Author: Carolyn Myers
A well-dressed woman flung the office door open and collapsed onto the sofa across from me. I pretended not to stare at the woman whose body appeared completely artificial. She had cosmetic work done to accentuate what I supposed were her good features. Whoever performed the surgery did a poor job because she looked like an overstuffed model.
“Welcome, Ms. Barkley. You have put in a request for a daughter,” my boss said.
“I want you to make me a superstar daughter!” Ms. Barkley yelled. My boss frowned but maintained her composure.
“Let’s start with the appearance,” my boss said. She nodded at me. I pressed a button that displayed a three-dimensional baby on the screen.
“Blue eyes,” Ms. Barkley snapped.
“Ms. Barkley there is no blue-eyed genes in your DNA,” I said. Her face contorted into the most disgusted expression like it was my fault what was in her DNA.
“Do you think I care? I am paying for the most expensive package,” Ms. Barkley said. I quickly pressed a few more buttons taking the blue-eyed gene from our gene bank.
“Tan skin, tall, thin but not too thin,” Ms. Barkley rattled off traits that she did not possess.
The baby was nearly finished but Ms. Barkley appeared increasingly upset the closer we came to completion.
“Make her a superstar,” Ms. Barkley whined.
“What traits do superstars possess?” I said.
“She has to be famous,” Ms. Barkley said. I sighed and looked into the lifeless eyes of the simulated baby. She gurgled on the screen.
“I can’t do that,” I said.
“You have to help her. Give her best chance of being somebody!” Ms. Barkley begged.
“I’ve been designing babies all week and I hope to God they become somebody. Unfortunately, I can’t make your daughter famous it isn’t a gene.” I said. The woman looked depressed and angry at the same time.
“Fine. Give the child a good memory, make her fearless and…and…give her the ability to be an actress,” Ms. Barkley said. I quickly typed in several commands giving the child a memory was easy but the other traits were harder. I motioned for my boss. She quickly rushed to my side.
“Can you make someone fearless and have the ability to act in movies?” I whispered. Ms. Barkley began to tap her foot on the hardwood floor. My boss shook her head.
“Ms. Barkley we can’t guarantee that your child will be fearless or an actress. We can try to generate those results but there isn’t a specific gene. What may cause one person to become an actress can make another a pathological liar,” my boss said.
“I am willing to take that chance,” Ms. Barkley declared without blinking. My boss typed in a few letters and numbers across the screen.
“Your baby is finished.” My boss said.
“Superstar,” Ms. Barkley demanded. I pressed a few commands aging the baby into a beautiful young woman standing on a movie set. Ms. Barkley smiled.
“Yes, that is a star waiting to be born,” She breathed. I pressed a button that displayed a pie chart across the screen.
“Five percent of her DNA comes from you, Ms. Barkley. The remaining Ninety-five percent comes from strangers in the gene bank,” I said.
“That does not matter to me. She is everything I have ever wanted,” Ms. Barkley said. I clicked the big blue button labeled create. Ms. Barkley had not noticed the fine print on the bottom of the screen. Computer generated imagery may not be anything like real life.
Author: Thomas Mills
Some say it was bound to happen. But people no longer talk about it. After years of governmental and military alien cover-ups, who could be shocked at all? We saw something, that’s for sure. But what?
Millions of flying saucers just started appearing, small and black, the center sections of each craft encircled by soundless, spinning disks, the only visible means of propulsion. Observers offered similar descriptions… “dark saucers, rising silently from deep bodies of water”…all over the earth. Self-levitating disks creating beautiful, fine wisps of opalescent mist and spirals of water radiating downward as each craft emerged from unexplored depths.
News of “the situation” bombarded us from every media source. We watched in riveted fascination, mouths agape, as alien technology blatantly barrel-rolled into our awareness. We watched in amazement and delight, the playfulness reflected in soaring gyrations and acrobatic intermingling of the saucers. We gasped in awe as collisions were adroitly avoided, like clouds of bats or schooling fish. Black swirling shapes curved around cumulus clouds and raced over the dappled green leaves of our global forests. Video monitors repeated endless loops of the enigmatic alien saucers, from extreme close-ups to hazy, out-of-focus swarms of dark hovering objects. Smartphones captured the event. Owners scrambled to share the “penultimate moment” over the Internet. But still the questions linger, why, how, who? Non-stop, staccato questions with no plausible answers. Scientists exhibited both stupor and incipient disbelief.
As quickly as the alien machines emerged, they disappeared, spinning beneath the waves leaving no trace, no answers. We can never again look upon our oceans, inland seas, deepest lakes and fjords without wondering if and when they might return. They’re gone and we’ve no technology that can prove their continuing existence. It’s as if they were never here. But we know better.
