Author : Ian Rennie

When the doctor asked Lacey what he could do for her, she explained everything. She told him about growing up plain, being ignored by boys and teased by girls every day of her school life. She told him about Joey LeMartin’s hypnotic blue eyes that never swung in her direction. Then, she told him what she wanted.

The doctor nodded slowly, thinking about payment under the table, black market cash.

“It will be expensive”

Money, Lacey said, was no object.

Four months later, all the scars healed and the course of medication finished, she was back in her home town, standing outside a bar she knew he visited. Tomorrow night was the ten year reunion. She wouldn’t be attending, her reunion was tonight.

When he came out, he was exactly as Lacey remembered him. The hair was in a short business cut, and he had the beginnings of a spare tire, but he was still the same Joey LeMartin.


He turned to look at her, and didn’t recognize her. She hadn’t expected him to.

“It’s me. Lacey Monroe, from high school.”

He frowned for a second until the name clicked. She wasn’t surprised. He was associating the name with a dowdy duckling, not the swan before him. Finally, he got it.

“Lacey! Yeah, we were in geography together, weren’t we? Wow, you look great.”

She did look great. She had paid to look great, but it was good to hear him say so.

“I’m in town for the reunion, and I thought I’d look up old friends. You want to go get a drink?”

He did. With how she looked, anyone would.

Hours later, they were in her hotel room. She poured bourbon into plastic glasses. He loosened his tie and made flirtatious small talk. The big moment was coming, they could both feel it.

“I wish I’d got to know you better in school,” he said, looking down her cleavage, “I really missed out.”

“Well, you can always get to know me now.” she said, putting the glass down.

He leaned in for the first kiss. As he did, she looked into his hypnotic blue eyes. The plasma disruptor behind her artificial right eye gave off a charging whine that only she could hear.

They would find him tomorrow in a hotel room under a fake name. The face would be too badly burned for iris or dental recognition, but the fingerprints would eventually identify him.

It would take him several hours to die, his blue eyes burned out, unable to cry.

Or to put it another way, he would remember her for the rest of his life.

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Happy Times

Author : Rob Burton

I sip champagne, and snatch a truffle from the waiter’s tray. A flush of excitement rushes through me as a handsome man catches my eye from across the room. A moment to politely disengage himself from his group, and he moves towards me like I am the only person in the room.

‘Miss Harrow?’ he asks rhetorically, ‘I’m Leon Gibbs. I’m a great admirer of your work.’

I offer him my hand, inviting him to kiss it. I know, in that instant, that this will be the man I marry.

An irritating alarm beeps and my world fades to grey. I regain my mundane flesh and lift the immersion visor from my face. Beside me, oblivious to my company, sits the real Miss Harrow, now Mrs Gibbs, the equipment that helps her relive her favourite memories protruding from her scalp. An arrow projected on the wall marks out which of her companions needs my attention.

I pass rows upon row of patients sat behind beatific smiles. My occasional colleague, Byson, tells me that he finds their fixed grins creepy. Unfortunately for him, there are few jobs other than nursing. He’s saving to move out to the reforestation projects, saying he’d rather attend machines, but I like these old people, living in the time machine of their own memories. Their lives had infinite variety, much more so than any I could live in this depleted world.

With all the world pillaged into their bank accounts, and automatic systems ensuring it stays that way, the comparably tiny number of us under a century old attend them while we wait to inherit. We try to stitch the world back together as best we can, and hope that future generations might appreciate our efforts, and we wait to sit here and relive our own happy times.

An I.V. pipe hangs loose from Mrs Patel. I find a vein, insert it and tape it back into place. She mutters ‘Naveed’. Her son. I wonder if, when I am in her place, I will remember times from my own life, or hers.

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What Would Tinky Do

Author : Sharoda

Sitting in front of the large group of children, the scarred Captain continued reading the dog-eared picture book. “Then, Tinky the Tiny Tank moved out into the open”

“No Tinky, stay in the rocks!” cried many of the younger children; the cave echoed with their voices. Some of the older ones smiled, they’d heard this story many times.

“He tried to be sneaky but then he ran into…”

“A Miitok”, he and the children said together. They all knew the enemy was fast in the open but slow on uneven ground.

“Tinky was scared, he wanted to run but he knew the Miitok would catch him. He wanted to hide but he knew it would find him. He wanted to give up but he knew it would…”

“Eat him.” The children said in hushed voices.

“Then Tinky remembered the Rules To Live By”, he was skipping parts but there wasn’t much time.

He held up his index finger and the children all said “Be brave”.

“Don’t show fear to the Miitok” he added.

He held up 2 fingers and they said “Stand your ground”.

“Don’t try to run, it’ll catch you. Stand and fight”.

He held up 3 fingers and they said “Aim for the face.”

And what rule did Tinky break”, he asked holding up 4 fingers.

“Stay together” came the group reply.

He put down the book, “Just like Tinky, you’re all going to have to be brave because today we have to leave the cave and travel on open ground to the Big Blue Mountain.” The children made nervous scared sounds, some started to cry. Miitok drones were digging thru the other end of the tunnels and their parents were holding them off.

“You all have one of these”, he held up what looked like a toy pistol but was actually a microwave disruptor tuned to only activate on Miitok brainwave patterns. The children could play with these “guns” all they wanted but not hurt each other. However it would cause searing pain to the sensing organs of a Miitok. Several together could kill a drone or even a soldier. “And you all know how to use them. When Tinky crossed open ground he was alone and he survived. We have each other. We’ll make it.” He motioned to the teachers and all the children stood and moved down the path to the cave entrance. A hand full of soldiers and older teens carried heavier weapons.

