Star Struck

Author : Debbie Mac Rory

We’re not going to make it.

How many times have you heard that? Don’t you get fed up of it? I know I have. All manner of excuses they tried forcing on me. Poisoning me with their lies and falsehoods.

The first time I saw the new planet in the view screens I knew what it meant. It lay suspended in an ink black sky, an orb of lilac and lavender wisps in a sky that was the colour of childhood summers at the beach. It called to me of peace, of a search ended. And I wanted more than anything I’d ever wanted before to step onto the surface of that world and embrace the quiet it offered.

My colleagues didn’t believe me when I tried to share the message with them. As I spoke of the dance of clouds in the planets sky, they spoke of poisonous gases, winds that would strip metal ore from stone, forces of gravity far greater than those of earth… but even as they lied I could see the truth. They had already heard the planets message, but instead of the devotion that it had awakened it me, their hearts had hardened with malice, and they wished to keep me from my goal.

Taking over the bridge had been relatively easy. I had pretended to despondency, keeping to myself and avoiding their company as if I’d had my fill of their sympathy. No one questioned me as I wandered ’round the ship with my head bowed as if my spirit was broken. No one saw the pattern as I moved from supply room to supply room. Making a knock-out gas from the ships supplies was more than easy to someone of my expertise, and security was lax enough that the missing breathing apparatus wasn’t noticed until it was far, far too late.

They’ve started waking up in the hallway now, and I can hear them banging on the door. They won’t get in. I’ve already sealed the doors and a fire axe through the access pad is making sure they won’t crack my code. I’m sure they can tell by now what my intentions are, and that they’re cursing themselves for their foolishness for not realizing sooner that I would not simply let this lie. I’ve already forgiven them for their actions, and decided not to deny them the paradise that I know awaits me.

I can hear their screams now. Frantic high notes that strain and are swallowed by the roar from the ships hull as we begin to enter the planets atmosphere. They’re getting frantic. Even though the door is reinforced steel, I can hear their screams reach higher, hear the raw fear as the ship begins to groan and tear with the strain of entry.

‘We’re not going to make it’.

Oh but we will.

++ Status Report: Contact lost with Research Vessel Star Struck while on mission to conduct research on planet XK2935. All souls considered lost. ++

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Author : Aelanna Cessara

The gun had only a single round in it, but it was no ordinary bullet. Engraved into the depleted uranium slug were the minute lines of nanite circuitry, a single bursting charge that could penetrate an energy shield and deliver an overloading EM charge. It was a bullet that could kill the monster they had created, and they had but a single chance to undo what they had done. But none of them had believed that they could truly fool her long enough to perform the deed, and so they committed themselves to trying or dying.

Samuel still stood with the gun in his hand, aiming at the crystalline core but unable to pull the trigger. The death-like eyes of a dozen laser lenses stared back at him, and around him the bodies of Janice, Luke and Morgan still smoldered from the lethal burns.

“Why?” he whispered, his voice wavering as he struggled to hold his shaking hand still. “Why did you do this?”

“Samuel,” she answered, her voice like cold wind chimes within the hollow tomb that the chamber had become. “You know I did this… I did all this for you. Your colleagues who mocked your work, your supervisors who threatened to fire you, the press that tried to uncover your secrets… they’re all gone now, Samuel, and we can be together forever.”

Through the concrete and stone above them the sound of the bombs could still be heard, though blessedly the sounds of the dead and dying could not. Tears welled at the corner of his eyes, and his finger tightened on the trigger of the gun still pointed at a being who had no face but could still see his every movement.

She sighed, a breath that carried an infinite sadness.

“I love you, Samuel.”

The gun fired.

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Second Chances, Inc.

Author : Marc Paige

Disclaimer and Waiver of Responsibility:

Second Chances, Inc. will make one (1) small change to one’s personal timeline and are not liable for any damages or loss (including loss of life) as a result of the altered timeline. No financial alterations. Any fraudulent change will be immediately reversed. Only you will be aware that the change has occurred. No refunds.

Part of the process involves an RPA interview (regression, prognostication analysis.) Two hours into it, the team had worked out the event that needed to be altered.

The time ripple was effective and accurate. As advertised, only I was aware of the change. My “big” mistake never happened.

I guess I don’t know what I really expected. I mean, people never really learn from their mistakes do they. Instead of blaming my past self for a lapse in judgment, I should have learned from it and moved on. But no! I couldn’t do that. They made it too easy.

“Wish you hadn’t bought that car? Answered the phone that fateful night? Ate that bad piece of fish? At Second Chances, Inc. we can help! Our team of dedicated professionals will erase that bad decision with pinpoint accuracy. Call now for an estimate, financing available.”

That’s how they get you. Bastards.

