Author : David C. Nutt
“What do you mean you’re not an alien?”
“Just that. I am not an alien. I am a herald from another dimension- another plane of existence-“
“Not from these parts, not a human, yup, you’re an alien.”
“No. I am not an extraterrestrial, well I am but,-
“(Sigh.) OK. Look, I know you have come a long way as a race but I’m a pan dimensional being, not an extraterrestrial in the sense from another planet, as my version of Earth shares the same space-”
“Can’t. Two things can’t share the same space. It ain’t logical.”
“Before you cut me off I was going to say same space on a different level. Like levels in a building.”
“But we ain’t in a building, we’re outside.”
“Awww come on man! I’m trying to explain! OK, OK, new metaphor. The universe is like an onion. You guys are on one layer, me and mine are a couple of layers away.”
“Above or below?”
“Where’s the layer? You above us or below us?”
“Look, it’s not like that really…it’s just a metaphor trying to describe….aw, crap. OK we’re from above you.”
“A’yuh. The layer above and not this layer so that would make you an alien.”
“(Sigh.) Right. I’m an alien. What I am-“
“A mighty fine looking alien at that.”
“Thanks. May I continue? Good. I am a herald-“
“Please to meet you Harold.”
“NOT HAROLD, HERALD! MESSENGER! ONE WHO-“
“No need to shout. I know what a herald is.”
“Good. Glad you understand at least that much.”
“A good deal more too, scout 0569R from the third quantum fold vector.”
“A’yuh, you heard me. Know about your whole race. Know you are a bunch of pan-dimensional pirates. Arrogant little bastards too. Like thinkin’ just because we look like an agrarian society we haven’t stumbled on certain truths. Truths like in the multiverse there are loads of you pirate types dropping through your onion layers exploiting the weak and less evolved. Ever think folks like us skipped a few levels in evolution? Like, after our atomic age we had a radical development in our consciousness that unlocked near god-like powers?
“OOO! Snap! Didn’t see that one comin’ did ya? Here’s another one you didn’t see comin’ either. While I’m chewing the fat with you, our council of elders have folded space in such a way that in your dimension, no matter how hard you try, not one of you damn pirates can leave your plane again. What’s more we’ll be keeping you all on a short leash for the next thousand millennia or so, until you fix all the damage you’ve done in the rest of the multiverse.”
“No you didn’t. Now, shut your mouth, take a deep breath, and come on inside and have some pie with me and the missus. It’s not every day I get to bring home a real, live, alien.”
Author : Thomas Desrochers
I read a lot of science fiction as a kid, and I think I made the mistake of believing that the futures I was reading about were like weather forecasts of what was to come. It’s an easy mistake to make – look at the weather forecast and see sunny skies, you look forward to sunny skies; look at the future forecasts and see miracles, you look forward to miracles.
The problem is that Saturday rolls around and that hope that you kept tucked in your back pocket doesn’t mean a thing when it starts to rain. I’m sitting in the doctor’s office with Aesha, looking out the window at all that future shit flying around, and I just can’t understand what she’s saying.
Too large for surgery.
Too diffuse to even get a good look at.
I remember learning about cancer in school. When I was young I had always thought of it as a single entity, like smallpox, playing by a set of rules that you can learn to kill it by. Turns out that’s about as true as saying New Jersey is a single being. There are over 120 kinds of brain cancer, and that’s one organ. Dive into one person’s cancer and it gets even worse, a mosaic of impatient, heterozygous cells that decided that they wanted to try out natural selection right now – no time to wait. Another student in the class asked the question everybody had on their mind: “Why haven’t we cured it yet?” The professor laughed. Cure cancer? That’s like asking why we haven’t cured viruses.
We work our asses off now just as we have been for almost a century. Better tools, better strategies, better optics. We step into that fight cocksure, thinking to ourselves:
‘Granny would have been jealous – this sure beats the hell out of mustard gas.’
And why not? It’s the future! How could we possibly lose?
