Author : Andrew Hawkins

34. Spray yourself with the scent neutraliser.

35. Move west through the woods towards the royal enclosure, being aware of your surroundings.

36. Remove knife from sheath, remember to dust thoroughly with charcoal powder in your belt pouch to prevent gleam.

37. Insert blade knife first into canvas fabric at head height and in one quick fluid motion draw it down to the ground, keeping a firm grip on the handle.

38. Wait 30 seconds and listen for movement or sounds of disturbed breathing.

39. Right foot first, enter the interior keeping your movement minimal and silent.

40. Check for possible disturbances with ABCD: Animals, Babies, Children, Domestic spouse and eliminate if appropriate.

41. Move through into the sleeping partition and evaluate target.

42. Place knife to the throat and in one swift action press it firmly in, leading with the tip and slicing with the edge, over the voice box to ensure silence.

43. Wait 30 seconds for resistance to totally subside and then targeting a vital organ of your choice deliver a piercing thrust to ensure mortality of the wound.

44. Clean blood from the knife using the deceased individuals clothing and replace it in the sheath.

45. Check to ensure death and cover the body, ensure no needless signs of disturbance betray your presence and retrace your steps.

46. Exit via the cut in the tent then move 1000 paces North to the drop point below the large boulder identified on the aerial photograph.

47. Strip naked and using the cloth, soaps and water wash yourself thoroughly and dry yourself with the towel.

48. Taking the clothes from the bag, dress yourself and place all items of clothing, towel and the cloths in a bundle.

49. Apply the petroleum gel to the bundle and pack away all items not in the bundle into the bag.

50. Set the ignition fuse to exactly 10 minutes and begin walking in an Easterly direction.

51. Proceed until you reach a river, wade down stream until you can see a road in the distance.

52. Exit the river and proceed towards Fasha Street.

53. Continue for 0.1 miles and proceed East along Fasha Street.

54. Proceed along Fasha street for 2.1 miles until reaching Sharanish Market.

54. Catch the number 34 Bus at the Sharanish Market transport interchange to Dubai international airport and proceed for 13.0 miles.

55. You have now reached your destination thank you for using googol skills.

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Author : Martha Katzeff

They came riding into the City. Some in cars, some in rusted tractors from another era. Some looked up at the greenhouses glinting in the sunlight. Others stared straight ahead, refusing to acknowledge the life above. Shorter buildings allowed a full view of lush crops, sheltered from the bustle of the City by the lull of circulating water. They craned their necks and saw vertical farms on almost every rooftop.

The farmers drove down the wide boulevards. Trees lined the boulevards, casting dappled shadows in the morning light. Open green plazas offered free public access to the river. Each plaza had a farm stand overloaded with the ripe produce grown in the vertical farms. The bright red peppers, strawberries, and beets were grim reminders of the rich earth that used to sustain their dead farms. The crisp green lettuce, cucumbers, and squash were memories of lost pastureland. The vegetables and fruit were all fresh from the farms, shipped no further than an elevator ride to the street.

The men were silent and grim, saying little to each other. What was there to say in the face of such abundant life. Their weatherbeaten faces reflected a century of drudge, drought, rising fuel prices and a sharp decrease in demand for anything corn or soy.

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Ask Not For Whom…

Author : Q. B. Fox

Subject: No man is an island.


Dear Robert,

I know that’s not your name.

They call me Jane. That’s not my name.

Does that remind you of something?

If you’d rather, you can call me Maria; because some things we can’t help, they happen on a completely subconscious level.

And all this week I’ve been sending you a message.

You listen to rock music, don’t you? Do you remember hearing Metallica? Perhaps it was on the TV, or the radio, or the internet.

In the 1960s, Stanley Milgram ran some experiments at Yale University. He showed that a significant minority of us are so socially conditioned so that we will just do as we’re told, no matter how outrageous the consequences. And it’s not necessarily the people you think.

I know you don’t think of yourself as a rebel, or even disaffected, but you don’t really fit in, do you? You weren’t one of the cool-crowd at school, right?

Have you ever seen Donnie Darko? It was on TV this week. Do you remember that haunting music? How does it make you feel? Not quite real, right?

If you think about it, you can see yourself sat at your computer now, reading this e-mail. Go on, imagine it; looking down on yourself, like you’re watching yourself in a film. You’re just a character in a film.

In that film, this e-mail is a virus, exactly like a computer virus. Except this virus is for people; it’s for reprogramming people.

You’re a creative person. You have a good imagination. And you remember things. Not always useful things, but trivia, random facts. You make good use of your subconscious.

Not everyone remembers where they’ve come across Hemingway. Perhaps they read the book at school, or saw the film with Gary Cooper; perhaps they just read the synopsis on Wikipedia, or in those encyclopaedias you had when you were a kid. Perhaps they don’t know how they know, or even remember that they do, but some people will remember it all, subconsciously.

I think you’re one of those people; in fact I’m counting on it. Not everyone will respond to this e-mail, and we’ve sent it to millions of people.

But you will.

Tomorrow, you’ll wake up; you’ll know were to go; where to collect a van. And you’ll drive the van to a bridge, you’ll know which one. Then you’ll detonate a bomb that’s inside.

Today you don’t think you’ll do that.

And I appreciate your scepticism. But you are still reading this, aren’t you? Ask yourself: why am I still reading this?

If you concentrate, inside your head, you can hear the repeated clang of a single church bell.

You can, can’t you, if you concentrate?

Ask not for whom the bell tolls; it’s for you, sweetie, it’s for you.

Isabel Sowending.

