The Last Experiment

Author : Adam Zabell

We did it, eventually. We learned everything, knew everything, understood everything. Our computers could calculate any answer to within its smallest probability at the speed of thought. Our machines could produce any object we wanted; tools to examine, manipulate, create, change and destroy. Our philosophers had become scientists, then engineers, then technicians, then laborers, then redundant.

The unimaginative worried about privacy, or freedom, or boredom. They hadn’t believed, or didn’t trust, that a necessary contribution to learning the intimate workings of the universe would require that we become comfortable with our differences, accepting of our fellows, and capable of caring for ourselves. Resolving that doubt was one of the last things we learned, and became our greatest day of celebration.

We hated the title of “god” but there wasn’t any other word that fit. What else could we call a race of omniscients whose omnipotence was as obvious as the photon, the periodic table and the chirality of space? We reinvented the universe in countless ways for curiosity and whim. Gave gravity a color, made light a particle-wave duality, disconnected electricity from magnetism, and everything else that came to mind. And everything else did.

At the last, we took our everything and went the only place we could go. Back to the beginning, back to where we could watch and advise and thrill in the discoveries of a young race doing it for the first time. And we couldn’t help ourselves to leave this, the one and only obvious marker of our passing and our presence. You have come so far to get here, and yet there’s so much more that you don’t even know to look for.

Welcome to your future and your past. Live it, love it, and rejoice!

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Hurpes Simplex 2

Author : Michael “Freeman” Herbaugh

Every morning she woke up to start a new millennium she felt dread. How far had it spread today?

Terra used to be happy. She and Mars had a fantastic relationship. They had beautiful little reptilian offspring. Their attraction made them orbit synchronously and he was her world.

Then he came along. For a comet even he was slick, all ice and crags. She couldn’t help but be drawn to him, or maybe he was drawn to her, she forgets. His name was TR-357 and he was FAST. Terra knew she shouldn’t get involved but the magnetism was there and overwhelmed her.

For one decade of fun, she had paid the price. TR had killed her offspring and Mars… Mars had found out. Mars became dead to her. She begged and pleaded for him to speak to her, but he was a stubborn asshole. To this millennium she wishes that he would just say something and they could at the very least be friends.

But then the outbreaks began. No wonder Mars would no longer associate with her. She even repulsed herself. Like everyone else in the ‘verse, she thought it would never happen to her. An STD.

They were persistent too, stupid little bipeds. Not only did they crawl all over her skin but they would create huge sores where masses of them would conglomerate. What’s worse is she had become contagious, the damn things were trying to spread to others in the local system.

She had heard of a remedy. It wasn’t a long term solution but it would at least stop the outbreaks. The problem was, it meant confronting her father. Only he had the heat to reduce the flare ups.

She took a few millennium to think it over and find the words to say. Finally, she bucked up the courage and called.

“Hi Sol…… Dad……Can I ask you for something?

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Even Odds

Author : S. Clough aka Hrekka

She bent the corners of the cards up off the table, as if checking their values. She didn’t even see them – her focus was on Mayweather across the table. She’d memorised her cards as they were dealt, and trusted her memory implicitly. If you couldn’t trust your own mind, what could you trust?

Tag glanced at her, lips slightly apart. Her knowledge of the Saurian’s body language was sketchy at best. This made bluffing against him somewhat of a nervewracking experience. He was sitting to her left, and to Mayweather’s right. She ignored his gaze, instead maintained her watch on Mayweather. Before the game started, the three of them had made the Duarcher put on a Faraday helmet – it meant that his face was hard to read, but he couldn’t use the hardware in his skull. No-one could be sure that the room was camera-free. Remontoire had already folded, and was currently gazing desolately at his ever-diminishing stack of chips. He was the only other baseline human that she’d seen for days.

Mayweather gave a long sigh. He pushed his cards forward.


“I call,” she said, turning to look at Tag.

Tag turned his cards over. A straight: three, four, five, six and seven. She flipped her cards over with one finger, revealing four twos.

“Win,” she said simply, tilting her head and smiling.

Tag stood slowly, and reached round his belt. There was a metallic clink. Stepping backwards, he raised a stubby handgun and pointed it straight at her.

“No you didn’t,” he said.

A blinding flash dazed all the players momentarily. Tag fell to the floor, scrabbling for his weapon. Remontoire had pulled a little guassgun, and the slug had punched a two-centimetre hole in Tag’s firearm. She didn’t know whether to put this down to spectacular accuracy or spectacular inaccuracy on Remontoire’s part.

She kicked Tag’s gun away from his groping fingers, and turned, planting her foot on the back of his head, smashing his face into the floor. He twitched, and went limp. Remontoire landed a crack on Mayweather’s neck with the butt of his gun, and the unfortunate mark slumped across the table. She emptied Tag’s pockets, and Remontoire relieved Mayweather of everything he had.

She went to the door, and called to their associates in from the corridor. Two burly men quickly dragged the unconscious Mayweather and the bleeding, moaning Tag outside.

