The Organ War

Author : C. Hale

After the Organ War, Jerald was called the Last Donor. An odd title for sure, considering that he was actually the first to do a lot of things.

Most importantly, he was the first to figure out that we were nothing but walking organ banks being raised by families rich enough for a clone but not quite rich enough to pay for a cryo tank.

So they kept us in spare rooms and servant quarters. We grew up cooking and cleaning for the family, and when father’s heart failed, there was no need for a waiting list.

He found us that October, living in the old part of town that hadn’t been demolished and reclaimed yet. There were maybe a hundred of us that had fallen through the cracks and been separated from our families. We only knew that the instant one of us was found, they never came back alive. Homeless and illiterate, we scrounged what we could and hid from the world. We probably wouldn’t have lived through the winter if Jerald hadn’t figured out how to turn the electricity on.

We didn’t believe it when he told us. It didn’t make sense! How could it be possible? You couldn’t just murder someone, regardless of whether it happened in a hospital. Most of us just wanted to go back home. And then, Jerald showed us the films.

Eight years later, there were seventeen million of us, most still living with families and waiting for the signal.

The signal came on the tenth anniversary of Jerald’s discovery of the truth, and the world was not prepared. The Organ War lasted two years, five months and one day, and Jerald himself negotiated the terms of surrender from Parliament: No more clones. No more murder. Full citizenship for those of us that had survived the war.

Two years later, Jerald died on the waiting list for a lung transplant.

He died with a smile on his face.

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The Highwayman

Author : Jeff Deignan

As I floated, I thought to myself, “Poems end this way.”

It was easy enough, in the beginning. People expected thieves to use lasers, the sonic tech, or even small atomics for holdups, and security would check for that sort of thing. Security would not, however, expect a black powder pistol in a carry-on bag or a saber hidden in some ultra-thin crutches. Always use what no one expects, the old man had told me. Of course, I didn’t tell anyone the weapon wasn’t a laser, just made sure that the officers guarding the hold knew it was a weapon.

They let me in without too much trouble; where was I going to go, really? The escape pods had trackers, the ship itself was likely being recorded five ways to Sunday, and out in deep space who would catch you?

Ah, but Leila was waiting for me, and that they could not know. Saber at a man’s throat and pistol in another’s face, I smiled. “You two,” indicating the remaining guards, “get those into the airlock, and be quick about it.”

“What is this,” a man said as he hauled one of the two-tonne containers through the lock, “amateur piracy?” Most thieves, pirates, and otherwise operated in groups, allowing for massive takeovers and battles. I was alone, but for Leila, and she always came through.

I have to admit I did not expect the explosive decompression, but had been prepared for it. The Scyllic membrane that I wore instead of a flimsy helmet (a helmet which at that point would have shattered and left me sans atmosphere) easily compensated for the pressure, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t cause a migraine. Granted, the pain could have come from the bomb that had gone off, the shrapnel, or from flying out of the now quite open airlock at a speed I still don’t want to contemplate. Regardless, I floated and thought about poetry as I saw the carnage.

Leila had been hit, badly- my ship, my good and beautiful ship being slaughtered in front of my eyes by patrol craft. Somehow they’d gotten past the cloaks and gimmicks and were killing her straight off.

All I could do was scream, and arm the packages I’d left onboard.

They weren’t the only ones with explosives, curse their souls.

Ah, Leila. It’s been hours since then, and the tethers caught me as planned. I think I’ll walk your corridors one last time, dear, before I fade. You were a good ship, and the best pilot even before we jacked you into the ship.

Well, love, I guess we walked into legend on this one. They’ll never find these ships at the rate we’re going, not unless they expand the territories twenty systems in the next year.

Good night, dear. Could you sing that one again? Yes, Alfred Noyes’ poem, that’s the one. “And he lay in his blood in the highway, with a bunch of lace at this throat.”

