At a time of night when sensible paranormal paraphernalia should have been snoring in a hole somewhere, something woke Brad up from a deep and boozy sleep. Propping himself up in bed, he looked across at the wall opposite and caught his own reflection in the mirror, picked out by the shaft of a sodium street lamp through the ill-drawn curtain. The reflection was blurred. In Brad’s condition, it was going to be, but this was not a kind of blurring that was familiar to him; as if the mirror was vibrating. Brad sat bolt upright as the mirror fell...

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Luna sat shuffling her tarot cards in the farthest and darkest corner of the bar. She watched the tourists coming in, with the traders and the shippers and the seekers. What were they seeking? Lots of things could be found that far out in space and lots of things couldn’t be. It tended to be the things that couldn’t be found that they were seeking. The bartender, Gil, held up a teapot across the room and nodded to her, She shook her head. He kept a pot of hibiscus tea brewing just for her, as everyone else was drinking much...

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Spring Cowan was walking in the woods the first time he saw Angel. He was really looking for a haunted house the real estate lady told his parents was back there and he’d walked further into the woods than he’d ever gone before. There was an inch of snow on the ground except where the sun came through the trees for most of the day. In those places the ground was muddy. Cowan felt the crisping of the snow under his boots and looked at his footprints, wanting to remember what they really looked like when he could really see...

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Thesis Suddenly, E-boyd realized that his left arm, just below the elbow, had transformed into a machine. No, more of a bionic extension of his flesh—but then he noticed, when he rotated his elbow into the light, that the flesh seemed to transition smoothly into metal, a soft aluminum, or brushed titanium covered by a translucent finish. He touched the seam between skin and metal and felt the uninterrupted progression of organic matter into inorganic material. When the change had taken place and why were questions he momentarily failed to consider—he was overwhelmed by the beauty of the engineering, and...

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Like every modern scientist, Ferdinand earned his pay by making persuasion videos. A compelling enough documentary usually led to a brief crowd-funded career. Though traditionally trained, he eased into the dominating entertainment era with all the other academics who now had to film for income. His decades-old, unhip publications meant nothing anymore. Thus, at age 56, he took on the latest tactics of the cyber economy. He strolled into the shanty town with a minicam in each of the two buttons of his white shirt collar. His straw hat hid a microphone. The thin power cable ran down the back...

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Ever fulgent Pandia Selene cast red-limned shadows across the landscape. On any other night, Nedra would’ve stopped to admire the moon, but out here, near the edge of the Mandy Brots, she forced herself to stay alert. The fetid air and the twisted fungal structures that loomed in the ruddy moonlight suffused her with the nervous excitement of meeting a long lost friend. Nedra filled her lungs through her nose filters. This was where she’d remade herself back before Boom Shroom went out of style. But nobody wants this stuff anymore. Why had Dok Shabbat sent her here? The market...

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Karen Walker had been in the malodorous gravity chamber for almost an hour, gradually dialing up to an unpleasant 0.8 Earths as she pounded the cross-trainer. She was pushing it, but not too hard, careful after what happened to Rashford. Her straw-colored hair was dripping and her vest ringed with dark sweat marks when she finally gave in and stopped. Passive conditioning time now in the tiny, mildewed Alu-foil chamber. She sat, dialing the crushing simulated gravity up to full Earth. Karen closed her eyes and let her heartbeat slow, drifting as she tuned into to the familiar bass note...

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FOOL noun \ˈfül\ 1: a person of poor judgment 2: a person formerly kept in great households to provide casual entertainment, typically dressed in cap, bells, and bauble 3: a dessert of pureed fruit mixed with whipped cream or custard, served cold # It was Maria’s own mountain berry fool which would be destined to set things off this time. And how. The most luxurious concoction of wild airberries, conanberries, and cheenas imaginable, all creamed together through some recipe she had adapted for the local flora. Because Maria was, like us, a settler. Much as I liked the idea of...

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The lobotomies worked out so well that everyone wanted one. And the whole world changed. The first beneficiary was Milo Arthur French, a multiple murderer residing at the California Correctional Institution near Corcoran. This large vulgar man who bore a permanent sneer on his face agreed to submit to the latest of Dr. Marls Krieger’s radical surgical experiments. The partial lobotomy performed with laser surgery and a supplemental pharmacological therapy would, in theory, abate the patient’s atavistic impulses. After twenty years of disappointment Dr. Krieger had little hopes that this time would be any different. French was prone to extreme...

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Forty-five The man in the alleyway wasn’t someone you found in the White Pages, or Craig’s List, or any website for that matter. It had taken Zalia a month to track him down, but in this dank dingy corner of the city, she began to doubt the man here could save her mum. Zalia shone her torch at him, but the cobblestoned building and industrial dumpster behind him absorbed all light. She smelled him before she could take in his appearance. A stagnant mix of Old Spice, decaying fruit and cheap bourbon wafted towards her, inflaming her nostrils and all...

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