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Fireflies in a Jar

Author : Jennifer C. Brown aka Laieanna

One, two, three fireflies into the jar. Just like that, all at once. Probably some kind of pact. I check the remains. Two girls, one boy, none over eighteen. Nobody brings anything to the jar except the young. They don’t plan, they just go. Money is all I really look for, paper better than chips. Spends immediately without paying for identity wipe. These kids have little between them but I take what I can. Even a shirt from the boy, he’s my size and it’s a color I’ve never seen before. The shovels won’t care what’s left with the remains. Their mechanical eyes see a job, not a loss. They’ll take what I didn’t steal all in one scoop.

I see more coming over the hill. Old man with five fake crying women making a half circle around him as his hovering chair reads and mimics the bumps over a grass path to the jar. No one ever built a real path. The jar is for everyone but no one is invited here. “Never forgotten. Never celebrated.” someone once scratched onto the plaque near the jar. True words.

I’ll get nothing from this geezer and the snakes who are already tonguing the rich out of his pockets. I don’t need to see him put into the jar. The smiles on greedy make me sick especially when they’re tossing into the jar. I take for need, not for greed. I’ll come back at the dark.

I see stars. I count stars till I forget the numbers. Only see stars when high on the hill now. Each time the jar gets brighter and brighter at night. I always hope to take good sunglasses from a remain, but they haven’t left them yet. Might have to buy a less good pair. Eyes half closed, I walk to the jar. No one comes at night. It scares them or makes them cry. Couple times they tried but years have gone by and no one, no more.

The fireflies are dancing, their long sleek bodies without arms, without legs, illuminating white floating in the jar, swirling around each other. Can’t touch the jar or be a firefly. The jar isn’t glass like some food containers, just a barrier between us and them. I can touch the metal ring the jar sits on and feel a vibration in my hand.

“Momma,” I whisper. Four fireflies come a little closer. There are no faces, I don’t know if any of them are her. “Why did you leave me?” I hate tears. Some nights they just come. None of the fireflies will tell me. I don’t know if they even can. Heard different men explain the jar for years. An alternative to the unknown. People can avoid death, live in their minds in the jar. That’s it’s purpose, man-made crossover. Some hate it, some think it’s wrong, screaming about it’s devil workings. Lots take advantage of it, especially the real sick. Most just don’t know, debating it’s use for hours before they cross or walk away.

“Momma” I say again. My heart hurts, my mind takes me back to the day she crossed. Don’t know if she was sick. Think she was just scared. When she stepped in the jar and her remains fell to the ground, I held a cold hand till the shovels scared me away. I was only seven. Been here since and still don’t know if she’s really in there or if it’s all just a lie. Don’t really care. Just can’t leave her like she did me.

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In Accordance With Prophesy

Author : Steven Odhner

Gerald Forsythe was still too weak to move, his mind still partially asleep, but he knew the walls didn’t look how they should. Ever so slowly he was able to take in bits of information in an attempt to solve this riddle. The walls were flat. Good. They were a pale green color. Good. Gerald felt a moment of pride at remembering the color ‘green’, and then was immediately embarrassed for thinking of that as an accomplishment. Was waking up from stasis always like this?

The walls… were dirty. No. Not dirty, and that was the problem; they were perfectly clean but looked dirty due to the general wear and tear of use – scratches, dents, corners softened by the casual bumping of hips and hands. The walls had been so crisp and perfect what felt like an hour before, but Gerald was almost fully awake now and could remember that his first shift was set to be twelve years into the journey. Should the walls be this damaged already? If twelve years could do this would the ship even survive for the hundreds of years it would take to reach the new homeworld?

Gerald sat up, and darkness pressed in around the edges of his vision for a moment before receding. He turned his head – slowly – and confirmed that he was alone in the decanting room.

“Computer,” he called out, wincing at his sudden headache, “How many years since departure?” The speaker spewed out crackling noises in reply, but Gerald was fairly sure he had heard “Three hundred Seventy-Five”. That explained his hangover, at least.

“Computer… how many people are currently active?” He knew the massive arkship should be operating on a rotating skeleton crew of forty people, each crew member serving for three years before going back into stasis. The speakers crackled again, the reply slightly more audible. “One Hundred Thirteen.” Life support could provide for roughly three hundred Active humans indefinitely so this wasn’t a safety concern, but it still meant something was wrong… Any further questions Gerald had were forgotten as a strange figure appeared in the doorway.

The man had a thick, bushy grey beard and long hair, and his jumpsuit had been cut and dyed so that it was barely recognizable. He had to be at least fifty, and the cutoff age for colonists was thirty – not everyone on Earth could be saved.

“You are Engineer first class Gerald Forsythe?” The man asked. Gerald nodded.

“I am Ethan, son of Eric, son of Lars. I am sorry to pull you from the Great Sleep, but my daughter Sarah is our current Speaker and she says you are needed.”

The man clearly thought this sentence made perfect sense. “What… what the hell is a Speaker?”

“The Speaker,” the man replied, speaking slowly as if explaining to a child, “is the one charged with interpreting the will of the Computer, that it may guide us all to the Reward where your people can once more awaken from the Great Sleep. Sarah has told us that the computer needs someone to enter one of the Forbidden Halls.”

“Which… uh… Forbidden Hall would that be?”

“The Computer calls it Maintenance Service Corridor 36G. It speaks of something called…” the man closed his eyes in concentration as he spoke the unfamiliar words, “a Fused Control Circuit.”

Gerald had a million questions, but the bottom line was that if a control circuit was fused it was still his responsibility… what the hell. “Take me there, I’ll have it fixed in a jiffy.”

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