Rem dropped his gun back into his holster. They dumped everything on the table, along with all the cash. Sitting down opposite each other, they carefully split the pile between them, with two smaller piles forming for the heavies who were even now dealing with the other players.

She stood, and shook Remontoire’s hand.

“A pleasure doing business with you.”

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Greetings from Tarpoint

Author : Frank Ruiz

It’s my favorite Super oldie playing from the speakers above: “I think we’re alone now…” The lights are just right, bringing the girl out against the dark room, making the furniture behind her suggestions; a white body rising from black waters. Slick red 12 inch hydraulic heels. She’s got some new adjustable tits. I can tell because they’re way high. They’re set to a C. She sees me frown and flicks her wrist out like she’s checking her old timepiece. Now they’re D’s. Her eyes stay steady brown. She’s got no color changers there and her hair looks real. She must be new to this trade.

“Not here to buy, ma’am.” I say. Her heels drop to the floor and the tits deflate. “I’m with the Temporal Watch Service.”

“Time cops. What are you here for? We just opened.” She closes her open robe. “How would we ever be associated with a paradigm aberration?” She reaches one hand between her legs and hugs herself across the chest with the other. “All we got here is a little bit of this and a little bit of that.” She gives me her business smile.

“In a minute, a man will come through that door looking for a trick. He is not what he seems. This man is actually an escapee from the planet Tarpoint. Bred in a genetic lab for the purpose of killing that planet’s rodents, he gained sentience and bolted. His flesh releases an airborne pathogen upon excitement that will kill anything.” I walk to her. “On this planet, he is a famous person. You would never turn him down. But what he’s got in him and what you’ve got in you mix together to create a plague that wipes out the whole galaxy. We’re talking diseases from thoughts.”

She puts the work grin away. I can tell she doesn’t believe me but doesn’t want trouble. “All we got here is beaver, honey. You do whatchoo gotta do, sweetie. Make sure none of my girls get hurt and I’ll treat you right myself later.” She flicks the wrist, turning off the lighting system, then walks away, returning the room to mundane.

“See you in a bit, brown eyes.” I sit on a soft sofa across from the door and think about my blue eyed wife and the boy.

The door creaks open all the way, shoving light into the room. A man shuffles in, loosens the tie on his collar.

I unsafe my gun. “Good afternoon, Mr. President. Greetings from Tarpoint.”

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The Business Acumen

Author : David E Hoffee

T. Claudius Swifford sipped arabica from the back of his vintage, metal-colored, chauffeur-driven Triton Mercedes as it swooped to meet the maglev. He briefly recalled the scone and juice he’d been served for breakfast as he perused the Singapore vids. In the tiniest moment reserved for himself, he thought, am I eclectic, or eccentric? And as the chauffeur attended his door at the parking level of Swifford Industries, Mr. Swifford couldn’t help but pause for a moment to honor the economic masters who’d come before him. This was the top of the world–a fine place to be.

Mr. Swifford could afford very large, very thick glass doors at the entrance to his office. He could also afford someone to open them. That someone was Reginald Tolucci, or just “Reggie.” For seventeen years, Reggie opened and closed and polished and secured for Swifford Industries, while he lost four kids and a wife to the water. “Not covered,” they told him, and he had to watch them slip away, while he opened–closed.

In the office, Mr. Swifford’s stock vids hovered in their places. Elsewhere, Mark Yager’s double-toast tried to return, as the never-on-time transit careened and rattled. Swifford Industries swallowed Yager in white, as he assumed the team-leader position, floor seventeen, area three, or just 17/3. Yager’s numbers had been incredibly good during the first two quarters, but the fourth-quarter projections were harpooning third-quarter business. Yager’s team saw confidence, not the toast, trying to escape. Upstairs, the weather had left a fine mist on the Triton Mercedes. Yager’s brow was shiny, as he felt the absence of numbers echo through his brain.

Team 17/3 could barely contain themselves during a brief spike at 1400 hours; but alas, the toothpick economy didn’t last, and by 1630 hours, comm wanted Yager at the top of the building, floor 1, level 1. That would be Swifford’s office.

Yager adjusted his posture, dredged up confidence to argue for his team. Mr. Swifford waved his hand, and a screen disappeared. Yager smiled his winner’s smile.

“Mr., um, Yager, is it–yes,” Swifford droned, “where, sir, are your numbers?” He shifted left in his massive leather seat.

“We bring you here, teach you, give you water, juice, and FOR WHAT? How many times has this been?” And Yager unconsciously stepped back, off-posture, off-smile, and Swifford lept up and drew in a single, fluid motion, center-mass, dead on, one shot from the company-issue pearl-handled .45 in another tribute to the mighty business integrity gone by.

The glistening, metal-colored Triton Mercedes hums at 1700.

“How was your day, sir?” Reggie asked, as Mr. Swifford approached the door.

And, as T. Claudius Swifford always replied, “Reggie–it was a fine day for business.”

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