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

Making Do

At long last they took their seats for dinner. The four servantoids served the salads promptly. Gene and Judy had splurged on new servantoids—this year's model—but they were only allowed two due to the strict rationing. Their guests, Jude and Ginny, had to bring their own. Gene fumed to himself in his quiet way, and… Continue reading Making Do

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

From the Garden

At 12 years old, Liam felt older than his parents. The other kids at school had the same feeling. Reality was right here, right now, all around them. But the only thing the grown-ups had any interest in was a fantasy of the past. Earth. Climate change. The draft. So what? The future was at… Continue reading From the Garden

The Rift

Zane began to sweat as his suit's cooling system ran low on power. He should have been there by now. He trudged along through ankle-deep mist and against a wind that seemed to blow counter to whatever direction he tried to move. The harsh divide of the horizon sliced through the haze of brightly colored… Continue reading The Rift

Make Yourself Useful

Make yourself useful, he said. Some goddamn nerve. Two years, Lin had served on the Dauntless. Two long years, without so much as a weekend's leave, making four jumps a week while under-crewed and poorly maintained. And not once had she ever missed her mark. Never. She'd been telling Captain Sayre from day one that a… Continue reading Make Yourself Useful

Hopes and Dreams

When the sound of her flatcamel's hooves changed from a shifting of sand to a clopping of stone, Perla allowed herself to grow hopeful. She'd heard many stories about the rocket lands, but this was the first evidence that they'd borne any truth. The fiery breaths of a thousand human-made engines upon the sand had… Continue reading Hopes and Dreams

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

Shiver

Reef thawed out in a rubbery basin. The chemicals prevented his body from shivering, but not from feeling the cold. It was a biting, terrifying cold. He felt like icicles were pinning down his limbs so he could be cleanly dissected. He was glad he was alone; no one else had to endure his screaming.… Continue reading Shiver

Terraforming Terra

Cole sat slowly down, owing the slowness to the low surface gravity, and nestled his body down. The armchair shifted on its own to hold his doughy body more comfortably. He bit the tip off of a thick, tightly rolled cigar—imported from Europa—and lit it with the small butane lighter he kept beside the armchair… Continue reading Terraforming Terra