The Nine Billion Names Of God

After three hours, the old man in front of me had worked his way through six beers, in addition to every help desk joke I'd already heard. The cupholder. The any key. The write click. These are the stories people tell, now. These are the fish that got away. "Let me ask you something," the ...

Eye For An Eye

“Arthur Lewis Jacobson of Earth. You are here and in the presence of these Justicars found guilty of engaging in sexual conduct with Ilexya Eiin Dephryn without her consent. By treaty #84753 between Earth and Ungöthein, you are hereby relinquished to the Justicars for sentencing and ...

The Old High

Gavin stood before the mirror, dragging soft-tipped fingers over his face. He felt like he experiencing something for the first time—or was it the last? He caught a glimpse of his own broken will deep in his sunken eyes, lost in the years of self-abuse and emotional mutilation. He was coming ...

The Merry Husband

To Larah Lowell, Commander, SLT, Brigade 34, The Air Cruiser Canton Beloved Lady, Commander Wife, I shall respect your recent instruction and exclude from my letter all my hearts sorrows. The lives and souls of your crew must weigh heavy on your shoulders and if I have in my power the ability ...

The Vanishing

The nurse held Jeremy’s left arm with a practiced gentility that would have been motherly if it wasn’t so detached. His real mother was in the waiting room, wearing the kind of plastic smile that adults paste on when they’re the most upset. Jeremy was used to that smile. People did it a ...

Rosetta Stone

Harold adjusted his tie, and gritted his teeth at the futility of the situation. "This is preposterous. I can't be the embassy envoy to this--have you heard them talk?" Harold's short, somewhat fastidious companion, Maud, was reading a magazine as they both walked down the aquatic corridor. ...

Welcome To The Hotel Kraken

Carmina Claypool didn't look much like a madam. She looked more like a fishmonger, which, Allie had to admit, was awfully appropriate. She was a powerfully large woman - soft and muscular simultaneously - and her clothing seemed to make her even larger. The gargantuan galoshes, the voluminous ...

Mzee

There was a young lady at the door. They were always sending young ladies. She rang the doorbell again. Mzee looked at the screen for a few more minutes. She was very pretty, well groomed, her hair black and shiny, like India ink. She was holding a bouquet of flowers, a wildflower bouquet. ...

Skin Deep

I know that Amy is in there. I can see her, in the smirks and smiles and the way she shoves her hair away from her eyes. She's still the same person. She has to be. There's no reason that this should feel wrong. In a cinderblock building over the river, my fourteen year old body is submerged ...

The Gun Show

“Mom! Mom, I wanna look at this one!” Stephen was pulling on his mother’s arm, straining against it with that eight-year-old lean that kept him just within the bounds of parental supervision, since he wasn’t allowed to let go of his mother’s hand, but created the same effect as the ...

The Life Of A Venusian Cowgirl

The life of every Venusian Cowgirl is circular. Moxie was told this repeatedly when she signed up. To drive the point home, a silk-screened sampler saying as much was set on the opposite wall of the entrance portal to her new apartment. Moxie put down the boxes of clothes she was carrying, ...

Time to Remember

Don't wake up yet, Mischa. Please, please don't wake up. At nineteen, Christopher Malloy was the youngest person on Io to receive his degree in neuronanotechnology. It was quite an accomplishment, according to his parents and teachers and friends, but at that moment, on the sunken platform of ...

The Beloved Uncle

The worst had happened. I was in the care of Beloved Uncle, the public face of the Eastern Police. He had been appointed as a Machiavellian move, the political men who installed him meant to allow him a reign of outrageous violence to quell the populists and then kill him and replace him with ...

Smooth and Steady

It’d be funny if I could still laugh. Instead I sit here smiling, waiting for the nurse, smiling at the white and the clean and the pure. I hate smiling. She’s smiling back at me too, her teeth as white as the walls, undoubtedly brushed with the same sanitizer. I want to punch her but ...

Roll

It didn't look like much of a robot. It was soft and lumpy and didn't have any flashing lights or make any noises beyond a low hum. But it could hold a drink tray steady enough to entertain at parties, so she was satisfied. Its warm battery was also a comfort on lonely, chilly evenings. She ...

Six Days After Impact

April was a maintenance worker, so she lived on the inner ring. The cheaper quarters meant less gravity and thinner air, but it rarely bothered her. In fact, after five years in the belly of the satellite she found herself nauseated by the full gravity of the outer ring. Out there, her mop ...

Some Girls They Got Natural Ease

For Naru, and for Mae’s bedroom wall. I had a scrambler at home, up on the shelf where it wouldn’t be noticed even if someone was looking. It was long and thin, like the baton they used to wave over your body when you set off the metal detectors at airline security. I always kept ...

What Mechanics Do

“No, I don’t think you understand. Let me tell you about death.” The mechanic’s subject blinked. The mechanic allowed himself a bit of wonder at the ingenuity behind that movement. It did nothing; the subject's glass eyes were not cleaned or refreshed with liquid. And yet, it did ...

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