As I sit, listening to the oscillating rise and fall of summer’s newly emergent Cicada, I wonder if the aliens will return much like these ancient insects? Rhythmic pulses from countless Cicadas increase, deepening my consternation, as I wonder how these aliens came to be here, pondering their intent with growing concern about what they might do next. We now know…alien life forms do exist, right here on Earth. Have they been here all along? With that knowledge what will we do differently? How does this change things? Do we cling to some form of contrived normalcy? How do we live, aware that everything is different? It’s as if the earth has shifted beneath our feet, continuously thrusting us left and right, catapulting everyone toward the incontrovertible conclusion that we are not alone.
Primal fear kept us on edge, capable of fighting or fleeing to survive. But a lesser human instinct was triggered by the mass emergence. We froze, as a result of what we saw. Not knowing what comes next, we’re aimlessly adrift in time, a repeating loop of remembrance…from before we knew of them, to the day they emerged, and subsequently, through an uncertain time in which we must move forward without certainties.
So what was “the situation” all about? A cosmic slap of comeuppance? A subtle sign disparaging our simple-minded conceits? Was it a random event that will not occur for another 200,000 years? We now possess knowledge of a certainty, of which we had no prior awareness nor advance warning. Nor will we necessarily acquire additional certainties now…or ever.
We can only wait, wonder and worry. Could it be possible that our biological parents came calling? What do you think? You’ve been strangely silent.
Author: Hari Navarro
She sits at the console, the warm glow of beading sex sits at her lip and the sleeping monster it shifts and turns in her bed. Silently her fingers glide, swirling across the holographic keyboard that projects from sensors embedded into their tips.
The face that stares from her monitor is that of her lover, a man she has never once met. A man whose skin she’d not brushed against and whose scent is as unknown and alien as the shale plain that lays chill in the darkness beyond the blast shutters at her back. His name is Frank, though nobody knows that but she. In the world of electronic interplanetary sex, he is Blackbird 73-52.
Pinching the corners of her mouth she draws her thumb and index finger together, puckering her lip so as to absently chew at its bulge. The texture of flesh between her teeth and the faint hint of blood comforts as she reads his words.
Carnal words hastily typed, error-filled filth that deteriorates with the ever increasing beat of her breath. Words that wrap and pulse within her in ways that those of the monster never could, nor ever would.
The monster is her husband and she had two monster children. They aren’t monsters. But she has no other word to describe what it is they become. She sees monstrosity as they silently conspire, as they parade before her in flesh suits tailored perfect and stitched just so.
She knows they’ve shifted. The people they were last week is not who they are today. And then, they will change back. Life focusing and blurring, a fucked up iris in constant and perpetual flux.
Franks words taper to exclamation marks and the blood in her veins it quivers. In all the twenty-three months they have been communicating he has never changed. He the one constant in her life. A life where the corridor that backbones her living module grows doorways at will. Where things in photographs evaporate and memories are thought and not spoken.
Her reflection ghosts that of his image and she again sips from her lip. A truth is being hidden from this man she has told everything.
“You good?”, he types in words that have recovered their poise.
“Been thinking about what you told me, the shifting”
“I know what I see”
“I looked into instances of similar cases… where people claim that things change or are substituted”
“I’m not a case”
“There are cases, sorry, reports that suggest that maybe these kinds of feelings…”
“It’s not a feeling”
“… that they can be triggered by historic trauma, sometimes. An event that has you subliminally alter your surroundings so as to remaster the event. To warp time, to protect yourself and those you love”
“From whatever it was that hurt you”
The ensuing silence lasts but a moment, just long enough for a fracture to appear. A crack in the shell that had calcified and entombed a long forgotten memory.
“It was a cage under a house that smelled like wet concrete”
“Come, live with me. The children too”
“It doesn’t have to be this way. It’s a cage built around a cage. Meet me. This thing we have created here can live and breathe in the real world too”
“I can’t. You’ll shift, you’ll change. You won’t want to but you will. I know this. Frank… I’m one of them too”, she laments as her infant son slides open the door and the hallway light warps her reflection on the screen, bubbling and splitting it in two.
Author: William Gray
These bite marks on my forearm. Just below the crease of my elbow.
They’ve always been there, even as a child growing up on the colonies of Ganymede.
Their pattern is unique. All slim, clean lines with the exception of one wide, jagged rip exactly where the brachial artery carries oxygenated blood to my hand.
I’m not sure how long the wormhole tossed me about. My guess? Somewhere between a day and a millennium. The time was mostly darkness, with a periodic fitful nightmare, the same one every time.
Hot yellow teeth melting into my flesh.
The wormhole hiccuped me out near a planet that, so far, has been a pleasure to explore. Oxygen is plentiful. Sunlight peeks through a canopy of gigantic palm leaves high above. A cool, dry breeze weaves its way through the fabric of my expedition suit as I explore the new terrain.
I have not yet encountered any humanoid life forms. Numerous rodent-like species prey upon each other in a bid for survival, but they leave me alone. The insects are harmless. No reptilian forms. I have seen giant birds flying above, similar to depictions of Earth’s ancient Pterodactyls, but I am yet to see one up close.
