Confessions of a Cannibal Sun

Author : Joshua Reynolds

A little flare.

Just a flash on the other side of the sun, our sun, and it was gone.

That was when we knew it had escaped.

We made it in a generator the size of a grown man’s thumb. Just a little thing, a little spark. But it was a hungry thing nonetheless. We fed it fire at first, spoon-fed it on lit matches and glow-sticks. It ate light and drank heat at a prodigious rate. Like an infant at its mother’s teat.

It’s getting colder as I write this. Everything is going dark.

Soon it wanted more. More light, more heat. We had to move it to a quantum singularity tube. It was the size of a basketball within a week and still growing. Still eating. We fed it with a flame thrower and with bundles of light-bulbs. The heat it put off was astounding. We thought we had done it. We had created an artificial power source that would replace fossil fuels, replace nuclear energy.

We were wrong of course. You wouldn’t be reading this if we hadn’t been.

I’m sorry. This is no time for sarcasm.

Almost too dark to write now.

I wish we hadn’t fed it the flashlights.

We realized it wasn’t under our control when it began to reach out of its containment pen and drain the lights in the ceiling. Can you imagine it? The horrible sound of a tendril of living flame uncurling from its parent mass and piercing a quantum buffer? It sounded like a church-bell exploding. The heat washed over us then. More than we thought. Men were turned to ash before they had a chance to scream. It didn’t notice.

In our defense, we never thought it would be intelligent. How we couldn’t see that, in light of its hunger, I can’t explain.

Maybe we were blinded by science.

I’m sorry. Gallows humor.

It left us, left our facility a burnt crater. Those of us who survived almost wished we hadn’t. It had its gravometric pull you see. It distorted the laws of physics around it as it devoured the heat and light of anything it touched. And it got bigger. Ever-increasing mass at an exponential rate.

Then, like a dog on the scent, it noticed our sun hanging serene in the sky.

That was two hours ago.

The sun turned as red as blood forty-five seconds ago.

It will be dead in a matter of minutes. And then, so will we. That’s why I’m writing this. Just in case someone reaches this planet and wonders what happened. Wonders about the trail of gutted, dead suns all leading back to this pathetic little mud-ball of a planet. I’m sorry. We’re sorry. We don’t know how to stop it.

Cold. It’s so cold. Can’t see anything. The sun is gone. Our sun anyway.

How were we to know it would be intelligent?

How were we to know it was a cannibal?

Please forgive us.

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A Mother's Love

Author : Jinque

“How much further is it, sweetheart?” from the backseat of the car, Mitchell stroked his hand across baby Willow’s tiny head, slightly mussing her soft black hair.

“At least two hours. The traffic ahead looks even worse than it has been. Curse you for suggesting we travel on a holiday.” From the driver’s seat, Siana smiled, gently chiding her beloved husband. They’d been married just over a year, and their baby daughter, Willow, was not yet two months.

Siana navigated her way through the traffic, her eyes wide and alert. When they’d left that morning, she’d gotten a feeling in the pit of her stomach: a feeling of dread. Now, as she carefully pulled their car into the far left lane, she felt it returning.

The truck came from the opposite side of the freeway. Breaking free from the threads of cars heading east, it barreled toward the west-bound lane, and Siana saw it instantly. Her temples throbbed, and she thought to scream.

But time stopped. She dreamily rose from the driver’s side window, and peered down, seeing herself poised to howl, and jerk the wheel. The truck was too close though, and moving too quickly. Siana knew it, though she couldn’t say why. Looking in the back of the car, she saw her husband, bowed over the baby, unaware of the danger. Gliding in the window and sitting next to them, she smiled, reaching out to stroke her husband’s jaw, and the baby’s tiny nose. An itch in the back of her mind told her that time would soon resume.

Siana slipped her arms around her husband, and stretched herself over him and the baby, projecting herself as much as she could, to cover them both in a protective embrace.

I love you, Willow. I love you, Mitch.

Time resumed. The screeching impact happened within seconds. In the back seat, Mitchell felt the force of the hit, but nothing more. In his arms, Willow and her seat jolted, but she didn’t cry. It was as if something were holding them.

Later, police noted the incident as a tragedy. The Yosts’ vehicle had been hit, and sent spinning across four lanes of traffic. Thankfully, nothing else struck them, but the damage had been done. The truck’s impact crushed Siana in the front seat, leaving her body barely recognizable. Her husband and child, however, were completely untouched, despite the damage to the car.

In the last report on the tragic death of Siana Yost, the medical examiner noted this in his recordings during the autopsy:

“Patient #66607, Siana Yost, suffered physical marring and deformation during the crash. However, this was not the cause of death. Upon examination, I discovered that she seems to have suffered multiple aneurysms, as well as the loss of neurons to… God knows where. I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire career. Her brain is a mess. It’s as if everything required to make it function simply stopped, and disappeared… but how?”

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The Visitor

Author : Kenny R. Brown

“Hello there; it’s so nice to see you!”

The door slid open noiselessly on a set of hidden tracks. The old man gestured expansively, welcoming his guest.

“I’ve been hoping that you would visit for quite a while now. I’ve hardly had any company at all since… I can’t even remember.”

The old man was moving quickly now, clearing the table, turning on lights, busying himself in the tiny kitchen.

“Now, have a seat. Would you like something to drink; anything to eat?”

The visitor declined a snack, and rather than sitting, simply elected to stay in place near the door. The old man ignored his visitor’s impropriety and took a seat himself.

“So, tell me; what have you been doing since the Others left? Have you been taking care of yourself? To tell you the truth I’ve been beginning to think there was no one else left.”

The visitor started to move into the room, but froze after a single step. The old man moved quickly to his guest, flipping open a hidden panel. He looked pensively at a display inside as he tapped on a keypad he held in his hand.

“Damn! General system fault again.”

Cain, the Immortal pressed the shutdown key on his latest android companion. His eyes began to glisten with tears.

“Goodbye, my friend.”

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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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