Originally published in Esquire, #3151, March 23rd, 2064. I’ve never liked the Islamic world. For no reason other than I can’t relate to the lifestyle. I enjoy alcohol, recreational drug use, a hearty political debate and gawking at beautiful women. Here, in the somehow-still-ancient Muslim city of Marrakech, these simple pleasures are out of the question. Liquor is not sold anywhere. Drug dealers are perfectly camouflaged. Freedom of speech is a myth, and women, gorgeous or ghastly, are covered up like statutes in museum basements. It’s simply impossible for a self-indulgent, mid-21st-century journalist to feel at home here. It’s a

One lazy Sunday morning, my brother Meli’s legs were crushed in the town sluice gate. We had no idea how lucky we all were. He’d claimed he would break his 50m butterfly record, but the gate broke him. The iron bars ground through his fourteen year-old femurs, pulverised the bone without pause. My friends and I dragged him to the surface. We were still in Primary, barely seven, but it was easier than you’d imagine; the township’s best young swimmer was only a panting, bloody upper body, two of his long limbs lost to the desalination plant. Our water was

Shrouded in darkness, I wait for the Egg to release me. After what seems like an eternity, a coin of creamy light appears before my eyes. A familiar voice whispers in my ear, urging me onwards. I focus on the disk; try to grasp it with my mind. It flows towards me, expanding all the while, until I am enveloped in a panorama of black, white and grey. At first the wrap-around image fails to keep pace with my movements, but within seconds the drugs fed to me by the Egg begin to mitigate the effects of irreducible distance. Prediction

Yes, I will be thy priest, and build new fane In some untrodden region of my mind, Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain, Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind. John Keats: Ode to Psyche i) Why had she changed? It made no sense, and after all this time he still didn’t know. Paul Loueve felt the anger rising in his mind and silenced his thoughts before his emotions overwhelmed him, breathing deeply and closing his eyes against the sight of her standing at the podium preparing to speak. He’d refused to sit in the audience, her

Feuhl Walomendêm: The End of the World The decision was made the day my friend Toli came running straight through our inner yard and into my room, shaking and mumbling disjointedly about the end of the world. Even his presence in my family’s house was something special that summer, since I’d been spending almost every afternoon at his place or at band practice with him and Dewa. My family wasn’t really speaking to each other, and I still wasn’t allowed to even go near Wëlë’s boat. In the evenings I generally tried to stay out as long as possible, so

“Are you sure?” she asked, staring at the floor. “Yes, very,” I returned. “I think…” she began cupping her hand over her mouth for a moment. “I think it’s important that you understand this is an all or nothing situation.” “I do, I understand completely. I told you… I’m okay with it.” “It’s my fault… I just…” “Doc, look, I get it, there’s no room for failure. I won’t let you down. You’ll see.” “I’m just not sure if you’re ready, that’s all,” she said softly, turning her back to me. “Are you kidding me? I’ve been a Marine for

11,995 UC The Syana Galaxy East Cell The Ma’lumet System The Interstellar University of Syana (ISUS) The hum of the university perpetually occupied Seren’s being as it suspended in open space, slowly orbiting a lone G-type main-sequence star. She glared at the two men perpetually following her around the campus. They looked like they could’ve been twins with their matching black hair and square jaws. They were there when she woke up, when she went to class, when she ate, when she went to bed and everything in-between. She constantly tried to evade them but each time she was found

Three hours to wait and no free seats. Henry Polter shifted his laptop bag onto a less aching part of his shoulder. The bodies of sleeping backpackers littered the floor of the waiting lounge. Only the occasional wail of a child rose louder than the unhappy murmur. A winding metal staircase led to a dining area suspended above the waiting lounge. Here, the only restaurant not packed with diners offered ‘a taste of the Savannah’. Henry wasn’t hungry but took a seat at a two-seater table in the corner, facing away from the rows of corpse-like backpackers laid beneath the

There comes a point in many death metal songs when the down-tuned guitars begin to play a simple mid-tempo riff – it’s almost a chugging noise – and the music turns… visceral. Standing there, shoulder to shoulder in a crowd, the volume near-deafening, the music seems to beat a sense of unity into those present. A single organism, at one with the music – those with their gazes fixed on the stage; those too in the maelstrom of moshers, spinning and colliding and roaring together. Then the riff abruptly shifts into something far more complex. The time-signature alters. The drummer

The pressgangs never came around here. Why would they? Pickings for naval impressment were slim here in Albany. As one of the kingdom’s more remote regions and situated at the petering end of the Good Hope trade wind, the place was populated predominantly by farmers. Granted, there were plenty of scrapyarders and a handful of steel workers here, but experienced sailors were few and far between. And yet, the dreaded pressgangs had arrived. Rumours had been trickling in for a while now of young men snatched away from towns on both of Albany’s inhabited planets. The stories alleged that a