Through the Looking Glass

Author : Chris Ferguson & Lucas Atkinson

Malcovitch polished the lens pensively, knowing it was ridiculous. But he was a traditionalist, and even if it would be computers looking, not him, image decoders, descramblers, adjusters, effectors and compensators it was comforting to see it with his own eyes. He fitted it in place, tightened the screws the knobs carefully and peered through. There it was, the dark speck of the wormhole, as everyone had seen it for three and a half hundred years, scientists infuriated by artifacts that exhibited slightly different values of pi, geometry no longer behaving.

He sighed, leaned back, and booted up the machines that would carefully freeze the station’s real telescope to near-absolute zero temperatures. He sipped his coffee, listening to the machines groan beneath him. A moment later he flicked on another line of switches, one by one. The screen in front of him flashed blue, then twisted into a field of static. Even this behemoth of a telescope could not peer into the heart of the wormhole. He sighed, once more, then engaged one last program. This has to work, he thought. The program has been checked a hundred times now. There were only days before the Schrodinger’s Apocalypse Cult would find the legal leverage to shut down the station completely.

The lights flickered and the surface of his coffee rippled. Slowly, the screen hovering over the console shuddered and drew an image. There he was, on the screen. He was staring at his own back, he thought, except – he turned around. Nothing there. He turned back to the screen. The Station shuddered again, harder. He stared again. It was him – or – was his hair that dark? That long? And there was something wrong about where the walls met the floor, something too angular – Oh, he, thought, quietly, Damn.

~

“Doctor Malcovitch? Is everything all right?”

“Yes, John. It was very strange, though, for a moment.” She leaned back, sipped her tea, and petted the black cat that slept in its bed on the console. “It was like looking in a mirror, seeing yourself again and again and again.”

“Another failure?”

“Yes,” She sighed. “Check the program again. We don’t have much time.”

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Emotion Isn't A Programmed Function

Author : Kaitlin

Battle raged on around him, the constant sounds of gunfire ringing in his programmed earlike audio receptors. He, however, was oblivious to anything but the almost lifelike pain near where his navel would be, where the bullet had pierced his stark green casing.

For the first time in his battery powered life, he wished himself dead, unable to function, in electronic terms. The war was one-sided, and he knew he was on the losing side. His opponents were hell bent on destroying every robot created.

Once, before the human race realized they had made themselves disposable, RC926’s counterparts and the mammalian population of Earth had gotten along, but after the new leaders had been elected, the entirety of humanity had found that they were no longer necessary in this world and had been aggravated by that fact. RC926’s visual receptors which mimicked human pupils grew large as a sort of shocking blue fluid leaked from around the bullet hole.

As he lay himself down, the robot gave one last humanlike sigh, almost filled with emotion. Almost.

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Relative

Author : TJMoore

Dr. James Fredrickson appeared in the middle of the deserted street with a slight “Pop”.

Looking around he immediately realize that the experiment had been a success. He was no longer in the lab on Long Island where he had been only seconds ago. Relative seconds he mused; time is relative.

He began to walk with purpose toward the nearest building, a used book store called “Parchments Past”. He began to get a little nervous as he took in the street with its chilling emptiness and littered gutters. It suddenly occurred to him that the silence was so complete that it was disturbing. He clapped his hands to be sure he hadn’t become deaf and was rewarded with the echoing sound of his clap fading into the distance. He began to be a little afraid.

The experiment had worked well with mice and clocks and other small items placed in the chamber. They had disappeared and reappeared exactly one month later in exactly the same state that they had been in when they left. Time pieces designed to keep time to the millisecond had come through with no measurable time lost. They had invented a real working time machine. The fact that you could only go forward in time and they hadn’t figured out how to control or even change the amount of time forward was just something to be worked out. The only quirk they had discovered was that the mass of the object in the chamber affected the position of the object on return. The heavier the thing was, the more it moved to the east of its starting position when it returned at the end of the month.

They had calculated Dr. Fredrickson’s return position to be a deserted lot in Eastport, NY. He recognized the lot just up the street and his unease increased. No place was this quiet.

He opened the book store door and stepped inside. It was as deserted as the street. A clock on the wall showed the time was five minutes till three but the position of the sun indicated that it was mid morning. James shivered and looked at his own watch. Three minutes till three. He left the store and jogged down the street to a small deli. The smell of meat was heavy in the air. He looked in one of the coolers and saw that, although the power was off, the meat wasn’t rotting. The clock on the wall was frozen at five minutes till three. He slammed the door shut and ran down the street taking in the empty cars, stores, sidewalks and shops.

