotion that had driven her deeper into the uninhabited caves. She stepped forward into cold, wet mud and the Fury abated, as it always did when she obeyed.

Eleanor cried out with another burning contraction and stumbled into the mud. She crawled forward, the blue light of her glow necklace showing only her muddy hands and darkness. Eleanor heard the soft gurgle of water ahead and the sound made her thirsty. She wanted to embrace the water, to be surrounded by it, to drown.

Eleanor touched the surface of the lake. She slid into the water, like a bubbling volcano meeting the sea. The light of her glow necklace reflected off the surface of the dark water. The caves extended farther than her light could reach, deep and long.

Eleanor leaned her head into the mud on the shore and let her body float in the water. Her contractions quickened and she felt her molten center squeeze, pressure building. She cried out, feeling herself tear, her blood leaking from her, the head building, pushing out from inside her body.

She felt the Fury approach, close, closer and then there was cold flesh, snaking around her legs and arms and neck. She struggled, burning, her baby fighting inside her. The wet flesh slapped against her neck, pulled her under and pushed her up, gasping. Eleanor screamed. The Fury pulled on her throat and Eleanor sobbed. She pulled off her necklace, her only light, throwing it back the way she came, back into the dark.

The Flesh was soft now, supple, supportive. It cradled her. Eleanor felt something scratch the small of her back and relaxed, cold and calm. The contractions were coming fast now. Eleanor felt her body pushing and some other force pulling the child out of her. Instead of the Fury, Eleanor felt the silence, vast and old. Then she was empty.

There was a splash of moving water and Eleanor felt something rise before her in the darkness, something massive. The flesh around her quivered and she could see, in dim outlines, thin shapes snaking towards her.

Her eyes adjusted and she could see a black outline in the dark, tentacles and the shape of her baby. Eleanor squinted and thought she saw glistening eyes and dark moving shapes. Eleanor reached out for her child, towards the huge, alien shape.

The baby’s eyes opened. Its pupils were red as lava. Eleanor felt the flesh around her quiver. The mind that had touched hers, great and old was deciding if it should keep the baby or sink back into the water. Eleanor felt her mind go clear, go dark.

The UnderEarth God enveloped the baby for a long moment. Then it held the infant out to Eleanor. She took her baby and brought its molten mouth to her breast.

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Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

“I’m not one of your lab monkeys, I’m your investor, so don’t give me any more of your scientific jargon.” Mr. Bates pointed his cowboy hat at Dr. Copenhagen. “Don’t tell me about electrons, tell me about how your machine will send Leroy running home with his tail between his legs during the holiday ball at the Hague.”

“Leroy? I’m sorry Mr, Bates, I don’t follow.”

“Leroy Holkins runs the Holkin Institute of Science. He rubs some award in my face every time the holiday ball comes around.” Mr. Bates clenched his fists. “This year, I want to stuff it up his nose.”

“Right, well, our discovery cannot fail to impress him.” Dr. Copenhagen motioned for Mr. Bates to follow him towards the labs. “One principle of science is that if you observe anything, you change it,” said Dr. Copenhagen.

“Doesn’t seem right. My hat is still a hat if I’m not looking at it.” Mr. Bates face scrunched. “How can you look at something without watching?”


“Never mind, I don’t want to know. Just tell me how I can rub this in Leroy’s face.”

The florescent light gleamed on the top of Dr. Copenhagen’s bald head. “My team has found a way to observe without observing, to watch the inside of a closed box. Sir, this fundamentally changes the way we perceive everything. Experiments once proven will have to be tested again. It will change science forever.”

“Even for Leroy?”

“Yes, even your friend Leroy.”

“Have you been listening? The man isn’t my friend. Just show me what you’ve cooked up.”

“If you come this way, I’ll give you a demonstration.” Dr. Copenhagen motioned Mr. Bates though a set of double doors. In the middle of the laboratory, on a sturdy, steel table was a mirrored glass sphere. It was a five foot high imperfect sphere, marred and scored, like it had been crumpled and clumsily rebuilt. A tangle of wires connected the sphere to a row of monitors. Mr. Bates saw his reflection distorted in the surface.

“This is it?”

“This is our triumph.”

“It looks old,” said Mr. Bates, rubbing his chin. “This thing feels like, I don’t know how to say it, but like an old church.”

“Sir, I’m not sure what you mean. We constructed this a month ago in this laboratory. It’s appearance is dictated by it’s function, a necessity- “

“Never mind Doctor. Just show me what it does.”

“I’ve prepared a simple chemical reaction for you to observe. If you would just turn to the monitors, you will notice a flask on the screen. This flask is located inside of the machine. Keep your eyes on it while I engage the process.”

Mr. Bates turned to the monitors, studying the glass vial. Dr. Copenhagen scrambled to the back of the sphere and took a crooked knife out of his coat pocket. He hacked at his left wrist, splitting the skin along a pink scar. Smearing the blood along a break in the glass, Dr. Copenhagen watched as the smoke rose from his blood and the glass crackled, then grew to close the gap in the shattered mirror.

