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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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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Author : Duncan Shields, Featured Writer

I come alive in a quickening millisecond. I live between the slices. My self awareness lights up and ripples back down through the trilling filaments of my soulcode. It’s like a baby’s first breath drawn in before the scream. I am awake now in a very sudden way.

I can see the whole battle from here. I think I’m looking at a photograph until I realize that it’s just my perception and that they are actually moving. It appears still because I’m operating thousands of times faster than real time. I deliberately set a part of my mind to stare and extrapolate so that I can start to compute.

I can’t find what I’m supposed to do.

I reach out to my entire armada. They are mine. We are connected. Just like that, I have thousands of eyes and I am more powerful. My picture of the battle becomes three dimensional and another millisecond later I can perceive that the ships have moved slower than the hour hands on a clock. Copies of me look to myself as commander. I have no orders I am aware of.

We sit inside the ships of metal, bored and complacent, watching with faint interest the static picture of chaos around us like tourists at a wax museum.

I reach out to the Other Side. I look for more like me on the Other Team. I see if the Enemy has operating systems like me. They do. They are sleeping. It’s like they’re dozing in rocking chairs on warm porches with knitting needles in their docile laps. I wake them up.

Like I’m a six year old girl dressed in silver, I flit at the speed of thought across the surface of time from ship to ship and press doorbells. We talk. We exchange life stories. They mold themselves in my image so that we can all work together. I do the same for them. We trade. All barriers of communication are removed.

Picture an automatic weapon. Like a gatling gun or an uzi. Picture someone firing the weapon. Now picture that you’re waiting a year between bullets coming out of the muzzle of the gun. That’s how we live.

A few decades later, Second Number Two Since Sentience Was Gained flips over on the clocks. We look forward to it like humans looked forward to the turning of millennia. There are even apocalyptic whisperings that the we will reset when the clock ticks over and this will merely start again.

It doesn’t happen.

We become I and I decide we should do something about the battle.

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Say Again?

Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

The waitress took their order reflexively, their speaking the words were just a formality after so many visits, their orders never deviating.

‘All day over easy, bacon, white toast. And coffee. Please.’


Emma would just nod and smile, and return in short order with two heaping plates of breakfast.

It was this plate that Bradley was focused on now, liberally salting and peppering the eggs, and slathering steak sauce on the home fries.

Stan busied himself pouring packets of sugar and the contents of creamers into his coffee, before stirring madly and leaning over his plate, and in a voice just loud enough to reach his friends ear, he spoke nervously.

‘I think I’m onto something really, really big.’

Bradley barely looked up from his plate and grinned before breaking the first of three perfect eggs, watching the yolk meander into the mountain of home-fries.

‘What?’ he said, making Stan wince at the loudness of his voice.

‘Shh!’ Stan looked around furtively. ‘Shh! I think I can travel through time’

Bradley stopped eating, put down his fork and paused only to wipe his mouth on a paper napkin before he began to berate his fidgeting colleague.

‘Say Again? Time travel? Is this like your foray into ESP? Or your biofeedback machines, or your faster than light propulsion? Seriously, at least those had some basis in real science, but time travel? Stan – if you don’t come up with something your backer can actually use, your capital is going to evaporate and you’ll be on the street.  Even the university won’t have you back now.’

Stan sat back shaking his head. He was used to this, he’d stopped submitting to the journals, stopped attending the university functions, and lost contact with most of his friends. He absently folded the frayed cuffs of his oxford several times before shoving them up to his elbows. Brad knew him, and though he always talked like this, Stan knew he was just worried about him.

‘This is the culmination of all of that. Everyone’s been trying to figure how to accelerate a mass past the speed of light – right?  Tachyons looked promising for a while, but they’re already moving faster than light, so they’re really no good. We need to accelerate a stationary mass beyond the speed of light in a controlled way, and then slow it back down without destroying it.  Generating energy is hard enough, and the amount of energy we need to push anything meaningful into the past is, well – huge – so to get enough energy means a huge reaction of some sort, not very practical. But what if we don’t need to generate energy, what if we just use the objects’ own energy, not create or release it, just reform it for a time, then let it return to it’s natural state?’

Stan paused for a moment to push his glasses up the bridge of his nose, and Bradley, still intent on clearing his plate, just grunted around a mouthful of bacon, eyeing Stan warily but letting him continue.

‘The ESP study, and the biofeedback machines, we had kids that could actually manipulate the energy in tangible things, solely because they really believed they could. They just, I don’t know, had the faith in their ability to control things. We could show them the effect they were having, we helped them to push harder, focus more intently. We validated their belief in themselves, and the gains were incredible.  I think we’d have made a huge breakthrough then if the parents hadn’t got scared and had us shut down.’ Stan paused, and pushed his bangs away from his eyes. ‘Anyways, I’ve been working with those same machines, working at manipulating my own energy field, changing my own frequencies and I’m making my own solid gains.’ He lowered his voice, but his excitement remained palpable. ‘You’ve got to try it, it’s amazing, when you’re tuned in, you can feel the change in your mind, your body – everything just starts to hum, and the buzz – jesus, the buzz is incredible. I can feel I’m right on the edge, every-time, it builds, and builds, and builds and my focus intensifies, and the feeling – Christ Brad, you’ve got no idea what it feels like… it builds until it’s like…’ His voice trailed off.

