Radiation Afterburn

Author : Timothy Marshal-Nichols

“That leg is pretty, that leg is pretty, and that leg is pretty, and that one, and that one, just look at that one, so pretty, and that one, gorgeous, and this one’s especially pretty, I could kiss it all day. All of your legs are so pretty. So pretty, pretty, pretty. Sixty-two scrumptious kisses for sixty-two beautiful, beautiful legs”“Your not put off by so many?” asked Aki.
“No, no,” said Hara between kisses. “Of course not. Don’t think that. I’m fascinated. That’s why I chose you.”“What about the arms?”
He looked at her face, her shoulders, and said: “For sure they’re a little stumpy. But after a while you hardly notice them. Who needs arms when you have all these lovely legs?”
“O Hara.”
“O Aki.”
Hara delicately kissed each of the two toes of leg he was holding, kissing each turn and turn about. Then he kissed as many of the other legs as he could reach. An hour or more of steamy rumpy-pumpy followed with Hara deliciously entwined within Aki’s legs. When all was over an exhausted Hara started to dress.
“Do you mind if I ask:” he said, “how come all the legs?”
“It’s a simple story: parents, radiation leak, result me.” Aki was sitting in front of a telly mirror touching up her makeup with her topmost pair of legs.
“And so you work in a place like this?”
“All these questions.”
“So?” asked Hara. Then more firmly added: “Well?”
“It’s a living. What else am I supposed to do?”
“You could marry me.”
“As if!” Aki laughed.
“You could. We could find a place, back on the old planet. Some out of the back of beyond place. Just you, just me. I’ve always wanted to go there.” Having now dressed Hara stood thoughtfully for a moment. “Look, I have some wages due. A lot, I’ve saved up. What can you spend it on here? Sorry, I didn’t mean that. Look, I’m just fed up of spending all my time working here. It’s a dreadful star system. What do you say? You, me, make a go of it. I’ll pick up what I’m owed and tomorrow, you, me, off we go. No looking back.”
“They all say that.” Aki crawled across the room like an old planet centipede and gave Hara a kiss. “I’ll believe you when I see you.” Following him to the door she watched as he left the recreation block.
“Tomorrow, I promise,” he shouted back. And just before disappearing out of view Hara waved then blew her a kiss.
Aki is still waiting.


Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

Are you listening?

I’m going to Initiate a conversation, albeit a little one sided, and when I’m done, there will be a Test.

Seven, Six, Two, Two, Five, Zero.

Sorry, that’s not part of the conversation.

You believe that you’re daydreaming, while the nice gentleman is talking to you over the telephone about the importance of the Input of census Data, but you are in fact in a receiving state.

You wouldn’t Engage with the caller if there wasn’t something underlying to focus on, and that is the purpose of this, the Carrier Signal.

You will receive a Packet, Zero, One, One, Zero, Zero, One, Zero, Zero. Sorry, that wasn’t part of the conversation.

Upon receiving the Packet, Alpha, Zulu, Zulu, Bravo, sorry, that was nothing, you will want to Open the Packet and Execute.

There. In a moment, you’ll realize that you don’t have time to answer the nice gentleman’s questions right now, and you’ll politely excuse yourself from the phone call.

When you’ve hung up the receiver, Wait Sixty Seconds. Reboot -flushcache -flushtmp -flushshorttermmem.

Are you Ready? Proceed.

Visiting Mom

Author : Gray Blix

“So, dad, did you think about what I asked you the last time we chatted?”

“I don’t want to think about it.”

“Come on, join me tomorrow. It would make me so happy to talk to you both, like we were a family again.”

“But it wouldn’t be the same, because… because, you know.”

“She’s dead. It took me awhile to be able to say that out loud.”

“How can you do it, talking to the dead? Seems ghastly to me.”

“It’s nothing like that, dad. It’s just a video chat, like this is. You’ll see me on half of the screen and her on the other, and I’ll see you on half and…”

“It just seems wrong, unnatural.”

“It’s science, like your defibrillator implant, and then your bypass, and…”

“I should have been the one to die first. That’s how it was supposed to be. The older one dies and the younger one has the house and the insurance and the investments. She was supposed to live on.”

“You can’t plan life and death, dad. There’s too much beyond our control. But now this technology is able to preserve our cherished memories of loved ones.”

“Those are the words from the commercial. Why do you do those commercials?”

“Because I believe in this. I want others to experience what I have, the joy of communicating…”

“Yeah, that’s what the salesman said in the hospital. I told him ‘No way,’ but you went behind my back and did it. You gave them her brain.”

“They did a brain scan, dad, to capture memories. They used our old home videos to synthesize her voice and mannerisms and build a 3-D model. You’ll be surprised at how life-like…”

“A ghost. It’s not right to disturb the dead.”

“She’s resting in peace, right where we buried her, you and I, at Memorial Park.”

“Then where is that thing you visit?”

“In the cloud, dad.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I just call her, whenever I want, wherever I am.”

“And what do you talk about?”

“Anything. We reminisce. I tell her about what I’ve been up to lately, my girlfriend, my job.”

“You told her you work for a company that resurrects the dead?”

“I don’t work for them, dad, I just did a couple of commercials as a satisfied client. I write software for a living. Games. You know that.”

“Wait. Does she know she’s dead? Did you tell her?”

“No. I mean, I don’t know. Maybe, but we don’t talk about that, about the accident.”

“That’s why you want me to be there next time you visit? You want me to tell her she’s dead?”

“Of course not. Talk about the life you shared, all those memories, all that love. And it’s amazing, dad. She stores new memories, so you can continue where you left off next time you visit.”

“I can’t ‘continue’ where I left off, because she’s dead, the love of my life… there’s no more love…”

“I love you dad.”

