Author : Linda Breneman
“I can control a computer with my mind—from inside a dream,” New Scientist, February 2017.
At first I was content to fly like a bird and have brief tea parties with my dead mother.
Later I took to diving off buildings and bridges. Like the patron saint of lucid dreaming, the Marquis d’Hervey de Saint-Denys, I’m a glorious fool.
When I was recruited by the government spooks, I leapt ahead. Their tech, the LD3000, is a groundbreaking headset that delivers harmless, quick zaps to the brain while you sleep, a 40-Hz alternating current transiting your cranium. When they add infusers to deliver smells linked with your favorite activities—such as flying, eating, and libidinous encounters—it’s not long before you can control the plots, the scenery, the characters, and your point of view.
Recruits: I’m sure you’re aware that we are an elite force. We move attack drones with our minds while we’re sleeping, eliminating insurgents as necessary. What you might not know is that our job doesn’t have to be unpleasant.
While stabilizing and sweetening your dreams can be difficult, it is not by any means impossible. Think of dreams as little children who do not wish to be tamed. The more intent you are, the more recalcitrant they become. But with patience, time, and a little Skinnerian conditioning, you can learn to direct your dreams like Spielberg.
It helps that the LD3000 multiplies the gamma brainwaves in your frontal lobes, temporal lobes, and hippocampus.
What’s really going on is brain regions telling their inside-out stories to each other, like the one where you’re swimming with dolphins rather than bombing villages.
When a giant baby grows the head of a camel and waltzes with you in the oasis, you know you’re getting there. All you have to do is dart your eyes right and left. That’s the signal that you’re ready to let the bombs fly.
Just between you and me, juxtapositions are your friends. Transform that desert hut into a delicious frosted cupcake you’re about to savor.
Let the convoy of Humvees on the highway become a ribbon in your lover’s hair.
Maple trees in lovely fall garb are one of my favorite morphs for fire.
If witches and monsters startle you, or if video manifestations of maimed enemy combatants leak into the dream, run straight at the apparitions with your chest open, and they’ll slip right through.
You’re a conjurer, making up the future as you go along.
You’ll almost fall in love with this job, I guarantee it, once you realize you are in control, and reality is only another place, a place filled with suffering and pain, but a place you have official permission to ignore.
Author : Joachim Heijndermans
They won’t stop staring at me.
I’ve been stuck here for forty-two hours. I haven’t slept in all that time. I don’t know if I can keep it up. Normal procedure is to set the beacon on board the ship off, then find shelter and food and stay put ’till they come for me. I haven’t eaten. I haven’t found shelter. I haven’t even moved from this rock. I’m afraid of what they’ll do. They’re all around me. Looking at me with those big eyes.
I don’t remember the crash, nor do I know what happened to my co-pilot. The last thing I saw before I blacked out was the starboard wing of the Daedalus, shredded into Swiss cheese by the asteroids. Then I woke up on this hill, surrounded by these…things.
I think they’re lizards. Tiny little bipedal lizards, about six inches high. And there are thousands of them. A sea of tiny bodies, tails, and large eyes.
I don’t know what they want from me. Are they intelligent? I tried speaking to them, but they just stared at me. Either they don’t understand, or aren’t interested in what I have to say. They don’t seem to carry weapons, so I don’t think they’re violent. Nudging them with my glove does nothing. I tried to get them to move. No dice. They just stand there and stare. Every now and then, they blink in unison, making an eerie clicking sound.
The Daedalus is close, about twenty yards from my current location. Was I dragged over here? For what purpose? I’m trying not to think about that. I’d rush them, but I’m afraid they might turn hostile if I step on one. Even at their small size, they outnumber me. They’ve taken my tool belt, so making a weapon is out of the question.
My back is killing me. My eyes are heavy. My stomach roars at me. I don’t remember when I last ate. I might have sustained some internal injuries in the crash too, so the pain in my side isn’t helping matters much. My–
Shit! They licked their lips. The sound is bone chilling. Like a thousand wet rags being smeared across a window. Was that a sign? Does that mean what I think it does? I hope to God not.
“What? What are you staring at?” I grunt at them. They blink, all at once. It’s disturbing. I can’t take it.
“What do you want?” I scream.
A wrinkled one with a small bone through its nostrils steps forward. “Shabaaaaa!” it shrieks.
The others join in, bowing and chanting: “Shabaaaaaa!”
