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

Learning to Paint

Sandra was as surprised as anyone when she failed her compulsory exam, but she supposed that's why they had randoms to begin with. By the time you realize you've caught Degen, you've probably infected your whole settlement. The moment that red light came on they rushed her into Level 5 Quarantine to await confirmation. Presently,… Continue reading Learning to Paint

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

Gravedigger

"Start digging graves," Dalton told the Lacuna Populous' android attendant. "Graves?" Dalton dropped the legs of the body he was dragging onto the deck and they thudded dully one after the other. He turned his irritated gaze to the android and rubbed his dark, thick beard. "Holes. Outside. To put the bodies in. Find something to… Continue reading Gravedigger

Hell to Pay

Riazi sat on the rustic hardwood floor with her back against the foot of the couch and her knees drawn up to her chest. The ashtray on the floor beside her was overflowing with butts and ash. She lit up another cigarette anyway. It was frivolous, but it helped her feel human. Which, of course,… Continue reading Hell to Pay

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

The Child From Qas

Rin stood at the counter in the orphanage's galley when the boy entered. At first he just stood beside her, watching her scoop the guts out of several sugar squash—the guts are the only digestible part—grown right here on Nayim. The boy waited to get her attention until she'd finished with the squash in hand.… Continue reading The Child From Qas

Ghosts of the First Era

A fog rolled in between the sheer face of the cliff and the jagged limestone columns that towered over the valley, riding a sulfur breeze that tickled the nose. She hadn't understood what all the fuss was about, but now that she was here, Elise was spooked. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants,… Continue reading Ghosts of the First Era

A Proper Burial

Y'reen gathered his children; his two daughters, Roon and Afaya, and his youngest, Cratio, not yet himself a man. "I want a proper burial," he told them. "Like our ancestors." Afaya bit her lower lip and turned to her sister. She followed Roon like illness follows the elderly, still to this day. "Of course," said… Continue reading A Proper Burial

Stealing Secrets From the Dead

She didn't feel a pulse, and he wasn't breathing. He was dead; the dumb kid was dead. But River wasn't about to call the authorities. Her little 27-hour tea shop enjoyed the best Net connection on the planet because she'd tapped into the government hardline by digging down to it through the basement. It made… Continue reading Stealing Secrets From the Dead