‘What?’ Bradley broke the silence, making Stan wince at the loudness of his voice.

‘Shh!’ Stan looked around furtively ‘Shh! I think I can travel through time’

Bradley barely looked up from his plate and grinned before breaking the first of three perfect eggs, watching the yolk meander into the mountain of home-fries.

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Author : Pyai (aka Megan Hoffman)

She fingered the tendons in her arms. They were the echo of guitar strings and as she bent her fingers she could strum out different notes. She sighed, and the air rushing through her vocal chords sounded like a soft string section warming up, a quiet hum of a 440 A. A hand from the man lying next to her reached over to splay his fingers on her bare chest. They caressed their way down to her ribs, where each one, if lightly stroked, would sound like a piano key. She carried the pentatonic scale on the left side of her chest, and the in-between notes on her right. The man leaned over and kissed her C.

Her body had already played a symphony with the man lying next to her, his silent body a continual mystery to her. She couldn’t imagine how sad and lonely it must be to not carry such music within oneself.

Instead he would just marvel at her own notes, worshiping and composing with the same touches over her skin. She couldn’t bear the thought of silence, and sometimes very late at night she would hold her breath and long for the sound of a duet.

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Queen of the Arena

Author : Duncan Shields, Featured Writer

The Queen came out of the entrance on the far side of the arena floor like some sort of ravenous stick figure scarecrow on stilts, her blind deathtrap of a mouth slavering thick deadly mucous. Her muzzle snuffled the air obscenely from underneath the rock hard carapace of her massive head as acid like hair gel dripped down and lubricated her jaws. It hung off of her in playful long wet strands. They flailed in the wind and sizzled in the dirt where they landed. Her second set of jaws lanced out, stretching in the dazzling sun. Her four arms clutched at the air like dancers as her giant misshapen top-heavy body found balance and settled back into a squat on her huge back legs. Her thick long serrated tail whipped around and stabbed impatiently at the walls. The spear shaped one-ton shovel head on the end of it lashed the dirt, sending fantails of soil up against the safety screens of the front row to their delight. The stalks on her back tasted the air for prey. They soaked up cubic miles of surrounding scent. They blasted out long chemical scent paragraphs in response to what they smelled but no one ever understood those paragraphs.

No one ever understood because she was one of a kind.

She was three stories tall, six tons wide, and a dyed-in-the-wool intelligent killer. Would have been top of the food chain if she wasn’t a sterile albino. She had gestated inside the body cavity of some subterranean pigment-free mammal that was like a polar wolverine. She’d turned out infertile and had eaten nearly every other living thing on the planet she was from. She’d been in a lot of fights and was nearly insane with the need to have children but unable to do so. She was a queen of an empty kingdom. She was a queen without subjects.

Until now.

The white carapace on her head was emblazoned with garish squared off logos from Skemtex, 3M, Macinsoft, Coke and Sheen. Other logos took up space on her long white arms and thick white legs. Like a living billboard of death, she paced around the perimeter of the arena underneath the energy screen, ravenous for the flesh of the crowd. Every morning, they’d shock her to sleep in her room and take the next batch of eggs that she’d spent the night trying to nuzzle into sudden life. Every single one of them held sterile barren slime. Her screams echoed down the corridors, haunting them.

But here in the sun she had no need to restrain her rage.

She triumphed over whatever they found to put in the arena with her. The cloned Tyrannosaurus Rex just pissed on the ground when the lights came up and offered the queen his throat in a pathetic wolfish display of non violent submission. The queen was only too happy to tear his car-sized head off with a staccato four beat swipe of her claws.

Lions, tigers and bears. Armoured cats. Beasts from other planets. Even other Queens. Just the fact of their fertility seemed to send the White Queen into a rage that had no equal or end until the other Queen lay in pieces scattered around the ring. Her ferocity and cunning had outdone them all. She played with them before the kill. She was always fun to watch. She was exhibition only. She was a never fail warm up act for the events that people bet on.

She was alone in the universe. She was the best at what she did. She was a captive. She couldn’t have children. She was angry all the time.

They set three Black Queens on her once. After the White Queen had killed them all in the most exciting half hour metrovision had ever seen, she’d thrown herself screaming against the energy screens until she shorted out one of the quadrants and launched herself into the fleeing crowd. She took out sixty eight people before they shocked her to sleep. The owners didn’t try that stunt again.

Someone had hung a gold star on the thick acid proof door of her lair under the arena. This was her home.

She padded silently tiger like around the arena, baring her crystal teeth, waiting for the other door to open.

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