Is that it? They think I’m a god? I can imagine seeing someone in a silver and orange suit can lead to conclusions. But in this case, it means I’m saved.
“Shabaaaaa!” they cry again.
“Okay, Shaba! I get it. Now, how about some grub for your new leader? You know, food?” I ask, making a “nom-nom” motion.
No response. They keep their heads against the ground.
“Hello? Some food for your God, maybe?”
A shadow falls over me. I turn around, meeting a larger set of eyes. A seven-foot lizard with eight arms is behind me. Its entire skin is covered in golden scales, with an enormous frill around its neck. It looks at me just like the little ones did; intensely, with unblinking eyes.
“Shabaaaaa!” the little ones cry out again, raising their hands and waving them. It’s not me they’re praising.
It belches, then licks its lips. Behind me, I hear a thousand little voices shriek: “Shabaaaaa!”
Author : Morrow Brady
Live again, said the cruise brochure. It should have said lie again.
The lift vessel arrived carrying my personal pod cabin and minutes later, PrinceStellar, an orbiting trans-galactic cruise ship was in view and my mid-life crisis journey had commenced. With the pod docked, I ate strawberries and drank champagne while the ship prepared for deep space departure. As acceleration commenced, I settled into my sleep chamber, excited with the thought of waking in twenty five years to see a black hole rip a binary system apart. My live again experience of a lifetime had begun.
Twenty two years later, my upside down chamber ejected me onto a debris strewn floor where I landed in agony. After getting my bearings, I soon learnt that PrinceStellar had crashed on a barely habitable planet and my reinforced pod had been rammed deep into the ship’s infrastructure. After squirming through crumpled metal, I discretely ventured throughout the ship and saw how the survivors were forced to remain onboard due to the desolate planet’s extreme heat. Although those lucky enough to make it were happily living off the ship’s abundant supplies, I knew in time things would change for the worse. Reluctantly, I decided to wait them out from the safety of my pod. After linking my chamber to the ship’s emergency beacon so it woke me should a rescue ship respond, I settled down to sleep for a short while.
Six months later, I woke. Supplies had dwindled and life onboard was getting tough. I cowardly returned to sleep. Five years later, I saw that a number of attempts at farming had failed miserably. The planet’s sunlight and air couldn’t support a damn thing. Those that remained were spindly thin and had formed tribes, each battling it out for survival. I retreated again to my pod and lay down in my chamber to conserve resources.
Twelve years later I woke and ventured across the ship. In the cargo holds I found their graves, covered in a veil of white dust. Refuelling my chamber’s nutrient tanks, I returned to sleep. Fifteen years later, still no change. Sleep.
After twenty years, a low power warning woke me from an age of darkness. Reluctantly I dragged my atrophied body through the ship in search of a replacement power source. In a darkened corridor, I was spooked to see ghostly footsteps in the deep white dust that led to a hidden pod.
While the young girl peacefully slept inside her chamber, I mindlessly opened her pod’s service panel and extracted her power cell. Her chamber’s lights faded. She would dream a silent death. Time to sleep again.
Three decades later, the beacon triggered the chamber wake program. Personal belongings were excitedly gathered, followed by a short trip through a dusty storm to meet the rescue ship as its gargantuan form touched down. In the rescue ship’s galley, the crew made space for Captain Boscobel, a cigar nestled in his bristled knuckles.
“So you’re the only survivor?” Boscobel enquired.
Glistening eyes looked up. A silent nod.
“There was another person” A quiet voice sounded. Fracturing a strangling pause.
“When I woke up. My chamber wasn’t working. So I started walking and that’s when I saw the footsteps. I followed them and found another pod” A dirtied chin started to quiver.
“She was dead. I think she fell. Her chamber still worked, so I climbed in and woke when you arrived”
She started to weep uncontrollably and reached out to Boscobel for comfort.
Boscobel squirmed. He wasn’t used to dealing with eight year olds.
Author : Jose Corpas
At ringside, where you could hear the loose boards under the canvas rattle like an old boardwalk, about twenty fans took their seats. They were joined by friends and relatives of the boxers, decked out in those digital t-shirts the universities tried to ban. A larger crowd was expected. It was supposed to be a return to the glory days of the 2030s. It was supposed to be a battle of the centuries.
