Author : Daniel Longwing

Two steps forward, don’t shuffle your feet. You already accrued three points in the way you took off your shoes…

Don’t look at the carpet. Don’t look at the carpet! Sod, that’ll be another four points for not looking the guard in the eye with a friendly and nonchalant smile.

The man in riot gear with the machine gun and the mirrored face-mask gestures to the left. Smile at him. Friendly. Friendly. Yes, that’s it, pretend your reflection is his face and give him a nod. This man is your friend and is here to help you. Tell yourself that.

Good. Keep your face relaxed, calm but alert. Only affable expressions of optimism and happiness. Place your belongings on the conveyor belt. Yes, they could get stolen while you go through the scanner… Don’t think about that, don’t get nervous. Don’t look nervous…

Your brow was creased while you talked to the scanner operator. That’s going to be an easy 5, maybe 6 points. The interrogation went well though, you revealed all relevant information about your age, sex, political, religious, and work background. You even managed to ease in your financial status without breaking the veneer of a pleasant conversation. Good. That will all go into the database, they know nothing has changed since the last time you were asked in the lobby.

Think positive, think happy. You are happy. Being surrounded by guns and scanners and trigger-happy paranoiacs makes you safe. That was a bitter thought. Check your face… Expression still good, it didn’t get out. It was funny, but you’re just a few points shy of being singled out for “examination”.

There are your belongings. Don’t look at them for too long. Good good. Concerned, but not too much. They’ve got your shoes and clothes ready too…

One last step. Don’t screw up… Talk to the woman holding your clothing….

“Social Security Number 358-63-3269?”

“That’s me.” Smooth. Good smile, just hold it for a moment…

“Here are your clothes, please retrieve your belongings from the belt. You’ve passed initial screening and psychological profiling. The background check will clear momentarily.” The woman handed him an official document. “Show this to all personnel, hesitation could lead to arrest, and 3269?”


“Thank you for flying with us today.”

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Parallel Universe

Author : J. S. Kachelries

As the spaceship exited the wormhole, its forward thrusters brought it to a relative stop. The ship sat motionless for an hour as its two occupants tried to determine their location. The pilot, Teeh Ar, balled his two-fingered ‘hands’ into fists, and slowly pivoted to confront his navigator snout-to-beak. “Lost! What do you mean lost?” The vertical slits that were Teeh’s pupils looked like steel daggers in his large, dark cobalt-blue eyes. Then, in a voice two octaves lower than normal, he growled “Pterry, if you don’t find out where we are in one minute, I’m going to bite your head off.” For effect, Teeh bared his upper row of eight inch long, serrated, razor sharp teeth, and snarled.

The 60 pound navigator raised his slender wings over his head and made the thin membranes quiver mockingly with feigned fear. “Oh my God, the mighty King Lizard is going to bite my head off. I’m soooo scared. Ha, ha, ha. Who are you trying to kid? You’re a stinkin’ scavenger, not a predator. You couldn’t bite my head off unless I was already dead. You really crack me up.” Pterry folded his long graceful wings and continued to adjust the dials on his control panel while he searched for a navigation beacon. He considered radioing for directions, but he was male, so that was out of the question until things got really desperate, and probably not even then. “Look, your majesty, if you’re done blustering, make yourself useful. See if you can pick up a station on the holovision. Maybe I can follow the signal back to a subspace transmitter.” Pterry paused momentarily, and then said, “Hey, you know, maybe that wormhole sent us to a parallel universe, or something. I was watching a show about String Theory last month. They said there are 11 dimensions, containing infinite universes. Maybe we jumped into a universe where the Earth is ruled by insects or mammals, rather than dinosaurs.”

“Mammals? You mean like mice? Don’t be ridiculous. Their young can’t live two days without their mommies. How could they ever rule the world?” Just then, the image of a cute, female Allosaurus came into focus on the holovision. Relieved, Teeh said, “Well, there goes your parallel universe crap. I just got ‘Raptor and Friends’ on the projector.” Teeh leaned back and watched the perky, substitute co-host for a few seconds. “You have to admit, she looks pretty good for someone that just hatched twin eggs a few years back.”

Pterry ignored Teeh’s commentary as he attempted to get a fix on the signal. “OK,” he said, “I think this will work. Once I establish a second link, I can triangulate our position, and determine our spatial coordinates. But pleeeease, do me a favor. Switch it to DNN? I can’t stand that network. ‘Fair and balanced’ my tailbone.”

However, Teeh was still smarting from Pterry’s earlier defamatory comments, so he wasn’t in a conciliatory mood. Besides, he liked Raptor News. His eye ridges came together to form a “V” in the center of his forehead, and he grinned. “Listen beak-head, consider it motivation. If you don’t get us home by 8:00 tonight, you’re going to have to watch the Stegosaurus Factor.”

