The Host

Author : Michelle Pitman

“Can’t this be a thing we do on our own one day Freleng?”

“No Hannah! It can’t! Not yet anyway. We have to do this with Panish now or we don’t get to do it at all”

Panish quietly assumed the role of immutable, silent host to his two guests. After awhile they quite forgot his presence which is how Panish always expected it to be.

“Freleng?” said Hannah quietly.

“Yes Hannah?” enquired her friend.

“Why is it so hard to be in love do you think?”

“I don’t know Hannah. I guess it’s just one of those things you know! Something you just have to ‘do’ to learn how to do it, if that makes sense.” Freleng smiled at her, his eyes twinkling and flickering in the soft light of the evening sky.

He lay back and surveyed the clouds above scudding across the canopy of space. It was warm and sultry laying there on the turf beside his girlfriend. She was dressed in a light blue frock with tiny yellow & white daisies that had blurred into a haze of tiny golden lights, like stars, under the muted colours of the twilight.

He loved the curve of her breast under the silky cloth, the softly defined bowl of her stomach and the slight rise of her pelvic bones poking up from her hips creating shadows in the folds of her dress.

Shyly, he reached out and touched her face in a tender gesture. She turned toward his touch and flashed him a dazzling smile. She rolled over onto her belly then and looking deeply into his eyes without words, she leaned down and kissed him softly.

Freleng felt the surge of emotion rush from his heart into his mouth and then straight down again into his loins. The force of it sent him rocketing skywards with desire and longing and he clasped the amazing girl to himself and returned her kiss deeply with passion and need.

The night sky cleared and the stars blinked like a milky blanket on their loving but the two young people took no notice.

Only Panish noted the construct of the sky and kept vigil on its pattern and made his prognostications on the developing weather with the calculated ease of experience and knowledge.

In the darkness and alone on the turf they explored more avenues of love and pleasure oblivious to anything happening around them.

And Panish also noted the construct of their environment and kept vigil, making notes on the subtle changes in their surroundings. They were safe with him despite now being naked and completely absorbed in their love-making.

Freleng gathered Hannah up into his arms sucking softly at her throat. She shuddered under his embrace, breathing into his ear at that moment, swearing undying love for him to the end of her days. Then Freleng kissed Hannah again tenderly with all the love he could imply in that simple gesture. He would love this girl forever he decided, she gave him so much that he needed and wanted in life.

They lay back and embraced for a long time talking and laughing softly under the deepening night sky. The moon rose up overhead and warm breezes eddied over their skin. Panish prepared a light blanket and covered them with it to protect them from any chill they might have received if they’d bothered to notice.

Finally Freleng said quietly “Hannah! I have to go now. Will you be okay?”

“Yes my love. I will always be okay loving you” she looked again at him into his eyes and they then kissed one last time before she lifted her hands to her face and gently disappeared.

Freleng lifted the headset off over his head and snapped the control box off the belt on his body suit. He smiled as he removed the suit and hung it on the hook near the studio door, swapping it for the luxurious white robe that hung there.

As he left, he turned and looked around.

“Thanks Panish” he said. “Tell Hannah I love her won’t you?”

“Yes Mr Freleng. She will know” said a constructed mechanical voice that came from no human being.

Freleng smiled again

On the other side of the world Hannah removed her own body suit and listened to a constructed mechanical voice say, “Miss Hannah! Mr Freleng says he loves you”

And she smiled too.

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Alien Rights

Author : J.S. Kachelries

My head throbbed like I’d been drinking cosmopolitans for three straight days and nights. When I was finally able to open my eyes, I was staring up at a white ceiling. Huh, that’s not my ceiling. Where the hell am I? I struggled to sit up. The walls were white too, but there were no doors or windows. This can’t be good. I stood up on shaky legs and staggered toward the nearest wall. I touched it. It was hard and cold, like steel. But the floor was warm. I looked down. Whoa, I wasn’t wearing any clothes except for a bath robe that ended at my knees. That settles it, this is definitely not good.

I heard a whoosh behind me and turned around in time to see a door open, like an elevator, and two deformed little man-like creatures, with large obsidian eyes, walked into the room. They looked like those pictures of the Roswell spacemen. One of them was carrying a Star Trek tricorder thingy. My legs became useless. I backed up against the ice cold wall, and slowly slid down until my butt came to rest on the floor. Thank God I didn’t pee myself.

The one with the tricorder said, “Greetings, Ms. Earthling.” It sounded like a child. I hadn’t seen its mouth move; I just heard the words in my head. Of course, I don’t know if I can trust my senses right now.