Held on the one-hundredth anniversary of the Joe Frazier-Muhammad Ali fight, the original plans called for an inter-era pairing between today’s best against Joe Frazier or Muhammad Ali. The idea – made possible by the recent legalization of time travel for commercial enterprises – was meant to put to rest the silly arguments over which era was best. It was not to be. When the promoter traveled back to that time of wired communication, he found out Joe had an aversion to flying, let alone time travel, and Muhammad had a “thing” against “computer fights.”
Instead, what we got was superior. There are better uses for time travel than bringing back clinch-loving boxers of old. I consider that era of bruises and ringside doctors checking for brain injuries with a flashlight best left alone.
While the gimmick of an Ali match created more buzz since they announced weight divisions were being eliminated, experts deemed his “butterfly” no match for the boxed-winged variable-cycle hybrid engines of today. It’s doubtful he could even see a modern, 73 mph jab – twice the speed of 1970s jabs. And the punches, routinely measured over 2,000 psi, are double the force of any of Frazier’s. Ignore the historians – science is not wrong anymore.
Though boxing is at its lowest point in popularity, it is at its highest in quality. Ringside judges have long been replaced by eye-bots that pull data from 12 cameras. Because of the sensors that monitor force and the automatic “knockout” when a punch registers 1600 psi, brain damage has been eliminated.
Instead of the slow, light-hitting Ali, we had two highly advanced athletes in a true athletic competition. Their muscles ripped from exercise and atom-splits, they stood side-by-side in ring-center and, while smiling at their families, awaited the bell. When it rang, the champ launched his blinding fists into the air and quickly gained the lead in punch count. The challenger, standing to champ’s left, went for the “knockout.” Behind on points, he swung from the knees, each punch getting closer to 1600 psi.
Chants of Speed! Speed! Speed! competed against chants of Power! Power! Power!
In round three, it happened. With the champ comfortably ahead on points and still throwing, the challenger dipped until his left fist was level with his ankle, then launched a hook that traveled in an upside-down arch that, somewhere around his belly button, set off the knockout buzzer. The punch registered 1975 psi. Knockout.
The now ex-champ shook his head dejectedly and mumbled all the way to the showers, “I almost had him.” He would’ve “had” Ali or Frazier. In not-quite three rounds, he threw more than four-times the amount of punches they did in 15 rounds. Battle of the Centuries? The new champ put it best.
“I was aiming for 1971,” he said of the psi. “But I guess I was better than 1971.”
Yes, he was.
Author : Henry Peter Gribbin
As a national security advisor to top level government officials for the past decade, I have been privy to information which would have scared the daylights out of any ordinary person. The way I coped with all the near disasters, political assassinations, and war was to shut it out of my mind when my workday was over. If I didn’t I couldn’t live a normal life. I wouldn’t be able to sleep, or eat or have any kind of relationships with family or friends. That all changed 313 days ago when I learned that an asteroid the size of Pittsburgh was going to hit the earth.
NASA first learned of this menace 15 years ago. For the past 14 years they believed that this menace would pass close to earth but pass harmlessly by. That all changed 313 days ago when by some fluke a comet hit it thus changing its course. It would hit in Central Mexico, and to be blunt it would destroy all life on our planet. Even the mighty cockroach would meet its end.
When I advised congressional leaders and the president about what was coming the consensus was to shield the public of this information. What good would it do to share this information with them. Mass panic and chaos for 313 days would be the result.
Now, the military did not give up hope. They had a plan which on paper sounded like it might work. Basically it was to blast Asteroid 313 out of space with as many rockets it could muster. They would wait till the last minute before they launched their arsenal. So for almost a year life went on. Terrorists terrorized, assassins assassinated, and armies fought each other. Each day I gave my daily briefings. Asteroid 313 was never mentioned.
On day 312 the rockets were launched. The mission failed. All they did was veer Asteroid 313’s path to a different impact point. Central Pennsylvania was the new target area. There was no evacuation ordered. What was the point?
My last day. Correction, our last day was upon us. The weather in the area was beautiful. I went to work as usual. The last briefing was short. The impact would occur our time around three in the afternoon. I left my office an hour early. People were still at their jobs unaware that it was all coming to an end. Secretaries answered phones, clerks did their filing, and analysts did their thing. There was an outdoor cafe near my office which I always wanted to try. It had opened a couple years ago, but with my hectic schedule I never had the chance to eat there. That is where I went. I ordered the most expensive item on the menu. I ate my meal and sat back and waited. The clock on the wall said it was three o’clock. I started to count down from ten. Still no impact. Nine, eight, seven passed. We were still alive. Six, five, four and people were still dining. Three…