Surf's Up

Author : Clint Wilson, Staff Writer

The starship dropped down into the clear atmosphere of the water planet. Inside the belly bay, six surf pods awaited their launch. Each one was five meters long, known as “longboards” by current popular culture. And inside of each one of them, there eagerly awaited an anxious human enthusiast.

Connor stood rigid on the inner control board, a replica of a twentieth century longboard, once used to ride the comparatively minuscule waves of Earth. Now its general look and function were mainly for nostalgia, but the manipulations inputed by a rider’s legs, along with measurements of arms, head and torso balance, transmitted via suit sensors, would help to control the entire pod atop the massive waves of Nokium IV.

The tourism company’s vessel lowered to within three meters of a very calm azure sea. The belly bay doors opened, a klaxon sounded, and the six pods splashed into the water together. The long-haired bare-chested ship’s pilot wished them, “bodacious luck,” and immediately maneuvered the craft up and away. A few moments later he shouted into their ear pieces, “Incoming!”

Bobbing in the beautiful waters, all six pods slowly turned toward the eastern horizon, and in the distance they saw it. The fifteen hundred meter wave was still many kilometres away, but they all started engaging their forward thrusters at maximum propulsion. This was the thing that Connor had been waiting for all of his life, had spent his entire savings on, the ultimate wave. He called out to his five friends on the comm link. “Ready boys and girls? This is it! This is the big one!”

Retorts of, “Woo hoo!” and, “Yeehaw!” abounded. Then Connor keyed the musical track inside all of their helmets and the clicky clacky reverb of Mosrite guitars became apparent as the rhythmic stylings of “The Ventures” accompanied their approach to the nearly mile high wave.

Before they knew it it was upon them. And then they began to climb, and climb, and then climb some more. The powerful electric motors of the pods were pushed to their limits as the six surfers reached the crest of the wave. And then in perfect synchronization they all turned around, and began to ride the massive unstoppable behemoth.

Connor shouted with glee, “Here we go gang!” while the roar of billions of tonnes of surging water accompanied by the snazzy melodies and thumping drumbeat of “Walk Don’t Run” assaulted their ears. And they all surfed and surfed along together for many dozens of kilometres, as the monstrous wave carried them forward beneath a glorious cloudless pale blue sky. Eventually they all slipped from the roiling crest, down into the pipeline, with endless millions of litres of translucent turquoise water curling above their heads. Until at long last the massive monster slowly lost momentum and finally deposited them back down onto the planetary ocean’s calm surface, to once again bob safely beneath the warm white sun of Nokium.

And as the tourism ship returned to pick them up, cheers and congratulations could be heard all over the comm link. It had after all been indeed the most bodacious, righteous, and gnarliest of days!

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Author : S T Xavier

“It’s eating from my hand! Look, David! It’s so cute!”

David nods at the image visible only in his mind, speaking aloud the words from the memory. “It sure is, Sarah. You have such a way with birds, my love.”

A giggle comes from the speakers, the sound of Sarah’s voice melodious in the quarantine room. I check my readouts and everything seems to be within spec. I queue up the next memory for David, letting the software do the work of digging it out of his mind and showing it to him. Sarah’s voice again comes through the speakers, this time as a moan of pleasure. I can’t see it, but it’s not the first time I’ve observed someone else’s memory of making love to their spouse. I turn to look at my readouts, trying hard to drown out the sound of the memory.

The sounds get decidedly more intimate before they stop completely. I can see the screen flash with the destruction code. David must have finally pushed his button, unable to take any more. The love-making memories seem to cause that reaction in a lot of clients. Some perverts ride through those memories with ease, instead pushing their button on otherwise happy family moments. I’ll never understand what makes the clients decide, but I can’t entirely understand wanting to go through the process to begin with.

The disconnect code flashes on my screen, so I walk over to David’s chair and begin removing the connections on his head. The one at the top of the spine catches for a second, but I know how to do my job. A few twists and it’s removed along with the rest of them. Dropping the connectors to the side, I grab a small light and shine it in David’s eyes.

“Mr. Welsh. Can you hear me? Please tell me your name and the year.”

David’s eyes blink as they focus. “Of course. David Anthony Welsh, 2418.”

I nod, putting the light away. “Thank you, Mr. Welsh. It appears you’re done here. Shall I walk you out?”

He runs his hands through his brown hair and nods. He doesn’t quite remember where he is or what he’s doing here, but that’s part of the process as well. If I and the software did our jobs properly, he never quite will.

Taking his hand, I help him stand and walk him slowly toward the door. He stumbles for a second, but disorientation is common after a procedure. As we get to the door, his attention focuses on the pane of glass in the side wall and he looks through it curiously. I stop and wait, like I always do.

