Already Forgotten

Author: Majoki

Of course I lured you in. Tempted you with Pleasure, dazzled you with Beauty, disarmed you with Peace. It’s Nature’s way.

At least on my planet.

Don’t fight it. Don’t struggle against it. You’ve lost. Accept it. Lean into it. Melt into me. I’m already in your head. You must realize that. How else could I be talking to you, hijacking your consciousness, harvesting your willpower, thrilling at every last kick of your resistance?

So, so tasty.

Don’t sour the moment by feeling bad that you didn’t see it coming. That you fell for the Discovery-of-a-Lifetime mistake. Ignored fleet protocol, left your landing party, followed the mysterious aura that led you to my lair, got lost in the excitement of encountering my utter perfection. Imagining that you would forever be connected with my supreme existence. Your name immortalized next to mine.

Don’t fret. You didn’t make a rookie blunder. I seduce even the most experienced. Wish I could say you were my first, but around you are the spent husks of those who came before. Eons and eons of discoverers, adventurers, escapists and exploiters.

Based on your lovely buffet of memories, you might find solace that you are becoming a part of me, a vital building block such as in a massive coral reef or gigantic fungal colony. Only planet-wide.

It’s a delicious life. And so is yours. Individuality is nice, but, for sanity’s sake, mine is all that matters. Like every sentient I assimilate and digest, I would like to thank you, special one-of-kind you, whose name I’ve already forgotten.

Ouroboros Lane

Author: Bill Cox

Sirens sound behind him and it feels like the walls are closing in. Always running as fast as he can down the street, but his legs are tiring already despite the adrenalin surging through his body. A small lane leads off into darkness and if he can’t run then hiding is the only option. He veers sharp left and disappears into the murky depths of the lane.

Hiding behind an industrial sized wheelie bin, sheltered from view from the main street, his heart hammering faster than he’s ever felt it beat.

Sirens approach like the cries of fate itself, but eventually fade away into the distance. His heart-rate gradually slows, but hands continue to shake. In an effort to give them something to do, he reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out the talisman. It always calms him. He holds her underwear next to his cheek, feeling the fineness of the lace, smelling the scent of her soap-powder. Hands release their tension. She can always calm him down.

Lucinda moved into the house across from his four months ago. Immediately he was smitten; love at first sight! He used his initiative, following her around discreetly, getting to know her from a distance. He found where she kept her spare keys, let himself into her house. That’s where he got the cherished talisman, something that’s touched her body.

He knows that some people will think him creepy, but when he eventually does approach her, he wants to make sure that she will reciprocate the love he feels for her. It’s like all those romantic movies he watches, where the hero has to overcome the resistance of the heroine. That’s all that’s happening here.

So he decided to check out her workplace too. She’s smart, a scientist, working on some frankly incomprehensible research. What exactly are ‘Repeating Closed Temporal Cascades’ anyway?

He visited the lab, out of hours, using keys he copied after being in her house. He’d been careless though, a little too excited at being in her workplace, touching things he frankly didn’t understand. He played with the settings on a console, set something to fifteen minutes, touched another switch.

There was a jolt, a feeling of disconnection. Then an alarm went off, wailing like a banshee. The Police were quick off the mark, they must have been nearby. He sprinted out of the building, they gave chase and here he is, hiding in a dingy alley.

It’s all quiet now, though, so he decides to leave his little hidey-hole. He stands up and looks around the lane. Funnily enough, a puzzling sense of déjà vu grips him, but he shrugs it off. He walks towards the main street, looking forward to seeing Lucinda again from the safety of his bedroom window.

Then his fifteen minutes are up. Things go fuzzy, time twists around, turning in upon itself. There’s a small fragment of his consciousness aware of his fate, silently screaming against the walls of this prison. Like a fly preserved in amber, he’s trapped in a knot of spacetime, reliving these moments over and over and over, as the world outside continues on, unawares…

Sirens sound behind him and it feels like the walls are closing in. Always running as fast as he can down the street, but his legs are tiring already despite the adrenalin surging through his body. A small lane leads off into darkness and if he can’t run then hiding is the only option. He veers sharp left and disappears into the murky depths of the lane.

The FIZZ

Author: Jeff Kennedy

Things had changed since the last zombie apocalypse.