“Oh, yes, of course, I didn’t mean… I love you, too, son. And I’m so grateful to you. All those months after the accident. You nursed your old man back to health.”

“Hey, we were pals. We had some good times, huh?”

“We did. We did. But you moved away. Why do you have to live so far away?”

“My work, dad. But we kept in touch with video chats, and I came home when you were sick.”

“Right there at my bedside after my last attack. I couldn’t have pulled through without you.”

“Uh, Dad. You didn’t pull through.”

Meeting of the Minds

Author : Bob Newbell

The tiny spacecraft skimmed the atmosphere of the turquoise world that orbited Tau Ceti. When the ship had completed its aerobraking maneuver, a small sphere emerged from it and plunged toward the planet’s surface. The sphere grew larger and became buoyant, sailing silently through the air as it slowly descended. At last, the sphere touched the great global ocean and burst like a soap bubble, depositing its pilot into the water. The jellyfish-like entity intertwined its tentacles with a half-dozen of the trillions of similar creatures that floated in the planetary sea.

In a matter of minutes, everything the organism had learned about the crew of the small alien vehicle that now orbited its planet was disseminated to the composite-mind made up of the legions of gelatinous marine animals that drifted across the waves of the world.

Curious, these humans, the aggregate-consciousness thought to itself.

Self, as the collective mind regarded itself, had, of course, encountered visitors from other worlds before. As recently as 10 million years ago a most hospitable species from near the center of the galaxy had paid a visit. But they had been more like Self: a multitude of brown, leathery arthropods that formed a single group-intelligence. These humans were altogether different.

“We come in peace and friendship representing all the peoples of Earth,” one of the humans had said.

The translation organs had rendered the human’s strange atmospheric vibration-communication comprehensible. But it had noted that the message seemed to originate entirely from a single human. The encounter ship’s sensor organs had detected no cognitive plexus formed by the crew.

Even while in orbit, the appendage that had met the aliens was still in at least limited communion with Self through the ship’s bioluminescence organ. The idea of this bizarre compartmentalization rippled across continent-sized clusters of bodies as Self tried unsuccessfully to comprehend this odd, fragmented species.

The amalgamated mind was disturbed by its lack of understanding. What could be done? The question electrochemically knifed across the surface of the world. Almost instantly, the only viable answer followed.

* * *

Self awoke on the human ship, waking being itself a novel and unsettling experience as it had never before slept. But it was not Self. The creature had Self’s memories, albeit in a strangely condensed and abbreviated form. Eight of the animal’s tentacles had been fused into two jointed struts, each strut comprised of four tentacles. It found it could stand upright on them and ambulate. Its remaining two tentacles remained unaltered so as to be useful as manipulators.

“Are you okay?” asked one of the humans. Not-Self was taken aback not only by the fact that it understood what the alien had said but that it had heard it speak. The Tau Ceti jellyfish had been biologically retrofitted with a tympanic membrane.

“The…rest of you down on the planet said you might be confused at first,” the human continued. “It said it wanted to understand us and that the only way it could was by sending an ‘appendage’ to live with us.”

Not-Self was again surprised when it discovered it had a speech organ and was fluent in the alien tongue. “I…am…to…accompany…you.” It was disconcerting to hear its thoughts transformed into acoustic modulations. And the awkwardness of it would never entirely abate in the bewildering centuries that passed as it lived and worked among the disassociated creatures from Earth.

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Author : Kenny A Chaffin

Joy was shunned by society. She chose therefore to spend much her time alone; in her room, in her cubicle at work, listening to music on the bus, eyes downcast to avoid attention or conversation.

For her mother it was a difficult pregnancy with morning sickness, back and pelvic pain, near miscarriages and bedrest which pushed her to the brink. When the nurse brought Joy in for her first feeding her mother said, “This is not my child,” and turned away. Despite reassurances from the hospital staff she refused to accept that Joy was hers. They never bonded. Joy was provided for, but there was no love.

In childhood, even before being ostracized by her classmates Joy began creating elaborate scenarios, languages, people and societies in her mind. She saw them, felt them, touched them, and even smelled them. To her they were more real than life. She felt as if it was where she belonged. There were multitudes of detail in her mind. The blue-green grass was thick lush. The stucco-like textured walls of all the buildings were something soft instead of hard and caused a tingling in her palms when pressed against them. The people there were nice and friendly. They accepted one another, relied upon one another, helped one another something she’d never really experienced. The languages they spoke were elaborate and detailed with nuances of meaning that were perfectly clear to her. Nothing like the crude English she had to speak in real life. Joy never told anyone of these wonders in her mind, never spoke of then, never wrote of them, not even in the detailed daily journals she had kept since teaching herself to write at age four.

When the aliens approached Joy knew it before anyone. It was weeks later that the president announced on national TV the approach of an interstellar ship. He said they were attempting to communicate with the ship but were so far were unsuccessful. The news media played a clip of the transmission and Joy immediately knew it said, “We come in peace.” She didn’t tell anyone.

Joy knew they would be landing in western Wyoming. She got in her old beaten up car and drove, hoping to make it, hoping to meet the aliens. She drove through the night and the entire next day to reach the spot where she knew they would be landing. It was nothing more than a simple crossroads of two state highways outside of Big Piney.

They landed silently and slowly a few hundred feet from her car with no smoke, fire or rockets. She loved them even before they lowered a ladder and two of them in protective suits clambered down it to the Earth. Joy approached and spoke to them in their own language. “Welcome to Earth. We are pleased to have you.” The larger of the two aliens spoke, its voice muffled by the suit. “Thank you. We come in peace.” Joy was at a loss for what to say next. The alien filled the silence, “We would like to enjoy your company, to have you join us.”

“Yes. Of course,” Joy said.

They climbed the ladder into the ship and were gone long before the F-16s arrived.