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Memorial – M. Raoulee

We gather on the road heading out of town as dawn stains the sky. None of us speak. We walk. I think. It’s a little like how we used to march into the hills when the sounds of shelling got close.

I wonder if Kaezel remembers the same as I do. I stretch my tendrils out to them and they brush me back. They don’t hold on, of course they don’t. Not now when I taste-sound of everything we left in the ashes at the end of the war.  

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Arno’s Claw – Klaus Wenzel

An ember dusk shimmered through the penthouse windows. Arno-6 scanned his employer’s living room for any signs of disorder. According to his internal time-mapping data, Eric Pernish, the master of the residence, would return home within the hour. It being a Wednesday, Arno-6 knew that Mr. Pernish and his newest female consort, Olivia Lambo, would be concluding their post-work coital exchange about this time, after which, the company car would deliver Pernish home to the elegant high-rise building in downtown Los Angeles. Likely,  he would arrive home more famished than usual, given his day’s many exertions, both professional and intimate. For Eric Pernish, like his father before him, oversaw Liquid Inc., the largest international name in adult VR entertainment.

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Rewilder – Laduke Ely Loomis

The Rewilder wakes and finds himself alone, residence cube dark. He dresses in a white jumpsuit as the walls brighten. The plasma-touch system displays the date, time, and weather conditions (haze and dust will be thick today, and air acidity is up 200 PPM). With a tap he turns the panel before him reflective, with another he summons the news. He shaves morning stubble hearing about tensions between East Dome and West Dome. He brushes his teeth watching trailers for new Sense-Sim™ games and interactive movies. He thinks about sending Molly a message, but looks at the chat box too long and regrets having sent her three the night before. She has yet to respond.

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Lucky That Way – Jonathan Coumes

Dad was always the strong one. The one who held the family together, the one who kept Mom from going over the edge when Katherine disappeared. Dad coaxed her back out of herself, out of the valium fog. Got her to walk, got her to read, to take two bites of a six-hour meal. Dad was the rock on which we built our whatever. It must have been his hobbies—piles of Hemingway, half-drafted blueprints, sawdust and woodwork, an endless succession of fly rods. He could center himself and bring us into orbit.
So I guess we should have noticed. When he started me tying his flies, stopped carving and then left his shop altogether, when he started The Old Man and the Sea at breakfast and hadn’t made it to the marlin by dinnertime. I know I should have noticed. Not that it would have helped.

I was lucky enough, though, coming back when I did.

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The Colliding Worlds Of Meghan Lake – Chinyere Onyekwere

Somewhere in rural America, mother and child enjoyed great outdoor scenery–ravishing rolling grasslands nestling a sparkling clean river. Mother laid down her giggling infant, wandered off barefoot to explore the soothing caresses of the river’s cool waters, blissfully unaware of unfamiliar things lurking behind her, inexorably honing in on her child.

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The Emperor’s Liar – Jeff Stoner

It was Eighthday night, and the card tables in the seedy Rift Beta Niner casino were hopping. Martin “Cutshanks” LeCroix looked down at his chips and grimaced through his funjuice buzz. The stocky, gray-haired space pirate had only enough chips for one more hand, and nowhere enough to cover the credit he’d been advanced by the house. If he busted this round, he was out, and flat broke. In the lawless Rift Zone, that meant only one thing: indenture.

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A Small Price to Pay – Aaron Emmel

Walk as though you are accustomed to firm ground beneath your feet. Shake your hair loose. Let your arms swing away from your body. Increase the length of your strides as though you’ve spent your entire life surrounded by abundant space, more space than could ever be explored or exhausted—but keep your head down, because here on Earth you are not a free woman of the New Cities; you are a subject of the Perpetual Empire.

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LIGHT – DJ Tyrer

The submersible floated down through the midnight-blue depths like a falling star. Unlike Earth, the waters of Tethys were still pure and unpolluted. With no habitable land to speak of, it remained untouched by the surge of humanity settling new worlds, of interest only to scientists and prospectors.

“Look.” Jon tapped the screen showing the view from the front cameras.

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PERIPHERAL VISION – Jeff Dosser

Waking up with someone pounding on your door is never pleasant, especially when it’s the police. Granted, the sun was climbing toward noon and most decent people were awake, carrying on with their mundane lives, but when you’re the low woman on the physics supercomputer access list you take your research hours where you can find them. Even if that means working until four in the morning.

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