I’m looking at the calendar glowing on the doctor’s wall: 5th of November, 2044. It’s a quarter to 5. The doctor’s desk is big and tidy, with an enormous holographic display to one side littered with papers, emails, and to-do’s. This is the science fiction of my childhood, and though the forecast called for miracles Aesha is dying. The doctor looks embarrassed when I ask what went wrong, mumbles something about how there’s always a small chance that nothing will work.
When modern medicine fails, when all that’s left to do is watch ourselves and our loved ones waste away, when our thoughts turn to epitaphs just like in Granny’s day – is that the future too?
Aesha takes me by the hand and we leave. The guilt is overwhelming. I’m not the one who’s dying – I’m the one who should be taking the lead, the one who should be strong.
She takes me aside in the hospital’s lobby, home to the world’s first anti-gravity fountain. Impressive once, but now it feels like a gaudy trinket slapped on a plague-doctor’s mask. She’s trying to talk to me but I can’t make out any of the words. All I can do is stare into her rich brown eyes and see the future, see everything she is wiped away and written over – and then she dies.
“Jon,” she says. “Jon. Talk to me.”
I try to find the words, any words, but I can’t. What is there to say?
Aesha can see it in my eyes, kisses me on the cheek. “Come on,” she says. “Let’s go home.”
We step outside into the humid evening; It begins to rain.
Author : Claudia Silva
“How do you want your eggs today, dear?”
He entered the kitchen with a big smile, happy to start the day. “I’m in the mood for some scrambled eggs, a little bit of tomato, onion. Maybe some mushrooms,” he replied.
“I’m sorry,” she said with a broad smile, “I’m afraid we are all out of those.”
He sat back, thoughtful. Not that he was expecting a different answer, but deep down he still had a lingering hope he could try something different for a change. “Scrambled are fine,” he reluctantly replied.
His wife, complete with the blue dress, white apron and the perfect hair, made her smile bigger – if that was possible – and went to the fridge where she produced an unmarked carton with four capital letters printed on it: EGGS.
While she began working hard on her cooking, he said, “I was thinking maybe we could go crazy today!”
“Yes, dear,” she agreed just like she always agreed.
“I was thinking,” he rubbed his chin with one hand as he thought of something completely out of the ordinary, “I was thinking you could go out with me today. Could be fun.”
His wife’s neck twitched a little before saying, “How do you want your eggs today, dear?”
The last of his hope quickly vanished. Whatever he had said hadn’t been wise.
“I’m sorry,” he sighed, “Scrambled, please.”
“Yes, dear,” the smile was back on her perfect face.
The pan began to sizzle as the egg mix touched its hot surface. Suddenly he realized he needed to try something different if he wanted to make her happy.
“You know,” he began anew.
“I was reading a book today,” he continued.
“About this guy who has adventures on different planets,” he explained, “It’s like a series. You know? There are many books about his adventures and-“
“Sounds fascinating, dear.”
He stopped to take in her automated replies. “So, I was thinking that maybe you’d like to read it.”
The twitch on the neck returned. “How do you like your eggs, dear?”
“No, no,” he quickly muttered, this time standing up to take her arms with both hands. The woman turned from the eggs to face him, her face frozen in that same eerie smile. “Just, just make the eggs, it’s fine.”
It was too late; the damage was already done. The question came once more, “How do you want your eggs, dear?”
For a moment he just stared at her. After weeks of searching he had found someone new to talk to and he had thrown it all away. He always did in the end; he broke them. In front of him, the woman kept staring at him until she finally asked the same question again, “How do you want your eggs, dear?”
Utterly disappointed, he answered, “Scrambled, please.”
“How do you want your eggs, dear?”
He now raised his tone, “I said, scrambled!”
“How do you want your-“
“Aw, just forget it.”
He let her go. She was lost. Malfunctioned. Quietly, he began to walk to the front door. Glancing back, he could see she had not moved an inch. She was still there, staring at the same spot waiting for an answer to her question.