He looks back at me. “What happened to that poor girl in the other room?”

I nod. This exchange is rather common among clients. “Traffic accident. She died a few days ago.”

He shakes his head. “Such a tragedy. Does she have a name? What about her family?”

I smile sadly. “Her family’s been informed, and processing is finished. Her name is Sarah.”

He looks back through the window, then back at me. “Sarah’s a nice name. What’s her last name? I want to send the family something.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t release that for privacy reasons.” That’s the standard response when a client asks. Of course I can’t tell him her last name is Welsh. It might cause an error in the memory erasure he just paid to go through. But, through his lack of recognition, I know the procedure went as planned. I walk him through the door, leaving his wife of ten years, and all his memories of her, behind.

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Baby Names

Author : Martyn Dade-Robertson

“How about AtJohnaxith?”


“AtJohnaxith. I know its similar to AtRachelsynth and AtJonoheist’s youngest AtJaneith but they won’t mind will they?”

“This is not a good time darling–aaaaa”

AtMarystrum lay back on her bed, arched her back and dug her nails into the arm of the attending midwife. AtCiscoric sat beside her, tapping absentmindedly at his compuroll and muttered, to himself:

“Crap. One hit. Already taken”

“Why do we have to do this nowwwww oh GOD!!!!”

“It just doesn’t feel right. The little guy can’t come into the world without a name. We should have done this ages ago”

AtCiscoric reclined in a Foamafirm birthing chair, looked out of the window and let the sounds of his wife’s labor wash over him. The gentle electropan-pipe music playing in the background and the dimmed lights were not easing his mind. This should be one of the greatest days of his life but it just wasn’t going how he’d planned.

“It was so much easier for our fathers’ generation. They just took from the measly selection of available names and put them together. With the addition of few extra vowels and the right consonants you could create something unique without too much trouble. Now it feels like very letter combination is taken already”.

“Cisci darling seriously…”

“As for my great grandfather. His name was John. JOHN! There must have been dozens of them.”

AtMarystrum was panting quickly now. The midwife consulted the fetal heart monitor app on her bracelet before flipping back to a game app in which she flung smiley-faced sperms at a grumpy looking egg. “Everything’s normal” she said – to sound professional. The bed would, after all, take care of the hard stuff. She was to birthing what flight attendants where to piloting. Leave the flight to the autopilot and serve the drinks. Although the drinks here were served by a machine down the corridor.

“Your twitter feed’s gone crazy darling.”

AtMarystrum, who didn’t have enough breath to argue any more, responded with a low guttural moan.

@Elizabtheen: go girl! @Marystrum
@Michamiliod: Have you thought about taking an existing name and putting two X’s in the middle. #Michamxxiliod #BBY_NMS.
@Margaranium: @Michamiliod Aren’t you supposed to be working @Marystum?
@Michamiliod: @Margaranium Hadn’t you heard @Marystrum has just gone into labor.
@Michamiliod: RT@Ciscoric: @Marystrum has just gone into labor.
@Elizabtheen: why haven’t you twtd in 2 hours @Marystrum?
@Rachelsynth: Don’t make it too long. You never get retweeted with a long handle #BBY_NMS.
@Janicooldomincohemp: RT @Rachelsyth: Don’t make it to long. You never get retweeted with a long handle #BBY_NMS.
@Franciltornalo: RT Janicooldomincohemp: RT @Rachelsyth: Don’t make it to long. You never get retweeted with a lo
@Elizabtheen: You ignoring me? Scrw you @Marystrum!

“They want a status update honey. Do you want me to tweet something on your behalf?”

There weren’t enough vowels to translate the noises emanating from Marystrum’s lips and bowels and AtCiscoric couldn’t find a suitable emoticon. He instead opted for the approximate translation:

@Marystrum: Nearly there!

@Elizabtheen: Push!

@Michamiliod RT: @Elizabtheen: Push!

@Margaranium: RT: @Michamiliod RT: @Elizabtheen: Push!

@Rachelsynth: RT: @Margaranium: RT @Michamiliod RT: @Elizabtheen: Push!

@Janicooldomincohemp: RT: @Rachelsynth: RT: @Margaranium: RT @Michamiliod RT: @Elizabtheen: Push!

@Franciltornalo: RT: @Janicooldomincohemp: RT: @Rachelsynth: RT: @Margaranium: RT @Michamiliod RT: @Elizabtheen: Push!

“AtCiscoric…Sir…Mr AtCiscoric?”


AtCiscoric looked up, startled to be torn away from his data flow.

“Would you like to meet your son?”