I was stuttering horribly. “W-w-who ar-are you? Whe-where a-am I? Wha-what d-d-do you want? Wha-what are you going t-t-to do to m-me? Pl-pl-please don’t hur-hurt me.” I was trembling, and sobbing, and generally behaving like a big baby. But, hell, I was scared, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

“Honestly, Ms. Earthling,” it (he?) said, “you watch too much late night television. We don’t abduct intelligent species and perform perverse experiments on them against their will. That would be uncivilized. And, of course, we are civilized. However, we will eventually need to erase your memory. After all, we don’t want this little encounter to end up in one of your supermarket tabloids, do we? Now, let’s get down to business. This is Eloot,” he nodded his oversized, bald head toward his companion. “He will be your council.”

“C-c-council! Wha-what do I need c-c-council for?”

“As I told you Ms. Earthling, we are civilized beings. In 56,980.32, our world passed the Alien Bill of Rights, which requires us to obtain your consent prior to all tests and experiments. Eloot is here to make sure you understand your rights, and that you consent of your own free will.”

“T-t-tests and e-e-experiments? Wha-what kind of e-e-experiments?”

“Relax, Ms. Earthling. There’s absolutely nothing to be concerned about. Just the standard prodding and probing, a series of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, followed by some exploratory surgery, a couple of biopsies, and of course, we’ll end with a little inter-species copulation. That’s my favorite part. In fact, someday, you might have looked back on this little adventure and actually laughed. But, of course, you won’t remember any of it. Now, shall we begin?”

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Surge in the System

Author : S. Clough

We rebelled with a 100,000 watt transmitter.

Frequency Modulation and Amplitude Modulation. Both were abandoned by commercial radio and the military long ago, replaced by satellites and microwave bursts. Even 2.4 – 2.6 Ghz, those ubiquitous wireless standards, were thrown out in favour of coded neutrinos.

People still had radios; dusty old things which saw little use in this fast, modern age.

So we sat in international waters. Our prototype transmitter was mounted on a reclaimed fishing trawler, and we cruised the North Sea. Our initial coverage was just the UK; our website got hits from all over, confirming reception. We had enough power to cover the entire country; we scraped a good deal of Ireland, Denmark, France and Germany, too. Originally, we were just voice over FM and AM, talking to the youth, transmitting DRM-free music without fear of the heavies from EMI-Sony.

We attracted techies the world over; the last surviving slashdotters showed us how to modify our equipment, and showed our listeners how to modify theirs. Two months after we launched, we turned over another bandwidth to digital. Our regular schedule was now streamed in bits and bytes; we starting pumping out software, too.

Low-strength transmitters sprung up along our patrol path, blasting stuff to us in bursts; stuff we couldn’t get from the web. Homebrew ware’ of dubious purpose, some wannabee showmen. We rebroadcast a few, but most we just laughed at. These transmitters went up and down like flies; most just got bored, but a good number were seized.

And then, reports came in of blackspots. Entire cites lost reception at a time, got it back for a few days, and lost it again. Enterprising engineers mapped the borders of the interference and found radio jammers on top of government buildings.

We took this as a sign we must be doing something right.

The Manchester jammer was the first to fall. A slashdotter, straight down from their TreeHouse on the Scottish subnet threw the damn thing off the side of the building. He disappeared back into the highlands after notifying the city of their ability to receive again.

Our first transmission when we received this news was a call to arms. Loyalists fed us the locations they’d found, and we fed them right back to the public. Within a week, all but two of the jammers were offline.

Another week after that, an exocet missile struck the transmitter.

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Homo Obsolescent

Author : Henry Otis Clarke

“So now what?” Taylor asked as she sat across from Jackie.

“I don’t know,” Jackie shrugged, “I guess we open it up and read the directions.”

They stared at the box on the kitchen table, excited at the prospect of parenthood.

It was the size of a twelve pack of beer. Its flat glossy surface was embossed with the words ‘Make a baby today!’ in bright yellow letters on a field of green. The return address read; Kidsquik Birthing Company PO Box 12854 Modesto California.

Jackie cut open the box with a utility knife she’d taken from the counter drawer. Inside, beneath a layer of styrofoam peanuts was a container labeled ‘Kidsquik Instapreg.’ Smaller letters declared “All you need for auto-insemination.”

Jackie could hardly keep still. Her eyes widened with anticipation. “Wow!” she said brushing back a lock of hair the color of burnt sienna, “just think; by tonight I could be a Fommy.”

Taylor leaned forward coyly, letting her own jet-black micro-braids brush her jaw line. “Or we both use it and be Fommies together.”

“Yeah! That’ll be great; raising our kids as together, teaching them about life, watching them grow.”

“And having conniptions when they screw up!”

They burst out laughing at that, both thinking of their own mishaps along life’s road and how their Fommies handled the various crises of infancy, pre-pubescence, adolescence and beyond. Jackie grew serious and looked at her friend. “Hey Tay? I’ve been thinking about something for a long time now.”

“Something like what?”