The man opened the door and stepped out. He stared at the wasteland in front of him, at the red sky and rusting cars around him. He was still alone. Everybody else was gone. He would still look for a robot in another house, a pretty looking one; although it always ended the same. Robots were not built to think, to make decisions. They just… obeyed. Would he ever find the exception? No matter how long he searched the truth was he was the only survivor on planet Earth and soon robots would be the only thing left standing.
Author : Ronald Guell
Here’s the problem with traveling at light speed. There’s no point in looking out of the window. You can’t see anything. It’s just a vast endless flat black. Trucking at 99.99999999% the speed of light, there are no stars visible to give depth to the picture. There no scenery, not even those clever Burma Shave signs. Do you remember those on our last vacation baby?
I’ve been gone for 6 years now, with 9 left to go. I’m sending you this message of love. I have no idea when it will reach earth but these messages will be put into memory in my assigned vault. There, all the records of your life and death and that of earth’s history will be saved for me to explore. I write these letters to keep your memory alive for all of my life. There, they will be kept safely awaiting my return.
I loved it when you’d call me your Mr. Green Thumb. I’m smart. I innovated growing hydroponics for this mission, but hell if I can fathom this time dilation stuff. Leafy greens for the crew’s , that’s my speed. Time dilation, I know the basics and they are grim. By the time I reach the star AZR8464 and its orbiting planet Azure, 34 thousand years will have passed on earth. I wish we would have had kids, my love. One would have been enough. No family will be there to greet me if I return, just a bunch of strangers in funny clothes. But till then, we’re off to Azure Blue, and as the crew says, we’re rolling with light in hot pursuit. I must sign off now. I’ll miss you forever.
Author : Henry Gribbin
I am a child of the 60’s, therefore I am a veteran of the Cold War. I had the typical abnormal upbringing of that time, but there was one thing that made me somewhat different from other kids. As a young boy I felt this sense of dread. I know that I wasn’t the only one that felt like this because there were signs all around us that the end was coming. Fallout shelters were everywhere, and there were the occasional air raid drills. We were afraid the Russians were going to nuke us all. Our grade school teachers told us to slip under our desks and not look out the windows in case there was an atomic blast. Then there were the films that we had to watch in the school auditorium. I always remember watching army soldiers standing atop a trench in the Nevada desert watching an A bomb being detonated. So maybe you can see why It was always in the back of my mind that I would never reach my 16th birthday. This was depressing because my big wish was to get my driver’s license.
Then something happened which helped change my outlook on life. I was about twelve years old when I saw the light. It was a hot sweltering summer’s night, and I couldn’t sleep. I quietly made my way down the stairs and went out on the front porch to catch a breath of fresh air. I had no idea of the exact time, but I knew it was late. I looked up in the sky and saw a blazing bright light slowly circling above our street. I was mesmerized. I watched this light doing its tight circles for some time. I was tempted to wake my older sister and let her share this moment, but if I did and the light was gone she would get mad. She had a temper, so I kept this moment to myself. I don’t know why but this light helped ease the dread that I had been carrying, and I was thankful for it. I made my way back to bed and slept peacefully.
Time passed. Over the years there have been wars, natural disasters and stock market crashes. But there were good times too. There were weddings, births and many a fine meal shared with family and friends. But recently that feeling of deep dread has returned. I can’t shake this feeling that something very bad is about to happen. Again there are signs which cause me to worry. The fact that we have one world leader that likes to shoot his mouth off and another world leader who likes to shoot rockets over Japan into the ocean doesn’t help. Epic hurricanes hitting our shores and massive security breaches make matters even worse.
The past two nights I couldn’t sleep, so I got out of bed. It was three in the morning. I went out on my balcony, which is on the second floor of my apartment building, and I saw a startling sight. From my deck I can see a lot of sky. This night sky was filled with dozens and dozens of bright shining lights just circling in a lazy orbit. I looked down. The parking lot below me was filled with people. Nobody made a sound. Everyone just stared upwards at the lights. These bright lights did bring back memories of my childhood. Once again a sense of hope and peace flowed through me. I think everyone looking at these lights felt the same. One by one people started making their way back inside. After a while I did the same. I had a good night’s rest.