A tiny figure was being cradled by the PostNatal’s mechanical conveyor which rocked him back and forth through the Blow-dry and Baby Shine. AtCiscoric put down his Compuroll and looked towards Marystrum, who’s pained expressions were now transformed to ones of joy.

“Would you like to hold him”.

His son, now swaddled in a white antibacterial towel, was offered up to AtCiscoric on the PostNatal’s elevated platform. Calm but gasping its first breaths, the baby looked up at its father. Its eyes were blinking and unfocused but recognizable to AtCiscoric as his own. AtCiscoric held the boy, struggling to grasp the enormity of the event and working out how he should react. Then he knew. Settling the baby down, he returned to his compuroll, logged out of Twitter and created a new account:

@Cistoric_2: Hello World!

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This is Africa

Author : Feyisayo Anjorin

When I was a child growing up in Akure, surrounded by hills and tall trees, and green fields, I believed the book of genesis. The first book of the bible was said to be about the beginning of everything. The first things, the newness, the freshness, the revelation. If life indeed has an end, the beginning must be like the morning of it.

We know a lot about beginnings in this place. A beginning of growth, a beginning of rot, an iroko tree could fall for the need of a power; flowers bloom in their time and wither. We know those mornings of rosy dreams and bright flags, when we were drunk on hope, when we were certain of our reason to believe the best.

There was a time when Africa was reborn; a new Africa from the ruins of slave trade, colonialism, and apartheid. Like a baby, and later like a child, we had our excuses. And we could be excused. The misunderstanding of the differing tribes and tongues could cause wars and start fires; we followed our rulers slavishly while children starved and became skeletons, and vultures waited, looking down, waiting for our dead.

We were poor because of the white man’s oppressive system that we hope to change. Soon change is coming. Soon. We were sure.

Now we’ve gone a hundred years into the twenty first century life. Akure, Calabar, Mangaung, Monrovia, Gweru, wherever; we are all Africans because we can still count our giant trees and green fields. We still have a home for lions, and monkeys, and rhinos, and rats, and bats. We have a home for them without needing zoos. Not everybody is as fortunate. All some people have now are videos and pictures of “wildlife”. Sorry for mentioning that word; but this is Africa.

Maybe we are not really behind because we still have to import almost everything needed to be twenty first century savvy.

And then this issue of the law enforcement robots. It doesn’t bother me one bit. The police were a mess before them. There was a time some terrorists abducted over two hundred teenage girls in Chibok and it took the army over a year to get them back. Happy young girls; innocent and vulnerable. Some came back with babies, some pregnant, some came back with HIV and STDs; they had all been raped. They were all scarred for life.

The law enforcement robots were imported two years ago. To be sincere, I’m baffled by their human rights records because of their slavish dedication to the law. I’m not happy that the tossed the most revered Yoruba monarch into the car trunk. I’m against the injury inflicted on those alleged to be resisting arrests. I believe they do issue too many speed fines. They need to put a human face on these things.

But you can see clear signs of sanity here! There was a time when the law meant nothing to government officials and to citizens. It was chaos and we were getting too attached to lawlessness; which was toxic!

This is Africa and our peculiar problems need drastic solutions and adjustments.

The law enforcement robots of Africa have now been programmed to shoot dead any African head of state that tries to go beyond the term of office.

I was glad to hear it as the sun rose this morning on Radio Alalaye while sipping palm wine by the window. I waited there, listening to the online analysis on the benefits and ills.

I got more palm wine. This is just a beginning.

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Author : Michael Hughes

Commander Gareth released the locks on the landing shuttle’s doors and took in the view as they opened to reveal a barren landscape.

This wasn’t what they had seen from orbit. Both the Columbia’s sensors and their own eyes had deceived them. There was nothing to indicate that the lush forests and oceans that appeared to have covered the planet had ever even existed here. There was no debris, no decaying plant life, not even a puddle. The shuttle’s sensors detected no trace of water vapor in the atmosphere. Where had it all gone?

Gareth called to Lieutenant Karena, the lead biologist.

“What do you make of this, Lieutenant?”

“I can’t say. There isn’t even a hint of what we saw from orbit. Even if there had been forests and oceans here, I should have seen trace amounts of organic matter in the atmosphere and the soil. Based on what we have found here, I can only hypothesize that no life of any kind has here for several centuries.”

“What did we see from orbit then?”

Gareth leaned back inside the shuttle and ordered Sergeant Ballast to contact the Columbia. He wanted to know what their readings said now. If they were still reading a planet filled with life, perhaps they were on the receiving end of some elaborate deception. For what purpose, he couldn’t say.

“Commander, I’m not getting any signal from the ship.”