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Perfect Match

Author : Hannah F

“What do you mean, you knew it wouldn’t work out?” Emma’s brow furrowed as she regarded me across the table. “I watched the simtapes with you; I saw the results. Everything- preferences, intellectual profile, moral standing, even your damn sleep cycles said you two would be a perfect match! How could you have been sure- from ten minutes of actually seeing the man- that it wouldn’t work out?”

I sighed, and leaned forward a little bit, clasping my hands in front of me on the table. “I saw him sit down like this,” I explained miserably. Emma’s face was blank, still uncomprehending. I stretched my right hand, trying to emphasize. “He clasped his hands, and his right thumb was on top.” I shuffled my fingers until I sat comfortably. She stared in disbelief.

“You dumped him because he was right-handed?”

“Not hand dominance, thumb dominance.” I shook my head. “I’m left-thumb dominant. It never would have worked- the second we held hands, everything would have been over.”

“I think you’re full of it.”

I slid off my chair and into the empty one between us, and lifted her left hand with my right, slipping my right thumb over her left, regardless of how uncomfortable I found it.

Her eyes widened. “Oh…”

I let her go and slid back into my seat. We finished our meals without another word.

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The Gift of Naiveté

Author : James Weirick

Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. Emotions long gone from this society now found new life in the minds of John and Paula. For the first time in their lives, they were unsure. They didn’t know if what they were doing was the right thing. They didn’t know what tomorrow would hold.

Sirens sounded softly in the distance. Someone knew that they were there.

“We have about five minutes until the police get here.” said Paula, “It’s now or never.”

The explosives that John had placed strategically around the Knowledge Retainment Center were hard to come by since the world had stopped fighting wars 20 years ago. Some explosives were still manufactured, but they were only used to demolish old buildings to make room for the new models that were earthquake proof, fire proof, flood proof…everything proof. But even the strength of the new buildings had nothing on the structural reinforcements of the Center. Even the old nuclear bombs were no match for the Center. No, John and Paula needed the most powerful bomb ever made. It was known only as “The Winkie.”

John pushed the button on the detonator and they both watched as the Knowledge Retainment Center was consumed in a ball of fire. The shock wave could be felt for miles, and many of the surrounding building were destroyed in the blast.

People had already started to gather in the streets as the police came to arrest John and Paula. When the police got there, however, they just stood in amazement and watched the melted remains of the Center cool in the shallow crater that the explosion had left. Why bother arresting these two when society as they knew it had come to an end?

One of the officers—now consumed with the same fear, uncertainty, and doubt that John and Paula had felt—looked at the two and in a sad, quiet voice said, “Why?”

Paula smiled and said with a deep satisfaction, “So that our children will have something new to discover.”

Miles away from the explosion the plaque that graced the entrance to the Center was lying in the mud. It read, “The Knowledge Retainment Center is the only receptacle of all the knowledge that mankind has ever gained. It will house that knowledge for this and all future generations.”

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4B45 494B 6F

Author : Dee Harding

Keiko 610618, or ‘keiko610’, as her work is signed, has just returned from yet another business meeting in a far flung industrial sector. Making idle conversation, we ask her if she enjoyed her flight, we ask her where she’s been. She simply shakes her head, amused, and almost seductively mouths the letters, “n… d… a”.

Changing tack we ask her about her other work, and how she’s finding her current stint at the Marlin’s Reach galleries. “Wonderful” she replies coyly, and just as we get the feeling that this is going to be a difficult interview, she continues…

“I never thought that it would get any further than my own pleasure. That what I find interesting, and exciting, would have a wider appeal. But just as I have in life as a whole, I’ve found myself proven wrong at every turn. That’s what’s wonderful about it.” For the uninitiated in fringe art, keiko610 is this season’s big thing, and she’s taken to the sensation like a duck to water. She’s also an android.

While people are stunned that this exotic creature should even be capable of producing such intuitive (if tiny) sculptures and objet d’art, she herself claims to be surprised by the positive reaction she has engendered in the public. “I’m perpetually amazed by people, myself included. I was given birth for certain duties, and I enjoy them. I consider myself good at them.” Keiko is contracted by Zeus-Ethera Shipping Corporation and effectively represents their entire administrative staff. “but at the same time, because I have those facilities, and because I’m good at my job, I find myself in quiet moments, exploring, sorting, trying to make sense of things, and sometimes the results are…” she pauses, for what can only be affect, “Unexpected. On every scale.” Her language gives the truth to that statement, betraying traits we expect to find in ourselves, rather than in what is, in effect, an extremely elegant sculpture given life. The fractal nature of her art is not beyond her. “I must admit that there is some humour in my approach to all this, otherwise I would never have been able to work with you in the past”. Faced with Keiko’s innocent features we’re not quite sure if we’ve been complemented or insulted, but she is, of course, referring to her brief stint as an i-O model last year. “Obviously I’m very grateful for that opportunity, and I enjoyed myself immensely, but I don’t think I’ll be coming back to it very soon. Business moves relentlessly on, after all.” And with that she winks at us in complex irony, and leaves, stretching out like one of her own perfectly formed figurines for another unnamed business destination.

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