With its extensive family of moons, eclipses on this planet are common. Partials happen almost daily. However, considering how dark it’s getting, today’s might be full totality.
As the eclipse resolves and light returns, the air feels heavy. I work harder to breathe, as if atmospheric oxygen levels are dropping.
A haggard old man approaches. His kyphotic spine is bent to a right angle. His beard is braided into individual strands which are woven into larger braids, hanging low, creating a curtain that hides his apparent nakedness. He ambulates with both hands on a gnarled wooden staff. As he gets closer, the heavy air turns salty.
He is in a hurry, as if he must accomplish something before what life he has left is spent. He winces and struggles forward, as if pushing past the excruciating pain of severe arthritis.
As he stands right in front of me, I start to wretch. It smells like someone pissed on a pile of rotten sardines.
He flashes a smile, a mouthful of brown-yellowed teeth. One in front is a single fang, thick and serrated. It spikes down over his lower lip, into his beard, embedding itself into the nest of braids.
He crouches down, takes a final breath, and somehow finds the energy to pounce on me like a tiger.
As he is a frail old man, I didn’t think I was in any danger. I did not anticipate this at all. I have no time to retrieve my weapon before his teeth sink into my neck.
The jagged hot incisor plunges into my carotid, boiling the blood coursing within.
These bite marks on my neck. Just above the clavicle, where tendons bind it to the top of my sternum.
They’ve always been there, even as a child growing up on the colonies of Ganymede.
Their pattern is unique. All slim, clean lines with the exception of one wide, jagged rip, exactly where the carotid artery carries oxygenated blood to my brain.
I’m not sure how long the wormhole jostled me about. My guess? A couple hundred minutes or a couple hundred centuries. The time was mostly darkness, with a periodic fitful nightmare, the same one every time.
Hot yellow teeth melting into my flesh.
Author: David Henson
I wake up sweating, check the alarm clock. Three fifty-nine? Too light. I fumble for my watch. Almost 10.
“What’s wrong with the a/c, Daniel?” Jean says sleepily.
I come back from Kyle and Lisa’s across the street. “They don’t have power either. And there’s no Sunday paper. Must be out across town.”
“I tried to call Lorraine, but there’s no service,” Jean says.
“I guess everything’s gone down.”
I find an old transistor radio and change batteries. It hisses across the dial. How widespread is this?
“Let’s drive around and see what’s going on,” Jean says.
I shove up the garage door, get in the car and turn the key. Nothing. Jean tries her car. More nothing. We go outside and stare into the sky.
“Our cars won’t start,” Kyle yells.
Jean holds her phone in one hand, the hissing radio in the other. “I’m so worried about Lorraine. Why would this happen now when she’s due any day?”
“Randolph will look after her. They probably don’t even have an outage in Ridgefield,” I say, trying to ignore the radio.
“Maybe we could ride our bikes there.”
“A hundred miles? We’d never make it in this heat.”
Her face glistening, Jean goes to the kitchen sink, holds a dishcloth under the faucet and lets the water run. The flow quickly trickles to a stop.
“Guess the water company’s lost power, too,” I say, wondering why its standby generators aren’t working.
We sweat out the day, constantly trying the phone, the cars, and the radio. We finally give up around midnight.
Around 3:30 a.m., I slip out of bed, towel off sweat, and go to the picture window in the living room. There’s an eerie red glow in the sky. I notice movement across the street. Kyle and Lisa? Someone —something — else? I need to keep my imagination in check. I lean closer to the window, hear a noise behind me, and whirl around.
“Too hot to sleep.” Jean goes to the window. “I see Kyle and Lisa can’t either. Daniel … this couldn’t be some sort of … invasion? That’s crazy, right?”
I hear shouting outside. Sounds like Kyle and Lisa arguing. “More likely the heat wave caused it. Or hackers. Probably hackers.”
“But the cars. How could hackers do that?”
“Well, most are connected to the internet nowadays. Not older models though.” I realize that’s a clue. “When it’s light, I’ll bike to the overpass. Bet I see a few cars.” I take my wife’s hand. “Let’s try to get a couple hours sleep.”
I lie awake in pools of sweat. At 3:59, the alarm clock glows red. “Jean,” I whisper with relief. She doesn’t respond so I slip quietly out of the bedroom and turn on a 24-hour news channel. A woman talks only, and cheerfully, about the heat wave. Not a word about the outage. I tune a local station on the radio. More happy talk about the heat. Drenched with sweat, I go outside hoping for a breeze, but it’s dead calm and already a scorcher. I make out Lisa in the predawn glow. She seems to be digging. “Beautiful day,” she says.
I stagger back inside. Warm air pours from the vents.
Jean’s at the thermostat. “Won’t this go any higher?”
“Why in the world would you … Have you checked on Lorraine?”
“You should forget about your daughter,” Jean says. She looks at her watch. “And Randolph, too.” She comes toward me. There’s not a drop of sweat on her.