In the newly grown mirror, The Others stared out at him. They were smoke and terror, sharp edges and swift movements. Dr. Copenhagen flicked his bloody wrist over the glass. “Just do it, you bastards.” He muttered. The Others flit over the mirrored surface, sucking the droplets of blood though the glass.

“I don’t see anything happening yet,” said Mr. Bates.

“Just a few moments,” said Dr. Copenhagen. “It’s about to begin.”

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Cupcake and the Sherlock

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

“What this business needs is a Sherlock!” said Cupcake, who would become Rachell’s mother. “A Sherlock could really figure things out around here.”

Cupcake rolled down to the local genetic engineering building, with its ionized windows and shiny tables, and signed up to get herself a Sherlock. She didn’t play with the formula much, never had been much on customization. All Cupcake added was pink hair so that mother and daughter would match. The printers in the building spat out a goo that could, and would, become a Sherlock. Cupcake spread herself wide and had herself implanted with a Sherlock.

Three hours, a glorified turkey baster and fifteen minutes with her feet in the air later, Cupcake found herself on the four month, fast track pace to a baby. She didn’t take the ultra fast, two-week route, because she heard that caused stretch marks, and Cupcake wanted to keep her figure. All those advances, and still no cure for stretch marks. Ain’t that always the way.

Cupcake wasn’t much on scanning the net for reviews, so it would come as no surprise to anyone that nine months later, she didn’t get what she expected. Sure, Rachell had pink hair, and sure, she did organize the storeroom when she was two, but the little thing was moody, she kept irregular hours and threw things at the mantle-piece.

Rachell catalogued items endlessly, breaking down their component parts. She caught shoplifters before they even stepped through the door. It was unnerving to other customers. At night, Cupcake had to lock up the sugar. Not candy, the girl had no interest in what she called “cheap thrills of children” but sugar, which is what the girl would eat at night with a spoon.

Sherlocks weren’t reviewed well, but Cupcake resolved to love the one she was with. “Children are a sacred commitment,” she said, because it sounded nice. She had heard somebody say that on a drama on the net. Cupcake’s parroting always made Rachell roll her eyes.

Forever annoyed at her mother, Rachell called Cupcake names like Simpleton, Cake-Brain and some other words that Cupcake didn’t understand. Sometimes Rachell just called Cupcake by her name, but said it like it was the worst possible insult in the world. But Rachell never changed her pink hair, though it wouldn’t be hard to do. Cupcake took that as a sign of love, and she took her love where she could get it.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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The Cave Witch

Author : J.R. Blackwell, Staff Writer

The witch is bony, skeletal, his spine in a permanent curve. His liver spotted hands tap on his rubber console, fast like shuffling cards. He cackles with glee, casting his code-spells. The only light in his little cave under the mountain is the luminescent blue screen that glows on his wrinkled face.

He dives through the world that exists in tanks above his mountain, looking in though his screen, like a peeping tom with a tiny window. In the clean, silver facility at the top of the mountain bodies hang motionless in giant tanks filled with a gel that applies gentle pressure from all sides.

His daughter tried to get him to join her in the dream world. She called it a more perfect alternative. He knew what it really was: a prison. He pokes at his handheld device and initiates a program that gives everyone with red hair lice. Cackling, the witch puts down his handheld and toddles over to his larder. He will have to go out soon, set some traps or try to scavenge canned food.

Outside his cave, there is a moan. The witch walks outside, leaning on his stick. Naked, sprawled among the rocks is a young man. He is covered with a thin layer of grit stuck to goo that is stuck to flesh. His fingers are bloody and his long stringy hair is matted to his face. The young man looks up at the witch.

“Please,” he says, squinting at the sun.

“Fish plopped out of the tank?” The witch cackles.

The young man’s face falls on the ground. “I . . . came to study with you.”

“Script kitty.” He cackles at his own joke but stops as he realizes he is the only one laughing. Laughing on his own never felt lonely, but with someone else, his jokes are flat. He looks at the blood under the nails of the young man. “How did you get down the mountain?”

“I crawled. I’m, I can’t . . . “ The young man faints.

The witch drags the naked, gooey man inside and pours water on his face. The young man wakes up sputtering.

“I’m calling your factory bots,” says the witch, his fingers flicking over the handheld.

“No! Please,” the young man begs. “I know that you can hack into the world. I want to learn from you, here, in the real world. I want to understand the magic of code.” The young man shivers. “I crawled here. I want to make code dance.”

The witch sat in front of the young man. “You are too weak.”

“I know,” said the young man.

“You could never survive on your own out here,” muttered the witch.

“I’m willing to learn,” said the young man. “Teach me.”

The witch raised a bushy eyebrow. “You are also very naked.”

“No one knows the code anymore. Someone has to learn, for the good of our community. If something should truly break, someone needs to know how to fix it. Help me.”

The witch crossed his arms and looked at his console. One button, and the bots would come to collect the lost naked man and dump him right back into his virtual world. The witch put down the console and spread a blanket over the young man.

“What’s you’re name, boy?”


“Jeff, tomorrow we start by finding food. Also, never say you will make code “dance” again, or I will bash your toes with a heavy rock.”

“Yes Master,” said Jeff, smiling as he fell into a heavy sleep.

The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
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