Author : E.S Wynn

“The 882 looks cool.” Cylea glanced up, grinned. “How much for the 882?”

The old man gave her a quick glance, eyes wary over spectacles that stood out like antique flair garnered from a bygone age. His reply came solidly. “I can’t sell you the 882.”

“Why not?” She cocked her hip, let her eyes wander to the thing again. It was the next step up from the tungsten knuckle reinforcements she’d been looking at, a total arm rebuild that would replace flesh and bone with nanocarbon alloys and memory plastics– a near human approximation of an arm with a central cavity that was packed tight with the razor-edges of a collapsible, spring-loaded blade. “It’s better than a switchblade.”

“You don’t want the 882.” He said gruffly, turning away to busy himself with a collection of parts, optics and tiny cylinders packed with nanogenic goo that lay spread across the tool bench. He quivered, hands taken by tremors for an instant.

Curiosity flickered across her face. “Is there something wrong with it?”

“No, It’s a good product, solid design.” He sighed, his own eyes drifted up to meet the dusty overhead display and the flickering advertisement for the rebuild. “Great deal for the money.”

“Then why?” She asked pointedly. “It’s just an arm.”

The old man nodded silently, tiredly. “Just an arm.” He repeated. His hands touched the tools, glanced off the handle of a modified bone-saw that lay with its harsh circular blade submerged in sterile solution. “Just an arm.”

“Daniel?” She tried. He turned back, regarded her with bespectacled eyes.

“It’s a prosthetic, Cylea. I’d have to remove your forearm to install it.” He laid two greasy fingers on his wrinkled skin to illustrate, smeared grubby lines just a few inches short of the elbow, looked at her pointedly. “Think about it. You don’t want the 882.”

“I know what it is, Dan.” She looked away, crossed her arms. “Why should I care how much flesh it takes? The 882 is better than the stock I was born with. It’s Techware.”

“It’s an illegal streetmod is what it is. Black market,” He shook his head. “From Hong Kong.”

“So?” She shot back. “It’s not like I’m going to join the military or anything. Who’ll know?”

Dan sighed again, watching her for a long moment as his old hands settled on the table between them.

“How old are you, Cylea?”


“And you want to spend the next eighty years of your life with a techware arm that would show up on any weapon-scanner or metal detector you’re likely to run into? You know what that means, right? No more college, no access to government buildings, no air-travel.” He paused. “All because it ‘looks cool’ and you think it handles better than a switch blade.”

Cylea swallowed.

“Buy the knuckle reinforcements, kid.” He turned his back on her, busied himself at the bench again. “Lots of people get those, respectable people. Trust me. The 882’s for punks and amputees with nothing to live for. People with no future.” She looked away as he paused, unable to even meet the stare his back seemed capable of reaching into her soul with.

After a moment, he turned back to her again, wiping his hands on a rag, and offered her a slight smile that was oddly comforting before his lips parted, words bringing her eyes back to his again.

“We both know you have some kind of future waiting for you out there.”

Cylea nodded, forced her own smile

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About Time

Author : Andrew Pang

The global media sighed at NASA’s attempt to laugh off trillions of dollars worth of international effort. Its called The L.O.F.T. [Lot of Floating Trash]. The Japanese first encountered it in 2011 at the Second Lagrange point, an area in space where gravitational forces seem checked. The Solar C probe was sent to observe its effect for commercial satellites. Instead of gently slowing to a stationary position, Solar C ceased transmitting. It happens I suppose. But other probes encountered the same problem, always at the L2 Point.

By 2022 another unmanned probe was sent specifically to investigate and found a three hundred meter transparent orb, scratched and dented by bits of floating solar panel and tungsten plating. The orb shifted. It changed shape, from spherical to cuboid, then to pyramidal and to rhomboid. The world hushed. Childish excitement gripped entire nations as the expectation of heavenly guests spiraled.