Jensa was 12, Mina and Jak were 8. Mina was yelling because they were going to miss story time and Jak was yelling because he couldn’t find his parent’s picture and wouldn’t leave without it. Jensa was frazzled and, finding the picture, rushed the twins out to the gathering area.

Everyone was already gone so she herded them to the cave entrance and then out in the open while trying to catch up with the group. Her twin siblings complained bitterly until they realized they were outside, Jensa urged them to keep moving.

When they got to the river the rest of the group was already on the other shore. Suddenly, the large dark figure of a Miitok drone blocked their path.

Jensa froze. She almost screamed but caught herself.

“Be brave” said Jak and pulled his pistol.

“Stand your ground” said Mina and pulled hers.

Jensa unfroze, pulled and aimed her pistol. “Aim for the face” she said.

They pooled their fire and the drone started to scream. It fell dead at their feet.

“Now stay together” she barked and led them into the river.

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Gateway to Nowhere

Author : James King

The gate shimmered like a disk of melted solder. After all this time, the idea of inter-dimensional travel still amazed Alex. Wrapping his mind around the fact that, though it is a new world that is being explored, it’s the same time, same location in the galaxy, just a different dimension took some getting used to.

He stared back watching the rest of the team come through the gate, helpless to stop them. The surprised look on each of their faces as they stepped through reminded him of the first time anyone had ever attempted inter-dimensional travel.

The team was much younger back then, chuckling nervously as straws were drawn to see who would be the first through the gate. Everyone claimed they wanted to be first, but the relief was evident when a long straw was drawn. Alex got the first short straw and has been the first one through the gate ever since.

He was starting to shiver from the cold.

The amount of power required in forming the gateway forced the exploration team to travel through quickly. Safety protocols were established so that each team member was prepared for any possible contingency, whether environmental or hostile. Alex thought to himself that this was one scenario that never came up during the simulations.

He wanted to shout out in the hopes someone would hear him, but he knew that was futile as he floated further from the gate. Devoid of air the vacuum of space was deafeningly silent. Everyone dispersed like droplets from a splash of water hitting the ground, drifting away from the gate and away from each other. He finally realized that the weapon he clutched tightly to his body was useless and let it go, watching it drift away.

The environmental containment suit he wore provided oxygen and some protection from the harsh cold, but it wouldn’t last long. He wonders if they will attempt to send another team to locate them when they don’t return, understanding this to be an academic question, since they all would have long since expired from the cold or lack of oxygen before this possibility would occur.

No one ever thought, especially after all the worlds they had explored, that traveling to a dimension where the earth no longer existed was a possibility. A contingency never planned for and a lesson learned the hard way. Alex watched the gate, looking like the surface of a dark pond, getting smaller as he drifted further away. He marveled at the beauty of space. Alex had always wanted to be an astronaut. Weightlessness is even better than he imagined.

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An understanding

Author : Helstrom

“What are you doing?”

I looked up from the astrogation table and into the curious eyes of a five-year-old girl hovering in the access hatch.

“Hey, hey,” I said, “I don’t think you’re supposed to be here.”

“I wanted to see out the window. Captain said it was okay.”

Of course he had. The captain was a ‘fourth generation’ spacer. Back in my time, with mining operations just beginning, spacers were recruited from the ranks of kumpels, roughnecks and sat-divers, resulting in strongly reeking ships populated by loud men with short necks and the very strong absence of curiosity that comes from living in an environment where any moving part you don’t know intimately can probably kill you. These days the profit margins were so huge they were shipping out whole families who would spend most of their life on one of the colonies – including their children.

“Okay then,” I smiled, “But just a few minutes. I’m doing important stuff.”

She flashed a grin revealing a few missing teeth and pushed herself through the hatch, deftly settling into a corner between the tracking telescope and the cupola frame. Children adapted to free-fall in next to no time at all. At the turn of a switch, the cupola blinds withdrew and space unfolded before us. She glued herself to the window for a while, but deep space isn’t much to look at and she soon took more interest in the myriad of astrogation equipment in the room.

Settling herself in the cupola, she asked: “Is that the map?”

“No, not really. I don’t use a lot of maps. This is a plot, it shows me how much time it takes until we have to make another burn, like when we left. Remember how you had to stay in bed and got real heavy? That was a burn,”

She scowled, “I know what a burn is, silly. So it tells you where we’re going?”

“Well, pretty much, yes.”

“Then it’s a map!” She giggled triumphantly.

“You’re smarter than you look with those missing teeth.”

“Don’t you have a computer for this?”

“I do – three, in fact. But computers can be wrong sometimes, and most of the knobs and dials in here let me check things for myself. If it gets really bad I can even do it on paper.”

“What if you’re wrong too?”

“Well, that depends on how far wrong I am We could crash into Venus instead of going into orbit. Or we could shoot past her, pick up a gravity boost and fly into the sun if we’re too fast for a rescue boat to catch up with us. But my job is to make sure that doesn’t happen so you get to your new home safely.”

She nodded, a serious frown on her face, “That’s very important.”

It was the nicest thing anyone had said about my work in a while – I laughed and gave her a hug before pushing her back towards the hatch: “Now, go back to the ring and let me work, okay? I’ll show you more after dinner if you want. Oh, and if you see the captain, make sure you tell him how important my job is.”

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