Author: Ken Poyner
We used to eat whole herds of ballan, letting them first graze a while to get used to the slightly thinner atmosphere, adjust to the new gravity. Company issued, company raised, they were better having fed a few cycles on the native grass, taken in some unprocessed air, gotten foot-steady with their new weight. Sweeter. For the last few years, we noticed the shipments getting slightly further apart, the size of the herds delivered seeming just a bit smaller. We figured some transportation official was skimming the shipment, taking a ballan here, a ballan there, selling at pure profit on the black market. Maybe he thought we did not count, would not notice. But then they stopped coming altogether. We pointed out to the home office that there was nothing here suitable to eat. We could starve before farmers, if they shifted a few here, could set in a crop. And it might take years of good guesses to see what might actually in this soil grow. They said they understood, and would get right on it. A few more transmissions, and then the home office went silent. In fact, the home world went silent and we started to worry what forms we should fill out and where we might send them. No response, no ballan. After a few planetary cycles, it was beginning to look quite grim.
Then this new food source started coming. A bit smaller, but from the point of starvation, anything looks like a feast. We peeled the outer skin, discovered right away there was a thinner inner skin to peel as well. Not much work once you learn how to hook it with a crooked tentacle. We ate right away when they first came. It had been a while since the last ballan, and our rationing plan had not been all that well thought out. But once we had our fill, had backed away from the face of famine, we thought: maybe like the ballan, if we let them be for a while, perhaps they would grow softer, lose a little of that hard metal taste. So, for now, we let them go on, let them practice their small industries. We stay out of their way. When we think the meat has come to prime, we can harvest the whole lot of them.
365tomorrows launched August 1st, 2005 with the lofty goal of providing a new story every day for a year. We’ve been on the wire ever since. Our stories are a mix of those lovingly hand crafted by a talented pool of staff writers, and select stories received by submission.
The archives are deep, feel free to dive in.
"Flash fiction is fiction with its teeth bared and its claws extended, lithe and muscular with no extra fat. It pounces in the first paragraph, and if those claws aren’t embedded in the reader by the start of the second, the story began a paragraph too soon. There is no margin for error. Every word must be essential, and if it isn’t essential, it must be eliminated."
We're open to submissions of original Science or Speculative Fiction of 600 words or less. We only accepting work which you previously haven't sold or given away the rights to. That means your work must not have been published elsewhere, either in print or on the web. When your story is accepted, you're giving us first electronic publication rights and non-exclusive subsequent publication rights. You retain ownership over your story. We are not a paying market.
Voices of Tomorrow
Voices of Tomorrow is the official podcast of 365tomorrows, with audio versions of many of the stories published here.
If you're interested in recording stories for Voices of Tomorrow, or for any other inquiries, please contact email@example.com