The gathering of probe after expensive probe began. Observatories around the world focused in on the mysterious object. It was difficult to see, laser topography simply refracted through the objects glassy surface. It seemed impervious to all the drilling and laser mass spectrography. Seemingly detecting this problem, it obligingly became opaque like mother of pearl. No sign of mechanical moving parts, no transmissions apparently sent or received, no heat signature. Yet it morphed continuously, ever more complicated and at Prime Number intervals, one second, two, five, seven, eleven, thirteen. After innumerable quasi-rhomboids and tetra-dodecahedra, scientists were puzzled to see several totally new shapes believed not to be possible in 3-Dimensional Euclidean space.

2027, and my how attention spans have shortened. The world grew weary of the ineffectual rubix cube in space. The LOFT now drew only the esoteric navel gazing sorts. As though sensing these people’s apathy, the shapes became simple again and the intervals changed. Sphere, six minutes, Cube, twenty eight minutes, Trapazoid, eight hours and twenty two minutes. Perfect Number intervals. Attention grew again, as the object became to blink like a faint pulsar in the night sky. Worries grew whether it was going to explode, just like a pulsar and douse the world in radiation.

2034 and a joint international convention finally approved a manned expedition. The world grew impatient and vaguely paranoid of the the object, sat one and a half million kilometers away surrounded by the most expensive clutter of mechanical parts, probes and bits in history. “The Lofty L.O.F.T.” the more sensible broad sheets called it. They had a point, at ten thousand kilometers it was clear exactly how much junk had been launched at the object, it was almost completely obscured by debris. Closer to five thousand kilometers. The blinking light stopped. A calm and collected voice spoke over the flabbergast shuttle crew: “About time you came in person.”

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Circadian Arrhythmia

Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer

This is the first time I’ve been awake in… I don’t know. Months? Years?

The sentence they gave me was a twenty year stint in this meat locker. There’s nobody around to tell me how far in I am.

The air in here is brutally stale; heavy with the smell of sweat and piss. I should be on line air, and this can’s supposed to be sealed tight. It’s not though, there’s something wrong with the system and they’ve cracked all the lids so we can breathe.

Thoughtful bastards.

I must be on the downslope of this thing, my muscles don’t respond worth shit and I can feel the edges of my teeth where my gums are peeling back. That doesn’t happen overnight.

Some water would be nice, my mouth feels like something crawled in it and died. There’s nobody around to fetch a drink either.

Whatever they’ve broken, they’d better fix it soon. I’m not sure how long I’ve been awake in here; days I think, maybe a week or two.

Twenty years as a popsicle didn’t seem so bad at the start. Go to sleep, wake up and I deal with what I deal with when I get out. But this… this is inhumane.

I can feel the halo they screwed into my skull, the tugging and nagging pressure of the lead tapped in through the bone.

I think they jarred it when they took the lid off.

Or was it putting the lid back on?

I can’t remember, how long have I been awake? Days? Weeks?

Or am I still asleep?

Twenty years as a popsicle. Never occurred to me it could be so cold.

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Crime Scene

Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer

It’s late. I’m smoking a cigarette in the ruins of a burned-down orphanage.

I’m standing in what used to be a room full of cradles. The scorched floor is cluttered with little black bones and black charcoal cribs.

It’s all I can do to stand there. The dome’s supports make black ribs miles above this city cutting the sky into pie slices down to the horizon. I haven’t seen the sun since I got here.

I remember Earth. I haven’t been back to there in over twenty years now. I remember blue sky. I remember not living in domes. I hate this place.

I hate the ignorant first-wave colonists and their ignorant lives. I hate their aversion to learning anything not needed to run the machines. I hate their lack of imagination and lack of originality. They’re augmented slightly to see better in the dark and withstand a few more seconds of vacuum in case of a decomp. Owl eyes that glow in the dark and hard bodies for hard work. All physical. Nothing mental.

I’m a cop. I pissed off my boss and caught a transfer out here to the gulag. The boondocks. Long time ago now. The only way I’m going back to Earth is after I retire which is in five years. Five long years.

I have the standard cop upgrades: total recall, overextended acuity, critical stat sensitivity that makes me into a human lie detector, and bumped-up lateral reasoning.

It all just adds to the torture. Time doesn’t ‘fly’ for me. With my photographic memory, I’m aware of every second going by exactly as long as a second is supposed to take. I hate it. Drinking does nothing to mute it. Believe me, I’ve tried.

