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

Don’t Touch

It looked like a house-sized tumor. It was a fleshy mass that twitched and oozed thick scarlet fluids and puffed out gases at intervals. The whole thing had a clear sheen like raw pork shoulder. The two scientists and their military escort were too amazed to wretch at the otherwise disgusting glob that filled the… Continue reading Don’t Touch

The Light of Other Stars

Brook donned her worn, cumbersome pressure suit piece by piece, sat on the uncomfortable bench in the airlock, and waited for equalization. She found a Zen-like solace in the rushing sound of dark viscous fluid filling the lock and she tried to harness it into something positive. Her crewmates had surprised her with a pastry… Continue reading The Light of Other Stars

You’re Not Yourself

Meredith Aves looked upon her husband's ashen face through a veil of hot amber sparks that erupted in the space between them. His voice carried a dread she'd never before heard as he asked her pleadingly, "Are my eyes open?" She awoke with a start and barely suppressed a scream. Carter was standing beside the… Continue reading You’re Not Yourself

Set the Stars Aspinning

Magamyar enjoyed its work—at a surface level, anyway. Pushing particles into clouds with its magnetic wings, caressing and coaxing them into hot little eggs, and after they hatched setting them spinning like tops. It was slow mindless work that allowed for contemplation. It was good for the soul. But it was without meaning—congealing dust until… Continue reading Set the Stars Aspinning

Meeting Your Maker

What would have been a simple excavation on Earth took more than nine years at Sinus Iridum. Still, it was worth the extra effort to be the first xenoarchaeologist. He'd sold all his worldly possessions, alienated his family, and watched his coworkers turn into tentative friends and then into casualties as Luna did its very… Continue reading Meeting Your Maker

Collider

Drs. Ellen Duffy and Ingvar Torvik were inseparable, so it seemed only natural that they were both among the final three players left at the table. Poker was a game of evolving probabilities, and the other researchers and physicists had already cashed out and left for the evening when the numbers turned against them. All… Continue reading Collider

No Prisoners

"Bring them out." Par Acaces had no question as to who the ruhl meant by them. The par gathered the feeble space-weakened prisoners, with their wet eyes and their dry elastic skin, and marched them in a shackled line off the hulking battle transport. Ruhl Shald  was waiting on the narrow bridgeway, pacing and clomping about… Continue reading No Prisoners

Deep Beneath Damascus

Dr. Regina Crane looked down at Damascus with despair. She'd gotten 1.5 billion miles from home without issue—so much so that she'd battled bouts of boredom—and now she'd fumbled within the one yard line. The other sulci mocked her with their stillness: Alexandria, Baghdad, Cairo. Only Damascus Sulcus was active, its cryovolcanoes blasting tons of… Continue reading Deep Beneath Damascus

The Astromancer

When the wormhole appeared, we sent through six ships. Each ship brought 36 passengers, including ambassadors, religious figures, military officers, and career astronauts. Only 14 souls returned; a random selection from five of the six ships. They were gone less than a day, and they were recovered drifting naked in open space save for an… Continue reading The Astromancer