Short Stories (0 - 2K Words)
"Client Species" - Corey J. White (1486 words)
"You want to kill me, don't you?"
There was a pause.
"No, I don't want to kill you."
The room was a uniform grey across every surface. The air was thin, but warm and dry despite the water pumping through the coolant system. The processor banks were matte black and unmarked - not easily sabotaged - and slaved to the master CPU that sat somewhere behind the walls or beneath the floor.
Miranda was inside Axis Mundi's brain.
"Medea" - Deborah Judith Walker (950 words)
It was the dead time of the afternoon. There was just one old boy nursing a beer at the end of the sports bar. But at least the footie was on: Ipswich Town versus Norwich City. And it was 2-1 up to Ipswich. It was going to be a walkover. This was a sweet job and no mistake. "Need any oxygen?" asked Simon, tapping the canister on the bar. Head Office had been on at him to push more oxygen to the punters.
"Green Future" - Deborah Judith Walker (910 words)
Hey, Mrs M.?
Miriam ignores the boy. She pushes her way through the tangled undergrowth of Trafalgar Square, past the stone lions with their impassive eyes virtually obscured by their liana manes. She must remember to bring a pair of shears, tomorrow.
"Hold on. Hold on."
The boy skips through the waist-high vegetation. He'll catch her soon enough. He's a kid from the Bloomsbury favela, born and bred to London's jungle. His name is Crich, and he's been bothering Miriam for a couple of months.
"The Valley has Two Faces" - Gareth Jones (1751 words)
He could see it in their faces as they passed by, the way they looked at him. Different, freak, aberration. You don't belong here. Bailey had seen it his whole life. Even though he was born in the valley the same as everyone else. Grown in the valley.
Aberration was the official term. The scientists at the fertility centre had no explanation. Contamination of the DNA source, they thought. Nobody knew where such contamination had come from. Bailey trudged along the main track that led to the fertility centre, ignoring the passersby as he went. The sun was low, hovering just above the squat Western mountains that bordered one side of the valley. Somewhere beyond were bands of feral men. Bailey had never seen any, knew nobody who had. There were stories of how they hunted other men, moving like ghosts through the trees and rocks, impossible to escape from, impossible to see them coming. If they caught you, the stories went, they would keep you as a slave and brand you with a red-hot iron. Nobody from the feral tribes had ever been in the valley, yet they were the only source of outside DNA that could have contaminated the valley's pure strain.
"The Three Child Law" - Robin Wyatt Dunn (1137 words)
"It wasn't done gradually enough, some said, but then, how do you do something like this gradually? And three was, in fact, gradual, as it could have been the Two Child Law, or, like China's, the One Child Law.
The older women were the first to object: they had waited, and they had saved, and they wanted their fertility drugs. But ultimately, it was the poor who found it hardest. For a simple reason: the poor, whether brown, black or white, had always bet on more bodies to help out."
"The Frozen Hive of Her Mind" - Deborah Walker (875 words)
"My sister came to my mother's funeral. She stood at the gates, watching my uncles carrying the coffin from the flower-lined hearse. She was a pale ghost, standing apart from the rest of the mourners.
Rose looked exactly as I remembered her. I hadn't seen her for twelve years, but she hadn't aged. I touched my hand to my hair, streaked through with grey. Terminal cancer does that, slowly pulling its victim toward its breast and swiping its vicious claws at the grieving family, bleeding the life of out them. I had sent word to Rose when my mother was first diagnosed. She was late, too late."