Issue 76 – June 2021
“I’m dead, right?” The room was as bare as a VR stage. “Or this is the weirdest ad I’ve ever been in, and I’m not sure what you’re selling.”
“No, you’re dead,” said the other me. “Look, I keep drawing the short straw on this whole explanation thing, so I’m going to go fast. Two things that are true.” She held up two fingers and waggled them. “One, Heaven is real, God is real, all that religion stuff is real. Not the nasty bits, just the simple, straightforward, everybody gets an afterlife part. That’s real. That’s thing one. Thing two? Transporters are murder.”
“No, they’re not,” I said. “I use them all the time.”
My other self twisted her mouth into a crooked smile. “Follow that thought through,” she said.
Issue 75 – May 2021
When the cars started driving themselves, we went back to the old ways. The old ways help us stay safe.
I teach my daughter to chalk runes around the house, double yellow lines that forbid the cars from crossing. We bring a baby stroller everywhere we go. It saved a friend of mine once, making him rank slightly higher in the car’s inscrutable calculus than the woman on the other side of the street.
Sometimes I wonder if he feels guilty.
First, she silently paid tribute to this hardworking, dedicated robot who had been sent to this planet. Then, she acknowledged the efforts of all those who had imagined, designed, built, and sent the landers and rovers to explore the unknown.
And finally, she silently recited the details:
Mars Exploration Rover A, called Spirit.
Issue 74 – April 2021
>> u want a bed, but would u sleep on a sofa?
> I’d sell a kidney for a sofa.
>> what if some1 died on it? but u keep ur kidneys
> Dying on a sofa would be the highlight of my year.
You just landed yourself an interview!
Tell us all about why you’re the best candidate for Bradification,
and please, don’t mind the blood.
Issue 73 – March 2021
I switch the medical system back on. Alarms sound as it realizes Father’s condition and injects drugs through the dermal patches.
Father gasps, audibly, as his body is slammed back to stability.
After I reattach the careful tangle of wires connecting the shuttle’s control system to the interface cap fitted to his head, his voice echoes through the shuttle’s speakers.
“Son. Son. You should not disconnect me. I have told you this before.” He is scolding me, but he is also afraid.
Kondo barked his orders. “Rocco, cover the east window. Valiant, you’re on ammo detail. Pepsi, keep an eye on market changes. Luna, get me a full asset list.”
“What’s the plan, boss?” Valiant said.
“Corporate takeover.” Kondo cocked his shotgun. “You all ready?”
Issue 72 – February 2021
I tried to tune the sounds of the diner out, and continue practicing in my head. I love you so much. And the last six years have been…
I restarted the program, over and over.
No other threats on my wristscreen minimap, players or monsters. Clear for now.
A deep rumble echoes up from the defeated demon, and coalesces into a voice reverberating with the screams of a thousand swallowed victims. It speaks unto me:
“Knife of Taertus has restored Kakardemon’s soul. Kakardemon can now talk, and will ally with—”
“Yeah, yeah, shut up, you’re not my first. Look: there’s this boy.”
Issue 71 – January 2021
I built my house to wall off a place for myself in this world with no other trolls in it. And in a clever nook in the back wall, behind the hearth, I hide my secret treasure: a schematic for a ship.
If I could build it, then the elves would understand: we are not as different as they think. If I could build it, could speak to them with my hands in a language that they understand, then they would remember: the trolls were artists, before we were soldiers.
I’m not saying that there aren’t any real people in the world. The ravens are very real, and indisputably people. I’m not saying you’re the only human, either. There are definitely a few of you about. How many, I couldn’t say. More than fifty? Less than a thousand, that’s for sure.
Ravens are accomplished mimics. If you’ve ever seen one, well, that’s basically accurate, except the real thing is a little smaller and plainer and generally one metre to the left, just as a precaution. If you’ve never seen a raven, you’re wrong.