Butterfly

Dean stared at his hands through the plastic of the facemask, the now-empty syringe in the turmeric-colored dirt beside him, discarded, and he wondered with awe and terror what might become of him. A breeze rustled the black star-shaped leaves of the tree he sat under, and it sent a shiver up his spine. This… Continue reading Butterfly

Scatterbrained

Mary was a little scatterbrained when she found it, but that had been intentional, not to mention lucrative. She worked in the mines on a planet with the interminable name OGLE-2013-BLG-0341L B b; for whatever reason the naming rights were tangled in a legal dispute which left a situation where the planet could be mined… Continue reading Scatterbrained

The Impossible

For three days and nights the deluge had been unbearable, forcing Valius and the small detachment of Excubitors he commanded to set up camp on the hillside just beyond Coven's Ford. The men grew foul without the labor of marching to distract them from the storm which pelted their tents and howled in their faces… Continue reading The Impossible

A Tale to Tell

The gnarled tangles of swamp brush refused to bend or break, forcing Cliff Asna to make his way forward in a zigzagging fashion like an old drunkard. It was cold and it was dark, but it was no use at all being caught in the open during daylight hours—Betelgeuse would fry your suit and broil… Continue reading A Tale to Tell

Boulders

"Just follow the ridge of that crater around to the right for a while. But mind the boulders. They don't slip often, but when they do they don't give you any warning. Silent as starlight." Hector had been backseat driving for three days, now. He only stopped talking long enough to keep drinking. If the… Continue reading Boulders

Blackout

Tori woke up like a pot left to boil over, lurching up and gasping from a nightmare immediately forgotten. Her eyes were hot and dry and crusted firmly shut from the dew drops she used last night. The high was second-to-none, but you always paid for it in the morning. She picked the goop from… Continue reading Blackout

No Place for a Human

Kayla was lost in the light of the sun tunnel. In theory, she only had to move in a straight line. But the exotic matter that comprised the tunnel walls appeared to branch out into twisting fractals. At a certain point, the concept of a straight line simply ceased to have any meaning. Dust devils… Continue reading No Place for a Human

A Thing Too Short

"Oscar, where have you been?" With Miranda, at her cabin down in the glasswood groves—not that he was about to admit it. He casually rubbed the back of his neck and flopped himself down on the couch without removing his boots. "Out," he said, barely hiding the barbs in his voice. "I am allowed to… Continue reading A Thing Too Short

Under the Knife

The Lunar Gateway orbital station was made not only of polymers and carbon fibers and lightweight alloys, but, principally, of rules. If humans had been intended for space they would have been born there. To survive in such a hostile and unforgiving environment, a strict, ordered constellation of rules was required. The Gateway had been… Continue reading Under the Knife

When It Rains

The facility was enormous—fifteen miles to a side according to the odometer—and, after circling the entire complex in an old battery-converted Jeep, Dustin resigned to the fact that there'd be no easy way in. High steel-and-concrete walls left no gaps in the perimeter. The various and spread out gates all looked the same: impregnable. He… Continue reading When It Rains