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Lenny studied Sasha’s face. Rarely was he afforded this close of a view. Her artificial lips were smooth and full, the lower lip sagging from its plumpness. It occurred to Lenny that he should have bought a model of a old lady, a midget, someone he wasn’t attracted to. Someone who wouldn’t distract him. Hell, even a guy would be better, someone he could hang out with... Read More...
Before it is Written
He flipped the light switch and stepped inside. The hanging bulb didn’t do much to lighten the stacks of books and boxes teetering to the ceiling. A sad desk that looked like something stolen out of the downtown library sat on a frayed Persian rug in the middle of the concrete floor. A black Underwood was squared exactly on the desk with a pile of blank paper next to it. A wastebasket overflowed with crumpled pages. I orbited the desk as he sat down. He scrolled in a piece of paper, his fingers poised, his eyes closed like Liberace contemplating “The Firebird Suite.” Or maybe just chop sticks... Read More...
My partner gave me a brief look, either angry I had sat down close to him or irritated I had not moved close enough. I moved and spoke in his ear. “She seems to like the guy and his team, she had good reasons to leave her old team, can’t we log this,” I moved my cup a centimeter, “as a non-trade gift or sample, file the right paperwork to support her relocation, check in with her old team, and go on to the next case?” Bras made a quiet noise, disagreeing. He shifted, accidentally brushing my face, and his breath was warm in my ear... Read More...
There Are No Carriages or Footmen in the Suburbs
Because Keith could not stop for Death, Death moved into the townhouse next door while Keith watched it happen. Throughout Moving Day, Keith returned to his window and saw all the comforts of home carried into the nearby two-story duplex. There was a king-sized mattress, because lying down must have been important to Death, and there was a large-screen television, because who else would need to pay so much attention to current events? And there, at the end of the day, standing on the porch, was Death himself. He waved, giving Keith a chill in the form of a breeze that stirred the grass along the well-maintained lawn... Read More...
“The barracks houses twelve androids, and I had just gotten it filled two months ago when I started finding all the android spacesuits completely drained of power in the mornings.” He turned to Helmut. “You see my problem — no spacesuits, no work. We waste half the day charging them back up every morning. All the other power works fine, and I’ve got the doors locked during night cycles, but it still happens every night. Frankly I’m running out of options.” ... Read More...
She was good work. The best he had ever seen. He, himself, had done some fine work, but nothing like this. You would say she was pure Manila. The Manila plant had done the best work about, but in the sterilization scandal the Manila plant had been nuked by United Bio International. Nearly twelve million people lost, as well as perhaps twenty million sub-hominid creations, and the contents of more than one hundred patents. Six years later, some of the processes Manila was using have not yet been recreated. You would think someone would have stolen the patents... Read More...
If he had been further from giving up he would never have found it. Sinking to the ground, he curled his arms around his shins and hunched as close as possible into the slim protection of the rock. Only with his face pressed against it could he see that, hidden behind a spur of about knee-height, a narrow crack curved into the body of the stone. Warm air breathed from it, transforming the frozen mask of his face to a net of tingling pain... Read More...
Howling On for More
Marks sat nursing a club soda at a booth by himself, studying Morris Gillan from a distance, who was drinking bourbon at the bar and seemed popular; the bartenders had a familiar manner with him and a heavy pour, and people walking in from outside kept pausing to call out his name, wave, pat him on the shoulder as they passed or shake his hand. Marks watched him drinking bourbon with an acute jealousy that made him stiff-armed and unhappy. The club soda burned his tongue and made him thirsty... Read More...
South of Nepenthe
A cold Pacific fog rolled onshore, so thick it blanked out the road lines. At Nepenthe, Mike pulled the car into the empty parking lot. He got out and jogged in place, filling his lungs with wet air and sending alcohol-laden blood surging through his body. After several minutes, he climbed in and cinched his seatbelt tight. Sweat trickled down the bridge of his nose and he wiped it with the sleeve of his sport coat. “What was that all about?” Ashley asked... Read More...
What You Wish For
She pivots in front of him and hugs him full on, burying her head in his chest. He strokes her hair absently. Outside, it is dark and cold, a hint of wetness in the fall air. The traffic has died down, there are no more masked zombies or Disney princesses stalking outside. His watch alarm tweets midnight from inside the black bedroom doorway... Read More...
Dogs of the Snow Country
Before my mother tattooed my face and made me odder than I already was, I must have had another name, but I don’t recall it. I lived in the kitchen then, with Cook and the other children who toddled there, some belonging to the house servants, some girls like me, who belonged to no one in particular. A lady came out — though she was no lady, only a concubine — she was my mother. A concubine and herbalist, she was different than the others, her skin dark like mine, instead of the pale moon faces of the nobles, her hair a wild thatch of black... Read More...
The Oldest Girl
Stationed behind a substantial desk, Yles Chavarixo’s cloud of opiate smoke sucked the light from the room. When Katurilia was young, she’d found the woman too small for the towering bookshelves and high-backed armchairs in the office. With time, though, Katurilia realized these objects empowered the woman, lent her a sense of importance, of strength. It hadn’t taken long for Katurilia to loathe this room... Read More...
Of all the drugs to make a comeback in Chi-Town, Cloud 99 was the most unlikely. Since the 70s, the national LSD trade had stayed centered in northern California. Its production followed a single technique and yielded a subdued potency, a tiny fraction of what the flower children had sampled. After all, it didn’t pay to kill the clientele... Read More...
“They’re gunna kill me, Kev.”
I search his eyes for the lie. This would be a new low, even for him. There is only fear reflected back at me, cold, desperate fear. I suddenly wish he would have told me he was strung out again.
I clear my throat. “Who?”... Read More...
This is Not a Love Story
I tested everything as I had been taught in basic. I was breathing pain free and every joint moved without pain. I would have to get up to check range of motion but I did not feel well enough to do that. I had been hurt much worse than I had felt in any basic VR drill or previous accident. I had to have spent some time in the ‘suit’s care, perhaps a few days, and this ship’s transponder had not been in range when I was working on the satellite... Read More...
The Other End of the Line
I cough. My neck is stiff. The skin by my eyes is stretched, inducing a headache as I stare at the monitor. I swear the light in this room is vibrating. I have a few more calls to make before Degi Tech to fill my quota. The phone’s in my hand. The proper tone plays. The script is white and glares at me from the screen. I hold up the phone, pull my mouth open, and press my teeth together. Clients can hear a smile in your voice. The tone stops, and a voice comes through. “Hello?”... Read More...
Bodies Whole and in Pieces
The first body I learned was not my own but my mother’s. Standing below her in the shower, water cascading off her body and onto me, I looked up and saw her in full. I saw her long rounded breasts and stomach that bore lines from her days of carrying me. I saw her craning neck and the way she arched her head back into the water. I closed my eyes against the spray as she shook her hair. When I opened them she was still there, reaching for me, her fingers working the shampoo into my red curls. She was everywhere at once, warm and soft... Read More...
Bob Quigly stood looking out his bay window wondering when the neighborhood started to suck. When Janet, the kids, and he moved in, it was all cops, firefighters, and teachers. Who had to live in the city for their jobs. Things were suburban as Chicago got; the burbs started a couple blocks north of Bob’s house, in fact. But that was twenty-two years ago and for a while now, whenever somebody moved out, somebody worse moved in. Like that fat slob across the street now in her lawn chair. Why did she always sit there? The people over there before never pulled that shit. They stayed inside or sat out back like normal people... Read More...