Nothing living moved as far as he could see. No birds, no cats or dogs, nothing. The grass and all the trees looked pale.

In a panic, he began jogging toward the lab almost eight miles away. A car in the street had keys in the ignition but when he opened the door the dome light didn’t come on and when he turned the key nothing happened, not even a click from under the hood. It was dead, like everything else.

He continued walking to the lab occasionally stopping to peer into deserted buildings.

Every clock he saw was stopped dead at five minutes till three.

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Worms

Author : J. S. Kachelries

Captain’s Log, Day 523: This is the 38th Earth day since we landed on Europa. At 0900 hours this morning, our exploration team discovered extraterrestrial life! They named them “Europea Hortenis” (Nightcrawlers of Europa), because they resemble big, fat worms. They are about six inches long, and one inch in diameter. They have a huge mouth at one end that contains about 100 razor sharp, articulating teeth. Our Xenobiologists would have been thrilled just to find bacteria-type life in Europa’s subterranean ocean. Imagine their elation to discover complex, multi-cellular life just a few inches below the surface. In addition, they’re easy to capture. You just pick them up by the tail. They aren’t flexible enough to turn around and bite you.

Captain’s Log, Day 526: Today we brought some of the worms inside the ship. They died almost instantly, or so we thought. When we examined one of them using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), it came back to life. Our biophysics team determined that their “spine” was made from an aluminum-copper-iron alloy that produces electrical energy as Europa orbits through Jupiter’s variable magnetic field (magnesynthesis, so to speak). The worms use magnetic fields for energy like Earth plants use sunlight. Since the interior of our ship is heavily shielded, the worms became dormant inside. When we took them back outside, they were their nasty ice-crunching selves again. Their teeth were made of Cubic-Boron-Nitride. On Earth, that’s a super-hard ceramic use to grind carburized steel. Apparently, that mouth was used to scour the ice for metals and minerals, presumably so they could grow.

Captain’s Log, Day 555: Today I had to post guards full time around the ship. Thousands of worms have begun to overrun our base. Apparently, they think our ship is a 24 hour buffet. We bent four screw drivers trying to pry their teeth off the aluminum landing struts.

Captain’s Log, Day 576: We thought we had the worm situation under control, until the external lab station collapsed. The damn worms had tunneled into the structure from underneath, like termites. I worry that they have eaten their way up through the ship’s landing module, and got into the return module? I have no way to check. Therefore, I decided to abandon the mission three months early, and orbit Jupiter until Earth is in the right position for our return trip.

Captain’s Log, Day 577: We achieved orbit just beyond Callisto. I sent an EVA team to examine the underside of the module to make sure there were no holes. Everything checked out. Look’s like we made it.

Captain’s Log, Day 714: Our situation is perilous. I’ve ordered an immediate return to Earth. We’ll have to adjust our trajectory in-route. We have to get away from Jupiter’s magnetic field as quickly as possible. The video monitors show that the worms are in the unshielded airlock and storage bays. They ate so many holes in the outer hatch that we can’t pressurize the airlock. We have no way to get at them, since our EVA suits are in a compromised storage bay. We’re trapped!

Captain’s Log, Day 718: We’re not going to make it. They’ve began to penetrate the interior hull. They eat through the meteoroid patches seconds after we plug the holes. At least we discovered what our mistake was. It was the ice samples in the storage bay. We had checked the samples for worms, but not for their eggs.

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Messengers

Author : Aelanna Cessara

She picked up a page of the large volume that had been compiled, her keen eyes picking out each individual strand of fiber in the primitive paper. They had not originally planned on doing it this way, but she had convinced the council that using the hand-made material would have significant impact on their charges, and thus she had spent all month making the rough pages and handwriting the all-important documents.

Her partner was looking her with some amusement, and she smiled with the pride that accompanied the success of such a difficult task.

“Did you know?” she said, tugging absent-minded on a feather as she gazed down at the surface. “They have a name for us now.”

“Oh?”

“They call us angels. Messengers in their tongue.”

“Indeed,” he answered, smiling back at her. “We definitely have a message to deliver.”

His fingers danced over the controls, and the shuttle nosed downwards, preparing to enter the atmosphere.

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