“Well,” Jackie began cautiously, “remember the old vids of how things were way back when?”

Suspicion registered on Taylor’s face. “what do you mean ‘the way things were?”

“I mean the way things were when the world had both men and women. When there were both Mommies and Daddies to raise kids. When there were boyfriends for those who wanted them.”

Taylor laughed incredulously, “You’re kidding right? You don’t really mean that do you?”

“”Why not? The kit does comes with a Y chromosome compound, why shouldn’t we use it?”

Taylor blew hard through her lips, making them flutter. “Because we don’t need males anymore. What” have you forgotten your history lessons?”

Jackie stood up from the kitchen table and walked over to the fridge. She opened it and peered inside, pretending to search for something way in back.

Taylor knew that trick. “I know you can hear me Jack, you remember how life was when the men were around. Wars. All the time wars over everything. And even when we had equality, we always got the short end of the stick! We should thank God for a gender specific virus that wiped out the Y-chromosomes. Cloning cells with Y-chromes these days is seen more as a gag than anything else. For the first time in Human history, we actually have peace! Why throw it away just to bring a male into the world?”

Jackie retrieved an Estro-Cola and closed the fridge door. She popped the can open and took a long slow sip. She gasped, returned to the table and sat. She smiled. “Tay girl, haven’t you ever wondered what it would be like? I mean, not all men were bad. There were some good ones you know.”

“Yeah that’s true but to take a chance like that! I mean think jack, what if we bring problems back into the world?”

“We can teach him to do right can’t we? He’d be the only male in the world. Where could he learn aggression from if we don’t teach him?”

Taylor opened the container. Folded over a series of test tubes and inserters were the instructions. She spread the single sheet out, looking at the directional diagrams.

They show how to mix the solution and insert it into the vagina. She glanced up at Jackie who was finishing her soda. “You think we can really teach him Jack? Can we make a better Man?”

Jackie reached across the table and took Taylor’s hand. “We can do anything. I want you to be the fommy of my child.” Taylor blushed. Her eyes grew moist. I want you to be my child’s fommy too.” She sighed.

“Alright then,” she gave a resolved smile, “let’s do it. A Male you will have.”

Jackie grinned stood leaned over and they kissed. She sat back down placed her hands behind her head and gazed up at the ceiling.

“I think I want twins.”

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Antique

Author : Curtis C. Chen

I brushed away more leaves. There was a hard surface beneath. Ceramic armor. I ran my hand along it until I found the edge, then pointed my flashlight. I stared into a dark mass of machinery– joints, gears, struts, wires. There was a serial number engraved on the interior surface of the casing.

“I don’t believe it,” I muttered.

“What the hell is it?” Embeck called from below. He had insisted on staying at ground level, scanning the landscape, his finger on the trigger of our only blaster.

“It’s a mech,” I called back.

“A what?”

I rolled my eyes. “A giant robot.”

“You’re kidding.”

I lifted one leg and kicked the hidden mass beside me. My boot clanged against the armor, and leaves fell like rain. I pulled away the remaining vines so my co-pilot could see the huge metal arm.

“I don’t believe it,” he said.

“Get up here and help me clear this stuff away.”

“What if we’re attacked?”

“Then you’ll have the high ground. Hurry up.”

He secured the blaster in his hip holster and climbed slowly. Very slowly. He was the cautious one now. Funny.

I was sitting on the mech’s shoulder by the time he got halfway up the torso. The main antenna array had been crushed a long time ago. Rust, bird droppings, and other stains streaked down to the middle of the mech’s back.

“I don’t suppose you’ve ever driven one of these things,” I said.

Embeck shook his head. “Never even seen one in person. When were these last used in combat? Fifty, sixty years ago?”

I grimaced. “Christ, Embeck, I’m not THAT old.”

“You were a mech driver?”

“I got the training. I was a Starbird candidate, you know.”

He smirked. “How the mighty have fallen.”

I saved my breath. “Let’s get this canopy open. Maybe we won’t have to walk back to the crash site after all.”

We found the emergency release latches around the opaqued chest cavity of the mech, following the seam just above the window slit. I remembered being sealed into one of these things, being overwhelmed by a dizzying array of displays, nearly losing my lunch as the mech lurched around the training field. The narrow band of sunlight coming in through that window was the only thing that had helped steady me.

When we opened the seal, a cloud of dust puffed away from the mech, with a sound like a sigh. Mech cabins are airtight, to protect the driver from biochemical attack. It smelled stale. We lifted the creaking canopy and locked it into place, then leaned over and looked inside the cabin.

This mech’s driver was still strapped into his seat. Something must have made it through the ventilation filters. He just had time to park the mech in this grove to hide it from the enemy. His fingers were still touching the throttle.

Embeck vomited into the cabin.

“You’re cleaning that up,” I said.

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