The Scald

A lone, dark skeleton walked the Scald. The surface was made of standing waves the color of burnt cinnamon, cooked enough to stop from flowing, but not enough to blacken. The crust floated over an ocean of churning magma like a patella cut from its tendons. The skeleton thought it was supposed to have a… Continue reading The Scald

Priming the Cosmos

The universe was as cold and as dark as it had ever been. Eras ticked by like years, and the years themselves, at any given time, went by numerical names that would have been gibberish to those forgotten creators of the human calendar. But as alien as it sounded, ten duotrigintillion years had passed since… Continue reading Priming the Cosmos

Game Theory

"Am I the first?" asked Arcus, kneeling. "I'm afraid not." He looked up, surprised despite the likelihood of the answer. The eye contact appeared to make the Ascendantary uncomfortable. Something new, then—a deviation. A good sign. "How—" "A great many. I have not kept count." She had known his question before he'd fully formed it… Continue reading Game Theory

Long Distance Call

Swirling pixels in Ian's periphery indicated an incoming call. He begrudgingly answered, letting the feed overlay his vision with minimal opacity. He didn't want to lose a finger. "Hello, Jenna," he said, knowing how much she hated it. Sure enough, she frowned. The expression fit her wrinkles precisely. "That's no way to address your mother."… Continue reading Long Distance Call

Not My Circus

The first and most obvious sign of trouble was the trees. The trunks were charred black from the ground up to three meters, above which the bark appeared normal in every way, forming a strict border. Valentine spun in a circle. The whole forest was like that, burnt below three meters, straight and flat as… Continue reading Not My Circus

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

Wired

There was a portrait on the wall, and for some reason Kilbourn couldn't take her eyes off it. It was black ink on canvas that had grown sickly yellow-green long ago. She couldn't decide if the face was a man's or a woman's. Every time she thought she'd made up her mind those eyes seemed… Continue reading Wired

Memory Games

There was a high droning hum. Ice water came down in buckets like razors licking at her cheeks and shoulders and thighs. Oh, she thought, it's me; I'm screaming. I thought I was dead. "Wake up, Violet. Wake up." Her body was a vague outline in her own head, a far away pain that she was tethered… Continue reading Memory Games