Staked to the Stars
by Robert Runté
The Count’s hand caressed the dirt covering the bottom of the coffin-shaped ceramic pod.
“From your garden,” the official affirmed.
“So I stay grounded. How long to Trappist-1e?”
“153 years. But you’ll be asleep for most of that.”
“A long time.”
“Less than you’ve lived already.” The official spread his hands feigning enthusiasm. “First to the Trappist system. That’s huge.”
“Well, yes.” The official gestured at various consoles. “But all of human music, art, literature at your disposal. First to explore a new world…!”
“And if I refuse?”
“Then it’s the Van Helsing option for you, I’m afraid.”
by Ken Poyner
I purchased my wife forty-five years ago, when wives were much simpler. I allow no upgrades, no application extensions. She has a slight hitch in one knee; the rotor in her shoulder sometimes catches. Unlike newer models, she does not have endless variations on each cache of tasks. I take comfort that in passion, housework, companionship, she has a limited repertoire, selects execution by a mathematical algorithm I have demystified. I realize eventually she will be so far behind modern demands that some random task will cause an out-of-loop experience and she will terminally shut down. But so will I.
A Tranquil Stream in the Woods
by Dave Zacker
After a long shift, “Stream Woods/Tranquil” was Katie’s favorite–the water gently splashing over the rocks…birds chirping…breezes rustling the trees–
“Good Morning!” voiced the pleasant alarm.
Katie woke-up and eyed-off her cranial glassit and rolled out of bed.
‘An actual stream!’ she always thought.
After breakfast, she suited-up and hurried out for work. A thick overcast obscured both suns today.
“Oh my!…Oh my!” she sang while trudging through a freezing drizzle across the windblown greenish dunes on her way to Terraforming Station 52, “My great-great-grandkids will be playing!…Oh my!…In real streams!…Oh my!…Oh my!…”
Twenty Minutes to Twilight
Early May 2020, Tallulah’s kibble inventory hit empty. I yanked on my favorite walking shoes, eager for fresh air. Confused why her servant never left home anymore, kitty purred a fond farewell.
I jaywalked through an intersection usually full of revving cars, squirrels scrabbling up trees, and bicyclists and pedestrians clambering between. Now, a rusting stop sign squealed in the breeze. A stale, rotting stench pressed from an unseen source.
An excavator had punched a hole in the asphalt, work long abandoned. Pebbles chased a trickle of water into soil six feet below. If I fell in, who would notice?
by David Woodward
Hatred ate into him like a gnawing beast. He watched the creature with curiosity. What would be left of him? The beast grew. He knew the end was near. He would forever hunger for something he would never be. What did he want to be? The creature, satisfied, ambled awkwardly away from the stale carcass. It had no use for the past. A distant memory remained. Then slowly faded back into flesh. The hunger returned. And the path narrowed. Darkness descended. The scent of decay followed. Forever its own. The metamorphosis complete.