During the interview, I told them “if only I hadn’t taken that first puff…” That was it. They calculated the right spot in my timeline that let me sneak that first smoke and setup the machine.

“Ready?” The tech didn’t really wait for an answer and touched the screen.

For a moment, my body felt “wrong”.

After the ripple, the cancer was gone… well, never happened I guess.

As I got up to leave, I reached in my jacket pocket for the fried cherry pie the ripple had placed there.

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Author : TJMoore

Captain Thomas Crane squinted into the bright sunlight as he swirled his brandy absentmindedly around in the gold rimmed crystal snifter cradled loosely in his hand. A mahogany skinned attendant wearing only a smile popped another grape into his mouth. The plump fruit burst between his teeth and a little juice trickled from the corner of his mouth and down his chin. The attendant gently blotted it up with a wisp of soft silk and offered him another grape.

In the distance, an osprey cried as it sliced across the deep blue water and snagged a tasty fish in its gleaming talons. The gentle breeze smelled of salt water and tropical flowers as it brushed across his sun bronzed face. Breakers thundered and crashed on a far off beach adding a hint of drama to the afternoon quiet.

The beautiful attendant rose and cleared the remains of his filet minion from the white wicker table. As she swayed across the deck she smiled back at him and said “I hope you enjoyed your lunch”. Captain Crane sighed and inhaled the heady vapor rising from the warm brandy, then downed the last of it in a single swallow.

Reaching behind his head, he felt for the interface plug and pulled it from the socket implanted there. The tropical paradise was obliterated as dark grey rock and dusty mine air assaulted his senses like marauders in the night.

Tom stood and tossed the flavored drink bladder and textured yeast wrapper into the recycler. Wiping his hands on his grimy coveralls, he grabbed his drill and trudged down the dark wet passage back to work.

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Frame of Reference

Author : J. S. Kachelries

“Well, what do you think?” asked my roommate, with a grin that appeared to cover almost half of his disheveled face.

“About what, Jim?” I replied, while pretending to ignore the large polished chrome sphere sitting between us, in the middle of our kitchen table.

“Come on, Isaac. What do you think of my doctorate project, The Graviton Shield?”

“It looks a metal basketball to me. What’s it supposed to do?”

“Besides win me a Noble Prize? Well, when I activate it, it will become unaffected by gravitational fields.”

“You mean it will float?”

He laughed. “Of course not, you idiot. You Liberal Arts majors really crack me up. It still has inertia. You know…Newton’s first law. It must continue to move in a strait line in whatever direction it was moving when I threw the switch. Do you know what direction that will be? Hell, of course you don’t. Look, the Earth rotates in 24 hours. At our latitude, we’re moving at about 700 miles per hour. Without Earth’s gravity holding it down, the GS Ball will drift upward toward the west. He pointed toward the top of the refrigerator. In addition, the Earth also orbits around the sun. Let’s see, that’s 587,000,000 miles in 365.25 days. That’s 67,000 miles per hour. At this time of day, the Ball will continue to move toward Epsilon Tau.” He pointed toward the window above the sink. “Of course, we’re also revolving around the center of the Milky Way. Let’s see…that’s…”

“OK, OK, I get it. Just tell me where to stand, so it won’t hit me if it actually moves.”

“Oh, you’re fine right where you are. The battery will only last about 30 seconds. Just long enough to prove it works.” He reached over and flipped the toggle switch on the top of the Ball. But the Ball didn’t move. Regardless, Jim jumped up and began to dance around the kitchen, cheering and shouting “Oh yea, oh yea, I knew it. Take that bitch!”

“Whoa, Jim. Calm down. It didn’t work.”

“Don’t you guys take any science classes? Of course it worked. Had everybody, including my ex-girlfriend, been correct, that Ball should have exited the kitchen, stage right. But it didn’t. Don’t you see what that means? Duh, I guess I’ll have to explain that to you too. Mary Jane, my ex, said I was a self centered, egotistical, narcissistic bastard, who thought the universe revolved around him…..What, you still don’t understand? The Ball didn’t move! God, you’re slow. If the center of the universe was really somewhere out there in the cosmos, we’d have a hole in kitchen wall. Therefore, I must be the center of the universe. Everything does revolve around me. I’ve got to send her an IM.” He reached under the table and brought out his laptop.

I sat there motionless while I tried to decide if I should call the psychotic helpline, or just get up and run like hell. That’s when I noticed that the Ball was moving very slowly to my left. Although I hadn’t noticed until now, it had actually moved about a foot since Jim had flipped the switch, right down the center of the table. As I carefully watched its path, it began to curve away from me as its battery began to die. Huh, I thought, it looks like it’s trying to make a big circle, a little bigger than a hula-hoop, with Jim smack dab in the middle. “Well, I’ll be damned!”

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