To fool a lie detector like me, perpetrators have to be careful about the evidence they leave at crime scenes or at least passably devious during an interview. That would at least lend a little spice to my interrogations. No such luck. I swear that almost all of the population here is legally retarded.

For instance, I’m staring down at a wallet and a gas can right now. It looks like maybe the arsonist must have squatted down to light the fire and dropped his wallet out of his back pocket.

And more than that, he’ll be shocked when I trace it back to him.

I look at my partner. His eyes reflect the starlight back at me in big orange circles and his strong, thick skin blends into the night. He’s a local. Him and I are the only ranking detectives in the colony.

“Don’t you hate it here, son?” I ask him.

Completely stoic about my non-sequitur, he answers, “I grew up here, sir. Don’t know no different.”

I keep standing, staring down at the wallet. My partner stands with me, still as a statue, endlessly patient as only the truly stupid or enlightened can be.

I sigh and pick up the wallet. Time to go make an arrest.

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Please Pick Up Your Bread Crumbs

Author : J.E. Moskowitz

An explanation of Manna

“And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the frost on the ground. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is Manna: for they knew not what it was. And Moses said unto them, this is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.”

-Exodus 16: 14-15

The Explanatory Midrash:

The pager embedded in Christian’s head beeped, and before he could think it off, his boss’s shrill voice came through: “We have an unidentified 14-15, possible long term consequences for all of humanity. Please Investigate.” As his boss’s grating voice clicked off, Christian groaned. The night before, he and Henry had gone to a new bar on Titan, picked up a couple of plutonian girls, and caught the last shuttle back to Earth. He rolled out of bed, grabbed his time travel gear, and headed for his transporter.


Gold and blue embossed letters on the building read: “Time-Police: Before Common Era District.” Christian put his eye to the scanner, and spoke his name and badge number into the voice recognition box. The door clicked open and he walked into the monitoring room; a temporal disturbance had been detected, affecting the ancient Israelites.

Probably some pranksters, Christian thought. The cyborg miners on Pluto loved to alter Earth history; since they had no conception of culture they loved to screw around with humanity’s past. Still, Christian thought, it might be some fanatic trying to set up an apocalyptic scenario or some ridiculous scheme to resurrect this Messiah or that.

Christian stepped onto the time transporter, set his coordinates, and a light hum signaled the machines activation. All of his atoms were stripped from his body, reducing Christian to his pure essence and sending him to Ancient Israel.

In a blinding flash of light, Christian’s body and soul reformed. Instantly, the punishing heat of the desert hit him, bringing him to his knees. The large sun hung in cloudless sky like a pocket watch that had stopped swinging. An unforgiving wind blew fine sand into his eyes. In the distance, chrome mountains stretched out before him. It was beautiful, but Christian didn’t care. He didn’t expect to be called into work, and he had made plans to go hover skiing with Caesar.

He began circling around and checked the monitor on his wrist; immediately he found the source of the temporal disturbance. An unregistered school group was touring the area, and two kids had stepped out of their invisible-field. He approached the kids who were dancing around the Israelite, taunting him. Sand littered the Israelite’s graying beard, and wrinkles lined his face. One of the kids was throwing bread from a sandwich at the Israelite’s feet. The other kid had his translator on so he could speak to the Israelite, but he was using a teasing tone:

“Ooooohhhh…’s food…..AAhhhhh….from Hashem!!”

Christian grabbed the kids by the ears to take them back to their group, and one of the boys cried out in pain: “Mann..ahh!”

Ah crap, Christian though. Now Christian would have to file a temporal disturbance report, charge these two with historical vandalism, head another crew to clean up the mess, and on and on.

Screw it, Christian thought. Christian decided to take the kids back to their group, tell the tour guide to register his tours, make an announcement about being more careful, and just go home. He’d still have enough energy to hit the hover slopes with Caesar. As Christian walked the kids back to their group he didn’t notice the beautiful land he was walking on, the vitality of it; didn’t think of the importance of the land to the Hebrews.

Christian pushed the two kids into their invisible-field, chided the tour guide and asked for the group’s attention.

“Everyone,” he said. “Please pick up your bread crumbs!”

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