by David J Gibbs
“SO, TELL ME, what did you eat today?”
“What does it really matter?”
“Lily, you know why it matters,” he said, his voice always soothing, a little too soothing in fact.
“Dr. Wright, I don’t have time to eat.”
“If you don’t eat, it’s only going to make things worse,” Dr. Wright said, closing the folder before putting it down on the table beside him.
“If you were given twenty minutes before you died are you telling me that you’d waste that time by eating food?” Lily asked, suddenly the years of wrinkles disappearing for a moment with a deep smile, her eyes bright.
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by Mike Thorn
THE BLIZZARD WHIPPED TWISTERS OF SNOW across Randolph’s front lawn. Water bulged through his window’s sealant, trickled down the wall and pooled on the floor. On any other day, he might’ve worried about the hardwood swelling from the moisture.
On no other day, though, had he found himself standing gape-faced before his storage room, while his eyes reflected the neon greenness of a heaving blob.
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Dreaming of Suzanne
by Josh Roseman
* * *
My eyes snap open. I'm covered with sweat. I sit straight up in bed and gasp for breath, hands to my throat, body tangled in the sheet.
"Ben!" Cindy's up on her knees, pulling me against her, arms around me. I grab at her and push her away at the same time. "It was a dream, Ben! It was that dream again!"
I'm still pushing. I'm frantic. I can't breathe.
Cindy shoves me down onto my back, climbing onto my stomach, holding me down as best she can. But I'm writhing too hard and she shouts and falls off the bed, head cracking against the nightstand.
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The Twenty Percent Club
by Melinda Brasher
ELIZABETH AND SABINE were waiting for him on the platform, Sabine's practiced beauty more pronounced than usual, Elizabeth's face flushed.
"What's the twenty percent club doing here?" Edwin asked. That should have made Elizabeth smile, but she only looked away, like the day he'd caught her trying to teach the jabbers to say hello.
Sabine arched a perfect eyebrow. "The twenty percent club? Clever." Her tone said otherwise. "Here's the deal. I don't think the third wave's coming. Peter just asked Elizabeth to work out a gene pool stability projection, so he doesn't think anyone's coming either."
"I don't care what Peter thinks."
"Perhaps you should. He knows that mating's more important than iron."
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by D.A. D'Amico
“I FOUND YOUR LOST CRITTER." Zoe sent Sophia Badu the ping data, and then checked the local debris cluster before nudging her pod down-orbit to match Sophia's trajectory. "It's burned pretty bad. Want me to rope it in?"
The Earth crowded Zoe's view, spread through four separate displays. Sophia's capsule raced across a cloud-smeared sapphire ocean, a tiny grain of brown rice nearly lost against the planet's glow. Zoe missed her, missed what they'd had together.
"No, he's my pup. I'll do it." Sophia's tone held a cold edge. She still hadn't forgiven Zoe. "Receiving your data now."
"About the review..."
"Don't." She rammed the video feed with her palm, briefly obscuring Zoe's visual. "Just don't."
Sophia had a stubborn streak that stretched all the way to solid ground, and she'd shot down Zoe's attempts to apologize. This was the first time she'd spoken to Zoe since she'd stormed out, abandoning the space they'd started to call a home.
"I didn't know..."
"My pup, Zoe." Her voice cut through, harsh and clipped. Her long features, compressed by the video feed, appeared sunken, and she bit her lip the way she did when agitated. She wouldn't be eating, another thing she neglected when angry. "Business only or I'm off-band."
Zoe sighed. She couldn't win, not now.
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by Kevin M Folliard
MAY 29th: “NOT RIGHT FOR A BOY OF FOURTEEN to get sent off with strangers,” the case worker said after Cooper’s mother had nearly OD’d for good. “He’s got family west of Little Rock though.”
Cooper tried to explain that his relatives were strangers, but the state didn’t seem to care.
“Better off with blood,” they assured him. “Family is family.”
Cooper hoped they would be right. That even if the stories about Aunt Hester turned out true, his older cousin Jonah might be a kind surrogate older brother.
* * *
May 31st: When Cooper arrived at the bus stop, his cousin sized him up. Jonah’s lower-lip squirmed, and he spat a brown wad on the sidewalk between Cooper’s tattered gym shoes.
“I don’t like you.” Jonah’s stocky torso towered over Cooper’s lanky teen build. “I don’t know you.” A scowl twisted on his square jaw. “The only reason you’re here is because the state’s giving a stipend. If you prove a bigger expense than that stipend, I want you gone. If you don’t pull your weight on the farm, I want you gone. We clear?”
Cooper nodded. Better off with blood.