“Try broadcasting on all frequencies, and try again in 15 minutes. It’s possible they’re on the far side of the planet.”

Gareth and Karena ventured farther from the shuttle while waiting for the response. They noticed a small hill not far from the landing site and made their way towards it, hoping to get a better view of their surroundings which might give a clue into the mystery of this barren world.

“Commander, still no response from the ship.”

“Acknowledged. We’re just reaching the hill. We’ll take a look here and then head back to the shuttle.”

As Gareth reached the summit, he froze in his tracks.

Not 100 meters on the other side of the hill lay a crash site. It was ancient.

“Karena, get over here! We didn’t pick up anything on the sensors did we?”

“No sir. No advanced alloys, no energy signatures, nothing that would indicate any technology of any kind. Not even wreckage.”

Gareth contacted Ballast and ordered him to bring the shuttle near the crash site as he and Karena made their way towards it.

“Maybe this has something to do with the discrepancies with what we saw from orbit,” Karena suggested. “Could it have been projecting false readings?”

“But that wouldn’t explain what we saw with our own eyes! Even on the shuttle descent, we didn’t see anything change until we came through that cloud!”

As they approached the wreckage, a sense of familiarity washed over them. The angles of the bulkheads and the markings on the hull were all too recognizable. Gareth and Karena were both thinking it, but neither of them said a word.
Ballast came over the comm as the shuttle passed the hill.

“Commander, I’m picking up the ships transceiver signal. It’s coming from the wreckage. There are also massive amounts of radiation coming from the reactor core.”

Karena spoke up.

“Commander, my readings indicate this wreckage is over 1000 years old. It couldn’t be…” She stopped mid-sentence as she made out the letters on the hull.

“…U.S.S. Columbia.”

“Lietenant, get to the shuttle and start unpacking the emergency supplies. We may be here for a while.”

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Whisked Away

Author : JT Gill

Dad shuffled around the kitchen in his bathrobe slamming cabinet doors so hard they bounced back open. His muttering was punctuated with little crescendos each time something banged closed.

The roar of the shuttle could be heard from outside, though greatly muffled. Still, this only added to his garish business of making pancakes. I stood in the doorway, watching.

“You’ve known you can’t stay here forever,” I said.

“Why not?” He shouted over his shoulder, mixing a bowl of batter vigorously. Little flecks spewed everywhere. “You can’t make me move.”

I through my hands up in exasperation. “Dad, we’re done here. It’s time to go. Besides, Mom would have wanted you to move.”

He stopped whisking and turned to face me. Dots of batter had spumed into his eyebrows.

“How would you know what she would have wanted?” He hissed. The bowl and whisk were still in his hands.

“I knew Mom a lot more than you think I did.”

“You left us, James,” he shouted again. “Left us here alone while you made a name for yourself out in ‘the real world.’” He jabbed at me with the whisk, dripping globs onto the kitchen floor.


“No. You wanted what you wanted to do. You didn’t care about us. That’s it. And you did it, congratulations, you did. The earth is round, and it can’t support us anymore. I know. My genius scientist son proved that to us all at least.” He spread his arms wide and waved them around. “Too bad he wasn’t even here when his own mother died.”

“You know that wasn’t my fault,” I yelled. “You know I was stuck up there. Dad, I was overseeing the facility that you will be living on.”

“The moon mansion,” he scoffed. “You’re crazy if you think I’m going up there.”

He began to stir what was left in the bowl, turning his back on me. There was a nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach. I snuck two fingers into my pocket, pinching the pen-like object pressed against my thigh.

“You’re wrong, by the way,” he said, pausing. “She would have wanted me to stay.”

“No,” I said, walking up behind him. “She wouldn’t have.”

I pulled the syringe all the way out and jammed it into the base of his neck. The bowl of batter fell from his hands with a dull, metallic donk and rattled quiet as he struggled, but the sedative was fast-acting. After two jerks, he slumped against me like a limp noodle.

Gently, I eased him to the floor.

I whispered in his ear, rubbing his shoulder. “It’s all right, Dad. We’re going to live up there together.”

I stood, tossed the syringe in the sink and walked back outside.

Outside, the gusts from the shuttle whipped my hair straight back as I stepped onto the front porch. Two men in uniform stood at the base of the stairs. I slid a pair of sunglasses on.

“He’s in the kitchen,” I shouted over the roar of the engines. “Bring him out and we’ll be on our way.”

They jogged past me into the house.

“And be gentle,” I called after them.

I pushed my way through the squalls from the shuttle out onto the lawn. The grass whipped back and forth.

I looked up. Though it was a sunny day, the faint circle of an outline could be seen against the pale blue sky up above.

It almost looked like a pancake, I thought, ready to eat.


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