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Lost City, 1946

Author : Dustin Neal

I had just rested my head on Billy’s shoulder when he asked me if I “believed.” Looking up into the cold, starlit sky, I didn’t stumble long with my response. “Yeah, Billy, I believe in God.” His eyes grew fierce as he pushed my head off of his warm, flannel shoulder. “I’m not talking about God, Emily! I’m talking about aliens and spaceships; life outside of Earth. Do you believe?” He had such a huge interest in what I cared so little for. “Why would aliens come to Lost City, Oklahoma, anyway?” I smiled and then whispered in his ear. He knew I wouldn’t respond to the question in the manner he wanted.

Billy has been so paranoid after the three “sightings” this past month, and tonight he seemed to be at his worrisome peek. After a moment of scratching his head, he stood up and lit a cigarette. With my eyes tracing his every move, every inhaled and exhaled breath, I walked toward him, smiled, kissed him on the lips, and wrapped my alien arms around his waist.

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The Second Society

Author : Pyai (aka Megan Hoffman)

Most of her thoughts were consumed in blind panic, so she wasn’t really away of what was happening until she had dug herself halfway out of the dirt. She was wearing the dress her sister had put her in to be a bridesmaid last spring, and her face felt tight and heavy. She touched it and her fingers came away with beige paint.

She panted, gasping, as she pulled herself completely out, and rested against the flat rock that sat behind her. After catching her breathe, she looked around at the night. Two figures approached. She quickly jumped up and hid on the other side of the rock.

“Judy Keaton?” one voice called out. The were close, and probably looking right at her hiding spot. “Judy Keaton, born March 23, 1983?”

Judy stood up, her knees still a little bent, from behind the rock. “Yes?” she asked warily.

“Welcome to the Second Society.”

She looked at the pair of people, confused. One was a younger blonde woman and the other was an older man, going flabby around the middle and dressed in a trench coat that was a little too small for him. “What’s the Second Society?”

The blonde woman looked at a clipboard she was holding. “As a founding contributor in March of 2000, your contribution awards you full posthumous benefits of a Second Life. Your generous donation puts you on the list for immediate member reactivation upon your death.”

Judy wrinkled her brow. “You mean that crackpot charity the wandering televangelist convinced me to donate to? Back in highschool?”

The older man coughed politely. “That ‘crackpot’ you refer to is now the world’s foremost reanimator. He also repays old debts.” He handed the dirt covered woman a manilla envelope.

“Your new home is part of our gated community about 40 miles outside of the city. Community meetings are every Tuesday and Friday, attendance mandatory unless you clear it with one of the committee heads in advance. Optional revivals are held on Saturdays, woman’s potluck Sunday afternoons, and we’re opening up a community center which will hold continuing education classes regularly. Welcome to the Second Society.”

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Time Trap

Author : Duncan Shields

Seven years of work here in the KT and the worst that’s happened to me is that I lost a fingertip in a time trap. It’s still there, falling to the floor in a three second loop over and over again for eternity over in Cardiff. The victim is still turning to look at me every three seconds before the trap springs. I reached out for her and my finger tip was caught in the field when it went off. She’ll stutter her half pirouette with wide astonished eyes for the rest of time. My fingertip will brush the shoulder of her coat and hang there until gravity pulls it down where it will almost touch the floor before the loop starts again.

She was Laney. We were set to be married on a summer’s day just like in the song.

Simon was killed last week after only six weeks of active duty. We’ve put him at a desk alphabetizing until we can find a way to get him back. Elaine was aged from 16 to 49 over the course of six seconds. Julie lost an arm. Ted got two more. Peter’s head got twisted the other way around but wasn’t killed.

They still don’t know what to say to me. They look at me like I got the worst of it.

All the mage science and laughterlife we know isn’t going to bring her back. The worst part is knowing that I can catch a flight to Cardiff right now and see her turning towards me over and over again with a questioning look on her face that I can never set at ease.

The trap was set for my DNA. She triggered it because she was pregnant with our child. The trigger was sensitive but not smart.

We found the bad guys. I killed them myself.

Three seconds. I go back to Cardiff less and less and I die more and more. There’s a blackness inside me that’s making me reckless on duty.

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