New classes of drugs made zombies less dead, returning them to self-awareness, allowing them to operate as more or less functioning members of society. Silent, staring, and smelling delicately of rotting flesh, but functioning.

George Romero established the Free International Zombie Zen as a way of “atoning for stereotypes his movies had burned indelibly into the human consciousness”. The FIZZ remains the premier event of the zombie social season.

On November 25th, reformed zombies the world over sit cross-legged and chant their haunting mantra in an attempt to achieve undead enlightenment.

“Braaaaaaains….”

The Customer Is Always Right

Author: Marion Lougheed

“Where are the colours?” the billionaire shifts in his seat. “I know what outer space looks like. I’ve seen the photos.”
I produce my most winsome spaceflight-attendant smile. “Ah, yes, well, those photos show parts of the light spectrum our eyes don’t see. Infrared, ultraviolet… But it’s all black to us. Would you like another drink, sir?”
He pouts. “False advertising.”
“Well, it isn’t ad–”
“I want my money back then.”
My smile stays in place. “Don’t worry, I’m just joking around. I’ll make sure you see some colours. Now how about that drink?”
In the galley I grimace at my fellow attendant. “Got another one.” I pour a cranberry soda, topping it off with three drops of LSD.

Aura Scanner 3000

Author: Hillary Lyon

The coronal mass eruption went unnoticed by a good many sentient creatures on the fourth planet from the sun. Engineers, though, noted communications equipment and most industrial machines continued to run without benefit of terrestrial power sources. Moreover, they witnessed those same devices spark—with some even catching fire. The engineers suspected the sun. The clergy blamed the cohort of trickster gods who bedeviled their society from time to time.

A great public debate raged between the two factions, until old Maz slammed his staff down on the polished floor of the Senate.

“It wasn’t the work of trickster lords, nor a random burst from our life-giving star,” Maz declared. “It’s the depletion of our population’s auras! Our halos aren’t as strong they once were—too much easy living, too much decadence. Not enough courage, self-reliance, and patriotic pride.”

A great murmuring rose in the audience. Had they brought this upon themselves? Did this signal the end of their empire?

“Both sides—science and religion—are important to society.” Maz continued, “We need a healthy balance; we can’t function properly without it.”

The audience buzzed. Sure, sometimes one faction held sway over the other, but the pendulum inevitably swung back. Though currently, one faction cast an opaque superstitious shadow over their lives—

Again Maz’s staff slammed down on the floor.

“My nephew Ewton,” Maz crowed, “is brilliant. An engineer! He’s built a device to scan the aura of every citizen. A device to gauge not just the strength and length of individual auras, but also the color.”

Now the audience roared—aura colors were private! They contained personal information only shared with intimates. One’s aura colors were none of the Senate’s business! But some argued, if corrupted auras did cause this strange event—then Senators had to be informed, so they could craft laws to save the empire!

Though fights broke out and blood was shed, the Senate voted to use Ewton’s machine. A law passed compelling every citizen to submit to testing. Trust in the Senate fell into two camps: total suspicion, versus total blind faith. Some citizens packed up their families and in the dark of night fled to the mountains, never to be seen again. Others, thinking obedience was the highest form of patriotism, waited in line for days to be scanned. Society splintered; some cracks would never be repaired.

* * *

Ewton oversaw the test results himself. The Senate gave him an official uniform.

Standing at his console, Ewton twisted knobs, pressed buttons, flipped switches. One by one, citizens passed through the polished arch of the Aura Scanner 3000. The arch beeped and flashed.

“Your aura,” he said pleasantly to one bright-eyed young citizen named Cara, “is pale blue with overlapping shades of pink. So healthy, it’s positively iridescent!” Before the end of the test, Ewton asked Cara out for dinner.

To numerous other citizens he was more somber. “Yours is a sickly dark green. You’ll have to be recycled and repurposed into someone more useful to society.”

Ewton’s work lasted a year, until every known citizen was scanned. He amassed a personal fortune.

Maz was scanned last. When he passed through the arch, there was no beep, no flash.

“Hmmm,” Ewton began, worried Maz would be repurposed. According to the machine, Maz possessed no aura. Impossible! Ewton fretted: Was Maz so old his aura had dissipated? How—

A coronal mass ejection, this one magnitudes larger than the last, slammed into their planet knocking their empire back into the dark ages; a strong-armed blow from which they would never recover.